Friday, October 31, 2008

Slower Wotif Sales Boosted By Acquisitions

By Martin Kelly, Editor, Travel Trends
30 October 2008

Sales growth at has almost halved for the core brand over the past 12 months, CEO and Managing Director Robbie Cooke has revealed. Cooke said year-on-year room night sales for the three months to September 30 were up 12%. A year ago they were running at 21%, while 54% was the figure for the same period in 2006.

But add the results from Asia Web Direct and – companies bought by Wotif during the last financial year – and room night sales for the Group are up by 34%. These two sets of figures surely point to Wotif’s future – it must continue buying other companies to continue growing at anywhere near its early rates.
Chairman Dick McIlwain said his company, which sold almost five million room nights in 07/08, would pursue further acquisitions and also anticipated more competition in the online travel space.

“The board recognises there will be further consolidation within the internet travel booking market as others try to mimic the success of,” he said. “Their progress will be limited by their ability to grow the market and secure the user interest needed for suppliers to provide them with something to sell.”

It sounds like he’s talking about diversification and the emergence of new companies rather than the consolidation of existing players who would already have the relationships he talks about. He also assumes competitor growth will come from “growing the market” – surely aggressive players would also seek to steal share from existing businesses such as Wotif.

Certainly McIlwain has a big point about barriers to entry, although the major challenge for everyone will be to continue growing room night sales and maintaining present high room rates, which Cooke says are still up (2.6%) on last year.

Industry applauds National’s commitment to tourism

John Key has recently announced that he is likely to take on the Tourism portfolio.

This will ensure polictical favour from the highest ranks of government, however the tourism industry should be careful what it asks for.
There is a risk of appearing to be more focused on corporate welfare than of self reliant economic sustainability:

Press Release: Tourism Industry Association
29 October 2008

The commitment shown by the National Party to New Zealand’s tourism industry comes at a critical time for the multi-billion dollar sector, Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) Chief Executive Tim Cossar says.

“Increased support for tourism, which delivers $24 million in foreign exchange to New Zealand’s economy every single day of the year, is vital as we face the challenges of the global financial situation,” Mr Cossar says.

Mr Cossar was in Queenstown for the release of National’s tourism policy by party leader John Key.

“The tourism industry is delighted that National’s tourism policy recognises tourism’s importance as a transformation industry for New Zealand. A robust partnership between the tourism industry and central government is essential to growing New Zealand’s economy and enhancing ‘Brand New Zealand’,” Mr Cossar says.

Today’s policy release comes at a time when both international and domestic tourism have become more challenging.

“This is definitely not business as usual for our industry. If we don’t act now, it will be harder to maintain the market share New Zealand tourism exports enjoy today.”

National’s tourism policy reflects many of the tourism industry’s major priorities for the incoming Government outlined in the Tourism Industry Election Manifesto ( released last month.

National Party leader John Key reiterated today that he will take on the tourism portfolio and boost funding for tourism if he becomes Prime Minister. Having the portfolio held by a high-ranking Minister was a top priority in the Manifesto.

“This would put the tourism industry in its rightful place at the Cabinet table, alongside industries like agriculture and forestry, as a major foreign exchange earner,” Mr Cossar says.

National’s policy also supports other major priorities in the Manifesto, including:

  • international marketing support with a focus on high-yielding visitors
  • taking advantage of large international events, including the Rugby World Cup 2100, to maximise New Zealand’s exposure in key markets
  • investment in vital infrastructure used by travellers.

Mr Cossar said he looked forward to seeing other parties’ tourism policies. TIA would continue to advocate for the tourism industry to the incoming government in the post-election period.

Top priorities in the Tourism Industry Election Manifesto

The tourism industry is 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 opportunities.

Read the Tourism Industry Election Manifesto at

Grabbing the goods from motel site

30 October 2008

Worried creditors recently moved to seize goods from a troubled Queenstown building site.

Mountain Scene last month reported a dozen-plus tradesmen and suppliers were owed up to $1 million on the Autoline Motel redevelopment just off Frankton Road, following a site walk-off in August.

An Invercargill representative of Christchurch-based Brownies Mattress company now says they removed 28 items worth more than $12,000, including beds and mattresses, earlier this month.

Queenstown furnishing firm First Impressions also admits seizing back goods worth about $12,000, including bedheads, lamps and bedside tables. And police are believed to have been called to intervene by developers when a local glass company moved to take back balustrading.

Kathy Evans from First Impressions claims they’ll flog the seized goods if they aren’t paid soon.
“We’ll have a repossession sale of the stock before Christmas if we don’t get paid,” she says.

However, Kevin McGoverne, director of Christchurch development firm Not Just Jo, insists matters are in hand and people will get up to 50 per cent of money owed “hopefully next week”. Asked how he felt about creditors seizing back goods from the Autoline site, McGoverne adds: “It didn’t help anyone’s situation. It was childish, actually.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Leaky motel buyers lose court appeal

The Dominion Post
29 October 2008

The buyers of two leaky Havelock North motels have been unsuccessful in suing Hastings District Council despite a court ruling that states guests might have suffered "dire consequences".

Te Mata Properties and Te Mata Village Properties bought Te Mata Lodge and Village Court motels in 2002, then discovered that both suffered from leaky building syndrome.

Both motels were built by Crown Houses NZ. Te Mata Lodge was built in 1998; Village Motel in 2001.

A builder's report found the motel blocks had significant toxic mould and fungi between the external claddings and interior linings, which exposed guests to health risks. The decay would also ultimately result in structural failure of some parts of the buildings.

