Friday, July 31, 2015

Once in a blue moon

Today, Friday July 31, 2015, we will experience a blue moon. The blue moon occurs approximately every 2.5 years. It happens when there is a second full moon in the same month – when the first full moon occurs early in the month and the second full moon occurs late in the month, 30 days later. Therefore it occurs only in months with 31 days (and usually July, August or December). July’s first full moon appeared on July 2.

For example, there was a blue moon on December 31, 2009, and August 31, 2012.

The expression ‘once in a blue moon’ is used colloquially to mean ‘not very often’ or ‘rarely.’ The moon does not turn blue, although sometimes it appears to change colour due to dust particles in the atmosphere. Nor does it signify blue for unhappiness.

Some people believe that when there are two full moons in once calendar month, the second one – the blue moon – brings surprises and occurrences that emerge suddenly – out of the blue!

May your blue moon be a happy blue moon.

Tbilisi flower market

The flower market at Kolchos (Kolmeurneoba) Square in the centre of Tbilisi has been a long-standing permanent market. Colourful and charismatic, the perfume changes with the wind and the season. Not only do marketers sell flowers at the market, but also around the city there are small stalls and street sellers.

How hotel websites get you in the door: the psychology of buying behaviour

Hotels that are successful in securing direct reservations know how to use psychology as the draw card. Hotel News Resource (July 27, 2015) thinks the power of persuading customers to book accommodation and walk in the door of hotels is based on the power of psychology – the psychology of buying behaviour.

Hotel marketing through websites is full of psychological methods to lure a customer – that’s how hotel websites get you in the door. They use features that encourage customers to make a booking.

One psychological method of attraction is to play on the potential buyer’s emotions. has an article that explains this: ‘decisions are often made when emotions override rational thought processes.’ So hotel marketers use emotions, depending on the type of hotel they are marketing. For example, they make potential buyers feel calm and relaxed if they are marketing a hotel by the coast, or give them the promise of lasting memories if they are marketing a romantic getaway, or feelings of adventure and fun for remote or unusual locations.

Another method is to create urgency. Hotel marketers use website notices, such as ‘only three rooms remaining’ or ‘for the first 10 guests only’ or ‘for a limited time …’ or ‘3 people are viewing this hotel now.’ They might even have a clock that counts down the available time remaining to make a reservation.

Website hotel marketers use default settings. A default setting is the easiest choice for consumers. It can save several clicks or search time. Default settings include ‘3 nights’ or ‘for 2 people’ or ‘standard room.’ Psychologists say its the path of least resistance that makes the purchase quick and easy.

They have simple, straightforward, predictable steps in making a purchase that occur each time a person visits the hotel website. A progression or steps bar indicates that the user is halfway through the process or has only two more steps to go until the booking process is complete. It takes away anxiety and doubt about what to do next to make the purchase.

Of course there is also the FOMO method – the Fear of Missing Out. If consumers think that everyone else is staying at that hotel because it’s in the best location or it has the most amenities, then more consumers are likely to ‘follow’ the majority. Marketers use lines such as ‘5 people have booked in the last 12 hours’ or ‘favoured by the Brilliantohs sporting team.’

Marketers have specials and sales and limited offers and loyalty deals and elite guest services. They make everyone feel that they can afford the hotel and are entitled to stay there, or that they are one of a handful of special people that receive the notice of a sale or a pre-sale. Or they showcase a  special event or deal or meal or feel – ‘views of the race’ or ‘the only hotel in the Righto Park.’

Marketers also follow-up the purchase with an emailed receipt or a reminder message. They congratulate the purchaser for choosing that hotel in that location with those facilities. Well done!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cat among the pigeons

Can colour psychology determine personality traits or make you smarter?

It’s often been said that you are what you wear. The style, colour, shape, and texture of clothes are said to determine personality traits. But do they? Does your mood determine what you wear or do the clothes determine the mood – and therefore affect your personality? Can wearing a particular colour make you look smarter or even make you smarter? Can colour psychology determine personality traits or make you smarter – i.e. more intelligent?

Psychologists believe that people sum up your character and personality in a matter of seconds just by looking at your clothes. This is called ‘thin slicing.’ It’s called thin slicing because it’s a small window of time – from seconds up to five minutes – where everything from your age, gender, intelligence, status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, occupation, mood, creativity, and more are determined and judged.

A Canadian study found that 90% of consumers’ first impressions are based on colour. For example, lighter tones suggest friendliness and darker tones suggest authority. Red evokes strong emotions, passion, and intensity, or even aggression. A study in Biology Letters documented that male athletes who wear red can inspire aggression and competition, and a study from the University of Rochester in America found waitresses who wore red lipstick received greater tips than waitresses who wore no lipstick. Blue suggests knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness, as well as calmness and creativity.

Business Insider reviewed several studies on first impressions. The quality and cut of your clothes can communicate your status and level of intelligence. For example, people wearing brand clothes of well-known fashion designers or companies are perceived as higher status than people wearing conventional or generic brands. People who have their clothes custom tailored are considered to be more successful than those who wear clothes that aren’t as tailored to their shape and size.

A study in the Journal of Social Psychology & Personality Science found that people in formal cothes think more abstractly and experience more feelings of power – thus the ‘power suit’ was born. Abstract thinkers are better able to solve problems, analyze and evaluate complex subjects and theories, and understand relationships between verbal and non-verbal ideas. Abstract thinkers make challenging tasks seem easier, generate insight, gain emotional control and boost creativity.

Does this mean that putting on a suit can change the way you think? Harvard University psychologists think formal is not always best – jeans and T-shirt worn at formal occasions can often be perceived as a sign of non-conformity, wealth, and celebrity.

Some psychologists think that we become what we wear. Psychology Today reported research from Adam Galinski – who coined the phrase ‘enclothed cognition’ – where a person wearing a white coat can improve their mental agility. This is also mentioned in Karen Pine’s book, Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion. For example, the white coat that doctors and scientists wear primes the wearers’ brains ‘to take on the sharper mental capacities they associated with being a doctor.’ So if you want to feel more mentally alert and smarter, wear a white doctor’s coat!