Tag Archives: Caroline Cooper

Batteries not included

adding valueHow to get your customers spending more and thanking you for it

One of the ways to grow your sales is to increase the spend of each of your customers each time they visit or buy from you. They’ve already bought from you so they now know you, hopefully like what you have offered them, and by now they’ll be able to trust you. So you already have a relationship.

The challenge is we (and our team) often feel reluctant to “upsell”. We don’t want to be pushy or be seen to be manipulating customers into buying something they don’t want.

But just think about it for a moment….

How would you feel on Christmas morning when your child (or grandchild) excitedly opens their new toy and wants to play with it right now. They turn to you and say “But Daddy, it’s not working”. You then see those words “Batteries not included”?

Imagine the disappointment.

Or you buy them that electric guitar they’ve craved for so long, and all they want to do all through the holidays is practise on it…….. And at the point you are about to pull the plug on it (quite literally) a friends says “But didn’t you get them a set of headphones too?”

If only someone had suggested this sooner!

Rather than feeling uncomfortable about someone trying to sell you something you didn’t want or need you’d probably be frustrated or even annoyed if they hadn’t suggested the additional items such as the batteries or the headphones.

Equally when somebody is coming to us to have a good time, by letting them know about other products or services that might complement what they’re already having or doing, you can really help to enhance the whole experience. (As well as helping your bottom line!)

Wikipedia describes upselling as ‘a sales technique whereby a salesperson induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale’. I’m not sure I like this description as it implies it’s very one sided in favour of the business, with little benefit to the customer at all.

Although upselling usually involves marketing more profitable services or products, it can also be simply exposing the customer to other options he or she may not have considered previously. Upselling implies selling something that is more profitable or otherwise preferable for the seller instead of the original sale’.

But is it just about increasing the customer spend, or is it also about giving the customer a better all round experience, giving them something they might have forgotten to order, or never even thought of?

So instead thinking “upsell” think in terms of “adding value”.


What to promote

So in order to do this effectively the first thing is to determine which are the products or services you wish to promote.  It obviously makes sense to be promoting high profit items, but there can be a danger in using this as the only criteria.

Unless what you are promoting is perceived as value to the customer, it’s unlikely the sale will be achieved, and does little to build your customer’s loyalty or trust.  It’s also important to distinguish between high selling price and profitability and appropriateness to meet the customers’ needs.  For example upselling to a more expensive bottle of wine when it does not appeal to the customers tastes, or upselling an annual admission ticket to someone who doesn’t live locally and is unlikely to make use of it.  You end up with an unhappy and disgruntled customer. So a very short term gain on your part, and hardly likely to lead to a naturally loyal customer.


Spot the opportunities

Look at all the situations that lend themselves as an opportunity to add value – not just in everyone’s own department – but across all areas.

Know your audience and review the buying patterns of your most profitable customers; what types of things do they frequently buy together?

Put yourself in their shoes; what might be a logical accompaniment for the main thing they are buying (in the same way that batteries are a logical purchase if you’re buying a toy that runs on batteries).

  • At salons – If clients are looking to get glam for a special occasion, would they like to get their nails done whilst having their hair done, or take home a special lotion to complete their beauty regime
  • For hotels – options on accommodation – room upgrades, special packages, champagne in rooms, recommending quiet times for spa or fitness centre
  • In the restaurant – bottled water, suggestions for starters, accompaniments, side orders, deserts, desert wine, specialist coffees, after dinner drinks
  • Attractions and museums – upgrading to annual tickets, access to exclusive areas, invitations to special events, cross promoting concessions’ facilities such as the café.
  • At the bar or cafe – branded beers, snack items, pastries with their coffee
  • Follow ups – Does your service warrant an ongoing programme of sessions for best results, e.g. therapies, sports lessons, beauty treatments

I’m sure you’ll have many more specifics for your own operation.

Think ahead and try to anticipate things your customers might appreciate.

For example if someone is coming to you to buy a gift or to treat someone for a special occasion think ahead to what else they might be looking for such as gift wrapping, or card, champagne, flowers, celebration cake, etc

If what you provide involves the great outdoors and braving the elements what else might your customers need or want so that their experiences aren’t marred by bad weather? Having appropriate wet weather gear, hip flasks, and umbrellas are just a couple of things you might think of making available.

(There may be plenty of additional opportunities to team up with other businesses who share your customers, but let’s save that for another day…)


Tell your customers

Don’t rely on telepathy for your customers to know what’s on offer! Have other products on show and give plenty of information on other services. And let customers know the benefits.

