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Hotel upselling: 10 key upselling techniques and ideas

Hotel upselling pic1

Mastering the art of hotel upselling has become an important strategy for elevating the guest experience and driving revenue. Yet, many hotels struggle to implement it in an effective and profitable way.

Discover how to capture upselling opportunities throughout the guest journey to refine the guest experience and drive upsell revenue. On top of that, explore our key upselling ideas and techniques to help you make the most of your inventory and amenities.

What is hotel upselling?

Hotel upselling is the practice of offering guests extra services or amenities that add value to their stay, such as room upgrades, in-room extras, spa treatments or F&B deals.

Although upselling is an essential component of hotel revenue management, you shouldn’t view it as purely transactional. When done right, upselling contributes to guest satisfaction and benefits both the hotel and the guest.

What is the difference between upselling and cross-selling?

Upselling focuses on persuading guests to opt for a more expensive option within the same category, such as upgrading to a higher room category.

On the other hand, cross-selling encourages guests to purchase additional amenities or services from different categories, like spa treatments or dining options. For the sake of simplicity, the term “hotel upselling” is often used as an umbrella term to include “cross-selling”.

Why is hotel upselling important?

Apart from the apparent benefit of generating more ancillary revenue, hotel upselling is also used to increase guest satisfaction. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits upselling can bring to your hotel:

  • Increased spend per guest and more revenue - by upselling higher category rooms and add-ons, you can increase your revenue 100-fold, depending on your hotel upsell potential. For example, Oaky’s customers have reported generating between €35 and €200 on average in upsell revenue per guest per month by using automated upselling. The higher your upsell potential (in other words, the various room types, room attributes, facilities and services you have on offer), the more upsell revenue you can generate every month.

Hotel upselling guest spend
  • Making guests aware of upselling options your hotel offers — A common challenge for hotels is sufficiently informing guests about their additional services and the hotel’s amenities. Numerous hotels, including luxury ones such as Sofitel Legend the Grand Amsterdam, PMG Hotels and Resorts, and many others, have highlighted this issue. The truth is that without active promotion of your room upgrade and add-on options, guests are unlikely to learn about them.

  • Elevated guest experience — With upselling options offered, guests can customise their stays to their liking, leading to memorable stays.

  • Increased guest loyalty — Personalised experiences and upsell offers lead to better stays, fostering loyalty and ensuring repeat business.

  • Unique brand positioning and differentiation in the competitive landscape — Unique upselling offers also contribute to brand positioning and differentiation in the competitive landscape. For example, Grand Hotel De Draak communicates its sustainability stance by upselling the Hotels for Trees deal. This eco-friendly deal, created by Oaky and Hotels for Trees, encourages guests to skip housekeeping in exchange for planting a tree. Grand Hotel De Draak has planted 2,653 trees in two years (of which 2,098 were planted in 2023 alone).

  • Mitigating lost revenue during low season and decreased occupancy — Upselling lets you unlock a new revenue stream and capitalise on your ancillary opportunities. It can help prevent revenue losses from overbooking and compensate for reduced occupancy.

What can you upsell (6 hotel upselling ideas)

When it comes to upselling, opportunities are endless. Upselling in your hotel shouldn’t be limited to hotel room upgrades or breakfast. However, you should always keep your target guest in mind and consider the operational implications for your upselling strategy so as not to create an abundance of extra work for your other departments.

What can you upsell?
What Can You Upsell at a Hotel?

1. Room upgrades and room-related deals

Do you have various room types at your hotel and keep overbooking a standard room category to mitigate revenue losses? This is a common scenario for hoteliers who struggle to encourage guests to book high-tiered rooms and miss out on potential revenue.

However, if you start presenting a selection of paid upgrades pre-arrival, you can capitalise on your diverse room types and room attributes (attribute-based selling).

Your upselling options might include:

  • Room upgrades (suites, junior suites, etc.)

  • Late check-out

  • Early check-in

  • Various room attributes (rooms with a balcony, a sea view, a garden view, a more spacious room or a bathtub in the room).

  • Attribute-based selling

In addition to upselling different room types, you can significantly benefit from using the attribute-based selling approach. It allows guests to pick and mix and select rooms by features and experiences they provide rather than categories. You can sell these features at an additional price.