The companies sued Hastings District Council in the High Court in July last year for the cost of repairs, loss of value and general damages. They claimed the council had been negligent in granting building permits, inspections and issuing certificates of compliance. Their claim was struck out in August last year.

They appealed, but a Court of Appeal ruling issued by Justice David Baragwanath yesterday has gone against the companies and ordered them to pay costs. Justice Baragwanath noted that the owners based their case on economic loss and cited a case involving a domestic dwelling, which he found could not be applied to the motels.

Parliament had chosen to treat households as deserving special treatment for the purposes of dealing with leaky-building claims. Councils owed a duty of care to home owners, Justice Baragwanath said, but that did not apply to owners of commercial property.

"New Zealand law has not yet pronounced upon the duty of a council in relation to the proprietor of a motel complex, which does not fit easily into either the commercial or residential categories that have thus far defined responsibility," he said.

In his ruling, Justice Baragwanath outlines why a house differs from a commercial property such as a motel. He says the motels' conditions could have had "dire consequences" on guests, but this had no bearing on his ruling because the case related to economic loss and not to health and safety issues.

Neither Te Mata Properties director Robert Simpson nor council officers would comment.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tourism NZ uses 'man drought' as drawcard

Tourism NZ has turned to "pimping" on a grand scale and seems to think that the abundance of single kiwi woman could be used to entice British males.

Stock up on pies and b
e prepared for an influx of single, randy, pasty, beer bellied, male poms making their way into your motel reception soon...

NZ Herald
Oct 26, 2008

Forget about extravagant ad campaigns marketing New Zealand with images of lush bush, beautiful beaches, and fabulous food - the new drawcard is our shortage of eligible young men.

Tourism New Zealand has launched a new marketing strategy in Britain promoting the nation's much-touted "man drought" as the perfect reason for British men to visit.

Statistics New Zealand this month said the Kapiti coast, north of Wellington, had just 89 men for every 100 women in the 15-39 age group, that Napier, Rotorua and Gisborne were also short of men, and that an imbalance was showing up in the major cities.

Britain's Independent newspaper reported Tourism New Zealand had sent out an unashamedly forthright press release touting the facts. "It has been revealed that the women of New Zealand have a far more difficult job than Brits when it comes to finding Mr Right as they are currently experiencing a widespread `man drought'," runs the release.

Instead of focusing on New Zealand's traditional tourism assets, the board exploited a study which two years ago showed New Zealand women graduates aged 25-30 outnumbered by a third the similarly qualified men here.

"The situation has now reached such a level that experts claim a 32-year-old woman has as much chance of finding a partner her age as an 82-year-old," the newspaper said.

A Tourism New Zealand spokeswoman admitted the press release was unorthodox. "I guess it is an unusual approach, but the population numbers speak for themselves, and it is a genuine problem," she said. "It is a bit tongue-in-cheek but people are really worried about the issue. "It's not trying to mock the country, but it is a light-hearted approach. You never know, it may well persuade some people to come and visit the country. If I was a guy, I might think about heading over there if I was single and looking for a girl."

But British men were less than impressed with the prospect of taking themselves to New Zealand in search of some loving. Keith Burton, 28, of Prestonpans, near Edinburgh, said: "I haven't given up hope of finding a girl over here yet. It seems an admission of surrender to travel thousands of miles around the world on the off-chance you'll meet your true love there."

Fred Dutton, 32, of Edinburgh, said: "When I visited New Zealand a few years ago the only birds I met were some pesky parrots and they kept stealing my belongings. It made me wonder what the women were like."

New Zealand women outnumber men by 35,000 in the 20 to 45 age group. Demographers say several factors are causing the increasing gender gap, including the Kiwi tradition of OE, or overseas experience. More young men leave New Zealand than women, and the men stay away longer.

In addition, more men die in their 20s, from accidents, suicide, illness and conflict, and immigration figures show that more women arrive in New Zealand than men, filling jobs such as nursing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Road plans upset motel owner

In New Zealand, the Public Works Act 1981 gives powers to the Crown and Local Government to compulsorily acquire land for public works.

The Resource Management Act allows network utility operators that provide essential service to the public that includes electricity distribution, roads, water supply, drainage and sewerage to also compulsorily acquire land.

Persons who have a freehold or lessee's interest in the confiscated land are entitled to compensation.

We feel the anguish of the landlord and motel lessee having to endure the process of quantifying the loss of land taken away by force. This must be a frustrating and harrowing experience.

25 October 2008

A Richmond motel owner says he is not being offered financial compensation for the negative effect he thinks major changes to the highway at the front of his motel will have on his business. Kerry Mitchell said about 55sq m of land had been taken from the front of his property, Oxford Court Motels, under the Public Works Act.

The New Zealand Transport Agency, formerly Transit New Zealand, has taken the land so it can upgrade Gladstone Rd, which forms part of State Highway 6.

As part of the upgrade, and a ring road system the Tasman District Council wants to introduce in Richmond, traffic lights will be installed at Oxford St.

A resource consent hearing for the work is set down for next Wednesday. Mr Mitchell has lodged a submission opposing the application, on the grounds that he has not been compensated fairly and that the transport agency has not considered other alternatives.

Mr Mitchell said he had been offered the minimum land value for the strip of land that was taken by the NZTA, but had not received it, as he had refused to sign the agreement with the agency. He was more upset that he had not been offered any financial contribution for the "injurious effect" the road changes would have on his business.

"They (NZTA) can do what they like. It's time someone around the country stood up to them."
He said the effect of having flashing lights and increased noise pollution would make his motel less attractive to customers.

