Customers Michiel from Pillows Hotels: How Front Desk Upsell Automation helps tackle the challenge of manual upselling and create a happier workplace



Michiel from Pillows Hotels: How Front Desk Upsell Automation helps tackle the challenge of manual upselling and create a happier workplace

Michiel Pillows Hotels

Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof is a 4-star hotel in Ghent, Belgium, offering guests a seamless blend of modern comforts in elegant Louis XIV interiors. The hotel is a proud member of the Pillows Hotels Collection. From city hotels to grand boutique properties, It unites various hotel types under one umbrella, extending its hospitality to travellers in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Michiel Bogaert, Corporate Revenue and Distribution Manager at Pillows Hotels, is a champion of innovative approaches and has been the driving force behind the Pillows team adopting Oaky. We talked to Michiel and the front desk hosts at Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof to find out about the team’s experience with the Oaky upselling software, namely with the Front Desk Upsell automation module.

Pillows Hotels' Feedback on Their Experience with Oaky
How Pillows Hotels Tackle the Challenge of Manual Upselling and Create a Happier Workplace with Oaky

Challenge: Time-consuming manual upselling and the inability to track results at the front desk

Before implementing Oaky, the team at Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof relied on spreadsheets to keep track of upsells during check-in.

This tiresome process proved to be a significant hassle for the front desk team. They had to record each upsold deal manually and then enter it into the PMS. This slowed down the check-in process considerably and didn’t allow them to scale their efforts.

Moreover, as Michiel pointed out, they struggled to track the individual successes of each agent. This hindered their ability to establish an incentive programme to reward top-performing front desk hosts.

Top 3 objectives Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof aimed to achieve with Oaky implementation

1. Streamline the upselling process for optimised ancillary sales and revenue

Since the process of manual upselling turned out to be time-consuming and tiresome, Michiel sought a robust solution to ease off the workload for the team while boosting ancillary sales and revenue. With spreadsheets at the front desk, the team was only able to upsell three items, missing out on opportunities to sell room upgrades and leaving potential revenue on the table.

2. Motivate and retain the front desk team

Michiel was looking for a solution to boost the team’s motivation. He realised that rewarding the team for successful upselling would motivate them to master their skills and help them enjoy the process along the way. The goal was to create a happier workplace by turning upselling into a “fun and simple” process.

3. Broaden guests’ awareness of available services and enrich guests’ stays

Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof boasts a variety of amenities catering to diverse guest types, including an onsite gym, spa, meeting rooms, a restaurant and bistro. However, due to the manual upselling process being limited to only selling three items, guests were unable to discover and experience the versatility of available amenities and services and, hence, make the most out of their stays.

Outstanding revenue and motivated front desk team: How Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof benefits from Oaky

1. A boost in ancillary sales and remarkable average upsell revenue of €163 per room per month

With the adoption of Oaky, the hotel experienced an unparalleled uplift in ancillary revenue.

With Oaky, we went from almost nothing to… a lot.
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Michiel Bogaert
Corporate Revenue and Distribution Manager

By leveraging Oaky, seamlessly integrated with Guestline PMS, the front desk team is now equipped with an easy-to-use upsell system that enables them to suggest relevant upgrades and services to guests at the moment of check-in.

This helps them to upsell room upgrades and ancillary services on the spot, leading to unprecedented revenue results. Since the Oaky roll-out, the hotel has been consistently generating €163 in average upsell revenue per room per month, reaching €224 in December 2023. The average ROI achieved for the year 2023 was 31.9.

Pillows Hotels

2. Motivated team that is becoming more and more confident at upselling

Implementing Oaky proved effective in fostering an upsell culture at the hotel and instilling confidence in front desk agents to promote room upgrades, breakfast deals, parking spots, etc. As the system provides a real-time overview of available room upgrades and services along with accurate rates, the front desk team can rest assured they sell what is actually available and accurately priced.

Oaky makes it easy for us to upsell room upgrades. Before Oaky, we had to go to the PMS and search for all the information there, check the availability, rate, etc. Now we can go directly to Oaky and see all the necessary details to upgrade a guest at check-in swiftly.
Stefanie Pillows Hotels
Stefanie Verthé
Front Desk Host

With the incentive programme put into practice by Michiel through Oaky’s Front Desk Upsell module, the front desk team can reap the rewards of their successful upsells. For every room upgrade or upsell deal sold, a front desk host at Pillows receives points based on the type of upsell. At the end of each month, team members can redeem their points for gift cards, vouchers or exciting experiences. Michiel goes the extra mile to organise special experiences for the Pillows team, as he explains,

“Having this point system in place can benefit retaining your employees. Team members can anticipate enjoying a rewarding experience in the future, which they don't have to pay for, as they’ve earned it through successful upselling.

3. Delighted guests appreciating the opportunity to upgrade their experience

All in all, the adoption of Oaky has led to elevated guest satisfaction. Guests are now aware of all the experiences, add-ons, and upgrades they can take advantage of at the property.

Stefanie, a front desk host at Pillows, highlights guest feedback on Oaky’s Pre-stay module that the team at Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof has rolled out shortly after they had enabled Front Desk Upsell automation.

“Guests are very positive about the pre-arrival emails they receive. They appreciate the opportunity to discover and purchase extras and deals before they arrive at the property.”

Guest satisfaction is also reflected in an exceptional conversion rate of 35.8% (cumulative for Oaky Front Desk + Pre-stay modules).

Pillows Hotel Reylof
Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof
Wellness at Pillows
Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Wellness Area

Pillows Hotels team continues to strive for new heights by refining their upselling skills with the Heyward Group and Oaky training

The sky is the limit for the team at Pillows Hotels. To achieve the ultimate excellence at front desk upselling and solidify their skills across the group, Pillows Hotels opted for a training program designed in collaboration with the Heyward Group and Oaky.

The first front desk training sessions proved successful at Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof, with participation from front desk managers across the entire group, as well as front desk agents specifically from Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof.

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Penn Chai, Digital & Operational Project Lead and Front Desk Upsell Expert at Heyward Group
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"Train the Trainer" training at Pillows

Michiel emphasises the value of the training and is positive about the mindset shift it sparked, a journey the team at Pillows is determined to keep building upon:

We highly recommend other hotels to follow the training, as it played a pivotal role in transforming our mindset. The biggest takeaway for us was that, as a hotel, you can continue delivering exceptional guest experiences while charging for added value.

The training made us realise that there's boundless potential for upselling, and embracing creativity makes it fun not only for guests but also for our hotel team. Through participation in the Train the Trainer program, we also improved our capabilities to train our front desk teams, further strengthening our proficiency in this crucial aspect of hotel management.”

Bottom line

The adoption of Oaky at Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof became transformational not only for the hotel’s revenue growth and profitability but also contributed to creating a motivated and confident front desk team, ultimately contributing to enhanced guest satisfaction.

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