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How to upsell and cross-sell in the tourism industry

How to upsell and cross-sell in the tourism industry

May 15, 2024
6 min read

Originally published on February 7, 2023, this blog was updated in May 2024 to ensure accuracy.

Increasing bookings and revenue comes in many forms for travel and tourism agencies. The typical sales model is where there's the process of converting visitors into buyers. But there are sales strategies where during the process of booking and even after they have booked with you, tourists can increase their experience with your business.

When we talk about upselling and cross-selling, we're talking about higher revenue and offering that extra that will increase the tourist experience. Both of them focus on providing more value to your activity, and both practices focus on approaching existing customers.


That extra 10 minutes in a rafting experience where the tourist can watch a unique sunset, the private tour they bought to experience the location more deeply, or even the picture and video package they can purchase so that they can remember the incredible adventure they had. All those extras can take the tourist's holiday over and above. Also, all those examples are what we call in sales “upsell” and “cross-sell”

In this article, we'll explain what upselling and cross-selling are, how they benefit the tour and activity business, provide examples of each practice, and more.


So, let's start from the beginning:

What are upselling and cross-selling?

Upselling is when you encourage customers to acquire a comparable, higher-end product than the one they were first interested in. For example, a traveler upgrades from a group walking tour to a private one.

Cross-selling is when you promote related or complimentary services. Here's when an additional can increase the adventure, such as the option to add extra time on a scenic flight.

The benefits of upselling and cross-selling

As mentioned previously, both upsells and cross-sells bring benefits of increasing sales revenues and improving customer satisfaction—because the service better fits their needs.


Cross-selling is best when it works with the customer journey and reaches your client at the ideal moment so that they can react positively to the offer and purchase the service or product.


As tourist businesses already know, attracting buyers is one of the most challenging things; also, it's one of the most expensive parts of the buyer's journey. With the upselling strategies, the goal is to increase sales revenue by working with buyers on the button of the funnel, i.e., ready to make the purchase. Those customers are already halfway in when we talk about trust in your activities and tours, but building a stronger relationship with them is still necessary, so they don't feel deceived.


We interviewed three tour and activity companies to understand how they developed their sales and marketing strategies and how they made it work. You can check their best tips in the article 9 effective marketing strategies for tour and activity operators.


With both types of sales, building a relationship with the traveler and working toward long-term loyalty has to be the main goal.

Upselling and cross-selling mistakes to avoid

Comparing too many options is challenging and becomes a complication. Have you ever experienced a ticket purchase where there are many options and forms you can fill out that, ultimately, you fill in the mandatory questions and want to get over it? In the end, those too many upgrade options and better comfort cause the contrary of a good customer experience. In the travel industry, the lack of confidence is widespread; according to the Travelport report, one of the most significant factors hampering travel bookings is the lack of transparency.


In cross-selling, for example, you want to ensure that your customer is aware of the extra services you offer, but there is no need to add the option in every step of their booking process while also adding pop-ups and chat messages. The ideal flow is one where the customer is not annoyed by the extra options.


Another mistake to avoid is offering things unrelated to what the customer wants. For example, if a traveler is booking a relaxing family vacation, and you keep promoting extreme adventure tours, not only can the customer lose interest in your company, but it also might lose interest in the tour as a whole and choose another tour provider.


And like with cross-sell, upselling is all about the trust and relationship you can build with clients. When upselling, don't be too aggressive; you want to be consistent and in touch; otherwise, you can lose their expectation.


Another mistake to avoid if you are working with an upsell strategy is not nurturing your existing customers. Maintaining a relationship with your current customers helps to build loyalty.  


Keep in mind that while the travel industry is getting back on track and increasing again, many abandoned cards remain. According to Online Travel Trends & Booking Statistics by SalesCyles, the percentage of shoppers that abandon their travel purchase is 85% for desktop users and 91% for those buying on a mobile device.


How to upsell and cross-sell

When we talk about upsells and cross-sells, keep in mind that increasing the client experience happens inside your website and usually during the booking moment.  


