Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kiwis’ attitudes to hotel stays

30 September 2008
Press Release: Expedia

Nearly 20 per cent of Kiwis have admitted to booking into a hotel room with a one-night stand in mind, according to a poll conducted recently by Expedia.co.nz™, which is operated by Expedia Inc., the world’s leading online travel company.

The poll, which explored the opinions and attitudes of over 5,500 New Zealanders towards staying in hotels, also revealed that cleanliness of the room was of uppermost importance when staying in a hotel (45 per cent), followed by the hotel’s location (21 per cent). While 92 per cent of respondents love taking home the complimentary soaps and shampoos from the bathroom, overall, New Zealanders proved themselves to be an honest crowd with less than three per cent taking the bathrobes or towels.

Rude and unhelpful hotel staff topped the list of gripes Kiwis have about hotels (23 per cent), ahead of other pet peeves including: noise (22 per cent), uncomfortable beds (20 per cent) and hidden costs appearing on the bill (19 per cent).

Arthur Hoffman, Managing Director Expedia Asia Pacific, says: “Overwhelmingly the poll revealed that New Zealanders value good hospitality and cleanliness when staying in a hotel. New Zealanders’ cyber-savviness is impressive, indicated by an overwhelming 58 per cent of people noting online research, including user reviews and hotel ratings, as the most significant source of information when booking accommodation,” Hoffman said.

The poll also revealed that Kiwis take time researching their hotel options, with nearly half of those polled (43 per cent) booking their accommodation between one and three months in advance of their trip.

Just five per cent of people are influenced by their travel agent’s suggestions when booking a hotel, compared to 32 per cent who follow recommendations from family and friends.

Kiwis ranked Auckland as the city with the nation’s best hotels (38 per cent), followed by Queenstown (25 per cent), Wellington (21 per cent) and Christchurch, which gained the unenviable reputation of having the country’s worst hotels attracting just 16 per cent of the vote.

Other key findings include:
• B&Bs are the least popular form of accommodation for Kiwis, with only four per cent highlighting them as the preferred place to stay
• Room features such as cable TV, air conditioning and broadband is a priority for only 10 per cent of people
• Only one per cent of people are concerned about the tidiness of hotel staff’s attire.

Yet another award for NZ as a tourism destination

Labour ministers haven't mentioned poll results in recent times, however Damien O'Connor has managed a positive spin on New Zealand's top placing as voted on an Australian television show poll for prefered travel destinations.

29 September 2008
Press Release: Damien O'Connor

Yet another award for NZ as a tourism destination.

New Zealand was voted Country of the Year 2008 in a popular Australian travel show recently, adding to a number of awards received over the past year, Tourism Minister Damien O'Connor said today.

The travel show Getaway recognised New Zealand for its diversity as a holiday destination, as well as its breathtaking scenery, abundant culture, gourmet food and wine and its endless choice of unique experiences.
Mr O'Connor said many of these attributes underpin our 100% Pure New Zealand image, which is world famous and so important to our reputation as a leading tourism destination.

"It's great that our international visitors are recognising the diversity and uniqueness of New Zealand as a tourism destination. This award shows that our tourism industry is delivering a high-quality experience to visitors.

"The New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015 highlights the need for New Zealand to deliver a world class visitor experience in order to stay ahead in what is a highly competitive industry globally.

"Offering outstanding customer service and ensuring we offer travellers deep, rich, authentic and unique experiences are crucial factors in delivering a world class visitor experience," said Mr O'Connor.

The award comes after a number of international tourism awards New Zealand has won recently including Best Holiday Destination Worldwide by readers of the British Daily Telegraph newspaper and the Conde Nast Award for number one destination by travellers in the UK.

"For a small country and long haul destination we are doing exceptionally well. To continue to compete with other countries we must deliver a better product than our competitors and ensure we are environmentally, economically, socially and culturally sustainable.

"New Zealand tourism operators should be proud. Our international visitors are obviously extremely satisfied with the experiences they have had here. I thank all operators nationwide and encourage them to keep up the good work," said Mr O'Connor.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Noble Businessman

I have two wonderful kids that are growing up in a motel environment. Sure, it can be sometimes tough raising kids in a motel, but what we can give them is first hand experience in the noble art of running a business. They can see the hard work that goes on behind the scenes and the commitment that is required. They can observe how we treat our guests and transact with them. Hopefully they can see the big picture on where money comes from and appreciate what other children take for granted.

Jack my eldest, went to a school disco recently. I heard through another parent that he didn't spend his time "break dancing" and "crumping," but helped run the school shop. Jack spent his time selling ice creams, lollies etc. Apparently taking money, giving change and up-selling with a wee bit of humorous banter came naturally to him. I was so proud ...

Our motel environment gives my children an education that they will never be taught in school. The socialist creep into our education system does nothing to promote and celebrate the concept of the noble businessman and the virtues of the free market. Schools do not teach what qualities an entrepreneur must possess and the risks that they must take to succeed.

To ask our socialist, labour supporting, sunglasses on the forehead wearing, scruffily dressed, pseudo-intellectuals that are embedded in the teaching fraternity to teach basic business principals may be a big ask. A good start would be for our schools to retrieve the following movie from the archives and start educating themselves. Enjoy: "Make Mine Freedom":

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jasons appoints new CEO

With Jason's former CEO, Steven Joyce launching his political career (see our post here) Jasons have announced the appointment of his replacement.

Jasons Travel Media has appointed Matthew Mayne as Chief Executive. Matthew is an experienced General Manager with particular strengths in the online media sector.

In announcing the appointment, Chairman Geoff Burns said "The directors are very pleased to be able to attract someone with Matthew's skills, enthusiasm and experience to build on the great progress the company has made recently under Steven Joyce's leadership and from the foundations laid by our founder, John Sandford. "

Matthew started his career at Telstra Saturn in Wellington and held the roles of Manager residential Marketing and Manager e-Business Development. Since 2002 he has been in the UK. His most recent role has been as General Manager of The Betting Site, an online racing site in the UK started in 2005. Matthew has recently returned, with his young family, to live in New Zealand.

He is an honours graduate in Commerce and Marketing, from Victoria University.

"Matthew's skills and experience, gained both in New Zealand and offshore, will enable us to continue developing and extending the Jasons brand offering." said Geoff Burns

Jasons annually publishes over 6 million copies across 46 different travel-related publications, operates one of the region's most active and fast growing travel websites (www.jasons.com) and has a successful and significant tourism brochure distribution business.

All of this with a team of some 70 employees in New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific.

