Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kiwis flock online to book motel rooms

Time will tell if the on-line reservation stats migrate into increased occupancy for motels in November...

The Dominion Post
11 December 2008

Online motel bookings have recorded their highest month on record, smashing the previous best month by 31 percent in November.

The Motel Association of New Zealand said accommodation bookings through its website in November were almost a third up on January, the previous record month, and were a mammoth 83 percent ahead of November last year.

The figures fly in the face of a general downturn in tourism, and flagging international arrival numbers.

Motel Association chief executive Michael Baines said there had been an upturn in the numbers generally but the magnitude of the spike had been unexpected.

"November just came out of the blue." The percentages were so large that they clearly indicated major shifts in the market.

The gradual move to online booking was one clear trend, but the shift was so dramatic that Mr Baines said there had to be more general motel customers. December numbers so far were continuing the trend. "We are about 45 to 50 percent ahead for December."

The market was a complicated mix and it was changing. "People do have more money in their pockets than they did nine months ago. Tax cuts, petrol prices, interest rate cuts," Mr Baines said.

There was a match in the spiking numbers with the United States and New Zealand election days. It was likely a lot of the bookings were from domestic tourists, especially given international travel might be less of a reality for a lot of families in the current economic climate.

"Many of them have been wanting to do it for years, and this has given them good excuse."

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