Ensure you and your team are able to talk confidently about each of the products and services available. You can’t sell something you don’t understand (think Curry’s on a Saturday afternoon, when you ask a newbie 16 year old sales assistant about the features of the TV you’re looking to buy……)

Allow your team to experience all the products and services first hand – this will not only make them more memorable, there will be more willingness to promote if they are confident to talk about it, and it will certainly be easier to evoke emotional appeal through vivid descriptions of feel, taste, smell, if they’ve experienced them themselves.

It’s also about timing.  If you’re offering something that needs time to enjoy or savour, there’s no point telling them about it just as they are about to leave.

However, it’s always going to be easier to sell something of lower value at the end of the ‘sale’. Take for example when you buy a new suit, and you then get offered a shirt to go with it. The price of the shirt by comparison is small, so it’s an easy sale. Done the other way round has a very different result.

Judge your customers and when is the ‘right time’. For example in a restaurant selling desserts – ask too soon and people say they are still too full, and go straight on to coffee, ask too late and they have gone off the idea, and want to head off home. So it’s sometimes a fine line.


Train your team

Demonstrate to your team the importance of offering additional items to add value for your customers. Allow them to practise:  for example how to ask open questions to identify customers’ needs and how to respond and make suggestions.

It’s all very well knowing what to say, but you know how sometimes when you come to say something the words just don’t trip off the tongue as you might hope!  Let your team practise in a safe environment, based on different scenarios. And most importantly give them authority to look for opportunities and make suggestions and personal recommendations.

It all adds up to giving value, and making sure your customers don’t leave without their batteries….


Join me on my free webinar on Monday 3rd December “7 keys to staying on your customers’ radar to get the easy business that’s right under your nose”     Click here to register


What we can do to get kids hooked to the hospitality, leisure and tourism industry


OK, I’m hooked

If anyone had suggested to me a month ago that I’d devote the best part of a sunny summer weekend to watching road cycle racing in preference to gardening I’d have thought them mad! But that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

Seeing our boys in the Tour de France was the start, and then having the opportunity to be a part of the Olympics right on my doorstep all for the cost of a train fare was too good an opportunity to miss.

The day on Box Hill was perfect; an amazing atmosphere, great weather, brilliant view and not one, not two, but eight chances to see the action on the loop.

Needless to say I was hooked, and was glued to the telly for the entire ladies race on Sunday, despite a hundred and one jobs to do in the garden (and despite what was seen on TV it was actually sunny in Sussex most of the time!).

So what can we learn in business and in particular hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses from this surge of interest in cycling and other sports? 

One of the biggest problems I hear is the concern for a lack of young talent joining the industry. So what can we do to emulate the success of attracting new talent to cycling, athletics, or rowing?

There have certainly been some fantastic role models for the next generation. And what an inspiring idea to have youngsters nominated by some of these past winners to light the Olympic flame.

But the sports have gone far beyond this; rather than waiting for the young talent to come and find them, they’ve been out into schools to find them.

We need to follow suit. And not just leave this to the likes of Springboard. We all need to be doing our bit to fly the flag for the industry and inspire youngsters to want to be a part of it. It won’t happen overnight – most of the youngsters competing for the first time this year have been in training for years. Not all will make it of course, but the earlier we can introduce youngsters to the industry and all it has to offer the more likely we are to leave them with a positive perspective and attract new talent.

Parents, teachers, college lecturers, and careers advisers all have a part to play in influencing future careers. What perception do they have of the industry? Let’s do all we can to educate them and ensure that hospitality, leisure and tourism management is given the profile it deserves.

Establish ambassadors who can generate the passion. Offer work placements to schools and colleges, and make these fun and informative. Organise ‘A day in the life’ and open days for schools, colleges and careers advisers for them to get a real feel for the roles and opportunities, and a chance to talk to those who do the jobs.

Offer work placements for universities that give a structured programme and a really in depth view of the options within hospitality management so once they graduate they stay the course. Feedback from graduates who have experienced work placements in a particular segment of the industry are invariably drawn back to the same disciples on graduation. Without this connection it’s all too easy to stray into other industries if a job of their choice is not immediately forthcoming; potential talent maybe lost to the industry forever.

Let’s put on our own show open to all and give everyone a taste and a chance to be a part of this fantastic industry.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


Getting your team on board for their performance reviews.

Getting them on board for a staff one to one.

One to ones should be a two way discussion. Ask open questions to get their ideas on performance and how to move forward.