Learn more about the basics to building a great tour operator and activity provider website here.


While cross-sell occurs during the checkout process, the ideal moment to offer the products and services is during the booking process. Showcase services or products that the customer didn't know you provided and reinforce the offer. Keep in mind that cross-sells can mean those extra services of their activity, such as photo and video services, to purchasing an additional tour for another activity.


Develop your cross-selling campaign with the customer journey. The best way to communicate correctly with your customer is to identify which related products and services match what they are purchasing. You can make that identification in many ways, ask your guides, customers, and staff and keep in mind to analyze your website and social media—data is the main thing that will help your business in any strategy.


Let's say you sell adventure activities in a beachy location; what activities do people who take scuba diving usually ask for more information about? Do you notice any patterns among travelers? Start from there, and keep track of the results while applying your strategy.


Tip: if working with an Ads campaign for your cross-selling strategy, you can target "look-alikes" that show similar behaviors to the clients you're aiming to.


Another way to effectively boost your cross-selling campaign is working with email campaign targeting. You can add the extra services or products in the confirmation email after they purchase the product and adjust your approach based on the results.


The upsell often includes comparison, so the clients can tell the services apart. Showing tourists the particularities of each tour or activity can help them choose the one that better fits them. For this type of sales, it is crucial to know your products and services and what they offer so that you can indicate the best option for the client's preferences. And in general, provide excellent customer service to answer all their questions.


Enhance your upselling and cross-selling with TrekkSoft 

TrekkSoft’s add-ons are another way to upsell and cross-sell in the tourism industry. These add-ons offer a versatile toolkit designed to enhance revenue opportunities with minimal effort and maximum impact. 

Single-item add-on: maximize each booking 

A single-item add-on allows customers to enhance their experience by purchasing additional products or services along with their booking. You’ve surely seen this offered when booking travel before, where you can easily click a button to add extra equipment such as a GoPro for a diving tour or a luncheon to a hot air balloon ride. 

The key to use single item add-ons is relevance. They should complement the main activity and enhance the overall experience. For instance, offering a photography package during a scenic tour not only boosts revenue but also adds significant value to the customer’s experience. 

The importance of single item add-ons cannot be overstated. They allow for a more personalized customer experience, encouraging larger purchases per booking. They also do this without overwhelming the customer since they’re directly related to what they came to purchase in the first place. 

Add-on type guest: customize experiences 

The add-on type guest feature is designed to customize experiences based on the number or type of participants. This can include adding extra guides for larger groups, special pricing for children or even creating VIP experiences for guests looking for exclusivity. 

This type of add-on is particularly effective in scenarios where customer needs will vary. For example, a tour operator might use it to manage group dynamics or provide additional resources necessary for certain types of guests such as language-specific guides. 

Utilizing this add-on is important because it addresses the diverse needs of customers which can lead to higher satisfactions and increased changes of positive reviews and repeat business. 

Gift cards: encourage return visits 

Gift cards are a powerful tool when it comes to generating revenue. They allow customers to share the experiences you offer with others by giving them the gift of paying for it. For example, someone who loved a tour you offer may buy gift cards for friends and family so they can try it too. This not only generates immediate revenue when they buy the gift card, but also introduces potential new customers to your tours and activities. 

They are particularly useful in contexts where customers are looking for gifts that offer unique experiences such such as birthdays, weddings or other special occasions. Gift cards are also excellent last minute gifts since you can buy them online instead of having to go out shopping. 

Gift cards are a unique tool because of their dual benefit. You get immediate revenue from the gift card purchase, and potential new customers who are going to use the gift card. They also play a crucial role in customer retention since the person getting the gift card is likely to become a future customer. 

If you’d like to use the power of add-ons for upselling on your tourism website, you can do so easily with TrekkSoft’s Back Office tool. 


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Gabriela Cofre Torres
Posted by Gabriela Cofre Torres
Content writer with a background in customer success and sales, Gabriela enjoys exploring Latin America, reading, and DIY projects.
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