For example, a guest might want to customise their stay by including a king-sized bed in the room for €20 extra and add a late check-out option to the package for another €7. Or, they might opt for a room with a sea view on the top floor for €50.

The pro tip is to match your room upgrade and attribute suggestions to your target audience. You don’t want to suggest a room with a workstation to a family with kids or a room with a crib to business travellers.

  • Early check-in and late check-out

These upsells are extremely popular among guests. For an additional cost, you can sell the opportunity to check in earlier/check out later than the standard time. The good news is that you can upsell these deals at various moments during the guest journey — pre-arrival, at check-in and also during the guest stay.

The price for these deals can fluctuate according to the demand, if you use dynamic pricing. This means, if demand increases, you can generate more revenue from your early check-in and late checkout deals as they will be sold at higher price points.

2. Food and beverage deals (breakfast, dinner, etc.)

F&B holds a lot of potential for your upselling strategy. You can upsell the following:

  • Breakfast (according to our data, it accounts for 29% of total ancillary revenue generated by our customers)

  • Dining options at your hotel restaurant

  • Welcome drinks

  • Dinners for special occasions (e.g. birthday dinner, anniversary dinner, etc.)

  • Wine tasting, beer tasting

  • 3 or 4-course dinners featuring local produce.

3. Transportation and parking

At an extra cost, you can help your guests to get around your destination. You can upsell the following:

  • An airport shuttle service

  • A meet-and-greet service at the airport

  • A card for public transportation

  • Shuttle services to local attractions

  • Bike or e-bike rental

As many people still travel by car, providing a parking spot is also a great idea.

If you don’t have parking spots on your premises, arranging for nearby parking is an excellent option to make your guests' lives easier.

If you target luxury guests, valet parking is a must. It elevates the prestige of your hotel and underscores your commitment to exceptional guest care.

4. Wellness and spa services

Wellness travel surged in popularity right after the pandemic. According to the findings of the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the wellness sector will continue to grow in the coming years. By the end of 2024, it’s projected to reach $6.3 trillion, $7.4 trillion in 2025, and $8.5 trillion in 2027­, which is almost double what it was in 2020.

Give your guests an opportunity to relax and unwind by offering the following wellness deals:

  • A single spa treatment or spa packages

  • A training session with a fitness instructor

  • Yoga, pilates or aqua aerobics classes

  • Detox drinks

  • Wellness-focused menus

  • In-room wellness amenities (e.g. yoga mats, resistance bands, or compact weights).

Hotel upselling spa

5. Activities

Spruce up your upselling mix by adding exciting activities. Keep your target guests in mind when deciding which activities to offer.

Hotels often partner with local businesses to arrange enticing activities and experiences, yielding mutual, cross-promotional benefits. A few ideas include:

  • Chef-led cooking classes

  • Guided hiking tours

  • City tours

  • Historical site visits

  • Watersports such as kayaking, snorkelling, or jet-skiing

  • Local craft workshops

  • Kids' adventure camps or educational tours.

6. Special occasion packages

It’s no secret that people often travel to celebrate special occasions, providing you with ample opportunity to delight your guests by offering packages specifically tailored to their event. Elevate your guest experience by providing them with the opportunity to book the following packages:

  • Birthday package

  • Honeymoon package

  • Anniversary package

  • New Year’s Eve package

  • Any other package to celebrate a local holiday (for example, the Chinese New Year).

Hotel upselling special occasion packages

When is the best time to upsell?

To achieve the best results with your upselling strategy, create multiple upselling touchpoints throughout the entire guest journey.

While most hoteliers believe upselling is only effective at check-in, there are more opportunities to communicate your offerings to guests.

  • Before booking

Before your guests even make a booking, why not spark their interest in your additional services and add-ons? It's all about creating anticipation!

Showcase your special deals on your hotel website and social media platforms. By doing so, you'll pique their interest and make it more likely that they'll indulge in these extras, either during booking or through pre-arrival messaging.

Another idea is to integrate your upsell options into a booking engine to drive exposure for add-ons and offers at the last step of reserving a room via your website.

  • Pre-arrival

As guests anticipate their stay, you can boost guest spending by offering additional services and upselling hotel rooms through pre-arrival messaging.

