Home Hospitality Entice Guests With Thoughtful Upselling

Entice Guests With Thoughtful Upselling


Memorable, unique, and authentic.

Today’s hotel guests often tell us of these exact words to describe their preferences for us to create a memorable, unique, and authentic experience at our hotels.

Are we listening to them, and living up to their requests for a personalized experience, one which they will most certainly share with friends and family, and the wider world, while instilling a sense of brand loyalty for a return visit in the future?

Upselling, or enticing, as I prefer to call it, is a crucial aspect to positive satisfaction scores and upward revenue generation when it comes to food and beverage. The success of upselling depends upon many variables, and it is important to be sure to offer the right product or service, at the right time and in the right way. By leveraging the skilled knowledge of a well-trained front-of-the-house staff, upselling doubles as a unique opportunity to initiate an authentic, and interesting aspect of your offerings which the guest may not have anticipated, but will surely appreciate!

These direct interactions with guests are precisely the bespoke customization of their visit which they are hoping for! Remember, the guest’s satisfaction is the most important goal in the hospitality industry, and we want to ensure that our guest feel welcome, comfortable, and have a great stay with us, time and time again!

Of course, as we have been in the midst of rising costs of products, increases in labor and operational costs, and navigating along a much narrower pathway to achieving budget targets, we are obligated to do our homework to discover different avenues for us to apply upselling techniques to our discerning clientele. By having a good upselling strategy in place, you can offer to your guests what they need, and many times, what they didn’t know they needed, while they are on vacation, a business trip, or simply a short stay. With such a well-travelled, well-informed and well-connected clientele, who aims specifically for quality and memorable experiences, it is crucial that we put our best foot forward to offer enticing incentives. They deserve this effort, I believe.

Poolside Cabanas at The St. Regis Houston.— Photo by ©2023 Marriott International Inc.

As food and beverage experts, leveraging upselling techniques in order to drive positive restaurant revenue generation should be one of the biggest tools our toolbox of our financial growth strategy. Knowing your target audience is a crucial step in every upselling opportunity. Three main categories of guests can be the ideal target for your upselling strategy. Couples, families with children, and business travelers. All three of these guest-types present different preferences and may not require the same offerings in your repertoire. Knowing the differences, using this market segmentation, will bring positive effects to their experiences.

Remember, the aim of improving the each guest’s experience should be the goal, while also adding value to their stay. Presenting multiple options as a choice, allows the guests to remain in control of their personal experience, which goes along with the fond memories they take home later. Of course, it’s important to use a balanced pricing strategy, as this is always one of the biggest factors in their decision to purchase. Ensure the options feel like a great offer, rather than an unexpected increase. Again… entice them with tailored choices! They will recognize and appreciate it!

Front-line managers and staff have a direct connection with guests’ feedback and personal preferences, and Chefs can certainly utilize that information in a way which helps place their finger on the pulse of what sells and what doesn’t. Their ability to apply their talents, passion, and creativity to offer more enticing, yet profitable menu items to their guests has become a crucial aspect of hoisting the food and beverage experience along with the overall hotel’s main selling points. Customizing menus for guests is a sure way to create indelible memories, and develop a connection with them. Simple things as table-touches by the Chef or manager ensure that their expectations are met, and they associate the service steps with quality of the experience.

With this in mind, here are some examples of the different upsell strategies which we have been able to implement successfully. First, we have redesigned and reimagined our pool deck, which now includes luxury cabanas, thoughtfully outfitted for comfort and convenience, alongside a new lighter fast-casual approach to the menu. This menu has been successful in that we have removed some of the formality of the experience, expediting it quickly, and allowing the service to be more casual, but still refined in the approach to taking excellent care of our guests.

We have also switched to an elegant, yet sustainable, biodegradable and compostable to-go packaging for the pool, and deliver guest’s orders more rapidly due to this. Our guests have been quite receptive and pleased with this, as it also allows our steps of service to flow more seamlessly in every aspect. These luxury cabanas have allowed us to upsell not only the amenities and offerings contained within, but allows our guests to enjoy a much more exclusive, yet relaxed, experience. Naturally, they will tend to relax and linger, which can definitely correspond to additional food and beverage upsell opportunities as well.

Next, we have also focused more on the interactions of our staff with our guests, to not only sincerely thank them for coming and spending time with us, but also to develop a genuine rapport and relationship, which allows us in-turn to gain more of their preferences, and to entice them with offerings attuned to those preferences. Our guests want to be treated like the VIPs that they are. Our food and beverage team understands this and ensures that this VIP treatment is delivered exquisitely and with sincerity. Then, the customized experiences the guest have will, of course, build loyalty to our brand.

Many of our guests are repeat visitors, have been coming for years in some cases, and they know our staff members’ names. Conversely, our tenured staff takes pride in remembering the guests’ names and preferences, and relaying those preferences with their orders back to the kitchen, succinctly and accurately. With such a rapport in place, it is easier to upsell newer or different items to these repeat guests, because the trust relationship has already been built and established. Often times I will meet with these guests as well to generate more excitement about what is new and exciting happening with the menu.

Ahi Tuna Acevichado with Grilled Shishitos and Cracked Wasabi Peas— Photo by ©2023 John J. Signorelli

So what are some other ways which help us to upsell to our guests? Brainstorming along with our incredible leaders, we have come up with a few unique opportunities which seem to have really clicked with our guests, generating excitement, great word-of-mouth influencing, and has also led to better operational quality scores and guest satisfaction scores as well. Two examples of those include; Chef-led instructional classes on cheese and charcuterie presentations for parties and entertaining, and, menu development consultations directly with the Chef and event managers to customize and fine-tune menus exactly to what the guest wishes are.

Some other ideas for upselling in food and beverage which have been a success for us has been sending small teaser plates or taster cocktails to the guest’s table when they have a question about a preparation or an item, so they may taste a sample before deciding. We have also expanded our menus to include more trending and healthier options, particularly enticing to business travelers. This includes unique breakfast options such as unique fruit elixirs, superfood bowls, and plant-forward and gluten free options clearly on the menu.

Remember, guests are indeed looking for an exquisite experience, not just a memorable meal and stay, and they expect to be pampered. We are charged with delivering upon those experiences, sincerely and graciously!

As Chefs and F&B leaders, many of us often receive timely reports of commodity price fluctuations and trending market initiatives. With such detailed information at our disposal, this allows us to really dive deep into our pricing structures, revenue margins, and whether the amount of labor spent on certain menu items makes sense or not. Having the ability to alter menus quickly, depending on these fluctuations helps me to ensure I am not running menu items which may not be what the guests are looking for, or may not be within a targeted food cost range, or desired revenue margin. All of these culminate in keeping me in-tune with what would be ideal to offer as upsell items. Communicating that information to the front-of-house team will help them feeling more comfortable in suggestive selling to increase check averages.

Enticing our guests to help build memorable, unique, and authentic experiences will absolutely help to develop their sense of loyalty, and that loyalty will play a very important role in them positively recommending your property to others. Paying close attention to their unique preferences, making personalized connections with them, and delivering quality offerings in sync with their requests, culminate in a more personalized experience for them. It’s no secret that a happy guest is a repeat guest! Taking steps to build upon their experience at your property will very likely result in them returning, time and again, with a loyal sense of belonging and with them feeling at home there!

Reprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from http://www.hotelexecutive.com/.



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