Friday, July 31, 2009

The ‘Great Kiwi Invite’ tourism campaign

Better start making up the bed in the spare room!

One of the basic foundations of tourism, is for local communities to invite their friends and family from outside the region to come and stay with them.

This simple concept allows experiences of travel to be shared amongst a network friends and family. If the experience is good, others will follow by recommendation, however they will not necessarily stay with friends and family. We of course would suggest that they should stay in motels;-)

I like the ‘Great Kiwi Invite’ tourism campaign. The concept is uncomplicated and does not require publicly funded, ego enhancing and economically unsustainable infrastructure such as the national snail trial and the proposed Auckland conference centre.

The key attraction here is playing to our strengths and our Kiwi hospitality should be a winner. There is no doubt that friends and family hosted by their Kiwi cuzzies will have a fantastic stay in New Zealand and will depart as ambassadors.

Pity the supporting website wasn't active when I tried it.

31 July 2009

Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key today launched a new campaign encouraging Kiwis to invite their overseas relatives and friends to visit New Zealand.

The ‘Great Kiwi Invite’ campaign, run by Tourism New Zealand, aims to increase the number of visitors to the country at a time when global economic conditions mean fewer people are travelling the world.

“New Zealanders are known as great travellers, and as a result so many of us have connections overseas,” Mr Key says.

“Whether it’s friends, family or people we’ve met during our travels, I want to encourage Kiwis to make contact with those people through the new campaign and invite them to visit New Zealand.”

New Zealanders will be able to go online to and send a personal animated invitation to someone overseas.

When the invitation is accepted, the person will go into a draw to win one of 15 trips for two to New Zealand, flying from any Air New Zealand port.

“Tourism is a major economic driver and has the potential to help get the country through the recession in good shape.

“Kiwis can play a part in getting people to visit New Zealand, boosting tourism numbers and providing positive spin-offs for everything from hotels and attractions to cafes and taxis,” Mr Key says.

The launch of the campaign comes as the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Source: Click HERE

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

All You Can Eat Marketing

In these recessionary times, Motella is helping you come up with innovative ideas to assist your motel gain that competitive edge.

When times get tough, the tough get going. Be inspired by the brilliance of this recession-busting marketing ploy:

Source: Click HERE

Motel "Discrimination"

I have been following the saga of accommodation providers in Myrtle Beach South Carolina, that have a "discriminatory" policy of not accepting business from locals.

Revelations of this stance has caused quite a stir and is currently playing out in the media. It is interesting to see how this has been reported and the negative hand-wringing tone of feedback received from the public. Read the article with feedback HERE.

This reminds me of this year's media coverage of the hapless Palmerston North motelier that directed his wrath upon all residents of Wainuiomata by announcing a ban on anyone from the town that wishes to stay at his motel.

There is a valuable lesson in both instances.

Within the accommodation industry it is acceptable to discriminate in order to maximise returns and ensure happy returning guests, however any such policies should never be made public.

By discrimination I don't mean turning business away based on race, religion, marital status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation etc - This type of discrimination is clearly a no-go zone. However some accommodation providers may have a policy of not accepting reservations from guests that: only want one-night over a long weekend, sports groups, wedding parties, school ball attendees, stag parties, working girls OR locals. And this is acceptable - as long as they don't tell anyone!

Accommodation providers that have discriminatory guest policies should NEVER communicate these with the public. The public have an antenna for any perceived inequity and are quick to play victim with media that are more than willing to ramp up the angst. They will never understand why they could be denied and will always believe that they have a god-given "entitlement" to your services. They do not.

This industry requires operators to think on their feet, use discretion and be professional at all times. So if a group of 50 Hells Angles wish to stay at your motel property for their annual gathering, do not turn them down on the basis that you have a policy of not accepting groups or motorcycle enthusiasts. You simply do not have suitable rooms available and are unable to assist. Hopefully you are able to recommend an alternative accommodation option for them ;-)

Locals denied hotel rooms

By Joel Allen

27 July 2009

During one of the worst recessions in years, when many hotels are begging for customers, some Grand Strand hotels are refusing to rent rooms to certain people.

Angela Lee's mother got a brochure in the mail touting the beauty and amenities of several Grand Strand hotels. Angela happened to be planning a beach vacation with her mother and son so she called one of the hotels, Bluewater Resort, to make a reservation.

Everything was fine, she says - until she told them she lives in Conway. "Oh, you're a local. I'm like, yes, I am. Um, I'm sorry, we don't rent to locals. And I'm like, why," explained Angela.

Angela was told the hotel has had a bad experience with locals trashing rooms. Bluewater's manager, David Dozier, declined to speak to us on camera, but told NewsChannel 15 locals who rent rooms tend to hold big parties and disturb other guests.

The director of the Myrtle Beach Hospitality Association, Pauline Levesque, says that's a common complaint from hotel managers.

"Numbers of family members come and therefore their insurance is invalid, they're not registered at the hotel, too many people at the hotel, and then the paying guests, their stay isn't what it should be," she added.

Angela Lee isn't buying it.

"I'm very sure that somebody from New York city or Tennessee even could trash a room just as well as somebody living here in Myrtle Beach," said Lee.

She wonders about all those chamber of commerce ads, inviting people to come to friendly Myrtle Beach.

"We have beautiful places and smiling faces, but not for the people who live here," Lee said.

The manager of the Bluewater apologizes for the mailer that went to someone in Conway. He says that shouldn't have happened.

As for Angela, she has since found a hotel that does rent to locals and we should point out, there are many of them. She says they're planning on having a lot of fun at the beach.

Source: Click HERE

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Top Motel Hosts Recognised

AA Supreme Host of the Year Award and our sincere congratulations go to this years winner, Edgewater Motel in Te Anau.

Jill and Clint Tauri's exceptional hospitality at their Edgewater Motel in Te Anau has earned them the prestigious 2009 AA Supreme Host of the Year Award.

In conjunction with the Motel Association of New Zealand (MANZ), AA Tourism General Manager Peter Blackwell presented the award on Saturday night at the MANZ annual conference in Blenheim. "Jill and Clint are to be congratulated on their outstanding level of hospitality," said Mr Blackwell. "Staying at a motel is a real Kiwi experience and is often a home away from home for business travellers. The host's ability to have an impact on guests overall experience at a destination is enormous," he said.

Motel Association of New Zealand Chief Executive, Michael Baines says the final result is fantastic and the Edgewater Motel was deserving of the award. "All finalists were visited by Qualmark mystery shoppers to independently assess each of the properties and the way in which staff treated their customers. The hospitality of the Edgewater Motel staff was truly outstanding. What was even more remarkable was the mystery shopping was carried out during the time of the major earthquake event and still staff were able to impress the Qualmark mystery shoppers," says Mr Baines.

