5 Tips for Upselling at the Hotel Front Desk
Front desk agents are one of the first points of interaction that hotel guests have with staff while on property – and first impressions can set the tone for the guest’s entire stay.
Greeting guests by name and with a smile is, of course, a given. But those who truly shine in this highly consumer-facing role are successful in the art of upselling guests on higher room categories. Typically, hotels that view this as a potential revenue stream will have a formal training program in place.
So set out to impress with your knowledge of the position during the interview process and ask if your employer offers front desk staff an official upsell education program. If so, the program represents an opportunity for front desk staffers to better their sales skills and for the hotel to better its bottom line through a series of simple techniques:
1. Offer a personalized, friendly greeting
Greet arriving guests with the same friendly, hospitable demeanor as you always would. Smiling and establishing eye contact are essential to warmly welcoming guests as they check in as is asking open-ended questions such as “how was your trip?” along with questions that demonstrate how you recognize them as unique individuals. Reference information included in the reservation and/or guest profile, acknowledging that guests are staying at the hotel while on their honeymoon or to enjoy a family vacation and then ask if they need suggestions for relevant local experiences.
But remember to be equal parts approachable and professional because you are representing the hotel as much as you are yourself as a service professional.
2. Research the guest before upselling
Be sure to look at the reservation carefully and the guest profile, if one exists, in order to identify those guests who have the greatest likelihood of upgrading. Business-related reservations such as corporate bookings or negotiated rates are probably not going to make good upsell prospects since their accommodations will be expensed back to their company.
But leisure travelers, including couples on a romantic getaway, family groups, extended-stay travelers, anyone celebrating a special occasion, as well as those who booked through an online third party such as an online travel agency (OTA) or walk-ins have upsell potential and they typically are not aware of the hotel’s various room categories. Also, note the guest’s payment method as that – particularly elite credit cards – can also indicate how receptive he or she will be to an upgrade.
3. Ask good questions
Take those initial greeting questions to the next level in order to better understand what guests expect of their hotel stay. This is particularly vital with guests who made their booking through a third party and may not have previously had the chance to share special requests directly with the hotel.
Will the kids need a TV of their own so there’s no fighting over the iPad and parents can still enjoy their favorite shows? Do couples prefer room to spread out? Positive responses are an opportunity to acknowledge the benefits of the room that they are about to check into, but also to point out how a specific higher room category could better fit their needs.
4. Know your hotel
Before anything else, learn everything there is to know about the hotel’s various room categories, including the features and benefits of each. Mention the price difference only after explaining the room’s additional features. Better still, offer multiple options, starting with the lowest of the incremental price differences.
Don’t simply recite the upgraded amenities as statements of fact. “Access to the executive lounge” should become “your room key will also give you entry to our executive lounge where complimentary breakfast and evening cocktails are served.” Also, remember to check that the inventory is actually available before suggesting it.
5. Become an expert
In addition to selling upgraded room categories, some hotels’ upsell program will also extend to parking, early check-in or late check-out, room packages, in-room services such as a bottled of wine, upgraded WiFi and even cross-selling opportunities such as breakfast daily or spa services.
Moreover, there are also hotels that will offer front desk staff some form of added compensation or commission for upselling guests. One more reason why it’s well worth asking about any training programs that the hotel may offer its front desk agents while still in the interview process.