The Silicon Alley Insider Chart of the Day got me thinking earlier this week. As did their accompanying text:

“While we debate what should be free and what should not on the Internet, remember: even a small payment for a huge upgrade can be a big barrier.”

The story was about more iPhone users than iPod Touch users upgrading to a new operating system from Apple, seemingly because one is free and the other costs $10.00. Often I hear the words upsell and cross sell being used interchangedly by ancillary revenue professionals, but I see a clear difference. Selling rental cars, hotels, destination content and other ancillary services is clearly cross sell, whilst selling anything that implies a higher level of service or functionality from the existing product category purchased (or close to purchased) is what I call an upsell. One example of upsell in the airline environment is selling a higher fare family, whilst another example is Delta’s promotion of offering upgrades from economy class to business class for only one frequent flier mile! This last example from Delta is unfortunately only available via the call centre, but if it was available online it would be similar to the upsell teaser in Amadeus e-Retail. An example I heard once regarding one particular airline was a 5% uptake of the upsell teaser offer on the fare review page but clearly, as the Frontier success with fare family upsell showed, the proposed upsell needs to offer compelling value in order for the passenger to consider accepting the product offered. Good technology combined with an attractive and well communicated offer, and maybe the prospects for upselling aren’t as pessimistic as the Chart of the Day was suggesting, as least as far as airline websites are concerned.