How to Implement a Front Desk Upselling Program

Front desk Interalpen Hotel in Tyrol

 

The idea of “getting the heads in the beds” to generate a revenue stream is something that every hotel needs to work to get beyond.  Now the focus must turn to regaining ground on your average daily rate.  Implementing a comprehensive program for upselling guests at registration is a great way to increase your ADR.

Doug Kennedy, President of the Kennedy Training Network, recently wrote an article discussing ideas to help you create your own program and turn-on the faucet to this extra revenue stream.  Because so many guests book online these days, and too many agents quote only one price – the lowest – the front desk registration experience might present the best opportunity of all.

Many guests may not be aware of upgraded options, possible due to reservations being made by a travel agent or over the phone.  Often times, guests are unaware of the value in the upgraded options.  Perhaps a guest’s needs have changed while en route to your property, or the impulse of the moment may cause them to be more receptive to upgraded options, specifically after a stressful day of travel.

A great advantage to upselling at registration is that your staff can be very specific about the offerings of particular rooms or suites, since the front desk knows the exact inventory of any particular day.  The potential impact of this focused upselling program will vary greatly depending on your hotel’s inventory of accommodations.  Some potential upsell opportunities include:

  • Special room types, such as junior or one-bedroom suites
  • Rooms or suites with special features like a whirlpool bath or kitchen
  • Preferred views or hotel locations
  • Special “exclusive” floors such as concierge or executive level floors
  • Packages that include additional amenities, services or activities
  • Adding on a second room at registration for a significantly reduced rate

Successful upselling programs commonly have three components:  a rate structure that makes upgrades a reasonable value, staff training to educate them on various techniques and tactics and a recognition and incentive program.

Structuring Rates to Make Upgrades a Reasonable Value

Most properties market a range of rates to various market segments including groups and high volume accounts.  But these travelers, as well as guests participating in special discount programs, are typically offered this rate for the least expensive room type.  The additional cost to upgrade simply does not justify the received value.

To combat this issue, properties are now implementing a “flat rate” for upgrading.  This allows guests to upgrade for the same fee, regardless of the rate for which they qualify.  The additional revenue is created from rooms which might have been given away at lower rates if your hotel was over-selling the lowest room type.

Recognition and Incentive Programs

A recognition and/or incentive program is a key ingredient in any upsell program.  Front desk upsell incentives are especially easy to justify, as the incremental upsell revenue can be documented.  Rewards for an individual associate can include a predetermined cash amount, points that can be redeemed for prizes or perhaps days off with pay.  You can build team chemistry by rewarding everyone in a team who works during a given time period equally for upsells.

Whatever incentive program you choose, it is important to post results in a prominent area for everyone to see on a regular basis.  Sparking the competitive fire among your staff and reminding all associates of the potential to achieve the same rewards will help focus your front desk team’s attention on upselling.

To read Kennedy’s tips and techniques for training your front desk staff on upselling techniques, or to read the rest of this article, click here.

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