Our research reveals that emails sent 7-10 days before arrival lead to the highest click-through rate of 48% and a conversion rate of 10.6%. This is nearly double the click-through rate observed on other days!

Hotel upselling best timing

As a follow-up, you can send another email three days before arrival, which usually leads to a 42-43% click-through rate and a 12% conversion rate.

When you upsell hotel rooms pre-arrival, you can fill up those suites and high-tiered rooms and resell rooms from your standard category. In addition, service sales allow you to calibrate your staffing levels accordingly and save costs.

  • At the front desk

Check-in is a golden opportunity to communicate your upsells again. In fact, hotel front desk upselling can help you generate 5-9 times more revenue than pre-arrival upselling. However, combining both approaches remains the most lucrative strategy.

Front desk upselling offers a distinct advantage: direct interaction with the guest. It gives you the opportunity to read the situation and identify your guest’s needs and wants to better cater to their preferences.

To upsell successfully at check-in, though, your agents need to have real-time access to the most crucial information — room and service availability and prices. Luckily, hotel upsell software like Oaky can help you tackle this challenge.

Front desk upsell revenue potential
  • In-stay

While selling hotel rooms might not be possible at this stage, your existing guests will still appreciate the opportunity to book your signature dinner or a city tour. Self-service technology will enable your guests to book deals and services with one click and save time for your front desk team.

To put it into practice, you can use upsell software solutions that provide your guests with ongoing access to the deals and services you have on offer.

10 hotel upselling techniques

1. Incorporate pre-arrival upselling

The pre-arrival stage of the guest journey is a valuable moment to make your guests aware of your upgrades and relevant offers.

Send personalised, pre-arrival emails highlighting room upgrades, spa packages, and special dining options. This not only builds excitement but also gives guests the chance to plan and budget for these extras, leading to higher conversion rates. Additionally, when a room upgrade is purchased, it allows you to resell standard rooms and adjust staffing levels based on the number of guests who have opted for additional services.

2. Segment and personalise your upsells

Not all guests are the same. So, why offer them the same deals?

Use rich guest data to segment and tailor your upselling offers. Personalised offers make guests feel valued and increase the likelihood of conversion.

For example, families with kids will appreciate kid-friendly activities. For business travellers, consider offering room service as an upsell option as they value convenience

3. Use appealing images to promote your deals

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to presenting your add-ons and extras. Use high-quality images to showcase your room upgrades, dining options, and other amenities. When guests can visualise the luxury and comfort, they're more likely to spend a little extra.

When promoting room upgrades, the best practice is to include at least 3 pictures per room upgrade, including a bathroom picture (it helps to boost conversions).

Make sure your pictures look as close to reality as possible to avoid creating unrealistic expectations.

Hotel upselling offers

4. Unleash your creativity to sell unique upsells

Think outside the box! Offer unique upsells, like private cooking classes with your chef, guided tours of local attractions, or custom picnic setups. These creative options not only delight your potential guests but also set your hotel apart from the competition.

Get inspired by the Oaky Awards 2024 Most Creative Upselling winners

5. Sell experiences, not features

Guests are more likely to be swayed by the promise of a memorable and unique experience than just a list of features. Instead of just mentioning the additional square metres your guests can get when purchasing a room upgrade, describe the feeling your guests can look forward to — the comfort of the plush bedding and the tranquillity of the private balcony. Make it about the experience they'll have, not just the extras.

6. Use dynamic pricing for your room upgrades and deals

Maximise your revenue by adjusting your prices based on demand. Use dynamic pricing to offer room upgrades and special deals at competitive rates. This flexibility allows you to capture more sales during high-demand periods and still attract interest when it’s quieter.

With upselling software, you can also extend your dynamic pricing strategy to early check-in and late checkout deals, driving additional revenue.

7. Train your front desk team on upselling

Your front desk staff are your frontline upsellers. Provide them with training on how to recognise upsell opportunities and attract guests effectively. A friendly conversation when a guest arrives about available upgrades and services can significantly boost your sales.

8. Upsell at the right time

Offer upsells at moments when guests are most likely to appreciate them. When it comes to pre-arrival upselling, send your pre-arrival deals 7-10 days before the guest’s stay.

When upselling at check-in, you can spot these opportunities during your conversation with your guest. Stay relevant and be attentive to your guest’s needs to personalise your offers, which can make a big difference to your conversion rate.

