News for the Hospitality Executive
Desk Upsell Training Can Increase RevPAR
By Doug Kennedy
October 6, 2011
Although 2011 has provided a quicker rebound in terms of hotel occupancy and overall RevPAR, most hotels are still looking for ways to further increase their ADR. One great place to start looking is your hotel’s front desk. Depending on your hotel’s inventory of accommodation types, the potential impact of a comprehensive, focused upselling program will vary greatly. However when you sit down to do the math on the potential additional revenue to be generated even for hotels with minimal upsell opportunities, it becomes instantly clear that the effort can easily generate a significant ROI. Potential upsell opportunities include:
- Special room types, such as junior or one bedroom suites,
- Rooms or suites with special features such as whirlpool baths and kitchens.
- Preferred views or hotel locations.
- Special "exclusive" floors such 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. (Such as offering the family of four a second room at 30% off.)
Of course one opportunity to upsell
when callers contact the reservations department or call center. Yet with so many guests booking online these
days, the front desk registration experience might present the best
Front Desk Upselling Training Techniques
Structuring Rates So That An Upgrade Is A Reasonable Value
Most properties market a range of rates to various market segments. However, groups, high-volume accounts, or guests participating in special discount programs, are only offered their special rate for the least expensive room type. Upgraded accommodations, if offered at all, are at rack rates. The end result is that the additional cost to upgrade does not justify the value received.
For example, if the rack rates are $100 for a regular room and $135 for deluxe, a $35 difference seems reasonable. However, when a special corporate rate of $79 is offered for the regular room only, the upgrade fee, which is now $56, is effectively out of reach.
To work around this, many properties are implementing a “flat rate” for upgrading. In this scenario, the guest always has the option of upgrading for the same fee, regardless of what rate they qualify for. So whether it’s a corporate, group, government, or promotional rate, the investment for the upgrade is reasonable. Best of all, additional revenue is created from rooms which might have been given away at lower rates anyway!
Recognition And Incentive Programs
A key ingredient in any upsell program is to measure the results and to implement a recognition and/or incentive program. Front desk upsell incentives are especially easy to justify, as the upsell can be documented. (Associates simply do a print-out to document the change.)
Most incentives reward the individual associate for each upsell, with either a predetermined cash amount, with points that can be redeemed for prizes, or perhaps with days off with pay. (Cash incentives should be paid separately to help differentiate rewards from base salary.) Alternatives are team incentives where everyone who works during a given time period (i.e. shift, day, or week) is rewarded equally for upsells which occurred during that period.
Regardless of which incentive program is selected, it is important to post the results in a prominent area on a regular basis. This helps spark the competitive spirit, and reminds all associates of the potential to achieve the same rewards being earned by the top performers.
By focusing your front desk team’s attention on upselling, by providing training tips for doing so, and by measuring and rewarding the results, your property can turn-on the faucet to this extra revenue stream. Along the way, your guests will enjoy utilizing the extra space, upgraded room features, and special services they might not have otherwise considered.
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