I recently read the book Winning the Zero Moment of Truth by Jim Lecinski of Google. It’s a free e-book downloadable from the site. While I wouldn’t say the concept is a revolution for marketers, what is great with this book however is that it clarifies lots of concepts that we as marketers had in our minds and ways of working.
Hoteliers, with the likes of Tripadvisor and so forth have been using a similar concept for a while. However the ZMOT, FMOT, SMOT concept (Zero, First and Second Moment Of Truth) form a clear purchase cycle that helps us navigate in the world of marketing.
I’m working on a series of articles for WIHP covering each of the steps of the purchase cycle as it applies for hotel marketers. In essence the steps are these:
For an individual hotel this means the time when the future guest first hears about the hotel and decides that the hotel could be an option for him . Here we are talking about individual hotels and not a category of hotels. While it could be during a search for “hotels in paris” or similar it normally isn’t; since at that stage the future guest is still searching.
From the data we’ve gathered at WIHP this happens most commonly when hearing about it from friends, when searching for hotels on an OTA or by looking through Tripadvisor through reviews.
Remember that we’re talking about individual hotels here and not a chain or big brand. But it even applies to individual hotels from a chain. Another point to take into account is that per our studies a guest visits 10 different hotel websites on average, so don’t think you’re alone at the stimulus, you’re in heavy competition. However I’m getting ahead of myself here as that’s part of ZMOT and FMOT.
2. Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)
Once the future guest has gotten hold of a name the research starts and now you’ve got competition. Here the future guest is going to compare all the 10 hotels he has found to ensure the rates are good, he’s going to scrutinize the location to weigh the rates against the location and pictures. The guest is going to check the reviews to see what other people have said and all this information will be compared to determine which one is best. This step is where the future guest is going to make about 90% of the decision.
3. First Moment of Truth (FMOT)
For a hotel this is the moment when the future guest opens the website’s home page. That home page has to say everything and it’s got to do it fast. It needs to answer three personal questions that the future guest is asking himself: Will it same me money? Will is save me time? and Will it make my life better? For a hotel that translates as follows:
- Will it save me money? becomes What is the price/value?
- Will it save me time? becomes Where is it located?
- Will it make my life better? becomes What is the comfort/service/decoration?
Those three questions need to be answered within 3 to 7 seconds of the person arriving on your site. And once that is done and you have managed to grab that future guest’s attention he is going to spend a total of 24 minutes between arriving on the site, deciding to buy and going through the complete booking process. 13 of those minutes will be on the website and 11 of them will be on the booking engine.
To make it on FMOT you need (and I can’t repeat this enough) a good website and a great booking engine. The design and user experience for your website needs to be so smooth that the next question the guest will be asking himself are “magically” being answered in front of him and same with the booking engine. In sequence what the average user does is go to the website, then check the rooms, then check the rates and finally look at the location. These items need to be present on the menu from the get-go and they must be easy to find. At every moment of this he must be able to get to the booking engine and complete the reservation.
The booking engine design has a lot to do with conversions. We’ve tested many and with the same site, same amount of traffic and same rates we’ve increased booking conversions by putting a much better booking engine than was there before. I’ve covered the details of how to chose a booking engine in a separate article.
4. Second Moment of Truth (SMOT)
This is the moment the guest comes arrives in the hotel. Well this is where a GM or hotelier knows all about it (or not). He’s going to take great care of the guest and give them a unique and unforgettable experience and that’s going to flow back. At Stimulus because this guest will talk about it to other friends and family and those people will come to your hotel, at ZMOT because people searching for information about the hotel will see their comments and reviews and chose the hotel because of it. Here’s the proof of the pudding. To get a great experience as SMOT requires that the hotelier and marketer not over-sell the property on the website and in other areas around the web.
I heard a story once of a hotel that discovered Tripadvisor, that hotelier went hell-bent to move to the top of the ranking on Tripadvisor and solicited every guest to write rave reviews. True the hotel did have a great service and was very nice however it didn’t deserve to be on top position as there were plenty of better hotels around. What happened was the guests arrived and their experience wasn’t as good as they expected. The hotel rapidly saw it’s reviews worsen and bookings took a dive.
All that just to say, that second moment of truth works for you if you deliver what you promise.
In summary the moments of truth illustrate the cycle of a purchase or a booking. They’re the main steps a buyer will follow and as marketers and hoteliers we can increase our results by understanding them clearly and being at the right places with the right message.