"The Motel Association is delighted to be involved in a programme that recognises and celebrates the best of the best. Hospitality is the essence of the tourism industry and the association is grateful to AA Tourism for supporting this by rewarding the most deserving," says Mr Baines.

Award finalists and winners are selected based on Qualmark Mystery Shopping results and comment cards sent in by guests.

Source: Click HERE

Through The Hotel Peephole

Will the threat of litigation make the obligatory hotel peephole consigned to history?

We did a post HERE back in February about a Hollywood motel that upset a guest when they discovered that their room's peephole had been supposedly installed backwards - they were unable to see out, but others could see in!

We were amused to read another story that has added fuel to the great hotel peephole conspiracy.

Adam Kirby
20 July 2009

A high-profile hotel peeping tom case may spell the beginning of the end for an old hotel security staple: the peephole.

Erin Andrews, a famously attractive reporter for ESPN, was videotaped in the nude in her (unidentified) hotel room through a peephole. The video, which was made without her knowledge or permission, was then posted and distributed online last week.

Andrews and ESPN plan to sue over the incident. Whether the hotel is at fault, either directly or indirectly, remains publicly unknown.

The video was apparently made using a reverse-peephole lens, which can be purchased online or made at home fairly easily. I'm not linking to any such instructions on how to make reverse-peepholes for obvious reasons, but suffice to say it was a quick Google search.

The Andrews episode is garnering a good deal of Internet buzz today, both due to her popularity and because of the sickening unease it no doubt raises among members of the traveling public.

A similarly disturbing incident happened earlier this year in Florida, when a room at a Quality Inn was found to have had its peephole reversed.

It begs the question: Does this mark the beginning of the end for peepholes as a hotel security item? Beyond installing expensive security cameras at every doorway and closed-circuit TV in every room—which is already becoming popular at luxury hotels but which isn't really feasible for mid-scale—is there any way around installing peepholes?

Source: Click HERE

Monday, July 27, 2009

Motella's First Green Motel Policy

In these recessionary times, Motella is helping you come up with innovative ideas to assist your motel gain that competitive edge.

After intensive research, we have found an inititive from a"hospitality" business that we encourage our fellow moteliers to emulate. Why not reward your guests for arriving at your motel on foot or by bicycle?

Not only can you help save the planet by reducing those nasty carbon emissions, but you can also tap into that growing market of sandal wearing Luddites that practice what they preach by refusing to use fossilized fuel when they travel.

The only question you need to ask yourself is, "where are you going to put those bike-racks?"
By Rusty
26 July 2009

A German brothel is doing its bit to help the burgeoning carbon footprint reduction effort by going green in a bid to attract more business in tough economic times – and preserve the environment.

Customers who arrive by bicycle at Berlin's ‘Smiley Face Slut’s Salon’ will receive a five euro discount on the usual fee of 70 euros plus a free Black Mamba ribbed condom.

The discount also applies to those horny perv’s who can prove they walked or rode public transport to get there, bordello Madame Inger Dropnicks told a reporter from the Knocking Shop Gazette.

"It's good for business, it's good for the environment and it's good for the girls," she added. “The customers are really up for a good shagging session after a spot of cardio-vascular exercise - riding a bike across Berlin to come here and get their rocks off.”

The recession had hit the sex-for-sale industry hard, Ms. Dropnicks related but the offer appeared to be working as their car park was full of bicycles from noon to midnight.

"We have around thirty new customers coming in daily to take advantage of the discount," she claimed, adding the green concession scheme had helped ease traffic congestion and freed up parking in the neighborhood.

Source: Click HERE

Motel Sales on Hold?

Generally motels turn over ownership every 3-years and from where we sit, sales inactivity over the past 12-months hasn't increased available stock as much as you would think.

Most cash for purchasing a motel business generally comes from the sale of a residential home. For most Kiwis, they do not wish to take a fall by selling less than their original purchase price and will more often than not, sit on their hands until the market catches up. Unfortunately, the logic of buying and selling in the same market and the opportunity cost of not trading in a business while they wait is often not understood by prospective buyers.

Motel sellers can also adopt a similar ostrich mentality and will optimistically box on waiting for the economic climate to change before they seriously think about selling.

We expect a rash of buyers and sellers coming together early next year as the economic climate improves, the gloom of winter is behind us and comparative bed nights stats become positive. Expect a flood of new operators over the next 12-months. Their impact on the motel industry will be interesting to follow.

While some banks have bracketed the risk of borrowing on a motel lease alongside tattoo parlous and used car sales, we can not see why a realistic proposal with solid financials can't be considered up to 60% of purchase price.

It is disappointing to note that some brokers report deals falling over due to finance. Maybe they need to work a little smarter in order to weed out the dreamers and assist purchasers with formulating realistic, quality applications for finance.


The Nelson Mail

Many Nelson accommodation and hospitality businesses are for sale with some saying a backlog has been created by banks tightening up on lending.

Tourism Property Brokers agent Nick Lambert said he put together six deals in the past three months and half fell over due to financing problems.

Banks used to loan up to 60 per cent on leasehold properties whereas now it was a push to get 40 per cent, if anything, he said.

"It's a big problem for me."

In a recent Blenheim sale, Mr Lambert arranged for the vendor and purchaser to do a house swap due to the problem of getting finance from the bank. In other cases, he's encouraged buyers to retain their home and borrow up to 80 per cent of their equity in it to secure their purchase.

Mr Lambert has been operating in the upper South Island region for the past year and currently has 55 listings north of Hanmer Springs.

Motels traditionally changed hands every 27 months on average and people's reasons for wanting to sell were "many and varied", he said.

He doesn't believe the local motel industry has suffered hugely as a result of the recession. The latest end-of-year figures he's seen have shown a 5 to 10 per cent drop in business.

Motel Association Nelson branch president Paul Anderson said there were "above average" numbers of motels on the market nationally but he believes "that will clear" once the mood lifts and banks start lending again. "Most of the people I talk to are starting to say the signs are all there."

Many motels were tracking similar or above last year, month on month, he said. "It's getting no worse and possibly a wee bit better. I think the picture is good for the coming season."

Motels in Motueka and Tahunanui had both sold within that last six to eight weeks, he said.

"That's promising."

Wayne Wotton, a TelferYoung valuer specialising in accommodation, said more motel leases were listed for sale than usual. "Freehold and going concern there's still a shortage of property. They're fairly tightly held."

He said the last year had been "very quiet" for motel sales. He was aware of two recent sales and another under negotiation. "There have been a couple of resales where they're at a lower level than the vendors paid in 2007."

