In the booking process, upsells and cross-sells of ancillary services hit two key needs for travel firms. One, these recommendations allow you to help customers build packages that offer more robust travel experiences. And two, they represent a significant opportunity to drive incremental revenue on each booking.

Of course, both points are moot if you don’t effectively execute these upsells and cross-sells.

Carroll Rheem, PhoCusWright

Carroll Rheem, PhoCusWright

Travel research firm PhoCusWright, which just released its U.S. Consumer Travel Report: Fifth Edition, collaborated with Monetate to explore travelers’ preferences for upsells and cross-sells when booking travel online. We checked in with PhoCusWright principal analyst Carroll Rheem, to find out which research highlights caught her attention.

Q: What are some of the findings that surprised you about consumer preferences around upsells and cross-sells?

A: I think the first thing is just how broad the audience is. People are not going to buy ancillaries for every single trip, it’s very situational. There’s a large portion of travelers that will sometimes be in-market, and sometimes not. Using tools to merchandise effectively will make the conversion rate that much better, because consumer interest is not consistent by product or by channel. It’s one of those things that’s highly situational, and a great opportunity to do deeper research into what exactly are the indicators for when these folks are in-market.

Another element I thought was really interesting was just how many people want to see ancillaries offered at multiple touchpoints. It’s not just at one point. They want to see it when they’re shopping; they want to see it after they’ve made their choices but before they’ve booked.

People generally are more open to the idea of ancillary products earlier in the phase versus later. That’s interesting in theory, because I think in practice, very often these purchases get made on-site. If you’re at a hotel, it’s at the front desk. Or if you’re at the airport, it’s at the kiosk when you’re checking in. I think there’s opportunity to increase the sales that happen at the point of sale during booking.

It kind of brings to light the option to create packages for people. There’s the basic flight, but then there’s the flight-plus. So that could be a leisure family trip, and it includes two checked bags and other options. You can create packaging that might help the selection process be a little bit easier for travelers, so they don’t have to do a sort of Chinese menu with the á lá carte process of “you want this vegetable with that sauce.” There’s evidence that there’s some appetite for [recommending travel packages early in the booking process].

Q: What finding didn’t surprise you?

A: Just in general, that hotels would be a bit stronger for interest in the ancillaries versus airlines. I think that for a lot of people, the hotel piece is where they want to indulge. And for many others, air travel is the transportation that gets them there. So that is pretty consistent with what we’d expect to see.

Q: What might travel websites do that would make you more likely to purchase an upsell or cross-sell?

A: One of the things that we see very much on the consumer research side is how unique each trip can be… There are different personalities, if you will, of a trip, even from one individual. If you’re traveling on business, versus traveling with your girlfriends for a fun weekend, or traveling as a couple with your significant other, there are different sorts of flavors to this travel. And so there are a ton of opportunities for merchandising along those activities or interests. Companies are just maybe starting to scratch the surface of that, but it’s a great opportunity that I’d like to see develop further.

Want to learn more about travelers’ preferences for upsells and cross-sells? Rheem will join Monetate VP of Marketing Blair Lyon on May 8 to share the results of this research in a free webinar, The Traveler’s Appetite for Ancillary Products. Some of the topics that will be covered:

• Upsell/cross-sell interest by type travel (airline, hotel, car)
• Timing/placement of offers by intent and booking window
• Website usability preferences
• Personalization, mobile, and the future of ancillaries
• Website choice motivators

Don’t miss The Traveler’s Appetite for Ancillary Products!