If you have been following my strategies, you will know that one of my favourite topics is upselling and packages! I have worked with hosts that have gone 100% book direct by leveraging packages & upsells. I love that not only can you make more money, but you can improve the guest experience by selling more! I have worked with hundreds of hosts helping them understand how to offer additional services and amenities to increase their revenue.
Very often, hosts tell me that it ‘won’t work for them’. Or they build in a preconceived idea of what guests should and shouldn’t pay for.
Do you remember when airlines started upselling?
Airlines have been upselling since the start! Rember the duty free on board the aeroplane?
Do you charge for wifi? How about premium wifi?
There are so many ways to increase your revenue as well as improve the guest experience!
The opportunities to upsell are vast! You can upsell pre-booking at checkout, pre-stay through email and SMS, and lastly, you have great opportunities during the stay. You can even sell after their stay!
By leveraging this knowledge and a few key upselling strategies throughout your sales cycle, you can increase your revenue, build deeper relationships with customers, and better utilize your property’s amenities, but only if you do it well.
Today, we meet Madison Rifkin — Founder and CEO of Mount, a platform designed to help short-term rental hosts upsell to their guests. Mount improves the guest experience by enabling property managers to rent amenities already present in the home, such as bikes, scooters, and golf carts, to guests via an app at a small price.
Madison Rifkin has been an entrepreneur since she was 12 years old. Her passion started in the bike lock world as she grew up in Denver, Colorado, and was an avid biker. From there that led to her getting a patent at 15 and then heading off to Northeastern University to study entrepreneurship. It was during her time there that she was traveling, staying at Airbnbs, riding scooters around everywhere, and gaining the knowledge she’d need to evolve Mount into what it is today – a platform that opens up new revenue streams for hosts.
Ultimately, it’s about knowing your guests and their needs. Remember to offer relevant products at the RIGHT TIME to the RIGHT GUESTS, and you’ll have effective upselling techniques for your hotel in no time!
Have a listen!
What we cover in this episode:
-How to ensure guests clearly see the value of what they’re paying extra for.
-How to improve your upsells.
-Why you should learn how to upsell.
-Ideas for cool and subtle upsells
-Which amenities to upsell
📣 Listen to the episode here
👓 Watch the episode here
Hello and welcome back to The Accommodation Show. We help accommodation owners like you get the knowledge and skills you need to grow your business, improve your guest’s experience and increase your profitability.
All right, hi everybody. Welcome back to The Accommodation Show. I’m very excited about today’s episode because we are joined by the wonderful Madison Rifkin from Mount. Madison, welcome to the show.
Madison: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.
Bart: I’ve been looking forward to this because I love our topic of the day. We will be talking about how to make extra revenue from your short-term rental hotel or motel business with upsells. It’s a really great topic we’ve covered this sort of stuff before but not with someone that has as much experience as you and as much passion as you for this particular topic and ideas. So those of you listening, make sure that you listen to the end because there will be so many gems coming through. Madison for you going tell us about yourself. Tell us who you are, where you’re from, and your history into how you got into what you’re doing right now.
Madison: Absolutely. So I am the CEO and co-founder of mounts. Essentially, I have been in the entrepreneurship world and really building Mount since I was 12 years old. So it’s been 12 years in the making. A fantastic journey thus far. And one that did not start in the short-term rental hospitality industry actually come from the micro-mobility world and was helping launch scooter programs across the United States in the world essentially. You know, those companies caused a lot of chaos that was not something I had to do with but excited to see kind of innovation and then jumped into the short-term rental industry after you know, a lot of learnings from that. So that’s where I come from, essentially Mount is focused, laser-focused on upselling, and how to optimize that at various properties, whether that be in short-term rental properties, boutique hotels, or large hotels, we’re here to help optimize and manage all that.
Bart: The scooters were always an interesting one are the bikes as well. So where we are in Australia, people started getting the bikes and throwing them in the Yarra River, causing all sorts of chaos hanging them off of trees and lampposts and all sorts of stuff. So, you know, that kind of iteration and figuring out how to overcome those problems has been important. But like you said, micro-mobility across the city is important. We don’t need to own our own scooters. We don’t all need to own our own cars. And we can get a lot of leverage out of that, but folks don’t get mistaken. This is going to be an episode about scooters because it’s gonna be way way more than that. It’s about how to enable technology and bridge the gap between upsells and technology to really drive more revenue into the business. So and it can be quite substantial actually. So let’s talk about Mount and the idea behind Mount and what you guys are doing to help facilitate the interaction between the guest and the product.