But sale prices could be influenced by individual circumstances, such as people needing to get out due to ill health, he said.

"Two of the ones I looked at recently, the turnover in occupancy had held up pretty well over the last few years."

Coffey's Tourism Property Brokers Nelson representative Anne Marshall said she had had five motel sales since October last year, with most of those being on the market for two to three months. "If they are priced right, they're going to sell," she said.


Bella Vista Motel, Tahunanui, $525,000 leasehold
Torlesse Coastal Motels, Kaiteriteri, $3.65m freehold
Greenwood Holiday Park, Appleby, $425,000 leasehold
Bakers Lodge backpackers, Motueka, $340,000, leasehold
The Honest Lawyer, Stoke, offers, leasehold
Eatery on the Rock, Takaka, offers over $1.6m freehold, but leasehold option also
Leisure Lodge, Nelson, $15m, freehold.

Source: Click HERE

How Low Can You Go?

What does your guest say about you?

Accommodation providers have been caught with their pants down in an article in the Weekend Herald that exposed senseless slashing of tariff in order to secure a reservation.

Posing as a prospective guest, the writer of the article started out on the premise to write a story on the accommodation bargains available in these recessionary times. Embarrassingly, accommodation providers unwittingly played along by offering tariff through the floor.

From a simple phone around of various accommodation outlets, the desperate discounting has revealed that some in the industry have taken tariff levels back in time by over 20 years.

While this strategy may increase occupancy in the short term, it reduces revenue per average room (RevPAR) to unsustainable levels.

A recent study from Cornell's Center for Hospitality Research, "Competitive Pricing in Uncertain Times." The study compared the effects of pricing strategies among close competitors, first during a weak economy and then during boom times. Using the database of over 67,000 hotels, the study analysed relative pricing, occupancy, and RevPAR observations, from 2001 through 2007.

It was found that hotels that maintained average daily rates above those of their direct competitors experienced lower occupancies compared to those other hotels, but they recorded higher relative RevPARs. This was true in all market segments. It was found that the best way to have better revenue performance than the competition is to maintain higher average rates.

Who has the capacity to share this with the accommodation industry?

25 July 2009
NZ Herald

Beck Vass

If you're planning a weekend away this winter it pays to shop around - and to be a bit cheeky.

A snapshot survey by the Weekend Herald has revealed a range in the accommodation rates and in operators' readiness to offer on-the-spot discounts.

Tourism New Zealand statistics show that occupancy rates in New Zealand fell to just 41 per cent in May - the lowest since 2000.

Some operators, particularly those reliant on Asian visitors, are struggling amid swine flu fears and the recession.

Almost half of 30 hotels surveyed, ranging from luxury resorts to motor lodges around the country, were happy to comply with the anonymous caller's requests to go cheaper.

Hotels belonging to larger chains and those busy with the ski season were less flexible.

But even operators less keen to cut costs were still open to offering deals, such as an extra night for as low as $20, a free breakfast or bottles of wine.

Those in the industry say bartering for bargains is nothing new but, because of the recession, this year's guests will get more.

At Brylin Motel in Rotorua, even the $117 special rates could be talked down to $85.

Pauanui Pines Motor Lodge on the Coromandel Peninsula - already undercutting the $128 advertised special - couldn't go lower than $115 for one night, but when pushed further offered just $140 for two nights.

Some hotels would provide their lowest listed rate but would eventually reveal a slightly cheaper price for a lower-value or single room.

Others even directed the caller to different places.

The Millennium Hotel in Rotorua could not match the $129 special advertised on cut-price accommodation website because only a limited number of rooms were available.

At the Kingsgate, where special rates were $85 and included a room upgrade, a request to pay just $60 was met part-way.

"I can probably go down to $75 but I can't go any lower - and that would be without an upgrade."

The Waterfront Suites in Paihia offered a $135-a-night special rate but, when asked if that was the best they could offer, the staff member suggested calling the nearby Sea Spray Suites, which had $95-a-night rates.

Hospitality Association of New Zealand executive director Bruce Robertson said bartering was common in the industry and was unrelated to visitor numbers.

However, because of the recession, this year more operators were offering extras like free or discounted extra nights, breakfasts, wine and packages that included show tickets to attract guests.

Megan Magill,'s general brand manager, said the website was seeing novel new ways of bringing in bookings by offering free extras such as wine, chocolates, movie passes, ski passes, meals and drinks, tickets to local attractions and free car hire.

"Despite the economic conditions, our booking numbers show people are still travelling but they're perhaps now more price conscious than before, so the marketplace is far more competitive in this economic climate," she said.

"Rather than just lowering the price, our suppliers are moving more to offering value-added inclusions. It's more across the board. Depending on what you're looking for, chances are you can get a better deal now compared to a year ago."

Source: Click HERE

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Love and Marriage, what has this got to do with running a motel?

UPDATE 27 July 2009

Wow! I just noticed that the first comment on this post seemed to understand the meaning of this video in relation to this blog. To me the video depicted Love, joy and humor, what has this video got to do with running a motel? Their answer was: "Everything."

PS: This video has gone viral, with over 7-million viewers on YouTube.

Checkout the story HERE.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Motel-room trash

The four low-life youths that caused $8,000 worth of damage to a motel room in New Plymouth appeared before a judge yesterday and received a mild slapping with a moistened bus ticket.

The judge took pity on one of the four hapless youths that had not attended community work for previous indiscretions by wiping existing outstanding fines and replacing this with ... further community work.

The consequences of 120 hours community work and repatriation that both appear to be too easy to dodge is out of sync with the damage, disruption and anguish caused by these criminals.

At the very least, these low-lifes deserve some quality time in a converted shipping container to reflect the error of their ways.

24 July 2009
Taranaki Daily News

Four young men who got drunk and trashed a New Plymouth motel room were advised to stop drinking if they can't hold their liquor.

In the New Plymouth District Court yesterday, Judge Rob Murfitt told the four 18-year-olds squeezed into the dock that they were a disgrace, would have to repay the damage and atone to the community for their actions.

Alex Glentworth, Sam Adams, Jaden Goldfinch and Trent Drake, all 18, had "behaved like animals" on July 4 after two of them booked into the Auto Lodge, drank alcohol for four hours, and caused damage to the motel room totalling $8000.

They had abused the receptionist when they were thrown out because of the noise complained about by others staying at the motel.

Their actions had brought shame on their families, the judge said.

"If you are that weak, don't drink. Alcohol is the root cause for the greatest amount of crime in the community."

The four, who pleaded guilty to wilful damage, were ordered to share repayments for the damage and attend 120 hours' community work. The judge replaced existing fines owed, totalling nearly $6000, with additional community work.