The proposal was already having an effect on his business, as the people who leased the motel from him had refused to go through a rent review, which meant he was losing potential income, he said. "The reason they don't want to pay more rent is they say they are going to lose occupancy."

He had had two meetings with the NZTA and representatives from the council, and was angry that the council had not fought his case more. "All I'm asking is for the council to stand up for their ratepayers. "I feel that the public should know what the council is all about, that they don't support the ratepayers."

In a report for the resource consent, Tasman District Council land use consents coordinator Jack Andrew describes the work as a necessary and appropriate way to allow the transport agency to make the planned improvements to the intersection.

The report says roading development is an integral part of the transport infrastructure of the district, and some land must always be surrendered to roads in developing urban areas such as Richmond. The report says the issue of compensation is outside the Resource Management Act.

NZTA regional manager Graham Taylor said it was inappropriate for the agency to comment during the judicial process.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said it wasn't a council issue, and that he and other council staff had tried to help liaise between Mr Mitchell and the agency.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

5 Future Developments that will revolutionize Online Marketing

By Jitendra Jain

“For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today”, says a famous proverb…and what better fit to apply this than in the world of technology and marketing?

The breakneck speed of tech evolution is inspiring (and often scary) but the two keywords that will set winning developments apart from the ‘also ran’ are ‘love’ and ‘simplicity’. It doesn’t take a degree to understand that people adopt technologies that fuel their imagination & passions…and the rate of adoption is in close sync to the simplicity of its interface and operation. Great technology needs to adapt to the needs of the user and future breakthroughs will bear testament to this.

Given another 5 years of development and refinement, here are 5 developments I think we’ll see in the world of online hotel marketing and distribution:

1. Choice is king

The clear winners of the online distribution race will be suppliers and 3rd parties that provide the most choice to the customer. “Experience building” will become key to the looking and booking process online. This will mean that successful suppliers (hotels) will have to break down elements of their inventory like rooms, dining, sports, spa and supporting services into individual units that can be booked and packaged both internally and externally. The more elements you provide to what I like to call the “Experience Engine”, the better the choice available to customers to personalize and tailor their experiences. This creation of experience units will also allow tourism industry suppliers to collaborate more effectively online, as well as spur the evolution of 3rd party providers who provide superior experience engines, taking destination marketing to a whole new level.

2. Search rankings become irrelevant

Currently, with the heavy emphasis on search rankings and generic paid search, this statement may come as a bit of a shock…but surely, this is the natural evolution of search. The days of pure search are already on the way out. Try a search on Google today and the evidence is there…a mashup of text, images and video results. That’s not all…if you’re signed in with a Google account, you’ll probably see different search results and rankings based on your past search behaviour. Combining personalization, multimedia, social bookmarking and niche search, it’s not hard to see that the way we place importance on search rankings today may need a dramatic rethink. Aggressive paid search and website SEO to get at the top of Google search results just won’t cut it. Successful hotel search marketing of the future will be more about optimizing content of all types and reaching the right audience through the right niche and social search channels.

3. The evolution of online form

Just as the separation of form and content on the Web allowed normal people like us to publish and create websites easily without having to learn web design, the next step will be the evolution of online “form” itself. The end purpose? To allow ‘web-sites’ to become “omni-sites” that can adapt and display content automatically in any shape or form, be it on web browsers, mobile devices, televisions, holographic displays or billboards. This will be made possible through the breakup of site design elements to functional, aesthetic blocks that can re-arrange themselves depending on the display device they sense. This means that yesterday’s Flash vs. HTML debate for hotel sites will be replaced with a scramble to get to top ‘form’ tomorrow. The new question will be “Can your hotel omni-site adapt to any display medium while retaining maximum impact and usability?” This will ensure hotel sites do justice to content and can display them on any device, be it the Internet, the guest’s mobile device, public information screens or guest televisions without requiring redesign.

4. From content to meaning. From interaction to relationship

The lines between supplier and user generated content are increasingly going to blur.
With ever increasing amounts of information and users on the Internet, our online social circles will become more specific and exclusive. Users will rely on a personalized, time-bound ‘zeitgeist’ of the Web and their social networks to read the news, express opinions and aid their buying decisions. The ability to interact with hotel content and staff online will become the rule, not the exception. Be it virtual guest service lounges created with online applications like Google Lively, where guests can interact with hotel representatives in a virtual space, or the ability for guests to instantly share experiences in rich media with their own social network, a meaningful dialogue between hotels and their guests will become a crucial online success factor. Guest social networks will become a strong niche referral and monetized distribution channel for hotels.

5. The real world and the virtual world collide…visually

Increasing customer discontent with hotel photography due to outdated shots, limited views and image doctoring, combined with emerging technology will make reliance on supplier visuals a thing of the past. As the ability to go beyond linking text to hyperlinking images and video on the Web becomes easier, users will be able to experience augmented reality through their computers. Imagine this…navigating a destination using Google Earth, being able to zoom down to hotels and actually explore a 3 Dimensional view in photos and video of what the hotel and its environment actually looks like! And all this stitched together from images other guests and visitors have taken and posted on the Web. Sound far fetched? The technology already exists…check out Microsoft’s PhotoSynth, which takes a large collection of photos of a place or object, analyzes them for similarities, and displays them in a reconstructed 3-Dimensional space. This will eventually be possible with the millions of user generated photos and videos on the web, allowing us to become virtual tourists…and see the world as it really is.

Some of the above may sound like science-fiction, but interestingly enough, many of the underlying technologies for these developments are already under fabrication or refinement. In many respects…the future is already here.

