Christmas with COVID

The importance of the upsell

It’s probably never been as essential to ensure that your staff are upselling than throughout the forthcoming festive season. Under usual trading conditions, many pubs and bars would simply be trying to serve all their customers in November and December but with reduced capacities across the board this year making sure that all team members are successfully maximising spend per head is crucial.

“Table service has been something that we and our regulars have adjusted to very quickly and we’re making the most of it by pushing our more expensive drink selections,” said an operator of over 30 years. “This will be massive for us going into Christmas this year. As a trade we need to make the most of the opportunities that are presented to us.

“All our customers seem to be really enjoying talking through the different options we have available to them and I think this year they are generally looking to try more new things when they are out of home.

“So, we’ve made sure all our staff are upselling at the table. We’ll offer local, craft or more exotic choices. The staff will then get a feel for what they feel they could recommend and what they think the customer might like.”

On the other hand, there are some blockers to traditional upselling. Masks and the rising use of technology in outlets to help deal with the coronavirus threat could be seen as negatively impacting the server/guest experience.

But, this is an area Stuart will be looking to capitalise on ahead of the winter months with a focus on getting the food deals he wants to upsell to customers onto his electronic ordering platform.

“We analyse spend per head very carefully throughout the week and now as we approach Christmas we’ll be looking to make the most of our online ordering,” he said. “I’m looking to utilise it better now that it has been in place for a while and jazz it up with new, exciting ways to push our products and I think it’s going to really improve sales for us.”

So, what can you do? We say, upselling is a more vital tool than ever for licensees this year:

  • Selecting two more expensive and profitable drinks from each of the main categories in your bar (beer, wine, soft drinks and gin, etc.) and ensuring customers are offered these premium options by your staff over the festive season, when they are more inclined to indulge themselves with something they may not usually order.
  • Give staff the ammunition they need to upsell successfully. With consumer curiosity in different kinds of drinks high, making sure your team know a few interesting facts or persuasive flavour descriptors about the drinks you want to sell can be all that it takes in a short recommendation to encourage your guests to make a significant trade up.
  • Don’t forget about menus either, use your Christmas drinks menus, whether on paper or available on an online ordering platform, to draw attention to higher end libations that will help increase your takings. If you are unsure how to do this on an ordering app, make sure to ask your provider for assistance.


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