The expression 'moments of truth' was coined by a Swedish bloke who turned around the performance of a failing airline by travelling the world with its rivals and noting what was good and bad about each.
He called each little interaction a business has with its customers a 'moment of truth' meaning that each interaction is a chance for a business to shine in the eyes of the customer or to turn them off the offering, either for the moment or for ever.
Hotels are selling something pretty ephemeral: luxury; sleep; an experience; food; pleasure; location, to name just a few. And so it's important they get these moments of truth right if they want to keep their existing customers and attract new ones:
- Their website. This needs to work but more than that, it needs to showcase the rooms. I don't know why more hotels don't do this - people don't generally buy things they can't see so why don't more hotel websites actually SHOW you the rooms? It bewilders me since it seems so blindingly obvious to me: people want to know what they'll be getting for their ££££ for the night so let 'em see.
- Not only should an hotel have a good website but it should work on an ipad. If a hotel site only uses Flash (and as you may know, Flash doesn't work on an ipad) then I generally navigate away to a site that does. And yet another hotel loses my interest and my business.
- Rates - these should be easy to find and it should be obvious what you're getting for each rate. See item 1 above.
- Children, yes or no? It should be obvious whether or not the hotel has connecting rooms and accepts children but many force you to call them to ask or to sort out connecting rooms which frankly is bonkers. It's the 21st Century fgs.
And all the moments of truth above are before you've even booked a room or decided to consider buying what they're selling. Once you've actually bought a room (or more than one) there are at least 4 more additional moments of truth before you even get near a bed for the night:
- The confirmation email. Should be sent immediately (since that's what we all expect these days) and should be literate, charming and accurate.
- The welcome when you arrive at the door. This should be by greeting you at your cab (if in London or a major city) or smiling and saying hello and welcome if you're approaching a reception desk in the country.
- The whole reception / check in experience. This needs to be smiley, professional and friendly. I like hotels who ask "have you stayed before?" and offer a brief tour of the common areas (Haymarket and One Aldwych do this) if you haven't.
- Whether or not you are offered help with your bags. I wouldn't expect this in a country pub but I would at any decent hotel. Ideally I don't want to lift a finger (other than to beckon a waiter) once I get to a hotel.