For hoteliers who worry about keeping ahead of the curve and catching up with tech developments, there’s good news. Great technology will always simplify rather than complicate our lives…and in the end, all the above developments will only empower consumers and offer a clearer picture of the world. Those who build great hotels and offer exceptional service will still come out on top…the technology will simply fade into the background and accentuate your success.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Domestic tourism declines

It's not all doom and gloom: Fuel has dropped by 40 cents since the middle of July, the weather is improving and a change of Government is just around the corner...

Research just released by the Ministry of Tourism shows that spending by domestic travellers reduced by 6.4% to $7.4 billion in the year to June 2008.

“Weaker economic conditions and high fuel costs during the period are being reflected in a reduction in demand for travel, including domestic travel,” said Bruce Bassett, Ministry of Tourism Research Manager.

In the year to June 2008, the number of overnight trips declined by 5.5% while the number of day trips fell by 15.5%.

Mr Bassett said that the decline in both travel activity and spend were to be expected in the current economic climate. “There are a number of factors at play, but if the price of fuel stays down over the coming months we should start to see an increase in domestic activity, particularly in the number of day trips."

Mr Bassett added that while New Zealand was experiencing a decline in domestic tourism, the overall level of activity remained high with 40.2 million day and overnight trips made in the last year made by New Zealanders.

“Domestic tourism remains a very important part of the New Zealand economy. The degree to which New Zealand is exposed to the global financial crisis, as it relates to both international and domestic travel, will have a significant impact on the domestic tourism industry in the short term. We will be monitoring this closely as the situation changes."

The Domestic Travel Survey is a telephone survey of 15,000 New Zealand residents undertaken throughout the year. A range of data and reports from the survey are available on the Ministry of Tourism’s research website – .

For further information, contact Martin ┼ávehla – telephone (04) 474 2812 or email

Top 10 Travel Websites

Nielsen have released the top ten websites in the "Travel" category for New Zealand visitors' unique browsers for the week to 19 October 2008.

AA Travel and Jasons predictably feature strongly, however moteliers will be watching the emergence of AA's "alternative" accommodation site, with interest.

Feel the green under your toes at Motel 6

Motel 6 is consigning carpet in their guest rooms to landfill and replacing it with wood-effect laminate flooring as part of their renovation programme.

Ignoring the "greenwash" in their press release that follows, this appears to have some merit. We like the idea of the fresh, contemporary look and the practical aspects of continued maintenance.

What do you think?

Oct 23, 2008
H&MM Week In Review

Dallas – Motel 6, known for offering a clean, comfortable room for the lowest price of any national chain, is saying “sayonara” to carpet and “hello” to a clean, green, wood-effect laminate flooring in its new Phoenix Prototype and property renovations (retrofits). Motel 6’s new flooring is made of 80% pre-consumer recycled material, including an inner wood core comprised of oak and cherry wood chips that would otherwise be burned or thrown into a landfill.

The new flooring is also a critical component of the updated Motel 6 design, providing the first “wow” as a guest walks into the room. As the literal foundation of the room, this flooring plays a major role in defining the feel of the space, giving it an updated, larger, and cleaner look that complements the modern design of the new Phoenix Prototype room.

“We have more than 900 Motel 6 properties in the U.S. and Canada, so we are aware that our actions are likely to cause a significant impact on the environment,” said Olivier Poirot, CEO, Accor North America, Motel 6 and Studio 6. “Accor North America is constantly working to find ways to minimize its environmental footprint, and this flooring decision is just one of the many efforts we take to make our properties more environmentally friendly.”

In addition to the beneficial environmental impact of choosing wood-effect laminate flooring, Motel 6 selected this flooring for practical reasons, among them being its durability and its wooden look that complements the sleek modern design of the new Phoenix Prototype room. Laminate flooring is a great alternative to carpet for several reasons: It doesn’t retain odors from smoke or pets and is overall more hygienic than carpet; it is easy and takes less time to clean and, unlike carpet, does not require regular steam cleaning; and it is durable and has a 10-year warranty.

Motels 6’s new wood-effect laminate floors are manufactured by Tarkett™ and are composed of four layers that are pressed together under high temperatures to create a product that provides solid, uniform strength that is highly resistant to indentions, scratches and wear . Tarkett Laminate’s exclusive 100% hardwood core board, Americore, is comprised of Oak and Cherry wood chips that provide superior durability and indention resistance. The top layer is made of melamine and aluminum oxide which protects the design layer by providing scuff, scratch and abrasion resistance. This top protective layer provides a nice smooth finish, eliminating the need for waxes and polishes to keep the floor looking new.

Motel 6 has practiced environmental management since the early 1990s and has been recognized as an EnergyStar Partner since 2006. Today, Motel 6 reduces its carbon footprint in a few of the following ways: properly disposes of hazardous waste with a Fluorescent Light Bulb and Battery Recycling Program; reduces energy consumption in all energy management systems, including installing energy-efficient PTAC units; and reduces water consumption with low-flow aerators for faucets and shower heads and 1.6 gallon low flow toilets at all of its properties nationwide. Motel 6 strives to be in accordance with Accor’s Worldwide Hotel Environmental Charter, a 65-point set of actions that each Accor brand is encouraged to take to make their properties more energy efficient and environmentally responsible.

The first new build of the Motel 6 Phoenix Prototype property will be in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is scheduled to open in 2009. Motel 6 has already begun retrofitting properties across the country, and newly renovated rooms are becoming available nationwide at select locations beginning this fall.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Financial Crisis Impacts Visitor Arrivals

The impact of the global financial crisis is beginning to be felt by the tourism industry, with visitor arrivals to New Zealand down 6.6%, just over 11,000 less people than in September 2007.

