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How to gain better conversions with cross-sell recommendations

Aug 8, 2019

Done right, cross-selling can present sizeable and incremental sales opportunities. Done brilliantly, it can improve traveler satisfaction and create rewarding and longer-term relationships.

In fact, formulating a carefully tailored recommendation for travelers to add to their booking, such as a suitably located hotel or ultra-convenient hire car, can really cement loyalty. And given the fact that it’s considerably more expensive to acquire new customers than keep existing ones, this is no small thing.

To attain this sort of benefit though requires a deep and detailed understanding of traveler needs and expectations. Travel businesses that simply bombard travelers with unrelenting and irrelevant suggestions throughout the booking process will leave them feeling frustrated and more likely to abandon their online carts and head elsewhere.

So, how can travel providers deliver cross-selling that works for both them and their travelers?


Ensure each recommendation is personalized

At the crux of any effective cross-selling strategy is tailored content. Suggest a romantic couple’s package to a frequent business traveler, or a formal five-star resort to a prospect with a family, and you’ve already lost their attention.

To get this right, it helps to utilize machine learning technologies and the full array of data points available to build up a detailed picture of that traveler before making the cross-sell. That means combining data from several sources, both internal, i.e. data gathered through previous interactions with a traveler, and also external, i.e. any available data on travel bookings or search behavior elsewhere1. All this helps a company to understand factors such as a traveler’s annual travel spend, their typical motivator for booking a trip, whether they have a penchant for luxury hotels or if location is their number one deal breaker when settling on accommodation.

Armed with this insight, you’re in a far better position to make a strong pitch – and to get it right the first time. Presented with numerous and ultimately irrelevant suggestions, travelers are far more likely to ditch their booking altogether. Deliver a personalized recommendation on the first attempt and you’ll find them far more receptive.


Find the optimal moment on the customer journey

Online booking tools have provided travel businesses with a range of options when it comes to the timing of a cross-sell, as well as a number of routes for the method of delivery – think AI chatbots and AR-enhanced apps. But this isn’t an excuse to leverage each and every one.

As with the content of a recommendation, tailor the timing of a cross-sell carefully by employing the use of data. Explore cross-selling via placement ads as travelers are booking flights; through suggested add-ons just before they make a purchase; or even as a follow-up suggestion in a post-purchase email. And with each of these approaches, analyze the data to understand which approach worked most successfully with each type of traveler.


Always demonstrate value

Never leave a traveler feeling as if they’ve been duped. The best cross-sell – and the one most likely to secure an ongoing relationship – is the one where a customer is sure they’ve purchased an additional product of value.

To reinforce this, use star ratings, reviews or testimonials alongside recommended properties to communicate that customers are being offered a choice selection. Avoid the tone of a hard sell too and opt for language that isn’t overly pushy. Finally, prioritize transparency and honesty when it comes to price or cancellation criteria to ensure travelers walk away just as satisfied as your company with the additional purchase.

Based on machine learning, EPS’s Cross-Sell Recommendations API uses data from over 3,000 airports and over 600,000 properties to train the recommendations model and to show the most relevant properties to each traveler. Cross-sell Recommendations are available with EPS Rapid as well as the for Partners template solution. For more information on how EPS can help you maximize your revenue opportunities with cross-sell recommendations, get in touch.

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[1] Skift report