On our recent trip across Europe there seemed to be a regular theme that popped up in Britain. Wherever we went, every store and service seemed to be trying to sell us the next product or upselling us for just a little more. In the newsagents WH Smith at Newcastle Airport before the women scanned the bottle of water we were trying to get for the flight to London, she asked if we wanted any sweets or other candy. Then as she scanned the item, she let us in to a ‘secret’ about our £1.79 bottle — ‘You know that with 2 bottles the price is only £2.29?’ she said.
There wasn’t any signage around the store to let me know this — it was a last minute sales tactic that we kept seeing time and time again in this ‘Upsell Knation.’ Subtle suggestions kept cropping up, such as the: ‘Do you need some chocolates?’ we were offered as we presented our credit cards.
Above the Virgin Atlantic check in at London’s Gatwick airport there was a proud billboard suggesting that travelers pay an extra £30 now to get a seat with extra legroom and security, and at Newcastle Airport they offered any passenger the fast track through security for an extra £3 (when I asked if there was a family lane I was told there was if I wanted to pay £12!).
Also, we noticed that instead of telling airplane travelers on big screens how many minutes until their gate closed at Newcastle Ariport, the authorities told people how long they had left to shop before they had to go to their gate! In the travel space particularly, there seemed to be a soft sell to get some extra service for little bit more. The Eurostar train we took from London’s St Pancras station to Paris’ Gare Du Nord had four different classes – standard, standard premier, business and first class. Standard Premier was about 20% more in price than the Standard, had a few less seats per carriage, offered a light meal with wine and free magazines and papers (but actually there were no newspapers offered!).
The spirit of reeling people in seemed to be everywhere. When we did some tourist stuff, we found that the London Eye Ferris wheel offered a Fast-Track system which helped us skip the queue and get our own pod.