Increasing economic uncertainty saw a drop in the number of visitors arriving from almost all of New Zealand's major tourist markets, compared with 2007.

"It is clear that New Zealand tourism is facing difficult times as a result of the financial crisis and that things will be even more challenging in 2009," Tourism New Zealand chief executive George Hickton said.
"Because tourism is based largely on discretionary income we will definitely see an impact on the tourism industry. Tourism New Zealand is focused on maintaining our efforts in key markets where it is important we retain a high profile."

Despite visitor arrivals from the UK being down 5.3% (598 visitors), the launch of the 'What Do You Say UK?' campaign in September has boosted awareness of New Zealand.

A recent Marketing Magazine survey named the new television commercials in the top-10 ads most-remembered by British consumers.

China has taken longer than expected to recover from the Olympic Games and Sichuan Earthquake, but the forward outlook for summer is improving.

Mr Hickton said Australia will become an even more important market as the full-impact of the financial crisis begins to be felt. "With long-haul travel becoming more expensive, Australians will be looking to holiday closer to home, providing a lot of opportunities for New Zealand."

Highlights of International Visitor Arrivals September 2008:

* Australia 82,317 down 2.6%
* UK 10,580 down 5.3%
* USA 9,131 down 11.6%
* Canada 2,139 up 12.0%
* China 5,497 down 33.2%
* Korea 4,577 down 30.7%
* Japan 6,486 down 22.1%

Motel proposal back on cards again

Long time moteliers and developers, Robin and Maree Winter are at it again!

Maree is a past president of the Motel Association of NZ (MANZ).

Good to see that the Winters have their next motel project in their sights at a time that many motel developments have been put on hold.

It is logical to most that a new motel would add value, enhance an area and would be a model neighbour. Hopefully the Winters will not be too bogged down with rigors of the RMA and will be able to proceed without unnecessary delay.

Timaru Herald
22 October 2008

A 16-UNIT motel is proposed for the corner of Evans Street and Beverley Road, a site occupied by two dilapidated residential units.

It is the same site where in 2005 Robin and Maree Winter proposed to build upmarket motels on the proviso trees blocking sea views on Caroline Bay were removed.

The Winter Trust has a resource consent hearing on Friday to consider planning issues associated with the proposal for a three-story, flat-roofed building. During the notification process, with 11 potentially affected neighbours, only one household opposed the application.

The opposing submission claimed Beverley Road traffic patterns and densities would be affected, the size of the building could cause shading and frost on Beverley Road and it would obstruct outlooks and light.

The Timaru District Council senior planner Stuart Hyde has recommended to the hearing committee that the effects on neighbours are likely to be no more than minor and subject to conditions planning permission be granted.

The planner's report said that in terms of size a residential building of similar proportions could be built without a resource consent. Mr Hyde said this area was somewhat isolated from neighbouring properties and was residential and commercial in character. The proposed motels would be about nine metres high and have 1090 square metres of floor space. The building site would be 374 square metres.

In 2005 the tree condition for development going ahead was not accepted by the district council and the motel development stalled. The site was put on the market last year.

$18000 In Jewelry Missing From Motel

$18000 In Jewelry Missing From Motel

A Couple from Ohio came to Cookeville to attend a funeral at the Whitson Funeral Home.

After leaving their room at Super 8 Motel on S. Walnut Avenue and arriving at Whitson Funeral Home. The couple said they became aware that the rings had been forgotten and rushed back to the Motel.

When they arrived a house keeper was cleaning the room when another house keeper walked in to help with the inquiry about the rings. The house keepers said, it was a Motel policy to unlock room doors and leave opened after guests check out, to let the room air out and they had been elsewhere cleaning for 20 minutes or so before returning to clean the room.

The two house keepers advised that neither had seen anyone walking around in the area, however another witness claimed to have seen two males there earlier.

The Ohio couple provided photos of the rings for further investigation.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wotif books solid increase in room sales
20/10/2008 Holdings Limited (WTF) said its room night sales to 30 September 2008 were up 34% on the previous comparable period. The company noted that it had been relatively unscathed from the impact of the credit crunch and remained in strong financial health.

In an address to shareholders at the company's annual general meeting in Brisbane, managing director Robbie Cooke said Wotif's room rates continued to hold firm.

"Notwithstanding the state of the global financial markets and institutions, which seem to worsen daily, we have so far this year seen strong performance from our businesses," Mr Cooke said.

"We have in the first three months of fiscal 2009 driven more than 24 million customer visits to our sites."

He said the company had an approximate average rate increase at the end of September of 2.6% for the original business and 0.7% across the group.

"Integration of our two new operations continues according to plan with the first key initiative of improving the accommodation offering on the and sites complete," he said

Mr Cooke said in parallel with the integration work, the extension of the 28 day booking window to 365 days was in progress for the two sites and should be ready in early calendar 2009.

"We are confident that this initiative will provide a boost to sales as it opens up a sales window previously unavailable to the group," Mr Cooke added.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Motella Party Vote Poll Update

The much anticipated update of the "Motella Party Vote" poll...

National and Act have gained slightly at the expense of the Labour and the Green Party. No one has had the courage yet to vote for the Maori Party or Winston First.

It's good to see that some of our readers have a sense of humour - would those 2 that voted for the Green Party please identify yourselves!

