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Hotelier news, tips and advice from industry experts.

Welcome Anywhere Property Managment System > Blog > 2016 > June

hotel upselling techniques

Hotel guests can be a frustrating bunch, can’t they? You spend all year refurbishing your best rooms only to find that the majority of bookers opt for your standard singles and doubles, leaving those suites and deluxe rooms vacant and haemorrhaging revenue.

The key to maximising your hotel’s occupancy and raising its bottom line lies in the art of upselling. In this post, we’ve got some brilliant tips that will help your front desk staff upsell effectively, and you’ll be glad to hear there's not a single piece of rocket science or magic involved - just good, old-fashioned common sense.

Make upgrades reasonable with sensible rack rates

A common mistake made by hoteliers is to tempt guests into discount schemes and only present them with the least expensive room types (while offering upgrades at rack rate and making them seem wholly unreasonable).

Let’s consider an example. If your standard double room has a rack rate of £150 while the deluxe version is £180, the £30 difference will seem reasonable to most guests. However, throw in a guest who has gained a special rate on the standard double of £120, and the new upgrade price of £60 suddenly seems like poor value.

This doesn’t make the front desk operative’s life particularly easy, so how do you solve such a conundrum and make room upsells tempting for all? The answer is devilishly simple - you just need to introduce a flat rate for upgrading room types. In doing so, every guest will have the option to upgrade for a reasonable price and you could make additional revenue on room types that may have otherwise been sold at a lower rate.

Ask if guests are aware of upgrades

A superb tactic for front desk staff is to ask guests whether or not they are aware of the upgrades offered by the hotel. “Were you made aware of our suite options when you booked?” won’t offend anyone and is the perfect upselling ice-breaker.

Never devalue their first room selection

If a guest has booked your lowest-tier room, avoid any temptation to point out that it isn’t much to get excited about. “I see you’ve only booked our standard double room, sir” won’t win you any friends, nor will it put the guest in the best frame of mind.

An unhappy guest will never push the button on upgrades, so always start the conversation at check-in by congratulating them on their choice of room. “I see you’ve booked one of our lovely standard rooms, which I’m sure you’ll find very comfortable. Please note, we do have some lovely upgrades on offer, too…” is more likely to garner a positive response and make the guest question their initial choice without them feeling short-changed.

Present any room upgrade as an opportunity

The key to successful upselling in any industry lies in the art of presenting customers with opportunities. “We’ve just had our suites refurbished,” or “we’re trialling a new room service menu for deluxe rooms” are both ways in which you can tempt guests to treat themselves.

Everyone wants to feel special once in a while, and if you present a room upgrade as an opportunity to experience something few others have, you should find that plenty of guests will take the bait.

Seize the early check-in opportunity

If a guest arrives early, your reception staff are presented with a brilliant opportunity to upsell. It may feel more appropriate to take the guest’s luggage and usher them over to the bar while they wait for their room to be cleaned, but before doing so, why not offer them an upgrade to a room that is already clean? If they’re particularly weary and simply want to let the stresses and strains of the day ebb away, they may see the value in spending a little more.

Conclusion

We’ve focussed on the task of upselling room types in this post, but there are a huge number of ways in which you can raise the value of every booking you receive. Make sure you subscribe to our blog using the form below and be the first to know when we delve further into this topic.

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Welcome Systems logo

Over the last three years, we have rebranded, launched a brand new hotel management platform, bolstered our offering with additional solutions for the hospitality industry and renamed the company 'Welcome Systems Ltd'. It has been a pivotal time and we're incredibly excited about what lies ahead.

It therefore gives us pleasure to announce that, in order to accommodate our ambitious development plans and dynamic team, we will be moving Welcome to a new location. Our last day of residency at Spring Hill Farm in Pitsford will be Friday 8th July and we will begin operating from Moulton Park in Northampton from Monday 11th July.

Moulton Park is a vibrant, modern commercial complex that offers ambitious businesses like Welcome the ideal base from which to grow, welcome customers and continue to develop products that push industries forward.

Our new address details will be as follows:

Welcome Systems Ltd

1 Westleigh Park

Scirocco Close

Moulton Park

Northampton

NN3 6BW

Our existing telephone numbers will remain, but from 11th July, we will be adding the following number: 0330 100 10 90. All other contact details will remain the same, although we will no longer be contactable by fax.

