Part two in this series of articles covers the Zero Moment of Truth in hotel marketing. The Zero Moment of Truth (or ZMOT) is the second step in the booking cycle where the guest has found a hotel he is interested in and he is now going to search for that hotel to get more information about it to find out if it’s the right hotel for him, this is even before going to visit the hotel’s website.
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. The Zero Moment of Truth is an addition to the concept that was proposed by Jim Lecinsky from Google in the free e-book Winning the Zero Moment of Truth.
The Zero Moment of Truth in Hotel Marketing, where guests go to get their ZMOT info.
What is ZMOT for hotels?
Many years ago a traveler didn’t have a choice, he called his travel agent who did the research for him. Today travelers and users are experts at everything, they can go on a search engine and get all the data they want. If they’ve got some time they will have read more reviews and checked more locations comparing more prices than an average hotel manager does. He is looking for answers to the following questions, will it save me money (value)? will it save me time (location)? will it improve my life (comfort)?
At ZMOT the user is looking for answers to those questions. This is where your reputation management team isn’t just there to “give a good reputation” they must be proactive in ensuring that those questions are answered all over the web where people leave comments.
Where are they searching?
A good lead to where people are searching for answers about your hotel is to check out the referring sites that brought you most bookings. What we are looking for here is not just the first referer or last referer but the referrers that show up multiple times on the booking cycle. Microsoft calls this the Engagement Mapping. The chart above shows the places where users are going to find out more about a hotel. What isn’t included above are OTAs which play a major role as covered in this article about the billboard effect for hotels and the prior article covered the first step: The stimulus.
More about their searches
Search Engines, are obviously the number one, with 72.9% of the traffic. How to use them? Which keywords should you be indexed on and why? Answer: The ones that people will use at ZMOT, that means your brand name, hotel [your street name] and any other variations of that. Go to the Google search bar and type your brand name and look at what Google proposes, you will likely find “[brand name] reviews” and “[brand name] tripadvisor” etc. Make a landing page with reviews if you can. Use Google Insight for Search and the Google Keyword Tool to find what keywords and sites users go to for answers.
A common mistake here (and we covered it in part 1) is to go for keywords that are too broad since you will end up getting a high bounce rate and low quality visits. Search engines are not the stimulus tool for individual hotels, they help people find you once a stimulus was created.
Map pages, such as Google Places and others that gather information about your hotel including reviews and rates as published on OTA websites.
Review sites, such as TripAdvisor, booking.com reviews, yelp.com and more. To find them for your hotel do the search “[hotel name] reviews”. You will find lot’s of OTA sites in the results, well they are part of your ZMOT and you had better make sure the reviews are great and your rates too as you’re otherwise going to lose the sale.
Travel Guides, both online and off-line get in these travel guides, make sure you are present in as many as possible by contacting the owners and finding out if you can qualify for their guide and how to be present. In some cases it means signing with certain OTAs in other cases it’s purely based on your hotel type or negotiating a commission directly with the guide.
Social Media sites, obviously you need to be present on all possible social media sites, Facebook, Google+ (when they’re open for business listings) and all the rest. Seeing that one’s friends like a hotel is a sure closer when deciding to choose the hotel.So making sure all your guests “Like” your Facebook page and post their review on the social media site will help at Stimulus (see our article about Social media and new customers) but will greatly help you gain trust at the ZMOT stage.
These are the main ones, there are more which you can find on the following article we published recently about referring sites that bring bookings.
Your job as a hotel marketer is to find all the places where people go for answers about your hotel and make sure that these places communicate the image you deserve. And more importantly answer the following three questions: will it save me money (value)? will it save me time (location)? will it improve my life (comfort)? these questions should be answered through reviews (by guests writing genuine reviews covering these points), on your site, in your descriptions on OTAs and Travel Guides and through any place where users will go to find data about you.
The next step is the First Moment of Truth, and that is about how they engage with your website once they arrive on your site. Your site will appear as part of the ZMOT as well since guests will arrive on your site during their research. We will cover that further in the next article.
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”.
- First Moment of truth: Guest finds the hotel website and finds out if this product is for him. (See our article on FMOT for hotels here)
- 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.
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