Matthew will commence in his CEO role with Jasons on 28th October 2008


For further information contact:

Matthew Mayne (CEO) (021) 02916856

Geoff Burns (Chairman) (0274) 582832

No Tell Motel

I enjoy reading about the "dark side" of motelling from time to time. From the 1920's and 30's motels in America were associated with drugs, desperadoes, and declining moral values. Today, this notoriety has faded somewhat, however there are still some fine examples of "No Tell motels" to keep the legend alive.

The following blog account is a good example of a property that has found a specialist niche market:

I few years ago, my friend Anna Falana and I decided to road trip to Chicago for Labor Day. We drove into Chicago thinking we’d be able to get a hotel room, not realizing they’d all be booked for the holiday. We called around until we found a place that had an open room… The Sportsman’s Inn Motel.

Anna Falana and I went into the motel, and the staff were behind a glass partition. Not a good sign. The place looked sketchy, but we really needed a room. The woman at the front desk asked how long we wanted to stay. That’s when we found out the place rented the rooms in 4-hour increments, or overnight. Uh, not good. We told her we wanted to stay all night. Then the lady said she couldn’t rent to us because she thought we were prostitutes.

I looked at what Anna Falana and I were wearing… tank tops, knee length denim skirts, and flip flops. If we were hookers, we sure did a shitty job dressing for success. I told Anna Falana that I didn’t want to argue over a crappy motel room with a woman who thought we were prostitutes. When we walked out, I noticed a cop sitting in the lobby. So that’s why we were turned down. Normally, the place probably does bang-up business renting to hookers and johns.

Here’s some pics from their website…

The Cupid Room…
The Red Room…
The Space Room…
The Beach Room…
So if you ever want to rent a room for 4 hours with a prostitute in Chicago, check out the Sportsman’s Inn Motel. Just make sure there are no cops in the lobby.


Please feel free to comment on your favorite room! Surely you couldn't go far wrong by booking the "Space Room"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"People still want holidays"

27 September 2008

Robbie Cooke, chief executive of online hotel accommodation and travel company Wotif said when things were tough, more people were on the lookout for great value hotel packages and shorter breaks.

"I'm not convinced that the economy is as tough as some people make it out to be. People still want holidays," he said.

"They may cut back on overseas travel and prefer to take a series of short breaks over a long weekend, especially when they can get special hotel rates"."But there is uncertainty out there with many wondering when the global financial downturn would end."

Mr Cooke said that corporate travel among small to medium-sized companies had not fallen, with executives still travelling to Brisbane or Melbourne for business.

"If the global uncertainty deteriorates and things really get that bad, then the industry would start to see unbelievably attractive hotel rates come on to the market."


Bring on the holiday season!

As the good weather emerges, people are starting to think about taking a much deserved holiday. We have noticed an upturn in our motel businesses and an increase in inquiries for future reservations via phone and email. Our website user sessions for our motels are also growing rapidly as office workers dream of their summer escape.

We live in an amazing country where we have the freedom to jump in our car and enjoy different landscapes and people within a short journey from home. I am optimistic that more New Zealanders will appreciate this in spite of challenging times.

After a hard period of being bombarded with economic stress, environmental angst and political shenanigans, the Kiwi battler needs a break!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Motelier's Rage Against the Machine

Terry Murphy said the city would rather work with hoteliers.I can't help admiring this motelier making a stand against an imposed targeted room tax. It would appear that his fellow operators have folded and he is the only one left standing.

The threat to tear the motel down rather than pay the tax is the stuff of an Ayn Rand novel. Go Don!

September 24 2008
CBC News
The owner of a motel in Summerside, P.E.I., is vowing to carry on even though the city has shut off his water and is threatening to turn off his electricity.

Don Gaudet of Baker's Lighthouse has refused to pay a new two per cent levy on every room introduced by the city in the spring to create a tourism marketing fund. Gaudet says the tax is illegal, and Tuesday the city responded to his refusal by shutting off the water.

Summerside also has its own electricity utility, and it says that's next.

"I got a phone call from Terry Murphy at city hall with the big threat of shutting my power off," Gaudet told CBC News Tuesday. "I told him to do what you have to do, and I'll do what I have to do."

Murphy, Summerside's chief administrative officer, said the city was left with no other option. "There was one property within the city that we spoke to as of yesterday, and again today," Murphy said Tuesday.
"He said he wasn't paying, so the decision was made to start removing services."

Gaudet owes about $350. He's threatened to tear the motel down rather than pay the tax.
The city's hoteliers were strongly against the implementation of the tax, but as of Monday only one apart from Gaudet had not paid it. Don Reid, owner of the Mulberry Motel, paid his bill this week when the city threatened to shut off utilities.

"We'd much prefer to have them work with us and do it right and do the right thing," said Murphy, "but when people push, then we have to find ways to try to deal with it."

The city will make a decision Wednesday about when to cut off the power.

Gaudet vows he will remain open. He's purchased one generator and has five others coming for electricity. He said he will have water for his tenants and customers.

Brenda Boostrom lives in an apartment at the motel. She says the fight has been hard on her and her son.
"He's scared that we're not going to have no power, no water," said Boostrom. "When you have ADHD, you panic. It's like anxiety. That's what he's got, I got, and this is driving us to the limit. We're going to pack up and probably leave."

Gaudet is expecting a large group to arrive this weekend for a hockey tournament, and by then he said he will have made arrangement so his guests won't be dry in the dark.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wotif founder buys stake in news site Plugger

25 September 2008
James Thomson

Graeme Wood, founder of online travel company Wotif, has emerged with a 50% stake in news aggregation site Plugger, which has signed a licensing deal with Wotif that will result in Plugger rebranding its site as Wotnews.

The deal, which was announced to the Australian Stock Exchange last night, allows Plugger to use the Wotnews branding in return for a licence fee calculated on gross revenue generate by Plugger. But the licence fee will not be paid until Plugger’s revenue hits a certain level and Wotif does not expect to earn any fees in 2008-09.

Wotif has a pre-emptive right to buy Plugger if its current investors decide to sell up and also has an option to buy Wood’s 50% stake at any time between now and 31 December, 2012.

Plugger’s general manager Richard Slatter is excited about the deal and says there are clear connections between the two companies’ styles.

“For some time we’ve been thinking about and preparing for a new brand that ties us in more with the Wotif family. They are kind of a fully-fledged travel products aggregator and we are a news aggregator, so there are some synergies there.”

Wood says he was introduced to the Plugger team about 12 months ago and liked what he saw. “I thought they were clever blokes who had a history of delivering on technology projects, which is pretty rare," he says.

Two things particularly interested him about the company. The first was the technology involved, which allows enormous amounts of text to be distilled and organised into useable and manageable formats, without the need for human editing.