Madison: Absolutely. So yes, now is essentially a software product that is a marketplace connecting your property and all the things that you want to be able to offer your guests whether it be electric bikes, scooters, golf carts, kayaks, paddle boards, firewood, beach chairs, a podcast studio, honestly, you can name it. You listed as a rentable amenity, and then the traveler, your guest shows up on the property, downloads about the app, and then they can see everything they can possibly rent. Mountain handles the payment processing, we handle insurance, we handle GPS tracking and management, and then you just get a check at the end of the month with all the money you’ve made. So that’s, in essence, what Mt does. Now where this comes out of and really it came from the hosts that we started working with, originally back two years ago, was the necessity of having all these guests’ requests where they asked you like hey, can I go rent a bike? Is there a boat excursion? I can go on. I don’t know how many of you out there, get questions like that, and then you end up sending them down the road.
A mile or two, whatever it may be. And it’s essentially revenue walking away from you because they’re gonna go spend that revenue with that boat shop. And although you gave them the lead, there’s no way to capitalize on any of that. And so that’s really essentially the problem we decided to solve is if you’re putting all this time and effort into really curating and guest experiences, you should be making money from that. And so that’s really run out steps in is where the middleman, we can track basically your recommendations we can track if you’re putting the amenity on your property, and you get a lot more of these revenue streams than just directly from your booking.
Bart: So you’ve got a just to go back to that that walking down the path and go into the boat higher place. Are we suggesting that we’re making a commission from the boat higher place or are we trying to say that we’re going to have boats on our own property to sell.
Madison: All the above so the way Mount really works. Where it was originally built is yes, if you have the boat basically on your property or maybe your places on a dock or something like that, then you would be able to access that boat with Mount and capture 100% of the revenue. But for example, a lot of properties don’t have that luxury of being on the water. So how do you still capitalize on that? That’s the other half of Mount that we will eventually be opening not yet where we can help you capitalize on that recommendation on those like affiliate programs so that if you do send them down the mile to you know, rent that boat, you can still capitalize and recoup some of that revenue not you know 100% because it’s not your boat, but some of that yeah,
Bart: For sure. And look, I think that’s definitely a space of the affiliate-type program. marketplace or however that fits but for those of you that are listening today, I really want to impart to you the value of this episode is going to be understanding how you can unlock some of the things that you’re already doing to add a better revenue stream. And also the key medicine. I think all of this is not just about making money, right? Like, of course, we want to be more entrepreneurial but can we use this technology to improve the guest experience rather than just making more money and people feeling ripped off?
Madison: Absolutely. I think that’s a very valid point. And one we get a question a lot is like where’s the line between upselling your guests and then having them feel nickel and dimed and ruining the guest experience? So basically, Mount looks at the line as if it’s an amenity that is typically sold within your community for rent, like an electric bike, for example. That’s something you should absolutely be charging your guest for because either way, there’ll be spending about $90 on that rental, and it should be coming to you if you have the bike on the property. Where I think it gets greyer if it’s a normal bike, and that’s something that you know, a lot of guests are accustomed to already offering. For example, hotels offer normal cruiser bikes for free.
And so in that sense, you would probably just use Mount as more of that management piece so that you can see if it’s getting used when it’s being brought back. You can schedule maintenance, and all that stuff and you don’t necessarily have to charge for it. Maybe they get into your nightly price. They won’t know either way, and you’re still capturing that revenue. So there’s definitely a line like I don’t think you could charge for a hot tub stay that’s you know, not something people are accustomed to seeing. For example, the boat, the kayak, the paddleboard that’s all stuff that they would go rent in town anyways. So why shouldn’t you be charging for it?
Bart: Yeah, I love it. And I think that’s a great explanation is that I think everyone needs to know that there’s a line because I think a lot of people who are grinding they start charging for absolutely everything and all of a sudden locking up the soap. If you need extra toilet paper then all of a sudden so you’ve got to be careful with the guest’s experience but then what you can do is you can look at products that people are already using that has inherent expense to you as a business owner, but also where you know that if they’re going to hire it or they’re going to rent it and that’s where you can kind of jump in and go hey, hold on a second. I can jump in there. Firewood is an interesting one actually as well because that kind of to me, it seems though there should be enough firewood. For my stay. Why am I going to charge for firewood?
