Upselling vs Cross-selling: What's the real Difference?

Upselling vs Cross-selling: What's the real Difference?

We all know what upselling is. Or at least we think we do. Often times, what companies or individuals refer to as upselling as actually more classifiable as cross-selling. In this blog post, we dig deeper and explain the real difference between the two with clear examples and tips  on how to use both techniques for additional revenue.

The term “upselling”, although always highly valued, has become even more of a buzzword for Hotels in today’s highly digitalized world. An increase in use of mobile devices, new communication channels and the importance of convenience has seen upselling trending upwards more and more. We all know what upselling is, right? Selling additional or complementary products, like a massage treatment or a city tour, on top of the original purchase (Traveltripper). Actually, that’s the definition of cross-selling. The word upselling often gets thrown around and used incorrectly instead of cross-selling. Let’s discuss the difference between the two.


We just presented you the short and sweet definition of cross-selling. Upselling, on the other hand, relates only to a the existing purchase (not an additional purchase). In exact words, upselling is getting the customer to spend more on an existing purchase (Traveltripper). Let’s show you a couple of examples.


Two real life examples


You’ve booked a room at a hotel for €150. Two days before your stay at the hotel, you receive an email where you are offered to upgrade your standard room to a hotel suite for an additional €50. This would be upselling. You’re offered an upgrade to your existing purchase. Let’s look at another example.


Your stay at a hotel is coming up in two days and you receive an email from the hotel offering a breakfast for 50% off, welcome champagne for €15 and a crossfit class on Saturday morning. This would be cross-selling. You’re not offered an upgrade, or an upsell, but rather deal for other products or services. Now why is it so important to know the difference?



The importance of both for maximizing revenue


Often times, the term cross-selling is ignored and we only speak about upselling. However, upselling is quite limited as it only refers to the existing purpose. Hotels often turn to upselling to maximise the profit for a booking, as it almost always refers to the hotel room. Here, through an automated yet personalised email, hotels can improve the profit margins from 20% to 40% by offering a deluxe room, for example. Great! Extra revenue, a chance to fill the deluxe rooms, happier guests. But why stop there?


Cross-selling allows hotels to earn revenue beyond the existing purchase. The guest wasn’t interested in a room upgrade? No problem. He or she happens to be interested in an intercontinental breakfast! Or better yet, the guests want a three-course dinner on Friday evening. The possibilities through cross-selling are endless and deservedly have earned the attention of hotels at an increasing rate.


The art of upselling


First of all, as a hotel, you have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. As a guest, what would make me want to jump on an offer and upgrade to a superior room? The answer from an Economics perspective is that the opportunity cost of choosing the more expensive room is lower than for the standard room. In other words, the value for money is better. Sometimes paying the €50 extra can be worth it for the additional comfort, space, room service and other perks.


A shorter answer as to what makes the mind of the guests tick and creates a decision to make is scarcity. Promoting the service as exclusive and limited (“only two rooms left!”) makes the offer more attractive to the guest. We are often attracted to things that are exclusive and only available in smaller amounts as we often draw the conclusion that the product/service must be of higher quality. Additionally, using incremental pricing (“only €20 more!”) is a compelling argument. The guest may think “If I’ve already spent €149 on a room, why not spend the extra €20 for an upgrade?”. Communicating value is the key to upselling effectively.



The art of cross-selling


Although similar, cross-selling is a bit different as it doesn’t necessarily revolve around an existing purchase but focuses on new products and services. Research shows that only a small amount of guests actually complete additional purchases (Traveltripper, 2018). In order to avoid scaring the guests away, wait with any cross-selling offers until their hotel is already booked. Ideally, target the guests in the "pre-trip buzz" phase when the guests are getting excited about their stay and are most likely to complete additional purchases.


Cross-selling is often more about impulse purchases. Do you often find yourself buying a chewing gum package or a piece of chocolate while waiting at the checkout of the grocery store even though you weren’t planning on purchasing it? Cross-selling for hotels is similar, but at a higher level. It’s a great opportunity for hotels to offer services that the guests may not know about, services that can actually improve their overall stay and satisfaction. Hotels can even ask the guests directly if there is anything they are looking for and allow the guests to tailor their stay to their needs.


Become an expert and maximize revenue today


You now know the difference between upselling and cross-selling, let’s make that extra revenue! There are many tools and platforms out there that helps with upselling, or you could do it manually. But why spend countless hours when you can easily automise it? Loopon is an all-in-one tool that allows you to both upsell and cross-sell without even lifting a finger. Once you’ve set-up your offers, watch the magic happen and the revenue figures grow. You can even customise the targeting of your campaigns and do smart customer segmentation to ensure that only certain guests receive certain offers.


Loopon also offers custom reports, such as ‘Top Converters’ or ‘Top Revenue Generators’. You can easily switch your offers on and off, or even decide to only send certain offers on specific weekdays. The possibilities are endless!


Both upselling and cross-selling are becoming increasingly important as additional revenue streams. Get in the game today and set-up your own upre-stay emails.


Try Loopon for free



Loopon (2018), Shopify (2018), Traveltripper (2018).

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