The third part of this series of articles covers The First Moment of Truth (FMOT) in hotel marketing is the moment when the guest arrives on your site. You have between 3 and 7 seconds to help him make his decision. The guest is already interested in your hotel from the ZMOT so he’s not just idly browsing, to arrive to your site he/she has checked out other sites, read reviews, looked at maps and checked rates.
Moment of Truth is a concept proposed by Procter and Gamble to describe a step on the purchase cycle of a customer in which the customer discovers about the product and which helps him decide if the product is right for him. See below for more information about the four steps on the buying cycle.
What happens when a guest arrives on your hotel website?
So the user arrived on your site, so what’s next? Well first thing you need to realize is that future guest is also visiting 10 other hotel sites before doing the booking. So arriving on your site is only 10% of the work. The other 90% of the work must be done by your site. Your website must answer the future guests questions within 3-7 seconds. What questions?
As we covered in the article on ZMOT your guest wants to know:
- Will this save me money?
- Will it save me time?
- Will it make my life better?
For your hotel, this translates into
- Is this the best value I can get?
- Is it located near the destination point I am looking for? and
- Is the comfort going to live up to my living standards?
Quality websites sell better
Your number one concern at FMOT is ensuring you are getting qualified visitors because you can have the fanciest website in the world, but if you aren’t the right answer to the questions above you will not convert visitors into guests no matter how hard you try.
Once that’s out of the way everything hinges on your website and booking engine’s quality. Sure you’re probably thinking well I have a website and I make lots of revenue with the website and “If they really want to stay at my hotel then they’ll go through the hoops and book” and you’re right. At least you’re 60% right. So what’s the fuss? Well take into account that your future guest probably has your site open in one window and an OTA open in another window. OTAs like Booking.com and many others manage their sales funnel like nobody else on the internet. Every week there are changes made to their website to improve their sales funnel.
So with an unoptimized website you’re telling that potential guest that he’s better off completing his booking with the OTA, after all it’s the same hotel and it’s a lot faster.
This illustration shows what is happening to a single user when searching for a hotel. The 10 other websites visited in this illustration are only the 10 other official sites, this does not take into account the OTAs and other sites he/she has visited at ZMOT. Per Google the average user visits 17.5 travel websites before booking.
Key elements to get the sale at FMOT for hotels
So if everything hinges on the quality of the website and booking engine what can you do about it? We’ve gathered a list of elements that need must be present on your website to get the conversion.
- It’s got to be screaming fast.
- The photos need to show the comfort immediately, they’ve got to show the hotel in the best light without cheating and over-selling the product.
- The rates need must be available from the get-go.
- It must give an instant idea of the hotel’s location.
- Extremely intuitive navigation and answer the guests questions even before the future guest even thinks of them.
- The rooms page must show large images and they need. If they’re too small it looks like you’re hiding something.
What to do at FMOT: Summary
If the guest has arrived at your site he got there for a reason, he’s been through ZMOT and has selected your hotel out as one of the potentials places he is going to stay. If the data about you on other sites is correct you have a qualified visitor in your hands. Now your site needs to do its job and close the sale and just like any salesman, they either close because they are great closers or because they’ve slashed the price. Your website will sell either because it’s a great website or because you’ve slashed your ADR. Like most hoteliers we think the first option is the best.
The moments of truth defined for hotels
- Discovery / stimulus: Guest finds out about the hotel and gets interested. (See our article about that here)
- Zero Moment of truth: Guest goes online to research the hotel and “do his homework”. (See our article on ZMOT here)
- First Moment of truth: Guest finds the hotel website and finds out if this product is for him.
- Second Moment of truth: Guest arrives and discovers the product and is either happy or disappointed, which then cycles to Stimulus (or lack thereof) for his friends and family.
VP Marketing and Sales
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