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

Our results to date:

Act 11%
Green 3%

Labour 5%

Maori 0%

National 81%

NZ First 0%

Votes so far: 53

Days left to vote: 20

We still think that a lot of time and money would be saved by simply accepting our poll as the final result! announces Labour Weekend customer picks have been quietly achieving without the fanfare and bold statements of other larger accommodation reselling sites. Their latest press release below will hopefully stimualte some interest from potentail guests contemplating taking a break over Labour Weekend.

Ezibed's customer reviews are a welcome addition to their site and will hopefully make buying decisions easier for the consumer. We have made the point before that on-line consumer reviews/ratings will eventually replace accommodation star grading by Qualmark and Ezibed's MD, Gareth seems to think so too...

Congratulations to the "Motel" properties that are marketing themselves well and have appeared in Ezibed's top 10 customer picks below:
13 October 2008

Last minute accommodation specialist ( has announced its top 10 customer rated accommodation list in the lead up to this Labour Holiday Weekend.

Over 2000 Eziratings have been accumulated in the past six months as part of the rating and review process for customers that have booked through the popular last minute accommodation website.

The collection of these ratings allows customers to make informed decisions regarding their next business or leisure trip and also allows to highlight accommodation properties that are stand outs as far as customers are concerned.

Rydges Christchurch tops the list obtaining a solid 9 out of 10 however Auckland accommodation properties outweigh other regions with four placings within the
top ten. Both Napier and Wellington each have two properties on the list.

Providing business transparency is critical in today's environment says the company's Managing Director, Gareth Pearce.

"Research shows that in the US 89% of US online buyers read customer reviews before they buy - 43% always and 22% always. For customers it means an independent unbiased opinion and to accommodation providers it means receiving feedback for the things they are doing right and also identifying areas of their business that need attention."

"The importance of an online consumer 'rating' may one day be more important to customers than self assessments or nationally accredited rating systems such as Qualmark", says Mr 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 properties, & over 50,000 visitors per month looking for accommodation deals, the company's growth has been rapid.

The top 10 customer picks out of a maximum score of 10...

1st 9.0 Rydges Hotel (Christchurch)
2nd 8.7 Heritage Hotel (Auckland)
3rd 8.4 Deco City Motor Lodge (Napier)
4th= 8.3 Lake Taupo Motor Inn (Taupo)
8.3 Rendezvous Hotel (Auckland)
8.3 Marineland Motel (Napier)
8.3 Jet Park Airport Hotel (Auckland Airport)
8th 8.2 Airport Motor Lodge (Wellington Airport)
9th= 8.1 Sebel Suites (Auckland)
8.1 Comfort Hotel (Wellington)

Gareth Pearce is adamant that taking a break this Labour Weekend is good for the health.

"With the Labour Holiday Weekend fast approaching many people have the effects of a long wet winter and also the recent economic conditions all bottled up inside of them. So a Labour Weekend escape is highly recommended."

"There's a great range of quality accommodation within New Zealand to choose from through with some great customer feedback available", says Mr Pearce. is a privately owned New Zealand company, based within the Hawke's Bay.


Press Information:
For more information or imagery contact:
Gareth Pearce
Managing Director
31 Porangahau Road
P: +64 6 858 5442

Marketing accommodation Online In a Struggling Economy

By Sachin Suri
13 October 2008

In a tough economy, when your marketing budget shrinks, you need to be careful about how you invest your money. The return on investment (ROI) for online marketing spending is faster than almost any other form of hotel marketing.


In a struggling economy, businesses slow down. This is especially true for hotels as their growth is directly related to the health of the economy. Consequently, your marketing budget shrinks and you need to be careful about how to spend your marketing budget wisely. In other words, identify what marketing methods work, and what don't. It is more important than ever that you pay attention to your return on investment (ROI).
In 2008, 37%-38% of all hotel bookings will be generated from the Internet (one-third in 2007, 29% in 2006). At least another third of all hotel bookings will be influenced by the Internet, but done offline (call center, walk-ins, group bookings, etc). All major hotel brands are already generating an excess of 40% of the (CRS) bookings via their brand websites. By the end of 2010, over 45% of all hotel bookings will be completed online.

The internet has surfaced as the leader in travel and hotel sales. It has established itself as the most important distribution and marketing channel in the hospitality industry. Since this is the case, it only makes sense for you to give some serious thought and planning to Internet-related campaigns in your hotel's marketing mix. In other words, when your marketing budgets shrink, you could benefit by accentuating your online strategy versus offline strategy. The bonus is that Internet marketing is almost totally measurable, which allows for quick evaluation and continual adjustments to improve results.

Marketing on the Internet

The primary objective of all your online marketing efforts should be to attract the right visitors to your web site and to encourage them to make a reservation. Of course, bringing more and more visitors helps in brand building exercise too. There are several ways to promote your website online. Below we list just a few of them.

First and Foremost – Create and Enhance Your Hotel's Website

Hotel Internet marketing starts and ends with the hotel website. The hotel website has become the first, the only and in many cases — the last point of contact with the travel consumer. It is only natural that creating and enhancing the hotel website should be the top priority. The objective is to create an attractive look and feel; and at the same time make sure that the website is content/feature rich so that it provides required information to its visitors.

Most of the hoteliers are content with having a web site as the sum- total of their Internet marketing efforts. Whereas the fact is that having a website is just a starting point and not the end. Once you have a well designed website in place, it is crucial that you promote it or market it online. What's the point in spending all that time and effort to create a website which brings in tiny amount of visitors? If promoted properly, your website can generate substantial amount of leads and reservations for your hotel.