Adams, who is already sentenced to community work, was warned that if he did not carry it out he would go to jail.

Source: Click HERE

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I have been thinking about my next car purchase for some time and frankly nothing inspires me.

...until I saw this picture from our friends at NZ Tour Maps Travel Blog.

If there any Hummer dealers out there, please feel free to contact me (hopefully I won't have to join the Greens to get one of those snazzy looking stickers?)

Four-star hotel deal for Auckland Airport, Tainui

In our post HERE, we wondered why Tainui would be contemplating to develop a luxury $80 million hotel at Auckland Airport in this economic climate.

In today's NZ Herald it was reported that plans have been scaled back somewhat and it is now proposed to invest in a $65 million four star Novotel hotel in time for the rugby World Cup.

Tainui would be lead developer and investor in the joint venture, with Auckland Airport holding a minority interest. The hotel would be developed on a long term ground lease granted by the airport and would be managed by Accor.

Accor appear to be in the box seat in this deal by not committing any funds and exposing themselves to no risk. They will simply provide management services by running the hotel for a healthy share of the turnover. Auckland airport would also appear to be in a privileged position by contributing little or no cash. Some or all of the the land value may be their only contribution to the project, however they will be next in line to access a good portion of the hotel's turnover by the ground rental they will be charging.

So, Tainui will be effectively stumping up all of the cash and taking all of the risk.

The Rugby World Cup is an opportunity for the accommodation industry, however is this project an example of misplaced optimism?

Source: Click HERE

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Motels Say No To Sex

Over the years I have had contact with numerous prostitutes strictly on a professional basis... oops, that doesn't sound good either.... I'll start again: Over the years I've encountered several prostitutes trying to book into our motel. *That's reads better!* Inquiries seemed to peak soon after the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 came into force, but we still get the odd request from working girls intent on using our motel as a place of business.

Several years ago, I responded to our reception bell while working outside. As I was about to enter our reception area I paused as I saw a woman with her back to me. To be absolutely honest, what I first noticed was a pair of extremely high stilettos. As my eyes slowly edged upwards I noticed that both legs had a python that was tattooed from the lower leg and entwined their way upwards to disappear beneath a rather short mini skirt. It was a striking tattoo and I can only wonder where the pair of pythons ended up. After engaging with her, I quickly found out that she wasn't our usual corporate customer.

Like most motels, we take the view that we simply do not wish to host working girls. I respect that they are using some initiative and are serving a demand. Hey, this is capitalism 101 in action here, however I am more than happy for them to ply their trade...somewhere else. Like most motels, we take the view that we do not want the unsavory reputation as it is not a good look and the comings and goings of clients in the night can create disturbance to other guests.

I admit that we have been caught out early in our motel career and in this industry you quickly learn from your mistakes.

It seems that there are several working girls that ply their trade away from their location and will travel to another city or town to use a motel as their place of trade. I guess they can enjoy the anonymity of a new location, fill in demand over peak periods and can provide a service that is different from the local trade. Maybe for the clients it can be monotonous only using local working girls!? Then there are the local working girls that simply do not wish to attract attention in their own home and wish to use a local motel instead.

The usual MO is for a working girl is to either ring and book a room or front up off-road. In dealing with the public moteliers are often required to think quickly on their feet and you learn to pick up the signals that alert you to a prospective guest that may cause a problem. On the very rare occasions that we may feel uncomfortable with a prospective guest, we will always try to initiate a conversation to try and draw out as much as we can, while all the time trying to suss out exactly who we are dealing with.

A working girl will always insist on a room "down the back," they are not too interested in tariff and will always want to pay in cash. In conversation, they will indicate that they may be someone joining them in the room later or that a few "friends" may be visiting them. The stock-standard question that most moteliers ask is "what brings you to visit our region?" is often met with a vague or indifferent response.

Unfortunately, I have never struck a prostitute that could be mistaken for "Pretty Woman" Julia Roberts (my python lady was a case in point!). Without getting into detail, you learn to spot a working girl very early on in proceedings. Working girls have a certain look, demeanor and will often be nervous.

We are always up-front, polite and professional by suggesting that we are simply unable to assist them. If pushed we will recommend that they try a motel where we know has more relaxed standards and would appreciate the business. In most towns there is usually one motel that will turn a blind eye and take working girls.

In spite of The Prostitution Reform Act, in my opinion moteliers can quite rightly refuse to allow sex workers to ply their trade from their motel by refusing to accept a reservation or by removing them as an existing guest. There is a risk that they will play the victim card and if this is the case the onus will fall on the motelier to have reasonable grounds for their actions. In other words the motelier would have to prove that the working girl either was using the motel or had intent to use a motel unit to ply their trade?

In 99.9% of the time this will not be necessary, however the refusal to serve or removal of an uppity working girl is an interesting scenario to contemplate. In this industry a motelier will soon learn that if you treat people with respect and *smile* you can get most people to do as they are told!

So on what grounds can a motel choose to refuse sex workers that are intending to use a motel unit to ply their trade?
  • The motel is not licensed to do so.
  • “is likely to cause a nuisance or serious offense to ordinary members of the public using the area in which the land is situated; or
  • is incompatible with the existing character or use of the area in which the land is situated."
  • It is not allowable under the motel’s lease agreement.
I wonder where our python lady is now?

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Pause in Transmission

Transmission will be paused as I depart with my son on a road trip to deposit him safely back at his boarding school.

Having him home for the school holidays has been great fun and as always it is difficult having to leave him.

Ah, the things parents do for their children in order to have them avoid the travesty of state education...

See you on the road!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Buying the Motel Dream

It can be difficult to dedicate time to tasks uninterrupted when operating a motel like...reading the Sunday Star Times. Today's effort was not helped by the front page revelations the former PM, Helen Clark was reported as being a 'sex bomb."

It has taken a while, but I have finally managed to recover and return to the job at hand by delving past the startling front page revelation and have stumbled across an interesting article on "Checking out the Motel Game" (buying a hotel or hotel) by Greg Ninness - Sorry, no link.

Overall, the article is fairly simplistic, however hopefully this will motivate further action from couples that are contemplating the dream of owning their own motel business. The article starts off with some basic differences between leasehold and management rights, however seems to focus solely on the management rights structure. It is interesting to note however that the rules of thumb appear to be similar for both structures.

