I just received the list of most popular articles from hotelmarketing.com and am republishing it here. I couldn’t find it on their site and emailed them to publish it but am not sure if that’s going to happen any time soon since they also announce that they’re on holidays until January.
Looking through the list is quite interesting. I wrote about it in a Google+ post (which has limited distribution) so am republishing the content of that post here:
Just went through the hotelmarketing.com‘s list of most popular articles in 2011. An excellent list, reading through the list alone is a great analysis of what’s happening in the hospitality world. Here’s my analysis of the scene: Feel free to add yours.
1. Hoteliers are more and more worried about their dependency on OTAs. Rate Parity problems, Cutting availability to OTAs being flagged and more.
2. Hoteliers still haven’t figured out how to yield results from social media. And nobody blames them. The stats talk for themselves: while social media brings lots of visits and can be used as a branding strategy the conversion of those visitors is much lower than on search. And what should we talk about?
3. Hoteliers want more direct. OK that’s nothing new, it’s the eternal problem of every industry, how to increase direct sales.
4. Hoteliers are searching for new marketing ideas. The posts with catchy headlines like Google+ will re-shape search… andGroupon and Expedia… are high on the list indicating that new ideas are definitely on their mind, even if many are just not mature yet. It leads me to believe that the common phrase that hoteliers are not up-to-date is just wrong, they are probably more careful and aren’t going to invest heavily into stuff that doesn’t work.
5. Big names still work best. I guess this isn’t limited to hotels but if there is Facebook, TripAdvisor, Google, Kayak or other big name in the headline it just gets much more readers. That’s just one of the PR laws, big names sell.
It’s probably more revealing as a trend to see what posts were most read and shared than the content of the posts. It gives a great crowdsourcing of hotel marketers interests (at least those that read hotelmarketing.com).
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…
1. The more you respond, the more you are showing the world you are “addicted” to guest reviews. and the more the guests will use that as leverage to get free nights.
2. The more attention you pay to something, the bigger it gets. Following that logic, if you’re answering all bad reviews on your hotel, you are just making those reviews more important.
Now that doesn’t mean you should respond to reviews (I think that title might be a bit abusive) but respond to some reviews. Show that you care for the guest and those with valid points – acknowledge that the guest has a valid point and fix the problem internally.
Review sites have pushed us hoteliers to level up on our services and increase the care factor for the guests. It is a very healthy progress! But like anything a fixation in any direction isn’t healthy. So remember that you are there to care for the people in the hotel and make sure they’re having an excellent experience.
Here is a tip if you find you’re engulfed in online reviews, hang around the front desk every morning at the time of checkout and TALK TO REAL PEOPLE ask them how it went and get some real feedback from them, if something went wrong do something for the guest immediately to make it right. But stay real!
One of our clients in Rome (Hotel Abruzzi) was facing low season and instead of doing the usual thing of seeing his occupancy levels crash or lower his ADR to about a third of the usual rates he did something new and risky.
We had the idea of trying out a Pay-what-you-want rate in a hotel. None of our clients (independent hotels) had tried anything like this before and not many of them had the courage to risk it.
Faced with monthly bills and banks knocking on their doors your average independent hotel owner is pretty ADR dependent (or RevPAR for those that have realized it’s value).
Hotel Abruzzi decided he could face the challenge and so we went to their Facebook page and announced a new idea: See the article on Facebook here.
The idea isn’t just a pay-what-you-want but rather a “monetized review” of the hotel. As the guest leaves the hotel, he/she fills out a review form of the hotel and puts a value to each point he wants to pay most for.
See the form by clicking on the image to the right.
And unlike what we would initially think, this worked out great. Most people being honest people they did an honest review and paid a price comparable to what the hotel was selling on their site.
Of course there’s no safety net here. You could have those guests that just pay almost nothing and leave, well it’s a risk. But just like on review sites, if you do a good job, you’ll get a great reward!
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.
- 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