Cross-selling in Travel & Tourism

Cross selling in Travel & Tourism: takeaways from India

A close friend recently invited me to his brother’s traditional wedding in India*. I took the opportunity to visit a tiny sliver of India – Mumbai and Hyderabad to name the cities – before work dragged me away halfway across the world. Although the trip was purely for pleasure, thoughts of work seeped through as I was being sold everything and nothing with every interaction with locals. I couldn’t help but be amazed at the amount of the crossell/upsell options I was offered as I walked through the city.

Getting out of a cab? Driver offers to wait for a nominal amount of rupees to get that juicy return fare. Enjoyed your (amazing) meal? Let me walk you to the “best” ice cream in town where it just happens we have a revenue share on anything you eat.

These aside, most of the offers fell flat. As an unabashed nerd, I’d jot down the reasons I’d refuse (or accept) cross-sell opportunities in an attempt to see some trends. Here are some takeaways:

Funnel timing

No I don’t want a savoury snack coming out of a restaurant or a hotel room on my way to my hotel. In the art of cross selling what you’re offering is as important as when you’re offering it. A perfectly timed cross-sell occurs when the seller anticipates the buyer’s desires. If the buyer is thinking ‘Yes actually I was just thinking about purchasing that’ you know you’ve done it right.

Confidence building

No I’m not ready to spend the day with you as my guide when you got lost three times on the way to a known attraction. Great cross-sellers build confidence through excellent execution of smaller ticket items before offering more expensive options later in the funnel. In this example, nothing in the experience led me to believe that the driver would be a great guide. Had he highlighted historical facts or other locations throughout the drive – and therefore hinted proficiency as a guide – I would have entertained the idea. The takeaway here that you won’t cross-sell anything to an unhappy customer.

Keep to your funnel

Too often, I was ready to buy the next item/service in the funnel – a room at the same hotel chain in the next city I was visiting for instance – only to decline due to being offered something outside of their expertise. No I won’t go to the restaurants you’re advertising in my room or buy pots and pans from your cousin’s store when you’ve sold me great shoes. Consumers will not transfer the confidence you’ve built up through your great product to any other field. Stick to the funnel where you’ve already built confidence.

Price discriminate at your own risks

Yes I’d love to take the cab provided by the hotel, but not when it’s twice as expensive as hailing one from the street. This is by far the most common reason I refused a cross-sell throughout my time in India. I can’t understand why sellers would squander all their built-up confidence by outrageously marking up the next product in their funnel. Not only did they lose any chance of selling me anything beyond that point but I would also refuse their initial product. Profit comes at the intersection of margins and conversions. By trying to maximize margins, sellers often squander any chance of converting.

Each of these takeaways can be transferred to the digital world. Too often sellers will try to throw everything at buyer to see what sticks instead of analyzing the reasons behind low conversion rates. Instead, ask yourself whether you’re guilty of any of the four conversion killers above.

 *Tangentially, I’d just like to note that there is no good reason to miss an Indian wedding. If you’re invited, drop everything and go. It’ll be one of the most unique experiences of your life. At least it was for me.


Aron Korenblit

Read more posts by this author.