When giving feedback on their performance use the AID model:

  • A  Action what they did – i.e. what you have seen or heard (back this up with examples, focus on actions not on your interpretation or their intentions)
  • I  Impact – what has that achieved, or what impact has it had on the business, the department, the guests, or themselves
  • D  Development – what can they do to build on this, or do differently to improve or perfect, and how you can support them

Ask for their views, not only on their performance, but what support they need, what could be improved in the business, what feedback they have had from guests, their suggestions for future objectives. And be prepared to listen to their answers and probe for more detail or examples if you need to so you fully understand what they are saying.

Remember, if people’s previous experience of one to one meetings up till now has been bad or at best just a waste of time, it can take time to build trust before these can be totally honest exchanges. Start by asking the questions above, or similar, and use this as a starting point to get the discussions going.


Where to begin

If you aren’t already conducting regular one to ones now might be a good time to start.

Begin with the end in mind.

Use your first meeting to establish (jointly) their goals and KPIs if you don’t already have these in place.

So, get your diary out and get these in your diary. You know if you don’t they’ll never happen!

What’s the point of a business card?

Whenever I visit a hotel or B&B I like to take a business card – well, I do if I think I will want to remember the place.

But I sometimes wonder why people bother with business cards. I mean, why have them if they are tucked away, where guests can’t see them?

Let me give you a couple of recent examples. One B&B I visited recently had cards for local businesses neatly displayed, and I picked one up, thinking it was for the B&B itself. (This is what happens as you get older and your eye sight goes – if I have not got my glasses on I never quite know what I’m reading!) When I asked for the right card, the owner could not even remember where she had left them!

Then at another a few days later I simply forgot to ask, as they weren’t visible. The chances are I’ll have forgotten the name of the place by next week.

And worse still at one hotel where we dined last week and had a fantastic meal with excellent service, the cards were kept in a locked drawer!

Do any of these ring true for you?

So what’s the point of a business card?

  • A memento for the guest of a good time
  • To find you easily if they have some feedback, either directly or on TripAdvisor
  • So they can remember you to make recommendations to others
  • Something to pass on to friends or colleagues so they can find you easily
  • So they can remember your details for a future visit, and help you get repeat business

Use your business cards to help build and maintain that connection with your guests. They are part of your marketing and PR armory. You’ve gone to all the trouble and expense of getting them printed, now make sure you are getting a return on that investment.

Hear it from the experts. Join me on my regular FREE interviews when I talk to hospitality experts and specialists and ask them to share their insights, strategies and secrets that can help to give your hotel a competitive edge. In my next interview I’ll be talking to Petra Clayton of Custard Communications, PR for hospitality businesses.  Find out more and register here.

Chalk and Cheese

Last week while I was on holiday in Scotland we had a fabulous meal at the Ardanaiseig Hotel in Argyllshire, where Chef de Cuisine is Gary Goldie, Chef of the Year, Scottish Hotel Awards 2011. We enjoyed it so much we went back the following day and spent time at the hotel and exploring the gardens. On both visits we received a warm welcome and attentive service.

Compare this to another local hotel. Same star rating, equally impressive location and stunning views across Loch Awe.

Sadly the same could not be said for the impression it left on us.

As we drove up to the entrance a sign directed us to the back of the building. I could appreciate they did not want cars parked at the front, interrupting the views. However, grand as the front entrance was, the back was far from impressive. As we approached the car park, we felt as if we were getting the evil eye from someone sheltering from the rain under the archway, smoking a cigarette. We could only assume form his attire that he was a hotel employee.

On entering the car park, we passed unsightly equipment – a rusting barbeque and other dishevelled tools. The back of the hotel was far from attractive and at this point I almost suggesting turning round and heading back to the Ardanaiseig. We carried on and down the back steps, passing the window to either the cleaning cupboard or kitchen, whose cluttered windowsill was laden with cleaning products. Then into the back corridor, only to walk past the gents, with the door wide open and the urinal in full view.

I’d love to say this could be forgiven had our afternoon tea made up for it – it didn’t. We waiting over half an hour and when tea did finally arrive, it was luke warm!

What a waste. This hotel could have been fantastic, had someone just thought through the customer journey and taken a leaf out of the Ardanaiseig’s book.


Hear it from the experts. Join me on my regular FREE interviews when I talk to hospitality experts and specialists and ask them to share their insights, strategies and secrets that can help to give your hotel a competitive edge.  Find out more and register here.

The Value of Referrals

I’m having lunch today at Raymond Blanc’s restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.

Of course I’d heard great things about the restaurant in the past, and have even met Raymond Blanc some years ago, but to be frank it probably was not on my priority list of places to go.

Then last summer when I was interviewing business strategist Peter Thomson for my series on How to give your hotel a competitive edge, Peter sited Le Manoir as an example of phenomenal service. He described it as “Absolutely fantastic from start to finish”.

