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Winning the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)

If you are in the hospitality industry, the term “Moment of Truth” may sound familiar. The phrase was coined by Jan Calzon, former president of Scandinavian Airlines in 1986 as “anytime a customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business, is an opportunity to form an impression.” For many years, hospitality companies used this concept to create customer service success. But now, more than ever, is the time to “zero” in on another moment.


Google’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) describes a revolution in the way consumers search for information online and make decisions about brands. Researching a product online prior to purchase has become the “new normal” as the internet and mobile continue to advance. This mental model of marketing focuses on what Google is calling the Zero Moment—the exact moment when the consumer has a need, intent or question he/she wants answered online. Consumers have transformed the way they make decisions and the ZMOT model embraces this change.


(Source: Winning the Zero Moment of Truth)


According to Google, this new model is comprised of four steps; Stimulus, Zero Moment of Truth, First Moment of Truth and Second Moment of Truth. So where do hotels come in?


Jim Lecinski, Vice President of America’s Customer Solutions at Google stated80% of success in winning the ZMOT lies in showing up at the right place and at the right time.” At this step, travelers have questions and hotels should have the answer. Whether it is on the search engine result page, reviews sites, social media or map pages, it is essential for hotels to have visibility when travelers do their “homework” online.

How do you show up at the right place and time? Studies show that 50% of ZMOT traffic occurs on search engines. In order to beat out online travel agencies (OTAs) and third-party travel booking sites, it is imperative for a hotel to incorporate search engine optimization into their hotel website’s content strategy, . Incorporating keyword phrases people are searching for in your hotel website content will most likely increase your natural search visibility and ability to capture a researcher’s attention. These are other significant factors to help win ZMOT:

  1. Make sure your hotel website is user-friendly, search optimized and up-to-date. We must guide the searcher through their First Moment of Truth, or in this case a direct booking, on the hotel’s website.
  2. Be mobile savvy. Recently, Google announced the evolution Moments of Truth with Micro-Moments due to our mobile-driven society.
  3. Stay active and engaged on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This allows guests opportunities to share their experiences, which cycles to another person’s ZMOT.
  4. Monitor your reviews on travel review sites and OTAs. Their authority is important and many travelers now turn to reviews to make decisions.

With 99% of travel shoppers being influenced at ZMOT, the expression “be in the moment” has taken on a new meaning. Marketers can now use this expression for both inspiration and strategy. Hotels have to “be in the moment,” the “Zero” moment that is, in order to help online searchers on their quest for information. Not only do hotels need to enhance their digital marketing presence to gain visibility, but they also need to guide online searchers seamlessly through the First, Second and Third Moments of Truth in order continue creating positive travel experiences.