The second big interest was what Plugger means for the media sector.

"We’ll get down to levels that your average journo wouldn’t think of – opinions on blogs, comments made in company newsletters, lesser-known publications. If we can distill all that down on a particular topic, it should broaden the range of opinions and the range of sources," Wood says. "Maybe it’s another step of democratisation in the media."

Wood says he is also enjoying being involved in another early-stage company.

"It’s the most fun, because you never know what’s around the corner. When you discover that something works, that’s a bit of a buzz. I think you get addicted to that."

Slatter says Wood has been a handy addition to the Plugger board.

“He’s a mentor to this group. He doesn’t overly give us direction but plays an advisory role. He’s very involved and he’s very helpful.”

Slatter hopes traffic to Plugger’s public Wotnews site will receive a boost from the Wotif deal, but he is also aiming to develop the corporate side of the business.

Plugger is looking for deals whereby it would set up a sort of internal news site for companies. He gives the example of a professional services firm that produces a lot of its own content (media releases, analysts’ reports, white papers, submissions) and also has subscriptions to various publications.

The Plugger engine could combine and organise these two sources and add news from media websites and other content such as blogs. “Suddenly you have a far richer research tool for within the organisation,” Slatter says.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The World's First Motel

Here it is folks - this is where it all started. Kneel at the alter of the first - The world's first motel!

Situated on California's coast is world's first motel. It's claim to fame seems to be an undisputed fact.

In 1925, Pasedena-based architect and developer Arthur Heineman decided to create a "motor hotel" hybrid between rustic auto camps and conventional hotels. But he found that the words "motor hotel didn't fit on his sign, so he scrunched them together.

The Milestone Mo-Tel (later the Motel Inn), located in San Luis Obispo roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, had little garages right next to several dozen bungalows that rented for $1.25 a night. The combination of easy access to rooms and to the highway, reasonable prices, privacy, even a little anonymity, caught on in the lodging industry even though Heineman's plans to establish a chain of similar establishments died during the Depression of 1929.

The Motel Inn is barely a shell anymore with a pair of dilapidated mission-revival style structures are guarded by a chain link fence dressed in barbed wire and yellow caution signs. Through that fence the stained brass plaque affixed to the old office lobby asserting the historical significance of the site (Click for a larger view).

Enjoy it while you can. Take a journey past this sacred monument on Google Earth from the comfort of your office chair. You can cut and paste the motel's address: 2223 Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo, into the "Fly To" tab of Google Earth. The location has drive by photos and you can enjoy a virtual drive past.

What remains on this site should be a shrine. A museum. A monument to the great, exuberant, liberating, convenient, homey, seedy, memorable, storied, idiosyncratic and increasingly blurry phenomenon of the motel.

Last minute model poised for comeback

The signs that 'distressed inventory"is making a comeback is unfortunate. It only takes a few operators to try and buy business in hard times by slashing rates and others will inevitably follow. Operators that substantially reduce tariff to unsustainable levels, are undervaluing their product, showing desperation and are devoid of marketing ideas.

23 September 2008
Press Release: HotelClub

Discounted last-minute hotel accommodation offerings that almost disappeared during the recent worldwide hotel industry boom are set to make a comeback, says Commercial Vice-President of the Orbitz Worldwide HotelClub division, Tim Hughes.

He says the industry’s decade of prosperity, which saw both Australia and New Zealand operators chalk up as much as 16 per cent quarterly growth in bookings, meant accommodation yields were so strong operators were no longer driven to compete on last-minute discounts.

The golden period saw several operators either elongate the ‘last minute’ window, or abolish it altogether.
But he says growing global economic uncertainty and rising fuel prices, which are curbing travel spending, have put buying power back into the hands of consumers, who increasingly seek out better deals.
A recent online poll by HotelClub showed that 78 percent of New Zealanders would opt for a cheaper option as the most likely change to their winter holiday plans.

“So, somewhat ironically, the golden period that spawned many more rooms and saw the demise of the last-minute model will also drive its return. Not only are there now more rooms to fill but also there are fewer consumers to fill them. And the ones that are travelling want cheaper rooms,” Hughes says.

He says the pendulum has begun to swing back in favour of last-minute, citing the 2.8 million monthly visitors to www.RatesToGo.co.nz, which maintains a stable of 15,000 hotels and offers travellers up to 70 per cent savings on last-minute bookings.

Motella Party Vote Poll Update

The first round of tax cuts from 1 October 2008 will provide a wee bit of a tonic for the citizens of Aotearoa that are eagerly anticipating a change of government from 8 November 2008.

Time may tell that Ms Clark was wise to stretch out the election date. Labour will be banking on National's previous form of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Ms Clark wishes to give National every opportunity to trip themselves up and there is still plenty of time to change the minds of the gullible. TranzRail-gate probably is not going to do it, so it will be interesting what will other revelations will be produced closer to the election.

Please feel free to continue voting on our "Motella Party Vote" poll to on the right sidebar.

Our results to date:

Act 10%
Green 5%

Labour 7%

Maori 0%

National 80%

NZ First 0%

Votes so far: 40

Days left to vote: 46

We still think that a lot of time and money would be saved by simply accepting our poll as the final result!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Rent Review: Part of the Motel Lease.

Kathie Shepherd, ex motelier and now a specialist motel broker extraordinaire comments on the motel rent review:

One aspect of a motel business which is very important and often asked about is that of the Rent Review.

All motel businesses which are operated under a lease will pay a rental to the lessor and this will be reviewed on a regular basis. This does not necessarily mean that the rent will be increased but gives the lessor the opportunity to review the current rental being paid.

In the rental situation it is human nature that the lessor will be wanting to get the highest possible rent as a return on his investment and the lessee will be wanting to pay the lowest possible rent and thus be getting the highest return on his investment. It is essential then that to prevent too many arguments the whole process of this review is detailed in the lease document and each party is required to abide by their obligations under this.

The lease will stipulate the frequency of the reviews, the requirements of both parties during the review process and the remedies available to each party should they not be able to agree on a rental.

The most common period for a rent review is on a two yearly basis. A new lease for a new motel complex may have an initial rental which is set to allow for the building up of the new business and clientele. This initial rental may be reviewed after 12 months but then once established the rent reviews are generally on a two yearly basis.

Rent reviews are normally based on market conditions and current rents being achieved in motels of a comparable size and standard. Some rentals however under the terms of the lease are indexed to the CPI and this will give the percentage increase for each rent review. There are arguments for and against each type of approach. It is almost impossible to find two identical motels to compare rents so often it is necessary to make adjustments for individual features or locations of each motel. The question then becomes how are these adjustments assessed and evaluated. The CPI indexed rental can be exposed to products within the CPI which have little or no bearing on the ability of the motel to earn income and thus can set an unrealistic rental.