Madison: Yeah, so firewood was one that came from our customers, the hosts or property manager to or whoever they may be, and it was actually more out of necessity. So we for example work with a property manager in the Catskills which is a New York upstate in the mountains and they were purchasing firewood for their guests. But the way you purchase firewood I guess I did not know this is that you purchase it by the pallet, which is a massive amount of firewood and they didn’t have anywhere to store it so they just put it on their property and made it free to the guests. But when something like that is free, the guests would overuse it and they would take a log and then wouldn’t burn it and then add another and it was just a complete waste to the point where their her guests were going through that pallet of firewood in like three weeks when it should have lasted a few months.
And so I think that was the perfect use case where it’s like, Hey, I didn’t think about charging for firewood. But when you put a price on something, it really makes the consumer conscious at that point. And so they’re actually going to use all the wood that’s necessary, which in turn saves the environment. So I think it’s a win-win there. But also it makes them more responsible. So I think the same actually goes for someone that was offering beach equipment for free. And she had a really bad problem with them not treating it properly.
They were breaking the beach chair she offered they were losing the kid’s toys, sand toys, and she’s like I think it’s because I offered it for free. So what we did was we bundled it all up, made it rentable the amount, it was still free, but you started to rent it so the process was the same. And since we did that we actually have seen no damaged chairs, no lost anything. And it’s because the consumer became more conscious. And so I think that’s the piece that’s missing is like you don’t necessarily have to charge for it. But if you make them feel more like they’re responsible for it, someone’s watching, they’re gonna treat it nicer.
Bart: Yeah, and I like that kind of my mind immediately went there when we first spoke and when I got introduced to Mount. This idea of upsells and that sort of thing is not new. It’s the implementation that gets a little bit more complicated and more difficult. And I think that’s where, hopefully, people are listening. They go Oh, great. Yeah, okay, this is solving more of a puzzle, because it is it can be quite a complex puzzle to solve but with the right tools and the right solutions, you can do more because the other side is you know how to do how to charge people, right? How do you do that? And you don’t want them to guess calling you and saying hey, I want to hire the surfboards for 30 bucks or 50 bucks or whatever the price is. And all of a sudden you’re working. Literally working and spending time on the phone to manage this whole thing and the margins diminish quickly because your the time that you’re putting towards that money. So with the technology part of it and obviously, if we’ve got let’s say it is firewood. Where does the technology fit? Into the part of the puzzle? How does it work?
Madison: Great question. Yeah, so firewood is a bit of a different one. But just because it is like a commodity. It’s not actually rentable because you’re not bringing it back. So what this person hosted, essentially was she bucketed the firewood into I guess portions if you will. So a portion she knew this day was averaged four days and put enough firewood in the bucket for four days. She then put a lock on it, which is like something you’d put on your door. It’s the four-combination digit lock. And then she put on the mound QR code. So that actually is the QR code that goes on anything you want to rent, and it hooks it up to the system so that when the guest comes with a Mount app, they create their account put in their credit card information, and all they have to do is actually scan the QR code. Once they do that it gives them the lock code so they can unlock their firewood for their stay. And they’re essentially renting, so at the end of this day they leave it unlocked and the cleaning lady will just come and fill it you know like she does with the toilet paper and everything else, lock it back up and it’s ready for the next person to use. So that’s pretty much how Mount works in general, whatever you need to list as an amenity. You actually need to lock it up either to itself or to something on your property. And then the app will give you access to that lock combination to use.
Bart: Beautiful so if we’re talking about things like surfboards or beach equipment, that you might need a shed or you might need a like a cable to tie it all up. And that sort of thing. I assume that you can also do boxes so you could have stuff in little boxes with codes on them where they go and they get the unlock code to do that as well. And there aren’t any other sorts of things that people are doing to sort of lock things up.
Madison: That’s the biggest one. I mean, for the bicycles, they’ll actually just lock it to itself, which means that you put the cable lock through the back wheel so you actually can’t move it. I mean, you can lift it up, but that’s not going to do anything. So in that case, that’s how that works. Yeah, pretty simple. It’s just a $5 lock on Amazon you can get like five feet of extension and can use it to lock pretty much anything.
Thank you so much for listening to the show. You can find us at theaccommodationshow.com where you can find all the show notes. links to resources we have talked about in transcripts from the show. I really do appreciate you listening. And if you’d like to support the show, please subscribe, leave a comment and share it with others.