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Upselling in the Hospitality Industry

by Aias Katsaros, HR Account Manager – Recruiter & Makayla Roth, HR Intern | Workathlon

When starting a job in the hospitality industry you are often told to upsell, upsell, upsell but generally without any guidance on how to do it without seeming too pushy. This can be a big issue for some employees. But upselling doesn’t have to be obnoxious, and I can prove you that.

First things first. What is Upselling?

In a few words, upselling is a technique used in sales, so that customer will be persuaded to buy an improved version of the product or service from the one they were originally interested in. This technique is many times confused with cross-selling. The difference between the two is that upselling is essentially a product / service upgrading, while cross-selling is about offering an extra or similar service.

In any case, there are ways to do upselling without becoming tedious or pressing. Below, I quote some methods to rightly approach this practice:

Learn more about your guest

It is unlikely that you will make an upgrade if you have no idea what your guests are looking for. When they first come to you, don’t start off by rambling off a bunch of offers, ask about their situation.

Where they are from, what they want to do, and even what their expectations for the trip are. If you learn more about them and their circumstance, your upgrade will seem more like a personalized offer. Something that will make their experience better and not just about getting upgraded.

Sell the value

Let the guests know what they will really be getting in detail. Instead of listing the benefits, let them know how it will feel to experience them. When upgrading a room, for example, let them know what they will be able to do in the room, what they will see, what makes it exquisite and difficult to resist.

Try and make it seem as if the upgrade will increase value to their experience and is worth the extra price.

RELATED ARTICLE How should we handle walk – in guests ? HERE

Specific Upselling Techniques

Food & Beverage Department

1. Power of Influence

Studies show that people are more enticed by something that is specifically recommended to them. Recommending something that you love or is popular within the restaurant, will greatly increase their chances of agreeing. Giving recommendations will even increase their trust in your judgement and service making their experience even better. In this way, it’s a win-win.

2. Describe

When listing what is in a food or drink make sure you use descriptive words so that guests can visualize what it may look or taste like. If they are able to visualize it, they will be more likely to want it. Descriptions don’t have to be elaborate, just enough to pique the customers interest. So instead of saying a “hamburger with cheese” say “grilled beef hamburger with melted, smoked cheddar”. Even adding little words will make it seem more appealing.

Spa Services

1. Change the Order

When offering upgrades, simply changing the order you offer them can increase their likelihood of agreeing to it. If you start off with the Deluxe option, and work your way down, guests will see all the things they miss out on if they go with the more basic one. On the other hand, if you start with the basic one, they will assume that going with that one is enough since they have less to compare it to.

2. Keep the conversation going

When they first come in, keep the conversation friendly but professional. If you are discussing their week, keep an ear out for certain parts you could use to advise a treatment. If they mention they were on a hike earlier that week, offer them a deep tissue massage or if they were on a plane, offer a classic relaxing massage to unwind.

Use these friendly but professional conversations to build trust and give opportunity to solve a problem they may have.

Front Office Department

1. Timing Matters

Don’t offer all the upgrades upfront. If you do this, they will be just seeing the growing price tag and will be less likely to agree to the upgrade. Offer them upgrades at different points of the process. For example, offer them an upgrade for the small amount of X two days before check – in. Since the payments are more spread out, the price tag seems smaller and will be less overwhelming than all at once.

2. Make them aware

When they first come in, avoid devaluing their first room selection. Making their current room selection seem unappealing will result in an unhappy guest and will not make them likely to agree to an upgrade. Instead, simply ask it they aware of other choices the hotel offers. Present the upgrade as an opportunity to treat themselves and to feel special.

With all these said…

A final key point in building trust is when you show a genuine interest in providing the guest with the best experience possible. Making eye contact, nodding of the head while the guest is talking will let them know that they have your undivided attention. Therefore, it greatly increases the chances of them responding positively at your proposals and consider your recommendations like they would a friend’s.

Upselling a product or experience may seem daunting. There is a legitimate fear of being too pushy. But keep in mind – people are at your hotel to have an unforgettable experience! Even simply asking if they want to have a chance at a better experience, they will most likely agree to it! If you don’t ask, you will never know! It may seem scary but if you use some of the above tactics you will be selling an experience – not just a product.


In Workathlon we love Hospitality and its people. Click here to find your dream job - we can guarantee that, but you better find it yourself!

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