In the past, it was always a standard term of leases that a ratchet clause would be incorporated in the lease document. In layman’s terms a ratchet clause means that the rental set at each review sets the minimum amount which can be payable on the next review. Basically the rent can always go up but can never go down.
There has been a move in present times to have a limitation placed on the ratchet clause. It is now more common for an initial rental to be set and on any review the rent can be reduced, but will never be reduced below the original rental set.

Rental reviews are a matter of negotiation between the parties in accordance with the terms of the lease. The lessor needs to give notice that a rent review will take place in accordance with the required timeframe and often will assess a new rental and advise the lessee of that amount. Should the lessee object, they need to inform the lessor and try to convince the lessor that the rent should be at a different level to that which the lessor is requesting. If agreement can still not be reached then valuers are employed to assess a reasonable figure and often that is the end of the matter.

There are of course cases where agreement can still not be reached and mediation or arbitration must occur. The procedure for this is also often stated in the terms of the lease and makes the process transparent. This is however a costly exercise and one where there will always be a winner and a loser. This can create negative feelings between the parties and potentially destroy an otherwise good lessor/lessee relationship.

The big factor to remember in the motel business is that both the lessor and the lessee have a partnership type relationship. One can not succeed without the other. In order to build and cement this relationship the lessee should endeavour to inform the lessor of everything they have done to the motel. They should send an e-mail or give the lessor a call and tell them that they have just painted the rooms and they look great or they have redone the garden or bought new couches. The lessor will be more likely to be amenable if he is aware of the things the lessee is doing to put money back in to the motel and how well they are looking after his asset.

The other element to a rent review is that it is a two way negotiation. It is not just a matter of agreeing to either leave the rent as it currently is or increase it but can be a way of achieving things from the landlord in return. For example a lessee may wish to have more years on the lease term. This is an ideal opportunity to agree to an increase in rental in return for an extension on the lease. Another scenario may be work required around the motel. A rent increase can be agreed to and in return the lessor agrees to resurface the bench tops in the units or upgrade the bathrooms. The best result from a rent review is a win/win situation where the relationship between the parties is maintained and everyone is happy.


First green award to Rotorua motel

Congratulations to Steve and Gillian for being awarded a Qualmark Enviro-silver logo for their motel business in Rotorua. This couple have an infectious passion for the motel industry.

The $150k investment that they have committed to their business requiring a 6-year return is a bold and ambitious gesture. This punt will hopefully pay dividends for their future long term commitment to the motel industry.

Steve and Gillian have risen above eco-babble in the tourism industry and have put their money where their mouth is. On the face of it, the return on investment may be somewhat dubious, but hopefully they are able to tap into the small but perfectly formed enviro-concious market that will support their alternative energy commitment.

New Zealand Herald
September 22 2008
Jenny De Montalk

A Rotorua business which uses geothermal energy to heat its water is the first in the country to receive a Qualmark environmental verification.

Alpin Motel owners Steve and Gillian Osbourne were awarded a Qualmark Enviro-silver logo for their green approach to business.

Mr Osbourne initiated a joint venture with Environment Bay of Plenty to tap into the vast energy store in the underground water of Rotorua's geothermal system.

For the past year the Osbournes have been developing a "down bore heat exchange", a system using geothermal energy from water in a shallow bore to sustainably heat the motel's water, rooms and plunge pools.

"What we've done is just good business practice," Mr Osbourne said. "It's a reflection of this that it is good for the environment at the same time."

He said the idea was from "old theories and technology" which he was just taking to another stage. "It's tragic there's not more research going into this. This energy is being totally under-utilised. We are setting the precedent here and now we've got lots of people who want to contribute."

Scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research were collecting and analysing data to ensure there were no adverse effects on the geothermal system, Mr Osbourne said.

The couple have spent around $150,000 on the project and will have to wait six years to get a return.
Mr Osbourne puts the wait down to "energy companies not playing their part. Our consumption has gone right down but our costs haven't gone down a lot."

The Enviro-logo is a world first and has been incorporated as an extension of Qualmark's star rating.
Qualmark communications manager Carolyn Gibson said the Osbournes' commitment to the environment went beyond the limits of their business, extending to activities in the community and in communication with their guests.

Mr Osbourne said refurbishing the motel's bathrooms with tiles had cut down on cleaning products. He and Mrs Osbourne also supply mountain bikes for guests to use, and are vigilant recyclers.

Tourism Minister Damien O'Conner launched the Enviro-logo in May. The initiative is in keeping with the 100% Pure New Zealand brand and is part of the vision of tourism leading the way in sustainability, as outlined in the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015.

The minister's press secretary, Kelly Gunn, said the Government had put $2.83 million into implementing the Tourism Strategy.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Where the Hell is Matt?

The motel industry relies on a vibrant, free economy and traveler's freedom to burn fossil fuel without restriction or guilt.

The guy in the video below has a huge carbon footprint and has put his own unique and fun brand on traveling the globe. Quite frankly it makes me mad that Qualmark, Tourism NZ and others within our own tourism industry pander to environmental guilt and the global warming myth - tourism should be celebrated!

This simplistic video is powerful and inspiring - Press the play button and turn the sound up!

You may ask yourself why? Click on the following link for further information: www.wherethehellismatt.com

Friday, September 19, 2008

On-line Staff Rage

The importance of your web-cred is increasingly important.
A motel's consumer rating is being formulated and exposed to the world by guest reviews on accommodation websites and social networks. Past guests are more than happy to share accommodation experiences and future potential guests are using these reviews to determine their accommodation choice. See our post here.

Not only should tourism businesses be vigilant on monitoring guest online feedback, but should also be aware of online chatter from disgruntled employees.

Probably the most high profile example of online employee comments within the tourism industry in recent months was from Roamfree.com's (ex)employees. Roamfree, which has lofty ambitions of becoming the "Google of the travel industry", sacked 50 workers in April this year.
Ex-employees, used on-line feedback sites with claims that Roamfree.com were finding it tough to grow as fast as it had hoped in the internet travel industry and were missing sales targets.

Roamfree claimed that it had not been affected by the financial problems of major shareholder Tony Smith who was facing his multimillion-dollar losses from the MFS share collapse and subsequent property sell-off and that the layoffs were planned. See full news story here.