Shortly after my interview with Peter some friends of ours were visiting from Denmark. They asked us to put together an itinerary for them for a week in the south of England. So remembering Peter’s comments I recommended Le Manoir, and duly made a reservation.

Our friends absolutely loved it.

….So much so, in fact that they could not believe we’d never been ourselves, and invited us as their guests; hence our trip today.

So from one person’s experience has come not one further booking, but has sparked a whole chain. And it probably won’t end there. As I was telling some friends about this on Friday, they too suggested a visit for their forthcoming 50th birthday.

Of course, this hasn’t happened by accident. It has had to live up to its reputation, and offer something that will continue to wow its customers on a consistent basis. But even without such a celebrated chef as Raymond Blanc, every hotel or restaurant should be able to find that something special that will continue to wow their customers and guests every time they visit, and prompt repeat business and a chain of referrals.

So what can you do to wow your restaurant customers and hotel guests and give them something to talk about, so they tell their friends and spark that chain of bookings?


I’m currently running a further series of FREE interviews, when I talk to hospitality experts and specialists and ask them to share their insights, strategies and secrets that can help to give your hotel a competitive edge.  Find out more and register here.

Twelve tips for leaving a positive lasting impression with meeting and conference delegates

You work hard enough to win your meeting and conference business, so it makes sense to leave a positive lasting impression and an incentive for them to return. A lot of effort goes into first impressions, but what sort of lasting impression are you leaving on your meeting and conference delegates?

In my line of work I see a lot of meeting and conference venues, sometimes as a mentor, but frequently also as the client or a delegate. Normally the first impression is alright, you get a warm welcome and asked at the outset if everything is okay. But it’s what happens after this that invariably leaves you let down

  1. If using a projector, are there sufficient sockets for a laptop, and can these be easily reached without the presenter tripping on a lead and breaking their neck?
  2. Has the presenter been included in the delegate numbers and been provided with a chair, glass and water, or does the venue really expect them to stand for eight hours? (At two venues only last week I was not given a chair for an all day workshop.)
  3. Check the size of the table needed for the presenter; if they have notes and handout materials have you provided them with a table that is big enough to put down their notes and props, or it is taken over by the projector?
  4. Is the projector lined up properly screen (and in focus), or is it so close to the screen that the image only fills a quarter of the space available, and worse still, not angled upwards so the image only shows on the bottom third of the screen.
  5. If they’ve requested flip charts is there a supply of fresh paper, and do all the pens work okay and not dried out. Test them at the end of every meeting and discard those that have passed their best.
  6. Consider also the positioning of tables and chairs. I frequently find that the presenter is positioned so far away from the rest of the participants that it would be necessary to shout to hear! When a cabaret set up is used factor in the length of the meeting; if it is an all-day meeting and delegates are required to face the front, ensure that they can do so without having to keep turning round and straining their necks.
  7. Having refreshments turn up on time is critical to the smooth running of any event. Just five minutes late when you have only scheduled a 10 minute break can have a serious impact on the timetable. And this means everything being on time; clean cups, fresh milk, plenty of teabags, etc etc. I know this sounds obvious but you’ll be amazed how often the milk runs out, or everyone favours a particular flavour of tea.
  8. Avoid bottle necks at the coffee station: Arrange flasks so you don’t get congestion all around one spot. Clearly label which pot or flask is tea and which is coffee and which is hot water. Is there somewhere to dispose of tea bags once tea is brewed? If you have more sophisticated coffee machines do ensure they can keep pace with demand. A machine that takes just 20 seconds to brew and dispense a cup of coffee can only accommodate 30 people in a 10 minute period, so certainly won’t be suitable for a meeting with 50 delegates.
  9. Lunch: A simple label on buffet food so delegates know what they are eating (and cut down on wastage). And ensure lunch is cleared away promptly at the end of their break.
  10. Watch for trends. If your delegates get through more still water than sparkling (which in my experience is usually the case) match what you provide in your set up to meet the demand. Likewise for other beverages. It not only keeps your delegates happy, but saves on wastage too.
  11. Check the room temperature, and be responsive to organisers’ requests to adjust this. The bane of my life is air conditioning. Invariably it blows too hot or too cold. Half the time I question whether it’s adds anything, particularly in a room where the windows open, but there are times when it’s needed. But nobody wants to be sat right beneath a blast of cold air, and adjusting it to suit everyone’s requirements is a fine line.
  12. Everyone wants to get off as quickly as possible, so just a few minutes of your time to help with the packing up and to get the organiser on their way just a couple of minutes earlier would always be welcome. And provides the perfect opportunity to gather that all important feedback.