9. Use hotel upsell software to maximise your efforts

Take advantage of technology to streamline your upselling efforts. Hotel upsell software like Oaky can streamline the upsell process, automate personalised offers and provide real-time availability, making it easier to present relevant upsells and track their successes. With this tech solution, you can consolidate the process across departments, making it consistent and hassle-free.

10. Integrate your upsell software with your property management system

Make sure your upsell software is integrated with your property management system. This ensures seamless communication and up-to-date information on room availability and pricing. Integration helps provide a smooth experience for your staff and guests, leading to more effective upselling.

Hotel upselling script

There are multiple ways to upsell to a guest. Factors like the moment of the guest journey and your guest segment will impact your approach. What remains true is that it's essential to avoid pushy sales tactics, as no one appreciates hard selling.

Pre-arrival email script:

Dear [Guest’s Name],

We are delighted to welcome you to [Hotel Name] soon!

As you prepare for your upcoming visit, we wanted to ask if there is anything special you’d like us to arrange in your room before you arrive?

We would like to ensure you have an outstanding experience and would love to give you the opportunity to personalise your stay [Link to a selection of upgrades and offers].

Looking forward to your visit!

Front desk script:

Front Desk Staff: Welcome to [Hotel Name], [Guest’s Name]!

How was your journey? I see you’ve booked our classic room, but I wanted to let you know about an opportunity to enhance your stay.

Our premium suite, which is usually fully booked, is currently available. We can upgrade you to this room for an additional €30. While our classic rooms are comfy and nice, our premium suite is an absolute delight. What I personally like is the stunning ocean view, which looks even more incredible during the sunset. Would you be interested?

I noticed you’re here as a couple. We also have some fantastic restaurant and day spa specials available right now that our guests absolutely love. Would you like to hear more about them?

How to improve your hotel upselling programme

Cultivating an upselling culture is the most crucial aspect of a successful upselling programme. Your team has to be aligned with the goals you’re pursuing with upselling and realise the importance of this process for the hotel business and its guests.

Here are a few points to help you elevate your upselling programme:

How to improve your hotel upselling programme
How to Improve Your Upselling Program?
  • Have an upselling champion

An upselling champion is a member of your front desk team who excels at upselling. They possess excellent communication skills, a deep understanding of the hotel's offerings, and the ability to anticipate and fulfil guests' needs and preferences. An upselling champion is critical as they serve as a role model for the team, easing the workload of front desk managers and revenue managers.

  • Integrate upselling into your SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)

Upselling should become an integral part of your team's daily routine. SOPs ensure that upselling techniques are standardised and consistently applied across all guest interactions, resulting in a cohesive and professional approach to upselling. SOPs can also provide a framework for measuring and evaluating your team's performance, allowing you to hold them accountable for meeting upselling targets and goals.

  • Make upselling part of your daily briefings

Including upselling in daily briefings keeps everyone on the same page. By discussing upsell opportunities, goals, and techniques, your team stays informed and motivated to reach the targets.

  • Set up incentive plans

Understand the motivations of your team and tailor your plan according to what they look for (you might need a few different plans depending on different motivations). It will help boost your upsell results tremendously.

  • Use gamification and training to entice your team further

With training, your team will become more confident in upselling, which will make a drastic difference in their motivation. By adding an element of healthy competition, you not only incentivise your team to strive for more but you can also set milestones and celebrate successes.

How does hotel upselling software elevate your upsell revenue?

The mission of upsell software in the hotel industry is to empower hoteliers to streamline the entire upsell process and provide hotel guests with multiple upsell touchpoints throughout the guest journey.

Hotel upsell software automates the process of upselling and eliminates manual work while also allowing hotels to reach out to guests with targeted offers at the right time and with the right selection of offers. It enables hotels to maximise revenue by optimising upselling strategies and enhancing the guest experience simultaneously.

One of the primary advantages is that hotel upsell software like Oaky can be connected to a wide range of PMSs globally, ensuring seamless data exchange between the two systems and minimising manual effort.

Discover how hotels worldwide harness the power of automated upselling

Any questions about Oaky? Feel free to reach out!

MKT Olga Vasylieva email
Olga Vasylieva

Senior Marketing Manager 

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