Wotif.com have also had some negative feedback. In a recent online article on "How much do your co-workers earn," feedback was requested on: "Do you discuss pay with your co-workers?" (See full article here)

One wotif.com employee replied:

"This is all true unless you work in the IT department of Wotif.com. ALL of those wages are bottom of the barrel. Posted by: Sick and Tired of Being Ignored"

What can you do?

Use Google Alerts to monitor ALL online chatter about your motel.

As with negitive guest reviews, it's much better to react to these postings and show the world that you are 100% committed to front up to all aledged problems, rather than ignoring negitive feedback.

You would probably be advised not to rebuff your employees alegations too specifically or get personal, however you may wish to point out that you disagree with the employees version of their disgruntlement.

Your response should be primarily focused on assuring the reader that your motel is dedicated to good employee relations.

Motel Alert!

I have a Google Alert set up with a search word "Motel" in the news section. This gives me current news releases that features the word "motel".

Most news items come out of America and this often highlights the differences of the motel product between America and New Zealand.

As an example today's Google Alert was:

Jurors begin deliberations in 2007 motel rape case
Worcester Telegram - Worcester,MA,USA
... to produce a verdict yesterday in the case of a Berlin man charged with the rape and attempted murder of a woman last year at a West Boylston motel. ...
See all stories on this topic
Man gets 60 years in motel killing
Indianapolis Star - United States
By Jon Murray An Indianapolis man was sentenced to 60 years in prison this afternoon for beating a motel owner to death. James E. Whatley, 42, ...
See all stories on this topic
Anonymous tip leads police to sale of marijuana behind Valley ...
Mark Wolfe, 45, who resides at the Valley Brook Motel was charged with criminal possession of marijuana. Subsequent to an investigation Wolfe was found to ...
See all stories on this topic
Police: Suspect shoots through motel wall into room with children
Evansville Courier & Press - Evansville,IN,USA
Police say a man staying at an Evansville motel fired a gun through his room wall and into an adjacent room where two children were staying Wednesday night. ...
See all stories on this topic
Antigo Man Charged with Driving his Vehicle into a Motel Room ...
WSAW - Wausau,WI,USA
Police say the 58-year-old drove his truck through a motel room killing a sleeping guest last summer. Vanvleit is charged with homicide by both negligent ...
See all stories on this topic
Motel Stand-Off Suspect In Court On Unrelated Charges
WHAG - Hagerstown,MD,USA
WASHINGTON COUNTY, MD - The man behind a two day stand-off at a Hancock motel last month is expected to appear in court on Thursday. ...
See all stories on this topic
Evacuees Can't Use Motel Assistance Shelley Kofler DALLAS, TX ...
KERA - Dallas,TX,USA
But Dallas Emergency Management Director Kenny Shaw says qualified evacuees in Dallas still can leave the shelters because FEMA has neglected to provide the ...
See all stories on this topic
Son pleads guilty to killing father in Ontario motel
Contra Costa Times - Walnut Creek,CA,USA
By Will Bigham, Staff Writer RANCHO CUCAMONGA - A man accused of stabbing his father to death at an Ontario motel in 2006 has pleaded guilty to ...
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Hmmm..there seems to be a common theme here...

In New Zealand, we are very self conscious that the world-view of "Motels" may not be very high and the Google Alert above seems to confirm this (at least in America!).

These unsavory media images that are fairly common can be used to qualify by some that New Zealand motel industry should drop the word "Motel".

I believe that we shouldn't be caught up with a mindless debate about renaming our industry. The Motel Industry in New Zealand has a proud history and has evolved into a quality offering that is unique by world standards. The differences between overseas "motels" and our own are a unique point of difference and should be celebrated.

The small group of overseas tourists that may have misconceptions on what motels offer soon discover the comfort, quality and value for money of the Kiwi motel. A traveling convert that has discovered the reality of the motel industry in New Zealand is a powerful advocate that will encourage others to enjoy the hospitality of our motels.

We must remenber that 72% of guest nights are already enjoyed by domestic travelers that are sold on the benefits of being hosted by motels in New Zealand. The positive currency that the motel industry has built in New Zealand since the late 1950's should not be left behind.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

International tourists spend more

17 September 2008

International visitors spent $6.2 billion in New Zealand in the year to June 2008, up 5 percent on the same period last year.

Australians spent $1.7 billion, 16.5 percent, according to the Ministry of Tourism's International Visitor Survey.

Visitors from the United Kingdom spent $1 billion, up 13.7 percent.

A breakdown of visitors from Asia showed visitors from Japan spent $426m, up 10.6 percent, visitors from Korea spent $256m, up 6.5 percent and visitors from Singapore spent $62m, up 6.4 percent. Visitors from the United States, China, Taiwan, Germany and Canada spent less than last year.

Tourism Minister Damien O'Connor said the increase in overall spending was excellent news because New Zealand was a long haul destination.

In August Air New Zealand called on the Government to spend more on promoting New Zealand as a tourism destination.

"There are a number of challenges for the industry at present with rising fuel prices and a fluctuating exchange rate. This new data proves New Zealand continues to be attractive to international visitors and that the industry continues to earn real wealth for our economy," said Mr O'Connor.

New Zealand had the means to compete with shorter haul destinations, he said.


Lighten up!

Spring has sprung!

We are very busy at the motel, catching up with all those jobs that we should have started over the winter months. At the moment we are redecorating (inside & out), reorganising our mini bars, guest amenities, overhauling the gardens, replacing TV's with new LCDs, replacing bed heads & bed covers and building a fence...the list goes on.

A regular guest sent me the following by email today that made us stop and laugh... we hardly ever reproduce jokes, but this one amused us sufficiently to post here:

A man enters a bar and orders a drink.

The bar has a robot barman...
The robot serves him a perfectly prepared cocktail, and then asks him,

"What's your IQ?"

The man replies "150" and the robot proceeds to make conversation about natural global warming factors, Quantum physics and spirituality, bio-mimicry, environmental interconnectedness, string theory, nanotechnology, and sexual proclivities.

The customer is very impressed and thinks, "This is really cool."

He walks out of the bar, turns around, and comes back in for another drink.

Again, the robot serves him the perfectly prepared drink and asks him,

"What's your IQ?"

The man responds, "About 100."

Immediately the robot starts talking, but this time about league, Holdens, racing, the new BIG Mac, tattoos, Nicky Watson and women in general.

Really impressed, the man leaves the bar and decides to give the robot one
more test.

He heads out and returns, the robot serves him and asks,

"What's your IQ?"

The man replies, "Err, 50, I think."

And the robot says......real slowly.......

"So............... ya gonna vote for Helen again?"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

AA's Online Booking Engine

From AA Travel's latest email newsletter, the total number of bookings for the month of August on AA's Online Booking Engine has increased from the previous month by 77%. And it's not just domestic. In August, 36% were booked offshore by inbound travellers.