Hear it from the experts. Join me on my regular FREE interviews when I talk to hospitality experts and specialists and ask them to share their insights, strategies and secrets that can help to give your hotel a competitive edge.  Find out more and register here.

Show me the light

When I turned up at my training venue the other day it was in darkness. I assumed that the room had no windows, but when I looked behind the curtain there was one huge window. Why on earth then would I want the curtains drawn and have to rely on artificial light all day?

The room was set up with a freestanding screen stood in front of the window, so I asked for the room to be rearranged so that the projector faced an internal wall so that we could open the curtains and allow in the natural light. So I was even more confused when I discovered that there was already a built-in screen on the internal wall.

This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered such a setup. When will conference facilities realise that natural light is far preferable to artificial light, and when you add in the potential energy and cost savings on lighting this seems an absolute no-brainer!

So please, conference venues and hotels please show us the light, and keep those curtains open.

Perhaps hotels could divert some of these savings to bedrooms and give guests some decent lighting here for a change.

Hear it from the experts. Join me on my regular FREE interviews when I talk to hospitality experts and specialists and ask them to share their insights, strategies and secrets that can help to give your hotel a competitive edge. I’ll be interviewing Simon Thompson from Conferences UK in May on how to tap into the conference and meeting opportunities out there  Find out more and register here.

What do your staff say about your brand?

While I was in one of our local supermarkets yesterday I asked a member of staff where I could find peanuts. I’d already been to the aisle clearly marked ‘Salted Nuts’ but not a nut in sight, nor a member of staff. So by the time I found this staff member I was already getting frustrated.

“I’m off duty” was the rather curt reply I got. “Oh. I’m sorry, well could you at least tell me where I can find someone to ask?”  Big sigh…..”You’ll have to go to customer services”. Needless to say Customer Services was at the opposite end of the store!

The fact that this member of staff was in her uniform – to me, she represented the company – on or off duty. As a customer I will not distinguish the difference.

So what do your staff say about your brand when they are off duty?

  • How do they behave on their way to and from work, or at any time when they might be identifiable as one of your team?
  • What impression do they give when coming into and out of work? E.g. how they drive, the cleanliness of their car, etc?
  • How helpful are they towards your guests even when off duty?
  • How much responsibility do they take for things that need attention even if this isn’t their job e.g. attending to a guest if they need help?
  • What are they saying about you or your guests in the staff room?
  • Where do they go on their breaks, and what impression do they give if visible (e.g. smoking by the back door)
  • What are they saying when within earshot of your guests; either to each other or on the phone?
  • What are they saying about you or your customers on social media?

What do your staff say about your brand?

Are you letting hotel bookings slip through your fingers?

The other day I was stood in the reception of the top Glasgow hotel. While I waited to check in the sole receptionist took a phone call.

What I heard was

I’m sorry our wedding coordinator isn’t here at the moment. Can you call back in the morning?

Mmm, now I wonder if I would bother to phone back. The chances are that this potential wedding booking has been lost forever.

But how many other hotels are guilty of similar scenarios, of letting potential room, conference or wedding bookings slip through their fingers?

Now I’m not suggesting that the meetings or wedding coordinators need to be on hand 24/7, but at the very least ensure that there are some procedures in place for anyone to take an enquiry and give the potential customer confidence in the hotel’s ability to handle the potential booking.

Ensure that all of your staff who are customer facing (not just reception) fully understand the facilities on offer. It should be part of their induction to see the facilities, the layouts and get a general understanding of the types of events you’re able to host at the hotel. Even if someone is new the very minimum is to have a handy fact sheet to hand for any enquiries to include this top ten:

  1. Number of meeting/function rooms
  2. Optional layouts for each room
  3. Capacity of each room for each layout
  4. Equipment available
  5. Basic charges and what these rates include
  6. Breakout areas
  7. Catering options
  8. Wedding licence?
  9. Anywhere for indoor photos?
  10. Any other frequently asked questions about your venue

Don’t just assume that because you have a list that everyone treats enquiries in the same way. Ask a friend or colleague to act as a mystery shopper and find out how your staff deal with these enquiries.

And as an absolute last resort, even if you can’t manage this, make sure that your front of house team have a system in place to capture details of the prospective customer and are able to make a commitment to them that their enquiry will be followed up, by whom and by when.

And of course that you deliver on this promise and follow up promptly….


Hear it from the experts. Join me on my regular FREE interviews when I talk to hospitality experts and specialists and ask them to share their insights, strategies and secrets that can help to give your hotel a competitive edge.  Find out more and register here.