I’ve written several articles on WIHP’s magazine that illustrate the various steps in more detail which you can find here http://www.wihphotel.com/mag/category/moments-of-truth/
My collegue and friend Tony Loeb at WIHP published a study yesterday called Where to find new customers online analyzing websites that bring new guests and customers versus those that are used as a passing point in the purchase cycle.
I thought it was quite interesting and am re-posting the infographic here. I’m not going to put the entire article since you can read that on the WIHP Magazine.
For those wondering why I am not blogging so much here, it’s just because I’ve been busy blogging on WIHP’s Magazine and I figured just taking all the articles and duplicating them here would be boring for everyone not to mention the duplicate content that search engines won’t appreciate too much.
In any case, if you’re really upset because you want more on mirarmedia.com then drop me a note and I’ll find some time to blog ideas here…
With the analysts at WIHP we’re constantly crunching numbers. How many visits before clients book, what countries book most, what links are the best, how do they find the hotel, what pages are most interesting, how fast the booking goes etc. Good marketing is based on lots of analysis and I think every good marketer out there knows that. I thought it would be fun to share some of the numbers, so I got an infographic made with some of them and it’s pretty cool. Here are the booking trends in the independent hotel market as an infographic.
Very interesting stats, and definitely reflective of our observations. Key takeaways: (1) Your home page MUST be optimized for conversions; (2) You need to be visible in conventional search, have good reputation with prior guests, AND be on the OTAs; (3) your website must stand out as providing something different.
To which I added that you need to have a booking engine that’s designed to convert. With 44% of user time spent on the booking engine if it’s somewhat complicated, slow or not representative of the hotel you’re going to lose conversion since the OTAs have some pretty good booking engines.
With no further ado, here is the hotel booking trends infographic:
I’ve been using Google+ for a few weeks now and I’m starting to get the hang of it. I am actually quite liking the design and feel for the platform and can’t wait for Google to open the business listing so we can really start using the platform for hotels. But meanwhile here are 5 ways a hotel can use Google+ for their property.
First of all it will require that the concierge or front desk staff open an account and become the “voice” of the hotel, this can’t be done trying to pretend to be a hotel, it needs to be an individual. But that can work too.
1. Open an account for the front desk or customer services of the hotel and determine who will be the user. It’s got to be a person.
2. Build circles for the different types of clients you have. This could be Summer holidays, New Year’s eve, Weekend breaks, Luxury Suites or so. Make groups with your guest types and load them into the system into various circles. It doesn’t matter if they are on Google+ or not because G+ has this great feature that one can share with people not on G+ via email. By clicking on the check box you can share stories, offers, photos or news to a particular circle which will get forwarded by email.
3. Create photo albums for the hotel and categorize them properly, such as room type, lobby, pool etc. Make this a display for the hotel. And remember to put captions with each photo providing a proper link for the hotel’s site and the specific page where they can get more information.
4. Remember this is a social network so it’s about talking to people and getting them to share their experience, comments, viewpoints etc. Don’t try to make this just a sales pitch for the hotel, interact with people, help them. And remind them of the great services that you can offer. That also means responding to their reviews and fixing things that went wrong.
5. Invite people to hangouts and if they’re interested answer questions about the hotel, how to get there, things to do in the area reassure people who haven’t been there before that your hotel is best for them. And those that have, tell them about new things being done in and around the hotel.
Couple of words of caution, don’t put people in too many circles as you’ll likely start spamming them and that’ll be the end of your Google+ experience for them. Don’t post everything public, use Circles for what they’re good for – making circles. Keep them exclusive it’s more fun that way and you get the right message to the right people.
And most importantly assume the viewpoint of the people getting your messages, if you write to them as if you were the one receiving the message you’ll get a long way. Nobody wants a sales pitch thrown at them all the time, they want to see the human side of the hotel.
Maybe Google+ is going to eliminate the need for email marketing altogether. I guess time will tell…
Last week we had to hear about how Google accused Bing of stealing their search results. The story went back and forth between the two companies for several days and in short, Bing was tracking search patterns of other users and used those results in their search engine. For the full story you can read this excellent article on The Next Web: http://thenextweb.com/microsoft/2011/02/04/the-great-google-v-bing-slap-fight-explained-piece-by-piece/
Now all technical information aside, from a PR standpoint this was a big mistake by Bing. It’s a old PR datum that, that which people pay attention to becomes more popular. And what Google has just done is make Bing more popular.