During the move, our team will still be available and there will be no disruption to service for any of our software platforms.

If you have any questions about the move, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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[fusion_text]Urban People logo

This week's blog of the week is a bit unusual, because it actually shines the spotlight on a post that was published a few weeks ago. But that's for good reason, because today is a historic day for Britain, and if you work in the hospitality industry you're doubtless wondering how our exit from the European Union is likely to affect your job or business.

In truth, it's a question none of us can answer with any kind of certainty at the moment, but the following blog from recruitment firm Urban People delivers a considered opinion on both the pros and cons of Brexit for hospitality.

Exposing the lack of skilled UK hotel staff is cited as a key concern, along with the need to renegotiate trade agreements and supplier contracts. Urban People counters this with the fact that the potential increase in air fares and a weaker pound could force more people to holiday at home, thus boosting native tourism numbers.

Well worth a read, particularly now that the pubic has made its decision.

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8% OTA commission is coming

There’s a new kid on the block in the land of online travel agencies (OTAs) and it promises to challenge the notion that hotels have no choice but to pay significant commissions for bookings. But should your hotel take them at their word and join Hotel Bonanza?

Any new OTA is worth a sniff if you’re a hotelier and Hotel Bonanza is no different. Or is it? Head across to their website and you’re immediately promised that you’ll only pay 8% commission for the bookings it sends your way, nothing more - “ever”.

The consumer website is yet to go live (it is slated to later this year), and the team behind Hotel Bonanza are currently focussed on building the database of hotels.

So, should you join? Let’s take a closer look…

Just 8% commission?

In a recent interview with Hotel Owner magazine, Hotel Bonanza founder and CEO Suzie Barber explained the reason she devised the new service. “We understand the frustrations of accommodation providers currently being squeezed by large OTAs and that’s where we saw a gap in the market for a more logical way to do business which doesn’t cut so deep into profits,” said Barber. “We have had an amazing response from the trade so far. There’s a genuine appetite for what we are doing.”

The hotelier portal website makes note of the fact that guests are rarely aware of how much OTA bookings cost hotels and describes the situation hoteliers find themselves in as being “stuck between a rock and a hard place”. And they have a point - hotels need OTA business to fight through the melee on Google, but it often comes at a significant cost of 15% commission or more. Guests simply aren’t aware of this, and why should they be?

We’re informed that Hotel Bonanza settled on a commission rate of 8% after two years of research. They promise that the rate is fixed, but also explain there will be a membership model for Hotel Bonanza that will give registered guests a 5% saving on every booking they make in exchange for a £10 annual fee. What isn’t made clear is how that will affect rates and whether or not hoteliers are expected to take the hit themselves and drop tariffs accordingly.

Look and feel

Because the consumer website is yet to launch, we can only judge what is likely to be the finished product via a few animated screenshots on the hotelier portal page. And it looks rather nice. White space is used judiciously and the search process is refreshingly simple.

Google Maps integration clearly plays a big part in the user experience, as does clear pricing. The presence of what appears to be ‘Bonanza member’ prices confirms the existence of the aforementioned loyalty scheme for guests.

On the whole, Hotel Bonanza looks attractive, functional and approachable, but we’ll have to wait until later this year to give it a proper test; the team behind the website do make it clear that we’re not looking at the finished version.

Hotel Bonanza screenshot

Sign up process

Click the prominent ‘Join Us’ button on the Hotel Bonanza hotelier website and you’re asked for some relatively simple details - your name, hotel name, contact details and the channel manager you use (proof that the presence of such technology is now fully expected in the hotel sector).

Things start to get a little more involved once you choose a password. The following screens take you straight into the detailed setup of your listing with everything from room types to rate plans and cancellation policies requested. It’s quite a bit to be hit with immediately, but demonstrates Hotel Bonanza’s desire to avoid any faffing around when it comes to getting genuinely interested hoteliers on board.

Hotel Bonanza sign up

Are they alone?

No. Low-cost airline Ryanair is launching Ryanair Rooms on 1st October and, although they've declined to reveal the commission rate for hotels, it is safe to assume it will be somewhat lower than the 15% industry standard.

Summary

On the face of it, Hotel Bonanza is doing nothing more than simply lowering the commission rate for hoteliers, but combine that with what appears to be a compelling user experience for guests - and some encouraging rhetoric throughout the hotelier portal website - and that may just be enough to jumpstart the bandwagon.

