Upselling is one of those strategies that can boost the bottom line of any organization, be it a family entertainment center, an amusement park, a retailer or a restaurant. Unfortunately, it’s often paid too little – or the wrong kind of – attention.

First things first, a lot of people approach upselling events and services with a “me first” approach: “If I sell more, I’ll make more.” While that’s very likely true, it misses a critical piece of insight that would make upselling  a whole lot easier. And that’s “If I sell the right package, event, or meal, my guest will have a bigger and better experience.”

Setting the Stage for a Fruitful Upsell

So how do you teach that? To start, provide your team a framework to make upselling a natural part of their guest interactions. Spoiler alert: Asking the right questions and listening to the answers is the key to everything.

A great rule of thumb for team members is to build the habit of learning something about each new guest they meet. The more energy you invest in getting to know your guest, the better equipped you are to meet their needs and exceed their expectations. At a minimum, you should be asking:

1. “Have you been to our center/park/attraction before?”

A “yes” allows you to find out what they’ve done before, and gives you a chance to ask more questions to help you understand what to recommend to give their experience a little more “wow” factor. A “no” gives you the opportunity to upsell packages with multiple attractions or food bundles to give them a taste of all you offer.

2. “What brings you in today?”

Knowing what they’re trying to achieve by visiting your FEC or park, you’ll be able to offer items to complement that goal. A group in for a birthday might be upsold from basic attractions to walk-in party packages, or be willing to add on “It’s My Birthday” T-shirts and a cake in your restaurant. An adult hockey team coming in for a post-win celebration might love your suggestion for “up the fun” appetizers or exciting cocktails or shots from your bar, for example.

3. “Have you ever tried our …?”

Repeat guests may never have tried a particular attraction, menu item, drink modification or play package. Asking them specific questions about items you’re focused on selling can spark their interest for the suggested experience now … or even for a future visit.

Listening + The Right Offer = Success

Of course, being a great listener won’t accomplish much if you don’t have the product knowledge to know the best items to offer your guests. Educate and quiz your team members about specials, attractions, popular items and other natural upsells:

  • “fries with that?”
  • “add on a  player card with that?”
  • “Jose Cuervo in that?”

Bottom line, your team members need to taste your food and ride your rides. Guests will want to know what you like, so you need to be ready with an opinion and experience to share.

That said, upselling happens best when it’s part of the flow of conversation. I don’t know about you, but I feel a little awkward when I’m trying to “sell” something. I’m afraid of being pushy. However, if you’ve listened to your guest, and you know your product expertly, it should help to lessen that awkward feeling … and timing your suggestions appropriately can almost eliminate it entirely. For example, when CenterEdge Software trainer Brittany was selling birthday parties in an FEC, she’d ask for the birthday child’s gender, name and age (in that order). With this information, she’d know – and be able to explain – that 3-year-old Timmy “might not be interested in bowling, but would be at a great age for bouncing in giant inflatables. He also might love Thomas & Friends-themed party supplies and balloons.” Further, she says, “just keep it flowing and tailor your suggestions so you’re not just shooting into the dark until you hit a mark.”

Sincerity in tailoring your suggestions, as Brittany explained, is a major component of selling, not just to build trust with your guests, but also to help you sell with integrity. The most successful sales people sell things they believe in, so use your experience and knowledge of other guests’ selections to help guests make choices in your FEC or park.

But What’s in it for the Sales Person?

While I’d like to think that success is its own reward, people are motivated by different factors. Remind your team of Zig Ziglar’s philosophy that “you will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”  However, many facilities have had great success with upselling incentive programs. While CenterEdge trainer Luke was GM of an amusement park, he held monthly upselling contests for cashiers. At the beginning of every month, they’d choose an item to focus on upselling. At month’s end, he would review the Cashier Sales report to see who had sold that item the most, and the winner would receive a gift card.

What’s great about that approach is it gives team members increased knowledge month after month about different items you sell, and also provides them with focus as they’re learning the techniques to sell on a more individual basis. And if you try this with the other points we’ve discussed, I bet you’ll find an overall increase in all upsell items, not just the items in the contest this month.

What do you think? What are the most popular upsell items in your facility or the technique that works the most for you? Share them with us at or on any of our social media outlets.

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