Concierge Cross Selling Strategies

By Elaine Oksner Guest and Concierge Services Trainer, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | October 28, 2008

Recently, at a charity fund raiser in South Florida, I chatted with a number of my concierge colleagues about the state of the economy and the impact it is having on the travel industry in general and hotels and resorts specifically. Occupancy numbers appear to be disturbingly lower than usual for this current off season. No doubt that this is due, at least in part, to rising prices across the board, the inevitable reaction to soaring fuel costs. This is affecting all of us. It is especially true in reference to where the public chooses to spend its dwindling discretionary income.

Many of our guests, both the individual travelers and the corporate meeting planners, are finding the need to do some serious belt-tightening. Even our wealthy travelers are reconsidering their vacation plans. What that means to the hotels and resorts is that we need to sell more to the people who are already in our properties. We must encourage everyone on staff to find all the opportunities to "cross sell" our facilities and motivate our guests to spend, spend, spend, beyond just paying the basic room rate.

Consider who on your staff is in the best position to do the most cross selling, making sure the guests are spending their time and their dollars in house. The Concierges, of course! With their guest contact and customer service skills, they can promote your food and beverage outlets, your spa and salon, your gift shop, your health club, tennis and golf, and add to your bottom line in a number of ways you may not have considered before. Here are some suggestions how they can help you and you can help them with the proper tools, motivation and support.

Let's take your food and beverage outlets, for example. Does your Concierge have the most up-to-date copies of all the menus - not just your main dining room's, but the lounge's and tiki bar's and room service's, too? Are they presentable and easy to show the guests? Does the Concierge staff regularly sample dishes so they can speak enthusiastically about the chef's creations? Do they know and understand the job of the Chef, the Maitre d', and the Sommelier? The Concierges should feel a real connection with your food and beverage staff and want to assist in building that big part of the hotel's business.

Your Concierge Manager may want to invite the Chef or Sommelier to speak at the Concierge staff's monthly meetings. Concierges are information sponges. Fill them with knowledge about the wine list, the food preparation, the origins of your organic veggies or any other topics of interest. The more they know, the easier it will be for them to sell the product. Guests like to know that the Concierge can offer insight. How much more effective it is when they recommend the "Chef's special melt-in-your-mouth guava-marinated braised short ribs" rather than just saying that "short ribs are on the menu"? One version makes the sale, the other does not.

Beyond this constant Food and Beverage, your F&B department should utilize the Concierge staff for guest feedback. Do they listen to the staff when they say that, for example, the guests are looking for local seafood. Do they react and increase those items on the menu? Or can they go even a step further? A few years ago, The Breakers Resort Palm Beach did just that and more. When the concierges showed that the most popular venues that guests were requesting outside the property were a nearby seafood restaurant and a traditional upscale steak house, The Breakers designed their own seafood bar and an elegant grill that have been hits ever since they were opened, keeping more F&B revenue in house.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.