The points covered are:
  • Accommodation business purchase has the advantage of the inclusion of owner's accommodation. The article points out that the family home can be used as equity to buy a business and become your own boss.
  • Accommodation businesses are usually split into two parts - The land and buildings / The going concern (The operational business).
  • The going concern is usually structured as a leasehold interest.
  • Increasingly popular is for the going concern to be structured as management rights.
  • The main differences between a leasehold interest and managements rights is that leaseholders usually own the business chattels such as furnishings and bear the cost of maintaining them.
  • With management rights the owner usually owns the chattels and maintains them.
  • Leasehold interests and management rights usually have a fixed term of 20-30 years.
  • Management rights should return 20-25% of purchase price after deducting operational costs including rent, but before interest and tax.
  • Management rights usually decline in value once they deflate less than 20 years.
  • It is possible to negotiate an extended the term with the landlord that can cost betwwen $5,000 to $10,000 per year of extension.
  • If the owner managed to improve the businesses profitability, that will increase the value of the management right upon sale. Of course a loss upon sale can occur if the profitability of the business declines.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Christchurch Hates The AA?

In the tourism industry we sometimes take ourselves too seriously and it was refreshing to see how one of our major tourism players, The AA reacted to some upset precious one-eyed Cantabrians.

AA's recent DestinatioNZ newsletter published their "Top 10 Art and Cultural Destinations" and shock horror - Christchurch was left off the list!

01. Wellington Museums & Tours
02. Bay of Plenty Music & Art
03. Rotorua Maori Art & Culture
04. New Plymouth Sculptures & Walkways
05. Nelson Arts & Crafts
06. Auckland Shopping & Theatre
07. Invercargill Trails & Walks
08. Hawke's Bay Architecture & Wineries
09. Dunedin Theatre & Museums
10. Hamilton Shopping & Cinema

So how does the AA react to a flood of less than complimentary reaction from Christchurch residents. Well, AA Tourism services CEO Peter Blackwell provides a human face and immediately acknowledges this serious breach by fronting up with a follow up newsletter:
It is nice to report today that a position that was in the past reserved exclusively for Auckland and Graham Henry has now been opened up to AA Tourism – Christchurch hates us!
Firstly, here is a link to the "dodgy" newsletter. It is not exactly damning stuff but I think it provides a win for the AA and a win for you. It highlights to all of us the power and respect for the AA, our products and our opinions. I never realised that we held that much credibility. Since the 101 campaign I need to treat it with more respect.

The fun thing, and I link to some of the articles for your amusement, is that while Christchurch was miserable, New Plymouth, Invercargill and Nelson, among others, clearly were not!

DestinatioNZ is a monthly e-newsletter that clearly has a powerful reach and provokes a reaction. Here is a link to the archive. Every month we try to deliver interesting content that makes people think – and then explore New Zealand.

We try to introduce many parts of New Zealand. It may mollify you Cantabrians to know that we actually included Sumner as a top-10 beach in January, Woodend as an unexplored town in February and the Ellerslie Flower Show as a must-see autumn event…you may hate us, but we love you!

I know now how Graham Henry feels. The good news is that I have a real understanding, and I hope you do too, of the power of the AA and our travel products. If you were umming and ahhing over whether to be a part of the 2010 Guides, you can see now that New Zealand travellers pay attention to the opinions of the AA (even if not everyone agrees!).

Stay warm and see you on the road.

Nice win-win here for the AA and their aggrieved Christchurch clients.

Certainly the tongue in cheek, parochial one-up-manship that Kiwis love to rise up to provides a fantastic opportunity for promoting domestic tourism. Mr Blackwell also uses the moment to upsell some of his organisation's fine products ;-)

More Taxpayer-Funded Greenwash

You may be aware of the government’s “Envirostep” program that was launched this week.

This program would appear to fall firmly into the the category of the “hug a polar bear” variety that the Key government has previously rallied against.

An agenda of social and environmental responsibility is again being pushed under the mantra of business improvement. **We’re from the government and are here to help you**

The common thread of such programs is that they are either provided "Free" like this one or are forced on businesses like Qualmark's Responsible Environmental criteria for accommodation providers. The purveyors of these programs have realised that businesses are able to quickly assess such schemes based on cost benefits and ROI and would not voluntarily take part if it means coughing up hard earned funds for little gain.

It is disappointing that Business NZ, Chamber of Commerce et al are blindly pushing this childish waffle without asking some hard questions.

How much is this costing the NZ taxpayer?

If this program is so good then why isn’t it being offered for purchase in the private sector?

And wouldn’t it be more beneficial for businesses if the tax to fund this twaddle wasn’t taken from them in the first place?!?

The Ministry for Economic Development Media Release
15 July 2009
Environment tool for business to help grow profits

New environment tool for business should help grow firms'appeal and profits

Small to medium sized businesses which use a new environmental management tool being launched by the Government this afternoon should grow market share.

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development says the new Envirostep online tool, which will help firms measure, manage and communicate their environmental performance, will be welcomed by busy SME managers–and their customers.
"This is a great initiative, along with the use of channels like Business New Zealand to get the tool in front of business owners,"Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says.

Earlier national polling and focus group research conducted by the Business Council shows 32% of New Zealanders will switch to buying products from price-competitive firms doing the right thing for the environment and society.

"Small businesses owners also told us they were too busy getting their product out the door and dealing with the tax man. If they were going to do anything about being environmentally friendly the Government and customers would have to demand it–and it would need to be simple.

"This new tool takes that advice,"Mr Neilson says."On top of customer preferences for environmentally friendly practices, which businesses using this tool can demonstrate, there's also a trend to sustainable procurement in Government and by larger businesses.

"Increasingly, that means SMEs need to compete on the whole of life cost of their products and services, including environmental impacts. Billions in contracts will be increasingly affected by this,"Mr Neilson says.
Already nearly 75% of Business Council member companies–whose annual sales equate to about 43% of gross domestic product in dollars terms–are including, or planning to include, social and environmental criteria in supplier terms and conditions. Some 58% have already deselected suppliers for ethnical or environmental reasons. Sustainable procurement is also spreading through centraláž and local government, and is delivering 8% to 50% efficiency improvements.

"The Ministry for Economic Development's launch of this new tool is just what's needed to help the vast SME sector quickly get to grips with - and profit from - better managing its environmental impact,"Mr Neilson says.
"It would help if Envirostep were now also heavily advertised and promoted so companies know about it–and consumers can tell which firms are doing their bit for the environment."

Envirostep is at
Source: Click HERE

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Air NZ Pimp Their Wakas

The Boy Racer fraternity in New Zealand must have been drooling in envy when it was announced that Air New Zealand has added aftermarket spoilers to their fleet of 767 aircraft.

Apparently the 3.4 metre high "blended winglets" integrated into the end of the wings of the aged aircraft will reduce drag, increase lift and fuel efficiency. It seems incredible that technology developed by NASA in the late 60's and widely used on other aircraft wasn't used before. But hey, we think they look fantastic and hopefully the clip ons will add some life to the old warhorses.

