Cross-selling in hotels: how to boost revenue and enhance the guest experience

Updated in April 2023

If you’re in the hotel industry, you know that cross-selling can be a powerful tool for boosting revenue and enhancing the guest experience. But how can you effectively cross-sell your products and services without coming across as pushy or insincere?

As experts in the hospitality industry, we’re here to share our knowledge and experience on the topic of cross-selling in hotels. In this post, we’ll guide you through the best practices for cross-selling in the hotel industry, plus five cross selling ideas to get you started.

So whether you’re a seasoned hotelier or a newcomer to the industry, read on to discover how to cross-sell your hotel’s offerings in a way that benefits both your guests and your hotel’s bottom line.

What is cross-selling?

Have you ever been asked if you’d like fries with that? If so, you’ve experienced cross-selling! Cross-selling is when a business suggests additional products or services that complement what you’re already buying.

When booking a seat on a plane, the airline will almost always offer you paid extras, from adding extra baggage or switching seats to a row with more leg room to buying insurance or renting a car. When you’re buying clothes or tech online, you’ll be offered a range of other items to add to your basket. These usually have some link to your initial purchase. In fact, 35% of Amazon’s revenue comes from cross-selling!

In the hotel industry, cross-selling might mean offering your guests an upgrade to a better room or suggesting a relaxing spa treatment to enjoy during their stay. When done well, cross-selling can be a win-win for both you and your guests. Guests get access to products or services that can improve their experience, and you can generate additional revenue and build stronger relationships while you’re at it.

Cross-selling vs upselling

Cross-selling and upselling are both sales techniques that can help you increase revenue, but they involve different approaches.

As we’ve covered, cross-selling is where you offer customers extra services or products that complement or enhance something they’re already buying. In the context of hospitality, this might involve offering guests additional services or amenities, such as a spa treatment, a restaurant reservation, or a tour booking.

Hotel upselling, on the other hand, is where you encourage guests to upgrade their purchase to a more expensive or higher-tier option. In hospitality, this might involve offering guests room upgrades to a more luxurious room or suite or encouraging them to buy a higher-priced menu item or bottle of wine.

Is cross-selling right for my hotel?

Indeed, not all hotels offer the same range of services. You might even think that cross-selling isn’t relevant to your hotel. However, with a bit of creativity, any hotel can think of ways to enhance the guest experience. The key to any effective cross-selling strategy is to always put your guests’ needs and preferences first.

For example, if you run a small bed and breakfast and not a large hotel with lots of facilities, there are still cross-selling opportunities available to you. Think about what your guests would really value. What additional products or services would make their experience even better?

If you’re located near a popular tourist attraction, offering tickets or guided tours could be a great way to cross-sell. Or if you offer a breakfast service, you could cross-sell a “breakfast in bed” option for an extra fee.

Think outside the box, and hotel owners can easily come up with ways to increase hotel revenue.

Which services and products can I cross-sell in my hotel?

Now you know exactly what cross-selling is, let’s take a look at five different areas where you might find cross-selling opportunities for your hotel guests.

Food and Beverage

Of course, not all hotels boast a Michelin-starred restaurant. But do you offer breakfast for your guests? If so, don’t hesitate to promote it, perhaps by offering a small discount when guests book directly via your website. Guests who won’t be able to have breakfast in the hotel (for example business travelers who have to catch a flight or train) might also appreciate a breakfast box to go.

As many hotels face the problem of filling up their restaurant with their own guests, it’s important to promote your facilities. An easy way to do that is via an automated and timely pre-stay message prior to your guests’ arrival. Next to providing driving directions and important information about the hotel, it is the ideal channel to highlight any services and products that will enhance their stay. For example, you can offer to add breakfast to their room rate or make a dinner reservation at your restaurant.

Even if you don’t have a restaurant, there are still selling opportunities for food and beverages. You could offer your guests regional products from local farmers and producers. Think chocolate, wine and spirits, jam, or traditional biscuits Or how about a bottle of wine or champagne upon arrival? These are easy things to implement, but can be really appealing to your leisure guests.

Wellness area

Wellness areas are growing in popularity and represent a competitive advantage for hotels. A fitness studio, massages and treatments, a sauna or a swimming pool are increasingly desired by guests. From families looking for a swimming pool to couples wanting to try some treatments or business guests wanting to relax, everyone is in search of wellness. Therefore, these facilities offer a great opportunity for some cross-selling practices. With a pre-stay message, for instance, your guests can enhance their experience by booking a body treatment or massage prior to their arrival.

Special offers and packages

Take control of your services and personalise your offer to boost your cross-selling initiative. First, identify the services and offers you struggle to sell and combine them with those which are popular among your guests to benefit from their visibility.