You need to keep a close eye on latest trends and usability enhancements and accordingly enhance the website at regular intervals. However, more often than not, it doesn't happen. A fine example could be the screen resolution with which websites are designed. We noticed that a lot of websites still cater to 800x600 pixels screen resolution (perhaps, even less) whereas the current trend is that more and more computers are using a screen size of 1024x768 pixels or more. Therefore, a substantial amount of web page real estate is going wasted.

Another example could be that of images and graphics used on websites. Many hoteliers don't realize that today, Internet users have a lot more bandwidth/internet speed at their disposal than what they had a couple of years ago. Still, many websites continue to use small sized, highly optimized graphics, thereby compromising on quality and presentation. These are just a couple of examples. There are several other factors contributing to websites being archaic – verbose content copy, poorly done virtual tours, confusing navigation, and other redundant elements.

Content Copy - Study Your Competition

You need to thoroughly study and understand your competition since having an edge over your competitor's website should be one of the primary objectives for your website. In order to do so, you have to understand exactly what your competitors are doing online – the manner in which they display their services, facilities and amenities, use of graphics, search engine penetration, etc.

Travelers are getting more and more skeptical of hotels' website content. Write concise and straight forward content copy for your website with appropriate graphics. Graphics and animation go a long way in sending the right message to your visitors. It is important that your website demonstrates your hotel's facilities and amenities in as attractive a manner as possible. But at the same time, make sure it is searchable. For that to happen, you need to understand what people search for on the Internet and then accordingly plug in the right kind of content and other sales elements into the web pages. In the online world, your website is your biggest asset. The content that you write for it can either build brand equity or tarnish the brand image of the hotel.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Optimize web pages by reviewing website's HTML source code, META Tags, implement popular keywords in the content, etc. In short, do whatever it takes to improve your website's "Organic Search", which is the free/unpaid search on search engines.

Make sure that the agency or SEO specialists that you hire have enough experience and knowledge of hotel selection and booking process. The problem with many SEO specialists is that they tend to populate hotel sites with unrelated non-travel visitors through the careless use of poorly selected key words/phrases and other means. The number of visitors your SEO efforts generate is important. But even more important is the number of reservations generated from these visitors. Having a lot of visitors to your website would be of little use if they do not help in generating reservations. Therefore, conversion is the key.

Having a good link strategy is a very important part of SEO. When ranking your web site, several search engines consider the number and quality of in-bound links to rank your website. Participating in local search – Google and Yahoo – also helps. It also keeps your hotel near the top of search engine results.

Paid Search Campaigns

Implement "Paid Search" Campaigns such as Pay Per Click (PPC) or Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing or Microsoft adCenter. It is worth investing in Paid Search Campaigns to start with since it brings immediate results as opposed to Organic Search (SEO above), which usually has a gestation period of three to six months. As your Website's visibility improves in Organic Search, investment on Paid Search could be reduced.

The sad part is that many site promoters use PPC to replace and not supplement efforts to improve a web site's ability to earn good organic search results. Organic search should be your goal. User behavior supports this too. Users are more inclined to click on organic search results than paid search results.
Finally, as with SEO, remember that the number of reservations or conversions, not simply the number of site visits, determines a Paid Search Campaign's success.

Packages and Promotions

Identify which aspects of your product resonate best with your customers. Why are people staying at your hotel to begin with: good location, business amenities, free breakfast, etc. Package and promote your hotel's unique value proposition to potential customers. For example, create unique hotel offers based on your unique hotel product attributes or attributes in the local environment. Several years ago, someone had the brilliant idea to include a complimentary breakfast as a value-added feature to improve sales. It worked so well that nearly every hotel now offers it; it is no longer a special feature and could even be a deficit for those who do not offer it.

The vast majority of travelers make a value judgment when selecting a hotel. Create special promotions, which focus on value-added features targeted to the market segment you are seeking.

Consumer Generated Media (CGM) - Guest Reviews and Feedback

Social media sites have become very popular as these websites provide a means for keeping in touch with friends, colleagues, and relatives. However, in a tough economy where marketing budgets are limited, it makes more sense to focus on travel-related social media sites like and instead of non-travel focused websites such as or Yes, if you have the resources to focus on both types of websites, do so by all means. While travel-related social media websites play a significant role in travel planning, non-travel focused, popular social media websites are important from the perspective of brand building and awareness.

Make sure your own website supports Consumer Generated Media (CGM) including blogs, trip planners, guest reviews, experience sharing, etc. For instance, it should allow visitors to read and post reviews, comments and feedback. People do read reviews and experiences of the visitors who have stayed at your hotel in the past. This trend is increasingly catching up with people as part of their planning process for both business and leisure travel.

From a guest's perspective, it is more convenient for him to write a candid comment about the services that he experienced at your hotel than to go to the front desk or a consumer court and vent out his frustrations. That's what people like to read before planning their travel – blunt and honest guest reviews – whether good or bad. And it does make an impact on their travel decisions.

The Bottom Line

Internet marketing involves more than simply having a web site. It consists of varied but interrelated components such as design, development and online marketing. Online Marketing can alone have several channels such as: Search Engine Marketing, which includes SEO and Paid Search Advertising, display advertising, e-mail, newsletter, online PR, etc. Tying these components together require expert knowledge and years of experience.

But the Internet is still the most effective, least expensive way to expose your hotel to global traffic and new reservations. It is the largest and most important marketing and distribution channel in hospitality. According to Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), 83% of travel planning in the US is done online. By 2010 the Internet will contribute over 45% of all travel-related bookings in North America. The cost to sell directly to consumers via your website can be really low as compared to the hefty distribution costs via the Global Distribution System (GDS) and the third-party online intermediaries. Reducing the reliance on these two very expensive channels will directly affect the bottom line.