I always thought that Google didn’t care about Bing since Google’s market share is hardly affected by the arrival of Bing. But Google has just admitted that they consider Bing “dangerous” and they’ve just told the world that Bing exists and is a competitor.
I work with lots of SEO guys at WIHP and I’ve been telling them for a while now to start paying attention to Bing and start doing work on that search engine. They just laugh at it, but Google has just done me a great favor since they’re all wondering what is this company that can scare Google like this.
A great example of a PR mistake and how a little “attack” can play against you. Similar to hotels spending lots of time answering bad reviews, it just tells people that they are afraid of bad reviews. Well that’s for another day.
If you want to start a heated discussion with an independent hotelier, talk to him about Tripadvisor. People either love it or hate it, and those that don’t do either, ignore it.
No doubt, hotel reviews on the internet has forced hotels to up their service level and care. In the past many could get away with mediocre service and mediocre rates. Now that’s not the case anymore, cheap or expensive, hotels need to service their customers and leave a great impression.
But what’s the future going to look like? Will we still have a single site directing so much of the public opinion? Well unlike sites like Google and Facebook that actually perform functions, Tripadvisor provides raw information. And many other sites provide similar information too.
This is where the future of hotel reviews (and other review sites as well) is likely to shift. For the end user, the best experience would be to have a glance on the hotel on a single page. Something similar to Google Places but with a better view.
And that’s where I think hotel reviews will go. Additionally, false reviews will not have such an impact on such a system since a single comment wont have such an impact.
I noticed quite some hotels have not purchased the link to their website on their Tripadvisor page, which was understandable at first. I purchased the link for some hotels I was consulting to see the result.
Of course like everything new we thought this would be an avalanche of visits and bookings. After all we all know how important good or bad reviews are, so wouldn’t a link be great?
Well it didn’t really change things on the bookings to the websites we put it on so overall I can’t say it changed the range of direct bookings.
However looking into it more specifically here are some figures:
Hotel A, hotel located in the top 20 hotels in Paris, 6.3% of the direct bookings on their website over the last 2 month came from Tripadvisor. I’ll clarify here that Tripadvisor is the first contact those guests had with the hotel.
However Hotel B, which is also located in the tip 20 hotels in Paris only had 2.4% of their direct bookings come from Tripadvisor.
Hotels located much lower than that in the Tripadvisor ranking had much less impact.
Now that is when looking for Tripadvisor as the first referrer. This means no prior contact with the hotel.
But the value of the link goes further than that. It’s not about using it to bring brand new customers, but rather to increase your hotel’s chance in getting direct bookings…
The booking process currently goes something like this (and part of this is estimated):
Search Engine -> OTA -> Tripadvisor -> OTA or Hotel Website
If you want to increase your chance of getting taking a larger market share towards your website, then do everything you can to add your website link on the Tripadvisor page.
But that strategy (to pull in as much traffic as possible towards your site) isn’t just done on Tripadvisor, it’s an overall strategy you need to adopt in all your online marketing.
Currently Google Places displays rates in almost all countries, this has been available in the US as a beta for a while. But only recently did it start showing up in Europe. What does this mean for hotels?
There is a good and a bad, the good, a better qualifications filter for people visiting the website. What I mean is that a person that visits a website will know even before entering the website if this is in his budget. So it may reduce the visits to some degree, but on the other hand it bring visitors that are ready to buy. This is not a small point, even though it may hurt our ego to see the visits go down.
The bad is that currently it’s only OTA (Online Travel Agents) prices which means… big commissions to the OTAs and little to no profit for the hotels.
I have it from some sources that a booking engine called Bookassist, sent out an email to their customers saying they are adding the “official website prices” into the places page. If that is correct, that’s great news.
Since hotels are normally cheaper through their own site, this is to the hotel’s advantage (and guests).
I’ve looked around in Google Forums to try and find more information on this but haven’t seen anything yet. If you have information on how to connect one’s booking engine to Google Places please post a link in the comments.
- HotelMarketing.com’s most popular of 2011
- ZMOT and hotel marketing
- Where hotels should get new guests [INFOGRAPHIC]
- Hotel Booking Trends an Infographic
- Five ways a hotel can use Google+
- Top referring sites for Hotels by WIHP
- How to Successfully open a hotel
- How do they find us?
- Do’s and Don’ts for a Hotel Website
- The role of Interior design in Hotel Internet Marketing