The graph below demonstrates which regions received the most bookings from AA's Online Booking Engine in August.

Notice that some regions, in particular the West Coast, Nelson, Tasman, Taranaki and Gisborne, had very few bookings.

AA state that the reason for this is simple...there is a very small number of accommodation operators in these regions that are represented on our Online Booking Engine.

There are obviously a lot of people looking, but it is not clear how many are booking!

Total Monthly Bookings by Dollar Value through AA's Online Booking Engine by Region
Online Booking Engine Graph
August 2008 Web Stats
Stat Summary
All web stats are sourced from Nielsen//NetRatings
Website Statistics Summary
AA Travel Monthly Web Stat Summary to
August 2008

AA Travel Monthly Total Sessions to August 2008
– Domestic Traffic

Friday, September 12, 2008

Motella Party Vote Poll Results

With the election date now set, business owners can now plan ahead and look forward to a honeymoon period from 8 November 2008 that will give the summer season a well needed boost.

Please feel free to continue voting on our "Motella Party Vote" poll to on the right sidebar.

Our results to date:

Act 18%
Green 4%
Labour 4%
Maori 0%
National 77%
NZ First 0%

Votes so far: 22
Days left to vote: 58

We think that a lot of time and money would be saved by simply accepting our poll as the final result!

Clark Calls Election

Sep 12, 2008 

The Prime Minister has announced the election date.

Helen Clark says the country will head to the polls on Saturday November 8.
She made the announcement on Friday afternoon, following weeks of speculation on when the election would be held.

Dissolution of parliament will take place on October 3.

"This election is about trust. It's about which leader and which major party we New Zealanders trust our families' and country's future with," Clark said in her announcement.

ONE News political commentator Therese Arseneau says while Clark calling the election is no surprise, it does answer a lot of questions.

"People have been calling for an election, people are concerned about the affair in terms of Winston Peters and Owen Glenn and so many of the issues that surround that really aren't legal, so much as political. So the proper forum to decide them really is in the election," she says.

The Labour Party has been trailing National in the ONE News Colmar Brunton poll since the last election in 2005.

However, the difference between the two parties started to grow significantly in September 2006, when National were polled ahead of Labour by 11 percentage points. Since then Labour has struggled to rein in the Opposition party at poll time.

The poll prior to the election date called in 2005 put National (42%) marginally ahead of Labour (39%). Even if polls do not predict election outcomes, that three percentage point difference was much less of a hurdle to overcome than the current 14 points, even if Labour has gained in the last two polls.

In the latest ONE News Colmar Brunton poll, National were on 51% support. Labour had closed the gap a little on the previous month moving up to two points to 37%. But that was at the expense of key supporters the Green Party, who were polling at just 3.5%, the best of the minor parties none of whom were polling above the 5% threshold.


International guest nights fall in July

Geoff Bascand
Government Statistician
11 September 2008

Total guest nights in short-term commercial accommodation decreased 2 percent in July 2008 compared with July 2007, Statistics New Zealand said today. This decrease was largely due to an 8 percent fall in international guest nights, which was partly offset by a 2 percent increase in domestic guest nights.

Among the regions, Auckland and Otago recorded both the largest decreases in international guest nights and the largest increases in domestic guest nights.

In July 2008, total guest nights in the North Island fell 4 percent compared with July 2007, while South Island guest nights remained steady.

Eight of the twelve regions had fewer guest nights with Waikato and Auckland showing the largest decreases. Canterbury and Wellington showed the largest increases.

Guest nights decreased in four of the five accommodation types in July 2008 compared with July 2007.
Motels had the largest decrease followed by caravan parks/camping grounds.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

TIA's Priorities For Tourism

The Tourism Industry Association (TIA) has identified tourism’s top six priorities for an incoming government for the next three years.

Sister trade associations have been quick to issue fawning press releases supporting the TIA, however it must be said that many of the priorities identified are predictable and devoid of business principals.

What are TIA's priorities? ...well, they calling for the incoming Government to:

1. Recognise tourism as a bedrock of New Zealand’s economy - Establish a Tourism Industry Taskforce to drive a whole-of government approach to issues affecting the industry and ensure the tourism portfolio is managed by a top ranking Minister.

2. Market Destination New Zealand - Increase public sector
investment for targeted offshore promotions to markets of strategic importance to New Zealand and for improved marketing efforts in the domestic market.

3. Invest in vital infrastructure - Invest in a national convention centre, cruise ship port facilities and other infrastructure improvements required to reduce seasonality and increase spending
from visitors to New Zealand.

4. Improve New Zealand’s environmental performance -
Enhance New Zealand’s environmental performance and the
capabilities of its tourism industry to deliver on the 100% Pure New
Zealand brand promise.

5. Invest in training and work skills initiatives - Ensure New
Zealand’s tourism businesses have the people they need to do
business and to deliver a high quality visitor experience.

6. Boost the return from major events - Maximise the return to
New Zealand of the Rugby World Cup 2011 and other major event

Requesting government's assistance in providing private goods, such as convention centres is unfortunate. The TIA should focus on the economic sustainability of their membership's own privately funded businesses without demanding the government fund an economically unsustainable Formica Palace. If a conference centre is sustainable, then it should be left to the private sector.

A cut and paste bland demand for the government to enhance New Zealand's environmental performance is a dangerous route to take. This invites the government to introduce further green taxation and bureaucracy.

The government's role in providing training for tourism businesses and employees is debatable. The rort of government funded "tourism" courses is a lucrative business for educational institutions that consume tax funds and produce little results. The tourism industry should treat all government funded initiatives at arms length and promote private sector and trade association initiatives that tailor training according to actual demand.

The best thing that TIA can advise an incoming government to do is to reduce tax, regulation, compulsion and bureaucracy... The tourism industry is made up of small pragmatic businesses that deserve better than being represented by a clutchbag of clichés

Save the planet by cutting down on meat?

Now here's a good idea - Moteliers can impress their guests and Qualmark inspectors by banning meat one day a week in order to bolster their environmental credentials.

By Boris Johnson (Mayor of London)

Look, I hate to be rude to the UN. I don't want to seem churlish in the face of advice from a body as august and well-meaning as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But if they seriously believe that I am going to give up eating meat - in the hope of reducing the temperature of the planet - then they must be totally barmy.

No, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, distinguished chairman of the panel, I am not going to have one meat-free day per week. No, I am not going to become a gradual vegetarian. In fact, the whole proposition is so irritating that I am almost minded to eat more meat in response.

