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Don’t Sell UP!

Written By: Scott Koepf, Senior Vice President of Sales, Avoya Travel



Part of the presentation process includes the opportunity to enhance your customers experience through extended stays, travel insurance protection, better accommodations, added benefits and more. Most sales courses will walk you through how to sell up to maximize the value of the vacation and, of course, your commission. However, the title of this article may come as a shock as it seems contrary to standard sales practice. However, if you really want to be successful in adding on to or upgrading a vacation package the key is not to sell up but Start Up! 


“Do you Want Fries with That?” 

When discussing the upsell process this line said by McDonalds employees millions of times per year is often quoted. No doubt it has resulted in millions of dollars of ‘extra’ sales and enhanced the meals for each customer (they really do have good fries!). The point made in most sales classes by referencing this quote is to always ask. That is good advice but I don’t think it is the whole story as to why McDonalds has had success with this simple sentence. It is not just that the question is asked that has made it so successful but it is based on the timing. Think about when they ask that question at McDonalds. It is after you place your order but before a price was quoted. In travel sales we may remember to ask the question, but at the wrong time! If you order a Big Mac and a milkshake and are told it will cost $5.26 then asked if you want fries the chances of you saying yes drop dramatically but to add fries before you know the total makes the decision easy. While in travel we are not dealing with a $2 decision, the timing is still key. You should present all of the options before you provide the total cost. Review Travel Insurance, add on hotels or extra nights, activities, excursions, dining packages and any other items that will enhance the vacation before you quote the price. It is always easier to take items away and be a hero for reducing the price than trying to tack on costs. 


The same is true when providing the first quote as to accommodations or even product type. Hopefully you have asked multiple questions during the qualifying stage so that you are clear as to what the right product type is to quote as well as the accommodations category. However, if there is any question (between an outside cabin or a balcony, for example), Start Up! Make sure your presentation addresses why you recommend this category based on the questions they answered and how it will change their vacation for the better. To help make this process even easier I recommend that the following question should be asked as you wrap up the qualifying phase: 


“What do you think would make this vacation even better than you imagine?” 

This will put the customer in the mind set of wanting to exceed expectations instead of focusing on how cheap they can get the vacation for. It is important to use questions and dialogue with your customer to prioritize experiences over prices. 


Before you present your quote or suggestions it is important to review all the possible options you can include to enhance the customers experience. There are basically three types of ‘Up Selling’ as follows: 


  • Between Products 
  • Style 
  • Experience 
  • Brand Strength 
  • Within Products 
  • Accommodations 
  • Dining and Beverage Packages 
  • Spa and Onboard Services 
  • Add – On Products 
  • Travel Insurance 
  • Pre/Post Packages and Extensions 
  • Transfers and Transportation 
  • Shore Excursions and Activities 


Review this list before making the presentation to make sure you have included everything that is relevant to your customers’ needs and desires. 


I heard a great example of using the ‘start up’ style of selling that we all can learn from. There was a little New York girl who sold hundreds of boxes of Girl Scout cookies with a 90% close rate! She began her pitch by asking each prospect to buy two $75 tickets to a charity ball for a worthy cause. She really presented it well and asked for the sale. When the prospect demurs, she would simply ask, “Well, then, could you at least buy a box of Girl Scout cookies? They are only two dollars.”  


While that is a dramatic difference in price points, the lesson is still just as valid when selling travel. If you provide a low cost option and give the price and then trying to convince your prospects to spend more will be a difficult sell. So Start Up and with the right personalized presentation you may be surprised how many people will want to go to the ball AND buy cookies!