By Michael Chu
Incremental revenue doesn’t have to be a bonus. With a machine learning (ML)-based merchandising program, it can be a reliable revenue stream. After more than a year of economic challenges, travel demand is spiking post-pandemic as recent research finds that 76% of North American customers plan to travel in the next six months. As the hospitality industry evolves and recovers, hotels must look for new ways to stand out from the competition and increase revenue.
Incremental revenue is critical to financial recovery. By empowering hotels to effectively upsell, encouraging guests to personalize their stays and freeing up staff to further support the customer journey, guest engagement systems based on ML not only promote guest loyalty, but they can also drive incremental revenue. While the benefits of incremental revenue are clear, knowing how to generate it and where to get started can pose challenges. Here are 10 best practices to help hoteliers dive in:
1. Encourage guests to personalize their experiences ahead of check-in. By maximizing offer exposure points during booking and pre-arrival, guests will see ML-powered offers through the booking engine and follow-up emails, offering ample opportunities to upgrade.
2. The opportunities don’t stop upon arrival. Check-in provides a high-touch interaction and a great opportunity to introduce offers. Giving guests options to customize their stay from the minute they walk in the lobby provides a tailored experience and ensures guests feel supported by staff from the very beginning.
3. Empower hotel staff to partner in revenue strategy with initial and ongoing sales training. Gamification and incentives can also encourage staff to upsell and make offers, leading them to strive to offer guests the best experience possible. The better staff understands the importance of upselling and how to utilize it effectively, the more successful they will be.
4. Hotel staff are at their best when serving guests, not completing administrative tasks. Letting technology take on the legwork by automatically approving guest requests when feasible lets hotel staff focus more on offering great experiences and supporting guests throughout their stay by automating and minimizing mundane tasks.
5. Diversify your upsell offer set and think outside the box. Alongside configured room type upgrades, include non-room inventory items like food and beverage, retail, parking and spa offers, ultimately providing staff the ability to enhance the customer journey through multiple touch points, improving overall guest satisfaction.
6. Don’t forget about room attributes like views or high floors; it’s easier to balance the house when guests can request features and attributes that aren’t reflected in defined room categories or room types. Plus, it’s an often-overlooked way to help guests further customize their stay, and ultimately improve their experience.
7. For high-demand, overbooked or peak arrival dates, award pre-arrival upgrade requests at least three days prior to arrival. When awarded before allocating free upgrade entitlements for loyalty programs, it maximizes revenue during the busiest travel dates of the year.
8. Meet and exceed your hotel’s revenue targets by including incremental revenue generation into your daily operations with every check-in. It’s easy and reliable—guests check in every day—even weekends and holidays.
9. Turn to performance dashboards and reports for insight into staff performance, tool utilization and offer demand. By understanding these key metrics, you can help staff feel comfortable upselling and know where to provide support when needed.
10. Use ML to select, price and present upsell offers to customers. Not only will this help hoteliers sell upgrades and create a seamless guest journey, it will also free up hotel staff to provide the very best, and most memorable, experience.
A customized, tailored customer experience not only attracts new guests, it also drives brand loyalty and converts first-time guests into repeat customers. Presenting curated offers leads to effective upselling and takes the guesswork out of which services and amenities guests prefer.
Consistent incremental revenue is imperative as the travel industry resurges. As it becomes increasingly necessary for hotels to distinguish themselves from competitors, applying ML- and data-driven solutions will result in a successful upsell program and enhance the customer experience.
Michael Chu is the director of account revenue management, Oracle Nor1.