Every weekend, rain or shine, I suggest that we flaunt our defiance of UN dietary recommendations with a series of vast Homeric barbecues. We are going to have carnivorous festivals of chops and sausages and burgers and chitterlings and chine and offal, and the fat will run down our chins, and the dripping will blaze on the charcoal, and the smoky vapours will rise to the heavens.

We will call these meat feasts Pachauri days, in satirical homage to the tofu-chomping UN man who told the human race to go veggie. And the reason I respond so intemperately to his suggestion is that he completely misses the point. Everybody knows the reality, and everybody - every environmentalist, every Guardian columnist - pussyfoots around it.

The problem is not the cows; the problem is the people eating the cows. The problem is us. Oh, Dr Pachauri is quite right to be concerned at the emissions of noxious vapours from farm animals. As the UN revealed in 2006, livestock make a bigger contribution to the greenhouse effect - to global warming - than every motor vehicle on the planet. Cows are spreading remorselessly over the earth, as jungle is turned into pasture, and pasture is turned into cud, and cud is turned into the terrible ruminant efflatus that rises from the fields and the farms and swaddles the globe in a tea cosy of methane, 23 times as damaging as CO2.Livestock now use 30 per cent of the earth's surface, and farming now produces 37 per cent of the methane created by human activity, and every extra cow means thousands of extra cowpats, each cowpat seemingly innocent enough, but together capable of emitting enough steaming gas to change the composition of the upper air.

Yes, Dr Pachauri is spot on in his analysis. It is his prescription that is absurd. He is quite right that if you want to buy a gas-guzzler 4x4 Range Rover and you want to offset your greenhouse emissions, you just have to pop into the nearest field and assassinate a cow. And he is quite right that if we were to kill all the cows in the world, and all the sheep, we would greatly reduce our methane output.

What he neglects in his argument are the 1.3 billion people whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, and above all he forgets the global population of human beings. It is our appetite for meat that supports those farmers, and it is our insatiable desire for burgers that has called those poor cows into existence.

Why, oh why will the modern UN say nothing about the real issue, the prior issue, the unspeakable truth that is at the heart of deforestation, global warming, the depletion of the seas, the destruction of species and just about every environmental problem that afflicts us?

The biggest threat to the planet is not the lowing of the cows as they take over the Latin American savannah. It is the dizzying increase in the numbers of people driving those cows and then eating them. The world's population is up to 6.72 billion, and set to rise to 9 billion by 2050.

Now let me tell you something about the year 2050. It is not that far off. I fully intend to see it in, since I will be a mere 84, and I must say that I do not look with enthusiasm at the prospect of sharing the planet with another 2.3 billion people. I am sure that they will all each be individually charming and they will all have much to contribute to the intellectual and spiritual life of our species. But they will also make life that much more crowded, sweaty and exhausting than it already is. They will accelerate the urbanisation of the world and the turning of rural south-east England into a gigantic suburbia. And whatever Dr Pachauri may say, I do not think they will be persuaded to eat nut cutlets.

Millions of years of evolution are not to be reversed by a spot of preaching from the UN. Man is an omnivore, culturally and probably biologically programmed to take protein from meat; and those meat animals must be farmed. We cannot all eat moose, like Sarah Palin. We need cows.

Not so long ago I stood in the vast canteen in the Beijing Olympic village and on one side were long salad bars, with virtually no one in the queue. On the other side, of course, was McDonald's, where Olympic athletes were lining up to take nourishment from the burgers reviled by right-thinking environmentalists. Before Dr Pachauri preaches any more sermons against meat, I suggest he gets down to the UN canteen and sees what his staff are eating. Is he really going to snatch that schnitzel from their lips? Of course not.

It is time the United Nations remembered its historic role in campaigning against global overpopulation. There was a time when the UN used to champion female emancipation, education, family planning and all the real solutions to the world's excessive and intolerable population boom.It is time the world's leaders had the wisdom and courage once again to talk the fundamental issue, rather than babbling about our diet. It's not eating meat that does the damage. It's the huge and remorselessly growing number of people who want to eat it.


Tourism Manifesto

The New Zealand Motel Association (MANZ) has made comment on the the TIA's Tourism Manifesto.

Interestingly it appears that MANZ has a view that the incoming government should be assisting to deliver relevant training to the motel industry...

Press Release: Motel Association

10 September 2008

The Motel Association of New Zealand represents over 1,000 businesses and organisations within the Accommodation industry.

Members operate in virtually every location in New Zealand. Motels are run by the operators who live on site.

Motels are New Zealand’s largest provider of commercial accommodation– accounting for 34.5% of this country’s bed night sold.

The Motel Association organises the New Zealand Motel Industry Conference and the AA Host of the Year Awards. Go to www.manz.co.nz

“The Motel Association of New Zealand applauds the initiative of the Tourism Industry Association’s Tourism Manifesto”. Said Michael Baines Chief Executive of the association today. “Too long we have let one of New Zealand’s main industries be sidelined into an inappropriate position in our economy.”

“Tourism has been successful in spite of the way it has been treated in policy by successive governments but now it needs to be seen and have its concerns addressed. If we believe that what has been a major successful story, will continue to deliver to the country as a whole, when it’s fundamental needs continue to be ignored then we live in a fool’s paradise.

Successive governments have struggled to accept that they have a role in Tourism; this is no longer an option for any Government! The way forward, in the face of a changing and less certain world, will be with the Government and the industry working together. “A whole of Government” approach is required with all relevant departments working together for the same goals!

Of particular interest to the Motel Industry is the way that training is delivered to SMEs. The framework approach doesn’t come close to working when there is no career path. moteliers become moteliers after doing something else. The way that training and assistance needs to be delivered to moteliers and other small businesses is not serviced by what has become a gigantic industry in their own right the “Industry Training Organisations”.

The ITO’s relevance to Moteliers is zero; any party that wishes to govern successfully will have to get the training required to those who need it in new and innovative ways. An iron-bound bureaucratic system will not deliver anything other than frustration to everybody.” Said Mr Baines.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ezibed.com Online Innovation Finalist

Press Release
10 September 2008

New Zealand owned & operated last minute accommodation specialist Ezibed.com was last night announced as a finalist in the Online Innovation category of the Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce Business Awards.

Innovation is an important aspect for both attracting new customers and retaining existing customers says the company's Managing Director, Gareth Pearce. The company that was founded in late 2003 has become a leading online accommodation booking website within New Zealand, recently expanding into Australia, Pacific Islands, USA and Canada.