Look out for copycat blended winglets added to numerous Subarus and Hondas driven by pimpled teenages sometime soon!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

'One-man crime-wave' jailed

Further to our posting HERE, a fellow blogger has alerted us to a story about the consequences of the low-life that ripped off a hotel offering free accommodation during the Napier siege in the suburb of Napier Hill.

After fraudulently taking advantage of the state of emergency and generosity of others, Raniera Ropata Harris has been sentenced to three years' prison and ordered to pay $1000 reparation.

I have been told that several motels gave away accommodation after an overenthusiastic local motelier took it upon himself to appeal to fellow accommodation providers to donate rooms. In hindsight this may have been somewhat misguided as the "evacuees" were more than capable of looking after themselves and Civil Defence payments were available to meet the immediate needs of people who were required to leave their homes.

We have also been told that Harris was not the only low-life scum to use the unfolding tragedy to rip off
well intentioned accommodation providers.

The Dominion Post

A man who used Napier gunman Jan Molenaar's siege to rip off a hotel offering free accommodation for evacuees has being jailed for three years.

Raniera Ropata Harris, 19, admitted a string of charges including fraud, burglaries, trespass and carrying a knife.

Harris was near a police cordon around Molenaar's house during the first night of the May siege when he heard some residents discussing being sent to stay in hotels.

He and a friend gave a false address and registered with the Red Cross as evacuated residents. They were given a room for the night at the Tennyson Inn.

There, they met three associates.

At 2am, Harris went to the hotel reception area and bar, where he was filmed by security cameras as he stole a laptop computer, cellphone and charger, credit cards, chequebooks, keys and alcohol.

Harris has also admitted carrying a knife in public, trespassing at The Warehouse in Napier and stealing two cellphones from a Napier house.

In Napier District Court this morning, Judge Geoff Rea sentenced Harris to three years' prison and ordered him to pay $1000 reparations to his theft victims.

Judge Geoff Rea called Harris a "one-man crime wave" with no conscience and no scruples.

"You are 19 and I cannot recall anybody with a record like yours at your age," he said.

Since January 2008 Harris had been convicted 43 times.

Source: Click HERE

Love Is In The Air

Kiwis will get a chance to see how New Zealand is portrayed in the reality show "The Bachelor" when the first of two episodes air this week.

The New Zealand taxpayer has generously provided corporate welfare of $200,000 to an American production crew that filmed the dating show in New Zealand earlier this year.

At the time, Tourism NZ CEO George Hickton qualified the "investment" by reporting an increase in web traffic on and anecdotal evidence of NZ tourism operators receiving phone calls from Americans wanting to make bookings after watching the final show on TV.

Apparently, Tourism NZ "never anticipated on getting such a great return." I guess we can be thankful that TNZ are willing to take a punt with our money!

This begs some questions:

Was the payment of $200,000 to an American production company necessary?

Would the production crew have come to NZ anyway if no payment was made?

What other similar payments have been made by TNZ?

And how are the economic return on these speculative "investments" qualified?

13 July 2009
The tourism industry is getting behind a promotion to help find New Zealand's own Bachelor, as the hit reality show heats up television screens around the country this month.

Kiwis will have their first chance to see New Zealand capture the heart of bachelor Jason Mesnick when the first of two episodes filmed in New Zealand airs here on TV2 at 8.30pm on Friday 17 July.

To celebrate, Tourism New Zealand is joining forces with radio station ZM and TV2 to give Kiwis the chance to experience a little romance for themselves.

One lucky couple will have the opportunity to win the same romantic date that Jason had in Queenstown. The ZM promotion starts this Friday 10 July.

Tourism New Zealand and ZM are also calling for all Kiwi bachelors to apply now to be the show's next star.

Source: Click HERE

Monday, July 13, 2009

Top 5 Germiest World Attractions

In any guest survey the number one non-negotiable importance for guests staying in motel/hotel accommodation is always cleanliness.

In various quality assessments,
"cleaning" is quite rightly highly weighted to reflect this.

The standard in the accommodation industry is that a guest room must not have any evidence of prior occupation. This sounds like a standard that can be easily achieved, however in any accommodation business, an incredible amount of hard work and investment is necessary to achieve this.

As consumers' standard of living have increased, our immediate environment has become more rarefied and sanitised. In a world where the media plays on fears of deadly outbreaks of pestilence, we have become hyper-sensitive to any supposed presence of harmful bacteria and germs.

TripAdvisor are well aware of these fears and have recently compiled a "Top 5 Germiest World Attractions."

(Overthinking such matters can also be bad for your health).

1. Blarney Stone, Blarney, Ireland
400,000 mouths a year

2. Wall of Gum, Seattle, Washington.
A bizarre tradition

3. Oscar Wilde's Tomb, Paris, France
Covered in lipstick

4. St. Mark's Square, Venice, Italy
Pigeons, pigeons, pigeons

5. Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, California.
Millions touch the handprints

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Time Management

In running a motel, time management is of vital importance.

The weekends are not as busy as the weekdays for us and are an excellent time to catch up on all those loose ends. This week has been particularly busy and this cold and wet weekend was the perfect opportunity to concentrate on all those jobs that have been put off.... or not.

Time management has never been one of my strong points, so instead I have spent time with my family gorging on a diet of chips, jet planes, popcorn, watching a few DVDs and fully absorbing the weekend papers with little interruption.

I can recommend watching the movie Slumdog Millionaire that has a good storyline with an amazing visual backdrop and believable characters. And for something that appeals to my taste for low brow irrelevant schoolboy humor, Role Models did the job nicely.

Stand out article in the weekend papers was an interesting insight into what motivates the man behind the popular blog, WhaleOil.

How sad is that! A self-absorbed man that has created an alter ego and writes a blog with mind-numbing ramblings for anyone pathetic enough to read them ;-)

Err... anyway, read the article HERE.

Announcing the world’s first flying hotel!

At Motella, we believe that the romance of travel is not just about arriving at the destination but includes the journey AND the accommodation itself.

The folk at "The Hotelicopter" have taken this on board and are elevating the accommodation experience to new heights:

Be sure to check out this link HERE for more information ;-)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Kiwis 'stingy' tourists

On-line travel resellers have a wealth of data available to them from a large worldwide pool of suppliers and users of online accommodation. So why not use this resource to generate another survey and brand enhancing press release.

We enjoyed the
Best Tourist Survey conducted by that compared the traits of different nationalities when they travel. From our experience, the results seem about right.

As over 70% of guests that use motel accommodation are Kiwis, it came as no surprise to moteliers that their fellow nationals can find it somewhat difficult to "appreciate value."