If used effectively, the Internet can provide the required exposure and incremental business for your hotel. In these uncertain times, the Internet can produce a large portion of a hotel's overall business.

Online Marketing Trends and Opportunities in India

At a time when companies are cutting advertising budgets, online marketing provides much-needed edge to marketing. Indian market has seen 19% increase in the regular internet users this year over 2007, boasts of an active eight million online buyers. With regular internet users already reaching a sizeable 40 million this year, search engines are becoming a significant marketing tool for Indian companies across all industries. More and more Indians are turning to search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN. The SEM industry is likely to double in size to $225 million by 2009-10.

With Indian online industry headed towards Rs 2,000 crore, takers of online marketing have increased in the past four to five years. Online marketing will soon become the preferred mode of advertising for many businesses in India. Since most Internet users now avail search services and buy online, online marketing is becoming an active advertising model for result-oriented projects in India.

Kiwis flock to online accommodation booking

It seems to be a common theme for on-line accommodation re-sellers to announce their birthday...

Press Release: HotelClub

Online travel pioneer notches up 107,000 New Zealand members; turns 10 says a generous loyalty programme is a key factor in the rising local popularity of its hotel accommodation search and booking website.

The online travel pioneer, which last month ticked over 107,000 New Zealand members since entering New Zealand 10 years ago, offers member rebates of up to eight percent of the hotel booking value, which can then be put towards new HotelClub bookings.

HotelClub Managing Director Chloe Lim says the rebate stands up strongly against many other points based loyalty programs, which are often confusing and come with strict conditions.

“Redeeming points for what you want, when you want to, is sometimes difficult. Airline frequent flyer programs are the biggest offenders,” Lim says. “We focus on giving members redeemable dollars, free of red tape.”

Part of global online travel company Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE: OWW), HotelClub has six million members globally. Lim credits good timing, HotelClub’s DreamClub rewards system and “some of the best deals on the planet” as the main factors behind the company’s success.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Motella is Back Live!

It's great to be back! The lead up to taking a break when you run a motel can be hectic. The break is always appreciated; however the catch-up when you return to your business can be somewhat of a mission.

After being back for a few days we are finally starting to get back on top. It didn't help that we returned to do a promotional stand at Gisborne's A and P Show, however this was a positive challenge and most enjoyable.

Our motel properties have been very busy over the last few weeks; however it would appear that this is not the norm. Talking to fellow moteliers and other business people on our travels throughout the country it would appear that business is somewhat flat and confidence is at a low eb.

New Zealand is a fantastic place to travel. In spite of financial turmoil sweeping the world, many New Zealanders still have the choice and freedom to enjoy travel within their own country.

The car and airplane is the motel guest's transport of choice and fossil fuel is the lifeblood of the motel industry. As an industry we must encourage our potential guests to jump in their car or book a flight to transport themselves away from their usual environment without guilt or qualification.

Roll on summer!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Great New Zealand Road Trip

The "Motella" and family are embarking on a road trip this week.

Our capable motel minders are in place and we are looking forward to the open road, the growl of a V8 and the friendly welcome of someone else's hospitallity at the end of the day.

Who knows, you could see us in your town soon...see you back here sometime next week...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Qualmark Sustainabilty

We have commended Qualmark before on establishing a robust and credible quality assessment programme, however we have expressed our disquiet with the recent hijacking of the assessment criteria by environmental idealism (Refer to our post here)

We have suggested that Qualmark have lost focus on their core quality benchmarking business by mirroring the Labour Party's obsession with the myths of climate change.

This was highlighted by Qualmark's previous newsletter to licence holders. “Responsible Tourism” was mentioned 16 times and “Quality” was not mentioned once.

It is pleasing that Qualmark's latest newsletter sent out today has managed to reserrect the word "Quality" by mentioning it 7 times. However, Qualmark still seem to be keen on their latest catchprase, “Responsible Tourism” by its mention 11 times. It would appear that "Quality" is back on the agenda but is still overshadowed by Qualmark's extramural environmental activities.

In a time of worldwide financial meltdown, the motel industry needs to focus on economic sustainability. This will require an urgent focus on profitability and quality. Trade Associations have a role in promoting profitability and Qualmark have a role in benchmarking quality.

Star rating flouro lightbulbs and worm farms is not going to asssit the long term economic sustainability of the motel industry.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Movember 2008!

It's October! That means one more month until Movember (the month formerly known as November). This is a great cause tackling men's health issues and being proactive in the fight against men's depression and prostate cancer.

I will be again joining a few select moteliers that will be cultivating the upper lip region. I urge all motel men to become a "Mo Bro" and support this worthy cause.

Celebrate being a man for Movember, enjoy the fellowship of like-minded men and proudly wear your commitment to your manhood on your upper lip!

To donate to my Mo click here: and use your credit card to show your support.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

'For sale' sign at Dannevirke brothel

In breaking news...There appears to be an opportunity open up in Dannevirke.

The New Zealand Herald on-line edition has also included a "relevant offer"on this story from one of its advertisers, AA Travel. One can only surmise what the AA are now offering the traveling public?

Oct 01 2008

A "for sale" sign has appeared outside Dannevirke's first brothel less than a month after it opened for business.

Promiscuous Girlz opened in the Public Trust Building, described by one local as a "building of integrity" until it was bought by Teresa McGregor.

Ms McGregor admitted the building was on the market, but said she planned to lease it from the new owner. Suggestions the business was to close were premature.

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