The importance of upsells and how to increase them

September 16, 2022
min read

It’s a tough economy out there at the moment, and off the back of the pandemic, a lot of hospitality businesses are feeling the squeeze. While we could probably spend an entire article waxing lyrical about a dire situation, we’d rather come in guns blazing with some positivity and advice. So let us introduce you to our favourite word: upsells.

Upsells are the MVP of any order, and increasing them can have a truly astounding result for venues. So here’s the lowdown on the upsell. 

What’s an upsell?

Contrary to popular belief, upsells aren’t box office figures for the 2009 Pixar film Up (this would be Up sales). Upsells are additional items that customers will buy despite not originally intending to purchase them. Think of the chewing gum by the checkout at the grocery store or extended warranty with an appliance. They’re additions that are easy enough for consumers to say yes to but weren’t essential drivers when entering the store. 

An upsell could also persuade a customer to go with a more expensive item instead of what they intended. In short, it’s getting more value out of a sale. 

How do you upsell in hospitality?

In hospitality settings, upsells are almost everywhere you look, but the way you approach them may differ. It’s where you might push cocktails, talk up your special items or offer combos. 

Good ways to increase upsells are to show off items visually or to bundle complementary items. For example, cocktails are more appealing when mixed up and photographed, and people who claim to like burgers without chips are straight-up lying to everyone and themselves. It’s also a good idea to make use of visual mediums like social media to promote those upsells. 

If you don’t have one, look at implementing a visual menu. These mobile-powered options (like our own) allow you to show off the best side of your items through professional photography. The more appealing an item looks, the more likely it is that someone is going to splash out. Don’t believe us? Through Mr Yum, the National Hotel increased cocktail sales by 300%. A large part of this was showing off how pretty those cocktails look. 

Increase upsells through ease of purchase 

Upsells aren’t going to sell themselves, they need you to up them (please pretend this is a common expression). We’ve already discussed the visuals, so let’s look at placements. A chalkboard scribbled with specials is standard but only really works if you have good handwriting and every table can see it clearly. Having staff talk through upsell opportunities is another good option, but sometimes they forget or are too slammed to describe how good a dish is. 

The best form of upselling is the passive route. With a digital menu, your upsell becomes part of the user journey. You can have other similar items seamlessly displayed alongside them as they're browsing items. Are they looking at wine? Suggest a bottle. Are they looking at pizzas? Suggest the premium range. On average, venues increase order values by 30% through these upsell routes on me&u. 

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