How design can encourage secondary spend in hotels

By Sam Stokoe

- Last updated on GMT

Hotel guests can be directed down certain routes and encouraged to spend out on extras with clever design, suggests Sam Stokoe of Newman Gauge
Hotel guests can be directed down certain routes and encouraged to spend out on extras with clever design, suggests Sam Stokoe of Newman Gauge

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Sam Stokoe, director and design lead at commercial design agency Newman Gauge, discusses how clever design can be used to encourage hotel guests to spend more during their stay. 

As an interior designer I am regularly asked for my opinion on peoples' homes. I politely decline to comment, mumbling 'it is too subjective, I am a commercial interior designer'. I really should add 'I create spaces to make money!'

I have never considered myself calculating, however I am aware that clever commercial interior design can deliver a subtly persuasive sugar-coated environment which ensures guests part with their money with a smile.

Step one - ask the right questions

The journey to enhance secondary spend must start with the end goal, it can be as simple as driving sales to a cake display on a bar, to master planning retail en route to the resort swimming pool. You need to ask, 'who wants what and when, and where on the customer journey will they want it?'

Step two - appeal to the senses 

Attracting your guests’ attention and enticing them over the threshold or encouraging them from one space to another is the real key to get them spending. By creating evocative, visual stimuli you can dictate the route your guests take, drawing their eyes and other senses to a desired area, the final destination to where secondary spend takes place; cakes, drinks, spa goods, treatments.

Enhancing ‘offers’ by making them more visible sounds simple, but in my experience point-of-sale marketing, leaflets and posters can sometimes dissuade spend. Developing cleverly designed ‘zones’ and making the product more noticeable has been far more successful for my clients.

I recently developed front-of-house ice cream parlours and pizza kitchens within existing restaurants – showcasing the product right from the off, appealing to the customers sense of sight and smell to draw in their purchases.

Lighting is also a great way to enhance your offer and gently persuade customers on your intended route; colour temperatures of lighting help pick out hot spots – bright white lighting is necessary at the threshold, at the furthest visual point, at hot spots along the journey and at the final destination, whereas warmer amber coloured lighting should be used in the surrounding areas to enhance the comfort factor and allow the primary focus points to be more apparen

Step 3 - encourage guests to act on impulse

A more common approach is to create impulse purchases; rebooking your next holiday or upgrading your meal plan - not planned at the start of the journey, but a great opportunity well placed to encourage spending.

Step 4 - make it effortless

Increasing Secondary Spend must be effortless. Encouraging guests to subliminally follow a predetermined route through carefully thought out interiors and distracting them from what they thought they wanted and entice them to choosing an even better experience, or an additional purchase is where our experience and understanding of customer expectations and hotel movements really kicks in. Understanding guest behaviours is the key to driving their spending further.

In theory we need to understand the environment and why people are there.  Is this a desired destination or a convenient location?  Both have opportunities and all guests have needs and desires and we need to understand where and when they need it so we can respond accordingly and tease at their desires at every opportunity. We also need to understand if there are any barriers which deters up selling.

Sam Stokoe's clients have included Warner Leisure Hotels, Center Parcs, Butlins and a number of independent boutique hotels. 

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