The Power of Upselling in Today's Social/Digital Culture
Effective Front Desk Upselling Can Boost Much More Than Just Revenue
By Klaus Kohlmayr Chief Evangelist, IDeaS Revenue Solutions | October 12, 2014
Social Media Reviews and the Customer Decision-Making Process
As more and more consumers become increasingly engaged with an array of online social platforms, the impact of user-generated content on the hospitality industry has never been more apparent. In a recent study conducted by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, research demonstrated that not only was the percentage of consumers consulting review sites such as TripAdvisor increasing, but that references to hotel experiences played the dominant role in the decision-making process by 51 percent (as opposed to price, promotions etc.)(1). Furthermore, the study concluded that hotels that increase their review scores by one point on a 1-5 point scale could actually increase prices by 11.2 percent and nonetheless retain the same occupancy and market share rates.
With statistics pointing to it being such a critical factor for future success, social media and reputation management is simply something that can no longer be ignored by properties wishing to maintain a competitive and profitable edge. The question many hoteliers find themselves asking then is: what can properties do to influence user-generated content in a way that improves reputation and increases occupancy at minimal risk? Some for instance, have made posting to TripAdvisor easier by including a TripAdvisor section on their own website menu tool bar and asking satisfied guests to leave behind a review. Others provide loyalty rewards for guests that indicate the number of times they frequented a property or used its services. While certain to impact the volume of posts, such tactics by themselves often fail to make an impact on the actual tone of a guest's review.
As indicated by Cornell University's findings, the potential to influence a guest review best presents itself during the period that online users seek to learn the most about: the guest experience. It is to a hotel's benefit then more so than ever to ensure that effective protocols are in place to guarantee the satisfaction of each guest. Those that are on the front lines of interaction with the capability to influence a guest's resulting experience, must therefore be armed with the ability to perceive and address guest needs or correct issues quickly should any arise. If done correctly, the outcome may not only convert one satisfied guest into a repeat customer, but through social media can forge a mutually rewarding relationship that reflects the positive experience to others. Guests that share messages or images regarding their visit are able to hold on to the memory of their enjoyable experience while simultaneously strengthening the chances of converting potential guests into future hotel reservations.
Upselling: A Means to Improve Social Media Reputations and Online ROI
Akin to the growing popularity of social media, online bookings have likewise seen a significant rise in usage by mainstream consumers.(2) Frequently going hand-in-hand, tech-savvy guests may often read favorable reviews that give mention to a specific experience/service only to book a standard reservation online. This scenario typically boils down to an immediate need for convenience and a transactional mindset for online bookings. Guests are less concerned about the room they will stay in than the hotel's location, price, etc. at the point of booking a hotel. Critically however, that mindset is quickly replaced by the need for the right room product once a guest arrives on the premises. And yet while many guests may be aware of glowing reviews in reference to a hotel's more premium offerings, staff must still be able to demonstrate how those offerings serve to fulfill the specific needs of a guest on their particular visit. Only by preparing hotel team members with the necessary skills, can they effectively ascertain and provide for the individual needs of any given guest at arrival. Once accomplished, only then can a hotel ensure the kind of guest satisfaction that eventually translates into positive online reviews.
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