Who doesn’t love a free upgrade?

There are two words that make sure your customers enjoy their experience, make sure they consider coming back again and definitely make sure that they tell all their friends about the fantastic experience . . . FREE UPGRADES!


There is nothing better than getting a free upgrade.

If you are catching a flight. ‘It looks like we have over booked Economy. Would you mind being shifted into Business Class?’

If you are staying in a hotel. ‘We have a spare deluxe suite available if you would like to be upgraded.’

If you are buying an ice-cream. ‘It is 2-For-1 day, what would you like for your second scoop?’

In all these situations (maybe not the last one), customers experience an emotion only seen in cartoons. You know that moment where the character’s eyes roll over to reveal dollar signs and the sound of falling coins ring out? While their eyes may not actually roll over, I can bet you good money that the sound of somebody winning the Pokies is going off in their head.

But upgrades don’t have to be last minute. They are a great persuader to encourage consumers to choose your hotel/airline/musical/ ice-cream. And they are also a great way to keep consumers who are considering switching their brand.

I was reading about somebody’s hotel booking experience recently and came across a fantastic strategy to persuade those who change their mind at the last minute to follow through with the specific hotel.

Part way through the booking process, if the booker tries to leave the website they are prompted by a message offering a free upgrade if they finish their booking. Of course, the booker may have been leaving the website in search of another hotel – or they may have simply decided to book later and check their Facebook page – but nonetheless, the incentive of a room upgrade is a great catalyst to stop looking elsewhere and keep you working with that specific hotel brand.

(And in their head, the booker is probably having that same eyes rolling over into dollar signs moment!)

And it brings me to another point. Why wouldn’t this work in the theatre?

Theatres have been experimenting with upgrades for a while. For example, one of the initiatives from the past has been the offer of an upgrade (for $20) when people arrive at the theatre if there are better seats available up the front.

But with our advanced computer knowledge nowadays, why not offer consumers a free upgrade when their online behaviour seems to imply that they will be leaving the purchasing process? Of course, consideration needs to be put into working out how bookers wouldn’t wrought this system – but once booking agents had overcome that, imagine how many more people would continue through the booking process to purchase tickets! The sky’s the limit!