With over 2000 registered accommodation providers, & over 50,000 visitors per month looking for accommodation, the company's growth has been rapid. Ezibed.com recently launched its new customer focused service solution that allows users of the website to reach customer support through a live 'instant message' interface, allowing customers to communicate with the company without having to physically phone or e-mail for support, thus saving time. This was a New Zealand first for an online accommodation booking website.

The company also launched a free text message booking confirmation service to assist travellers who either cannot print their booking confirmations due to them already travelling and not having access to a printer or for same day bookings. All customers who provide a mobile phone number also receive a text message on the morning of their check out as a little extra touch.

With customer service a core focus for the company, Gareth Pearce says that the company is committed to keeping up with technological & consumer trends. "We are still building up our brand awareness within New Zealand, and trying to let people know that they don't need to go to the Yellow Pages anymore to look for accommodation. If we can provide a fast easy to use website that consolidates all the accommodation in one area and the website has a human touch to it then we will retain our customers and our customers will be our marketers. We've already got over 26,000 sales reps out there" says Pearce.

Pearce says that understanding what their users want is critical to the ongoing success of the website. "Our focus is all about offering a quality service to our customers & also our accommodation providers that display last minute rates on our website. We continue to add innovative new features that allow us to engage with our users & this keeps us ahead of our competitors", says Pearce. Ezibed.com is a New Zealand owned company, competing in a highly competitive environment with large international travel websites.

The company plans to extend into popular Asian cities before the end of 2008.

Press Information: For more information or imagery contact: Gareth Pearce Managing Director 31 Porangahau Road Waipukurau
P: +64 6 858 5442
E: marketing@ezibed.com
Skype: ezibed.com
SOURCE: Ezibed.com

Yes Minister

Tourism Minister Damien O'Connor receives the Tourism Industry Association's Election Manifesto from TIA Chief Executive Tim Cossar and tourism industry representatives

10 September 2008
Ministry of Tourism Release
"Tourism industry priorities mirror those of government"

The government is already committed to the priorities outlined in a document released by the tourism industry today, said Tourism Minister Damien O’Connor.
The Tourism Industry Election Manifesto, was presented to the Minister this morning at Parliament by Tourism Industry Association Chief Executive Tim Cossar. It outlines tourism’s top six priorities for an incoming government in the next three years.
Damien O'Connor is presented with TIA's Election Manifesto at Parliament
Mr O’Connor said the document highlights a lot of what the government is already doing or has already committed to doing.

“The government absolutely recognises tourism as a bedrock of New Zealand’s economy and we know we need to continue to promote New Zealand overseas. This is why we have boosted Tourism New Zealand funding significantly since 1999 and poured funding into various targeted campaigns offshore,” said Mr O’Connor.

“It is essential we continue to deliver on our 100% Pure New Zealand brand and the government has committed significant money in doing so. I recognise that it is a more challenging market at present and to keep up with our competitors we must continue to offer an authentic, world-class product and deliver on our world famous brand.”

“The government also recognises that investing in vital infrastructure is a high priority, not only for the benefit of the tourism industry, but for New Zealand as a whole. Over the next 10 years the government is forecast to invest about $30 billion in land transport infrastructure.

“We also recognise that in order to compete with other markets we must improve on our environmental performance to deliver on our world famous 100% Pure New Zealand brand. That’s why we are funding various environmental initiatives such as the promotion of the new Qualmark Green criteria to international and domestic visitors, and investing in new recycling bins at tourism hotspots around New Zealand.

“Investing in training and work skills initiatives is a must if the tourism sector is to keep up with competing markets worldwide. We must be a step ahead. That’s why government recently committed an extra $2.83 million over the next year for the implementation of the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015. The money will help contribute to a number of tourism workforce initiatives to boost the skills of staff within the industry to ensure we are providing visitors with the high quality experience they expect.

“Ensuring we maximise the return from major events in New Zealand such as the Rugby World Cup 2011 is also a top priority for the government. New Zealand has been host to a number of major events already which we can learn from, such as the Lions' rugby tour which brought well over 20,000 extra visitors to New Zealand, spending an estimated $130 million during their time here.

Extra funding for the tourism industry will be inevitable in the future to ensure New Zealand tourism continues to prosper and we continue to deliver on our 100% Pure brand. The government has committed substantial funding into the industry thus far and will continue to do so.

“I welcome this forward thinking, positive outlook from the tourism industry and can assure them that industry policy objectives are shared by the Labour-led government,” said Mr O’Connor.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Travelbug's First Birthday

Last month roamfree.com celebrated their first birthday.

This month it's the 1st anniversary of Trade Me's accommodation website, Travelbug

On 9 September 2007, Travelbug launched with more than 1500 hoteliers and moteliers signed up, assisted by a labour intensive campaign of reps signing up operators throughout the country.

Trade Me chief executive, Sam Morgan predicted to double the number of operators within a year. However 12-months on, it would appear that this lofty target has not quite been reached - but he was close, with growth to "more than 2,400" property listings.

It is unclear how many of Travelbug's 2,400 listings are active and "live." There still appears to be many operators only choosing to advertise "on request".

It will be interesting to see if Sam Morgan's long-term target of 5000 to 10,000 operators is still achievable. After the initial uptake of accommodation operators, further growth within the accommodation industry will be difficult. Any further growth of any significance could well come from planned expansion into other areas such as holiday homes and tourist activities, then later, rental cars and flights.

It was predicted that Travelbug would quickly establish itself and emulate the success of its big brother TradeMe. It was assumed that the two-thirds of all Internet users in New Zealand that use Trade Me would simply start using Travelbug. This clearly hasn't happened, but it's still early days!

The online travel market remains as competitive and crowded as ever. Wotif has been running in New Zealand for five years and is still setting the benchmark. AA travel has invested heavily into it's online accommodation offer and has partnered with big spending Roamfree.com. New Zealand owned, Ezybed.com have been quiet achievers and Jasons are utilizing their marketing expertise to further polish their acquisition of Holidayguide.

wotif.com sharing the wealth

AS AUSTRALIA's mortgage-saddled barbecue belt feels the pinch from high interest rates and soaring petrol prices, Wotif.com Holdings director and co-founder Andrew Brice has handed over 1 million shares to the University of Queensland (UQ).

Back in February, Brice and fellow UQ alumnus Graeme Wood pledged an estimated $18 million to the UQ Endowment Fund. Wood and Brice, co-founders of accommodation website Wotif.com, committed $8 million worth of Wotif.com shares between them to the fund.

Brice chipped in with 2 million more shares over the next two years and has made good on the first instalment. Wood pledged an extra $2 million over the next five years.

Wotif has announced a 31% increase in net profit, to $34.5 million. Total revenue was $94 million, up 40% on last year.

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