1. Japanese
2. Britons
3. Canadians
4. Germans
5. Swiss

1. French
2. Spaniards
3. Greeks
4. Turks
5. South Africans

The Japanese

The French

The Japanese

The French

The Japanese

The French

Kiwis 'stingy' tourists

Kiwi tourists may be polite and aren't moaners, but they do tend to keep their money in their pockets, according to an international tourism survey.

In its second annual global Best Tourist Survey, released today, the online travel company Expedia says New Zealanders make the sixth stingiest tourists out of 27 nationalities surveyed.

We ranked fourteenth equal with Austria in the best overall tourists category, which was topped by Japan. Brits came in second with Canadians third, Germans fourth, Swiss fifth and Australians and Dutch sixth equal. The French were rated the world's worst tourists, followed by the Spanish, Greeks, Turks and South Africans.

About 4,500 hoteliers around the world provided their view for Expedia's poll last month. Hoteliers were asked for their opinions on the best travellers overall, as well as on specific categories including behaviour, spending habits, fashion sense and willingness to try to speak the local language.

Kiwi tourists came in tenth for politeness and ninth in being sparing in their complaints. Kiwis were considered to be more courteous with noise levels than their trans-Tasman counterparts, but were seen as being significantly less generous tippers and much less likely to attempt the local language. Kiwis came in nineteenth in the generous tippers category and fourteenth in terms of being prepared to attempt the local language.

"It's encouraging to see that New Zealanders are regarded as good-natured and polite among hoteliers around the world," said Louise Crompton of Expedia New Zealand.

"That said, being more conscious of tipping etiquette and learning some words from the local language could see New Zealand even higher next year."

Crompton also suggested Kiwis abroad ought to be environmentally conscious, such as by not taking long showers, and travel with the latest gadgets such as digital translators or navigational devices.

Apart from being the world's best tourists overall, Japanese were also rated the quietest, the most polite, cleanest and least likely to complain. The French, meanwhile, were seen as the most frugal and meanest tippers, as well as being the rudest. Just ahead of the French were the Spanish, who were amongst the three loudest nations along with Americans and Italians.
Americans redeemed themselves by being the most generous tippers, along with the British. Americans came in eighth equal overall with Swedes.

Source: Click HERE

Friday, July 10, 2009

Guest night stats "not too bad"

Statistics New Zealand have released the Accommodation Survey for May 2009.

Overall guest nights for May 2009 were down 1 percent, a 13,000 drop in total guest nights.

Under the circumstances, overall results seem to be "not too bad."

The main theme of May's stats appears to be the disparity between the North and South Islands. Guest nights for May 2009 were down 2 percent in the North Island and up 2 percent in the South Island compared to the same month in 2008.

Another theme that is reflected in these statistics is the rise of budget accommodation. Backpackers/hostels have continued to enjoy increases since November 2008.

8 of the 12 regions recorded more guest nights in May 2009 than in May 2008, with the following regions showing the largest increases:

• West Coast, up 7,000 (10 percent)
• Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui, up 4,000 (4 percent)
• Wellington, up 4,000 (2 percent).

The region that had the biggest impact on overall guest nights was Auckland with the biggest decrease, down 34,000 (8 percent).

In May 2009, three of the five accommodation types had fewer guest nights than in May 2008:

• Hotels, down 18,000 (2 percent)
• Motels, down 8,000 (1 percent)
• Hosted, down 3,000 (11 percent).

Caravan parks/camping grounds had the largest increase, up 13,000 (5 percent), followed by backpackers/hostels, up 3,000 (1 percent).

In May 2009, hotels had the largest share of total guest nights (36 percent), followed by motels (33 percent) and backpackers/hostels (16 percent).

Source: Click HERE

Why are Tainui spending $80 million on a hotel development?

On the heels of last weeks report that Hotel du Vin has gone into receivership (with more hotels predicted to follow), it has been reported that Tainui is planning to develop a luxury $80 million hotel in Auckland in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

At Motella we have been scratching our heads and wondering about the sanity of investing in the hotel business at this time? Do Tainui know something that we don't or have some inside knowledge?

...Err, probably not! With a little bit of investigation, we found the imortal words of Sir Bob Jones written several years ago that appears to explain what is happening here:
"Talk to hotel owners and you will find they live on eternal optimism. Always they'll explain about next year, how the new marketing plan, the new chain alliance, the new wing, the refurbishing plan will make them come right. But with hotels next year never comes. In an unfettered competitive environment, hotels like airlines are programmed to lose money and over any sensible period of assessment, say ten years, they all do."

Hmmm... so Hotels are not a good investment at the best of times?

Is the Rugby World Cup an example of missplaced optimism?

And, why would Tainui invest in a hotel development now?

"The players become captivated by what they are doing. When assessed over any period of time they never make any money but the owners don't care that much. They become satisfied with mere survival so long as they can carry on. And of course, once involved, they're locked into their financial predicament compensated only by their addiction.

Some major players - the big names, Sheraton and the like - are in fact awake to the realities. Consequently they no longer own hotels. Basically they're a franchise operation, renting their name, offering a pooled marketing service and clipping the actual hotel owners ticket for a piece of their turnover, only they are not hoteliers as everyone assumes but hotel provisioners. They all started out as hotel owners but eventually they woke up. Generally the actual hotel owners wouldn't swap place with them as they love owning their hotels so much. Owning a hotel is a highly addictive pursuit and for some affluent individuals an ego gratifying hobby.
Hotel owners envisage themselves in a sparkling chandaliered hotel lobby; greeting celebrities, politicians and the like when they arrive. The cruel reality is that the owners spend most of their time in backyard financial crisis meetings."
C'mon Sir Bob, surely you can't be suggesting that Tainui will be investing $80 million simply because they are addicted to the sparkle, glamor and ego enhancement of hotel ownership?

Brilliant Recession Busting Idea

At Motella were scour the internet for recession busting ideas to assist our fellow accommodation industry players.

If you want to increase your occupancy by a whopping 250%, then why not consider turning your accommodation business into a "Love Hotel"?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Problem solved?

From feedback sent directly to us, we have been aware for some time that people have been having difficulties posting comments on our blog.

Hopefully we have now solved this problem and encourage our faithful readers to change their voyeuristic tendencies by sharing their worthy observations in our commnents section.

Simply click on the "comments" link below each post and an individual window will open. Type in your insightful comments, choose a profile (anonymous if you wish) and then click on the "publish" button.

Go on - stir it up. We look forward to hearing from you!

Target Aimed At Hamilton Motels

The hidden camera segment on TV3's entertainment/consumer program, Target managed to feature one of their perennial favorite subjects - motels.

