The Moment of Truth: How to Covert Visitors to Your Hotel Website

May 27, 2015 Martin Soler

In this third article in our Hotel Marketing series, led by SnapShot CMO Martin Soler, we take a look at the Moment of Truth Strategy in understanding how to convert your hotel website's visitors into buyers. Stay tuned for further Hotel Marketing do's and don'ts.

New Call-to-actionMoment of Truth is a concept proposed by Procter and Gamble to describe a step in the purchase cycle of a customer in which the customer first learns about the product and decides if the product is right for them. 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.

Hoteliers, with the likes of TripAdvisor have been using a similar concept for a while. 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.


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 them. Here we are talking about individual hotels and not a category of hotels. While it could happen during a search for “hotels in Paris” or something similar, it normally isn’t since at that stage the future guest is still in searching mode. The ZMOT happens most commonly when hearing about it from friends, when searching for hotels on an OTA, or by looking through TripAdvisor reviews.

Zero Moment of Truth

Once the potential guest has selected some hotels, the research starts and now you’ve got competition. Here the future guest is going to compare all 10 hotels to ensure the rates are good. They’re going to scrutinize the hotel and 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.

First Moment of Truth

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 save me money?
  • Will is save me time?
  • Will it make my life better?

For a hotel that translates as follows:

  • What is the price/value?
  • Where is it located?
  • 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. Once that is done and you have managed to grab that potential guest’s attention, they are 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 “win” the 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 themselves are “magically” being answered in front of them. Next, the average user will go to the website, check the rooms, 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.

Second Moment of Truth

This is the moment the guest comes arrives in the hotel. This is where a GM or hotelier is an expert. They’re going to take great care of the guest and give them a unique and unforgettable experience. That will flow back to the Stimulus section as this guest will talk with friends and family about their experience and those people will then come to your hotel. A great experience at 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

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.