Lead Stories

Tapping Into Upselling Opportunities

Getting Guests To Go From A Glass To A Bottle Will Help Boost Bottom Line

By Larry and Adam Mogelonsky | July 1, 2021

Here’s a fun topic for the hot days of summer, and with more of a granular approach to one often-neglected aspect of sales. As we come out of the pandemic, revelry abounds, yet it may come a tinge of frugality as many are still suffering economically from all the lockdowns last year. Importantly for you the hotelier, it’s critical to think beyond just ‘rooms, rooms, rooms’ and how to integrate ancillary revenues to increase total spend per guest (as in total revenue per available room or TRevPAR).

Where we may observe this pandemic-born attrition is on a cheque-by-cheque basis in that patrons will opt for wine by the glass (BTG) in lieu of purchasing a whole bottle. First caution is, of course, that we should never be prompting unsafe consumption of alcohol, and yet hotels still need revenues to service debt and build the next CapEx fund. Studying this bottle-to-glass transition can act as a litmus test for adjustments in other operations and packages to maximize TRevPAR, hence why we should pay attention and devise strategies to correct this one attribute.

While this broader objective in mind, let’s look at five other motivating factors for why someone would go BTG to hopefully come up with some counterpoints so that your cellar sales don’t suffer.

  1. Wine lists have become increasingly unwieldy, complex to manage and intimidating to the average guest who isn’t conversant enough in the lingo to know what’s good value.
  2. Related to this, many customers may feel uneasy when asking a wine steward or sommelier as they feel that they are being sold a product at an inflated price or are being steered toward a slow mover.
  3. Often diners choose diametrically opposite mains—think salmon for one and pepper steak for the other—which makes pairing with a single wine untenable.
  4. Similarly, members of a group may be inflexible in their alcohol preferences or looking to sample several offerings, making consensus difficult.
  5. Drinking and driving is a constant concern, with one glass enjoyed during a meal perfectly acceptable while a whole bottle consumed may be pushing the limit.

To these points above, not all can be addressed with an omnipotent remedy, but there are nevertheless ways to prompt a bottle sale even in a bear market.

  1. Simplifying your total wine inventory will help to narrow a customer’s field of view so that the ‘paradox of choice’ becomes less of an issue. This will take some work in the transition in that you must incentivize guests to get rid of your undesirable stock or reallocate some to banquet orders. And you may want to also examine how ‘anchor pricing’ can help to make expensive labels more attractive.
  2. Developing trust between your servers or sommelier and your patrons requires a lot of training, but it also calls for a lot of work to reframe the dining experience before customers arrive. Use your owned marketing channels to build the narrative that your restaurant is a purveyor of a well-curated selection and that your team is fully knowledgeable in all entries. Host staff tastings if need be or build a ‘sommelier’s choice’ section to highlight seasonal favorites.
  3. Training will also help your team to navigate the many individual preferences within a group so that a compromise can be found. Again, limiting the total selection can in many ways lead to greater flexibility as it lets guests see the full range of options rather than revert to what they already know due to the ‘paradox of choice’ problem. If anything, your team should understand general tendencies for appetizers versus mains so that the bottles chosen can follow the food.
  4. Watching a corked bottle be opened tableside is entertaining and adds to the dining experience. While many are trending towards the twist-off tops, avoid these as they cheapen the show and have a lower perceived value.
  5. New technologies such as cellar apps can give you a laser focus on inventory numbers so that you have more accurate insights on what’s moving and what isn’t. Plus, if these apps have a guest-facing version, then you can better contact your inventory to the web so that you can still facilitate sales in as touchless as a manner as possible so that you are ready to meet the new normal demand for less physical contact between hotel and guest.
Larry and Adam Mogelonsky

Together, Adam and Larry Mogelonsky represent one of the world’s most published writing teams in hospitality, with over a decade’s worth of material online. As the partners of Hotel Mogel Consulting Ltd., a Toronto-based consulting practice, Larry focuses on asset management, sales and operations while Adam specializes in hotel technology and marketing. Their experience encompasses properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Their work includes seven books: “In Vino Veritas: A Guide for Hoteliers and Restaurateurs to Sell More Wine” (2022), “More Hotel Mogel” (2020), “The Hotel Mogel” (2018), “The Llama is Inn” (2017), “Hotel Llama” (2015), “Llamas Rule” (2013) and “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012). You can reach them at adam@hotelmogel.com to discuss hotel business challenges or to book speaking engagements.

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