Hotel Bonanza is a brand new website, and, like any new website, it’ll take time for it to permeate throughout the world wide web and gain a decent ranking on Google. It has sizeable competition, but jump on early and you may be one of the hotels that benefits from a fresh new OTA that clearly has more than a passing interest in helping hotels remain profitable.

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Snapchat Logo

Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Pah! Snapchat is where it’s at. But how can your hotel make effective use of one of the freshest - and, on the face of it - most perplexing social networks?

Snapchat first debuted in September 2011. Now, it is estimated to be worth somewhere in the region of $18billion and reportedly has more users than Twitter. Clearly, suggestions last year that Snapchat was about to become the ‘next big thing’ in social networking were bang on the money.

Tellingly, millennials account for 7 out of 10 ‘Snapchatters’, which may explain why Snapchat video views are now greater than Facebook’s.

But, enough with the big stats - we can almost guarantee you’re asking yourself one question…

What is Snapchat?

Confession time. I am a geek and have considered myself at the heart of tech for a very long time indeed, but I’ve previously installed Snapchat on my iPhone several times only to look at it, scratch my head, and then immediately consign it to the pile of deleted apps.

It just didn’t make a huge amount of sense to me, but that’s no surprise when you consider that the majority of active Snapchat users reside within the 18-24 age bracket. So, is Snapchat a platform aimed squarely at a younger audience? Now that I’ve had time to play with it again, I’m not so convinced.

Snapchat is an instant messaging service, but it is unlike any of its forefathers. Messages have a very short shelf life on this particular social network; senders can choose a lifespan for their videos and images that ranges from 1 to 10 seconds. Once the message arrives at the other end and is watched by the recipient, it disappears. Forever.

How does Snapchat work in marketing?

Just as with Facebook and Twitter, businesses can set up their own Snapchat profiles. Once created, they can add ‘friends’ and send out messages just like regular users.

The ‘Discover’ feature is rather more compelling for marketing departments, as it focuses on providing daily editorial on trending topics via collaborations with the likes of CNN and National Geographic. Discover content can even be targeted based on the needs of a brand’s audience.

Should I be using Snapchat for my hotel’s marketing?

The developers behind Snapchat were clever enough to recognise the importance of stories in all of our lives. Humans love a good story, which is why it is now possible to create our own and devour our friends’ via Snapchat’s ‘Stories’ feature.

With Stories, users of Snapchat can post a collection of photos and videos and have them automatically tied together in one package that their friends can watch (and re-watch) for 24 hours before they’re deleted forever.

Because of this little feature, we think the answer to the above question is a resounding “yes!”.

How hotels can use Snapchat Stories

Consider a day in the life of your establishment. How many people get to see the inner workings of your hotel? How many guests get an insight into what it takes to make their stay pleasurable?

If the idea of videoing the nuts and bolts of your hotel operation sounds rather unpalatable, bear in mind that we now live in what has become known as the ‘sharing society’, and giving others a glimpse into the mechanics of a business is a great way to drive interest in one’s brand.

The best thing about Snapchat, as with so many new advertising platforms, is that it is incredibly easy to get started and experiment with. All you need is a smartphone (Snapchat is free) and a willingness to begin recording the life of your hotel.

As you go about your job, start recording interactions with (willing) staff and glimpses at back office departments. Perhaps you’ve got a wedding this coming weekend - why not show off the on-going setup of the marquee and catering operation?

Your hotel’s story is fascinating. With Snapchat, you can begin telling it.

Which hotels have already started using Snapchat?

If we’ve whetted your appetite, there’s nothing like a bit of inspiration to get you going. You could do worse than read Mariott’s story, the first big hotel chain to begin a marketing campaign on Snapchat.

Conclusion

Give Snapchat a go. Like any social network, when you first begin, it’ll feel like you’re simply sending content out into an empty room with no potential guests in sight, but the more you do it, and the more you tell people you’re doing it, the more chance you have of attracting engaged followers.

Snapchat is devilishly fun, so there’s little to lose. Once you get the hang of creating your daily stories, start telling guests that they can follow you on Snapchat - you could do this in person at checkout time, within your confirmation emails or on your hotel’s blog.

If you’re a hotelier that already uses Snapchat, we’d love to hear your experiences - get involved in the comments below!

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