View the show: HERE

Over the last two years, Target have featured 16 motel properties and follow a similar routine of recording the check-in process with a hidden camera, testing bacteria levels in kitchen/bathroom areas and shining the dreaded UV light on bedding and in the toilet area.

Motels were visited that could accommodate 2 adults and 2 children in Hamilton. Tariff ranged from $110.00 to $185.00.

We would imagine that it would be relatively easy for the show's producers to select certain motel properties that would give the shock horror results necessary to entertain the average voyeuristic viewer. There is a concern that findings at the negative end of the scale will be seen to be commonplace, instill unnecessary consumer anxiety and reflect badly on the motel industry.

This ambush, reality TV style can be most concerning to moteliers. We note that some of the unsavory findings have been reported HERE, however any protest would get little public sympathy and would be counterproductive.
Although we could question some of Target's methods, there is simply no defense for finding less than high cleaning standards in the motels that are featured.

Our congratulations to Aspen Manor Motel that scored extremely highly on the show. I have stayed there myself and it is a great property with excellent operators. Interestingly they were the highest tariff for 4 people at $185.00 - very reasonable we would have thought.

Hopefully the biggest lesson that could be gleemed by viewers is that: "you get what you pay for."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Holiday Fever Continues

Ashley Johnston is not a happy chap.

He had the misfortune of purchasing a
AUD $99 Holiday Fever membership after receiving an unsolicited phone call from a telemarketer. This was under the assumption that this would give him and his wife numerous nights accommodation and meals at a wide range of hotels and motels.

After receiving the membership pack from Holiday Fever, he found that the vouchers enclosed were virtually worthless.

After investigating Holiday Fever on the web, he found other disgruntled clients and our post: "Accommodation Voucher Scams"

From our point of view we have a particular dislike for any ambiguous scheme that reflects badly on the accommodation industry.

We have done several posts on our blog about Holiday Fever (and others) and these posts generate a lot of web traffic. We can tell when there has been another flurry of activity by their telephone marketers, as our web traffic rapidly increases from their potential customers doing research via the web. We like to think that we have assisted a few potential clients of Holiday Fever avoid being scammed, however it is frustrating that nothing further can apparently be done (?) as this offshore based company continues to operate unobstructed in New Zealand.

Ashley Johnston, a South Island farmer is usually a reserved, mild mannered "good keen man." He believes that all relationships should be based on trust and he has an ardent sense of natural justice. Mr Johnston has picked a fight with holiday Fever and wishes to get in contact with other clients of Holiday Fever to see if he can generate some course of action.

We say, good on him!

For those that have had dealings with Holiday Fever we urge you to contact Ashley Johnston by email: or give him a call on 03 3027197.

And let us know how you get on...

AA Supreme Host of the Year

The Academy Awards of motelling is held annually at the Motel Association of NZ (MANZ) Conference.

The AA Supreme Host of the Year is a coveted award that recognises hosts that exceed in customer service. This year the winner will be announced at the MANZ conference in Blenheim held over the last weekend this month.

What I like about these awards is that there is recognition of the motel industry's biggest point of difference - The hosts. The award underlines that motels are part of the "hospitality industry" and the way they provide customer service and host their guests sets them apart from the scrum of other accommodation providers.

Moteliers are traditionally a reserved lot, so this award is an opportunity for them to gather, celebrate and pay homage to those that a doing that little bit extra providing excellent quality customer service.

The 2009 award finalists are:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What Is The Future of Accommodation Ratings?

How credible are the reviews for motels and hotels and what is the future of accommodation ratings?

The Internet has allowed opinionated critics to rate accommodation options by offering the benefit of their wisdom and insight. Global travel sites such as: TripAdvisor, TravelPost and IgoUgo that are complimented by popular social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter aggregate popular opinion. Everybody can now be a critic and the general public are more than forthcoming to offer their opinions.

In New Zealand, and are two examples of sites that collect direct customer feedback that can be considered by prospective guests before making an accommodation booking.

Guest online reviews are written by legions of "anonymous" people. Should we be concerned that they have no formal training and some reviewers could possibly be holding unusual bents or grudges? And what about possible influence by the operators themselves?

Qualmark New Zealand is New Zealand tourism's official quality agency and grade tourism product including accommodation of providers that choose to pay their license fee. Trained assessors are contracted to roam the country with clipboards, evaluating accommodation in 3-4 hour stints using an exhaustive list of criteria. The star gradings are a credible comparison between other accommodation options that have also been assessed by Qualmark.

There has been questions raised about the the cost to the New Zealand taxpayer and the limited amount of properties that are willing to subscribe to Qualmark. Are Qualmark focused on what consumers really want? Is their further risk of political influence, especially after the recent forced introduction of their environmental criteria?

Some larger hotel chains have used internal rating systems for many years. Probably the best example of self rating in its rawest form can be seen on where accommodation providers have the option to self-rate their quality level alongside those that use Qualmark ratings. On the face of it this would appear to open up an opportunity for abuse. After all, operators are ranked on the site according to their ratings.

In practice however this works remarkably well, with most operators inherently aware that they will face the wrath of the consumer if they overstate their quality level. There are some exceptions and generally if operators get it wrong, wotif can either pull the listing or encourage re-assessment of the published grading based on customer initiated feedback (ie complaints!).

The accommodation rating business appears to be well covered, however there has been the recent launch of a new company that has a goal of "becoming the premier source for independent, professionally produced and in-depth hotel reviews." Oyster Hotel Reviews, is the new kid on the block and has a new way of rating and reviewing accommodation.

Oyster Hotel Reviews plans to establish create a large database of independent reviews compiled by trained journalists employed as full-time employees, not independent contractors. Each review will be about 2,000 words, accompanied by candid photographs. OK, the site has yet to fully cover the globe, however the journalistic review model is interesting and different.

So what is the preferred model that will endure by delivering the consumer the most easily assessable, widely used and credible way of quality assessing accommodation choice?
  • Is it the TripAdvisor model that allows the actual users of accommodation to rate their experiences?
  • Is it the accommodation operator self-rating model?
  • Is it a government subsidised central planning model using contractors?
  • it the new Oyster Hotel Review model that employs travel journalists?
For us it is a no brainer. A quality rating system that has low overheads and aggregates direct consumer feedback in real-time will endure. After all, isn't the consumer always right? The question is, who can successfully harness this model to introduce a widely used and credible accommodation quality rating system?

Will TripAdvisor further grow to dominate this space or will there be other players that will take up the opportunity?

We have had a tip off from industry insiders that there will be further moves by at least two major accommodation reselling businesses commonly used by New Zealand operators that will indroduce customer reviews to their offerings - the rating war looks like it may get crowded - watch this space!

Click the "Get Widget" link below to place this widget on your website or blog!