Industry
July 12, 2021

Online vs. Offline Upselling – Show Me the Numbers!

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“Upselling” is an important concept for any hospitality business. Large fries, bigger seats, nicer rooms…

For hotels, the many benefits of upselling are obvious. But how and when should hotels up-sell? Online tool pre-arrival? Offline at check-in? Combination of both? Let’s follow the money to find out…

Front-desk upselling is great when done right. Who hasn't been won over into an upgrade by the charming smile of the front desk staff?

But let’s be honest: I can’t remember the last time I was offered a hotel upgrade – and this has nothing to do with my hiatus in traveling thanks to Covid. Also, the “room with a view” does not sound too appealing when I am checking in at 11pm after a long flight. “Bottle of Champagne?” – “Nah, I’m a beer guy”.

It’s all about the timing, consistency, and personalization. Yeah, there is no GIF for that…

Even with the danger of me sounding a bit bias towards online upselling, timing, consistency, and personalization can be easiest achieved when automated. Pre-arrival. Via UpsellGuru. Yes, that’s us!

I will admit: Both methods, online and offline, have their strengths. But in combination, they develop synergies (the famous “Billboard Effect” for example), which guarantees higher sales and success.

Well, I promised you some numbers…. so, let’s get to it before I bubble about upselling all day.

In the study "Online Upselling: Moving beyond offline upselling in the hotel industry" (Basak Denizci Guillet) published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management, a comparison was made between front-desk and online upselling.

The results: synergies all over the place. Online vs. offline upselling goes together like peaches and cream.

In the case study, a 5-star hotel with 262 rooms in central Hong Kong was analysed over a period of 7 months, right after the implementation of UpsellGuru, to investigate the direct impact of online up-selling.

Key findings at a glance:

  • Overall, online upselling was 25% higher than front-desk upselling.
  • Online upselling impacted front desk upselling in a positive way: the number of front-desk upgrades had more than doubled compared to the previous years.
  • Synergies have developed: while most upgrades have been completed online, the average price at the front desk was slightly higher (I guess that charming smile did help!)

Discussing with the hotel's Director of Revenue Management, the main reasons for the increase in front-desk upselling were mainly:

  • Higher focus on front-desk upselling, due to the 2018 UpsellGuru implementation.
  • The front-desk upgrade prices were adjusted based on what it was sold for on UpsellGuru.
  • Because of the interaction with UpsellGuru prior to arrival, front desk staff were able to target guests in a much more customized manner.

Conclusion :

There are no winners in the battle of online vs. offline. The real winners are the hoteliers (congrats for mastering the art of upselling!!) and of course their guests: hope you loved that upgrade we had you bid on!

Online and offline upselling both work separately from each other, but together, they lead to greater success.

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