For example, say your romantic dinner menu doesn’t sell despite the fact that your main target groups are couples. Creating a special package that includes a romantic dinner can increase its popularity. This could be a romantic dinner and a couples’ massage, or a romantic dinner and a bottle of champagne upon arrival.

It’s simple: you need to know and understand your guests and offer them an experience that’s most relevant to them.

Leisure activities

Of course, you don’t have a theme park in your hotel, nor a museum! But that should not stop you from strengthening your relationship with local businesses. By teaming up, you can offer your guests exclusive deals for the various activities your city or region has to offer. Negotiate discounted rates in advance and boost your sales by selling things like tickets for museums or bike rentals. Such additional services make the stay of your guests even more pleasant and personalised, while you generate additional revenue.

Transport facilities

Transport and parking facilities are important issues for guests. Indeed, when you are travelling to a new destination, these are often the first things that cross your mind. So, besides informing your guests of how to get to your hotel, try to think of alternative services for your cross-selling initiative.

For example, cooperate with a local taxi company to offer your guests discounted rates. For guests travelling by car, parking spaces have become a rare commodity in cities. If you don’t own any parking space yourself, negotiate with car park owners for special prices or to include a voucher or discount code for your restaurant on each parking ticket.

Tips for effective hotel cross-selling

  • Know your guests: Just like with upselling, understanding your guests’ needs and preferences is key to effective cross-selling. Use data and analytics to identify patterns and trends in guest behavior and tailor your cross-selling offers accordingly.
  • Bundle products and services: Bundle complementary products or services together to create a package that offers a discount or extra value. For example, offering a room upgrade along with a spa treatment can provide added value to the guest.
  • Use signage and marketing materials: Place signage or marketing materials in high-traffic areas, such as the lobby or elevator, to promote additional products or services. Be creative and use eye-catching designs to grab the guest’s attention.
  • Train staff: Like with upselling, effective cross-selling requires well-trained front desk agents who can communicate the value of the cross-sell (without being too pushy). Provide your team with the necessary training and resources for effective cross-selling techniques and give them all the information they need to succeed.
  • Use technology: Use technology like guest feedback and survey software to get insights on guest preferences and purchasing behaviour. More on this below.

How to pre-stay surveys boost your cross-selling conversion rate

A pre-stay survey can help you with cross-selling by gathering information on guest preferences and needs before their arrival. This information can help you tailor your cross-selling offers to the guest’s specific interests and increase the chances of a successful sale. Here’s how.

Find new cross-selling opportunities

By asking guests about their preferences and interests in the pre-stay survey, you can identify potential cross-selling opportunities that you might not have already thought of. Here are some ways a pre-stay survey can help you identify new cross-selling opportunities:

  • Identify niche interests: A pre-stay survey can help you identify niche interests that you may not have considered before. For example, a guest may indicate an interest in local craft beer or artisanal coffee, which can lead to cross-selling opportunities with local vendors or a hotel café.
  • Identify special occasions: Guests may indicate that they are celebrating a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary. This can lead to cross-selling opportunities for packages that include champagne or other celebratory items.
  • Identify preferences for local activities: Guests may indicate a preference for outdoor activities or cultural experiences. This can lead to cross-selling opportunities with local tour companies or museums.

Personalise your cross-selling offers

The information gathered from the pre-stay survey can help you personalise your cross-selling offers according to the guest’s specific needs and interests.

Let’s say that in the pre-stay survey, a guest indicates that they are interested in fitness and wellness activities. Based on this information, you can cross-sell a package that includes a yoga class, access to the hotel gym, and a massage at the hotel spa.

This personalised cross-selling offer caters to the guest’s specific interests and needs and increases the chances of a successful sale. It also enhances the guest’s overall experience by providing them with activities that align with their interests, which can lead to positive reviews and repeat business in the future.

How to implement a pre-stay survey

To introduce a pre-stay survey without creating a load of additional work, having the right software on your side is key. A Voice of the Customer platform that includes surveys will not only automatically send your questionnaire at just the right time, but also gather all your responses in one place. This helps avoid creating extra tasks and makes sure you can respond to requests in an efficient and timely way.

By gathering just a few basic details about your guests before they arrive, you can then personalise your cross-selling efforts with the most relevant offers for them. You can also provide them with all the essential information that will improve their stay and boost guest satisfaction.

Conclusion on cross-selling opportunities

Let’s wrap things up, shall we? Cross-selling can be a super helpful way for hotels of any size to make more money, as long as it’s done in an ethical and effective way. By understanding the difference between cross-selling and upselling, and following some best practices, you can increase your revenue while making your guests happy.

Don’t forget to use pre-stay surveys to gather all the essential details about your guests’ preferences and interests, so you can tailor your cross-selling offers to suit them perfectly. By providing value to your guests and enhancing their overall experience, you can earn rave reviews and keep them coming back for more. With these tips and strategies under your belt, you’ll be crushing it in the competitive hospitality industry in no time.