Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blogger takes on Airline

Fly Me!

More and more travel businesses are using social networks to communicate with their clients.

Different communication mediums require a different tone and delivery. There are subtle differences in the etiquette of snail mail vs website vs blog vs Txt vs Twitter etc.

The casualness and familiarity of social networks can be a trap for businesses that can sometimes cross the line and expose inappropriate human frailties.


I have enjoyed reading about a recent exchange between an Irish freelance web designer/developer, Jason Roe and low cost airline, Ryanair.

Ryanair is well known for innovative, quirky marketing and have embraced all aspects of digital media. The company keeps close tabs on any commentary about itself and doesn't hesitate to engage with their detractors.

Roe wrote a blog post about how he'd supposedly discovered a usability error in the ryanair.com booking process and some people at Ryanair HQ decided to respond to Roe's post on his blog's comments section.

The comments are not what one would expect of a large company that has decided to engage with social media, to say the least.

This is just one of many from a succession of comments from Ryanair staff:
Ryanair Staff #1 Says:
February 19th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

jason!

you’re an idiot and a liar!! fact is!
you’ve opened one session then another and requested a page meant for a different session, you are so stupid you dont even know how you did it! you dont get a free flight, there is no dynamic data to render which is prob why you got 0.00. what self respecting developer uses a crappy CMS such as word press anyway AND puts they’re mobile ph number online, i suppose even a prank call is better than nothing on a lonely sat evening!!
Go Ryanair! Maybe this was added after a heady staff drinks session.

Read the full exchange HERE. It's worth a reading all the comments ...

Amusing signs - Part One

Motels and other accommodation business provide a wealth of amusing signage.

In a Two-part post we have shared some of our favorites.

Please feel free to forward any others to us that you come across:

This motel understands one of the first rules in advertising is "say what you are"

Yep! Difficult to argue with this logic!

Having problems with pilfering - Turn a negative into a positive!

An unfortunate acronym for a B & B

The last place a guest looks before they check-out is under the bed - We like this!

Thank goodness for this notice, otherwise I would have started a load of washing!

We wouldn't mind a bit of this - Hotel Ass!

Unfortunate product placement!

Amusing signs - Part Two

No one likes a show off!

For goodness sake don't order the eggs for breakfast!

You've just emptied the contents of the mini bar, your'e bored, alone, looking for something to do and you read this sign on the back of the hotel door.
An Amsterdam hotel takes an alternative marketing route.

Dam! I had just taken my shoes off when I saw this sign!

Hmmm...good to see that there is an accommodation operation taking a high moral ground

Dirtiest Hotels - United States


The voyeur in me enjoys the "dark side" of the accommodation industry. 
 
Trip Advisor is the most popular website for guest reviews and accommodation providers would be unwise to ignore negative feedback posted on this site.

Based on customer reviews the following properties have been judged to be to the dirtiest hotels.
 
Click on the following links and prepare to be utterly disgusted and appalled!

Source: Click HERE

Voila!

We are proud to have "Voila" join us as a supporter of our blog.

This small and innovative company have a genuine flair and passion for all things motel - and provide a dam good wireless internet solution!

If you are a "Motella" contact them today to find out why you should use them to install a robust and user friendly wireless internet connection for your guests.

If you are an accommodation user, click on the graphic below to check-out the network of motels throughout New Zealand that offer this fantastic cost effective internet service.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Qualmark Travel Guide Launched

We see that Qualmark NZ have partnered with their minority shareholder, the AA to produce another paper based travel guide to add to the scrum of existing publications.

Frank Murphy, is a grizzly old tourism operator that has sat on numerous tourism boards and committees. He is famous for his one-liners and he once told me that "a tourism entity that is devoid of ideas will always print a brochure." Qualmark's travel guide may not be quite a brochure, however I couldn't help think of Frank's comment when I read the article below.

Qualmark have been often criticised by the tourism industry that they were not visible enough to the traveling public, so I guess this publication will go some way in alleviating these concerns.

Overall, Qualmark raising the profile of their brand and license holders has to be a good thing.

www.asiatraveltips.com
26 February 2009

The inaugural Qualmark 2009 New Zealand Travel Guide is soon to be distributed throughout the country. The guide makes it easier for travellers to identify quality assured accommodation options according to the star grading they are looking for, and to choose quality visitor activity, transport and service experiences.

"As the guidebook only includes Qualmark assured tourism businesses, this is a ‘first’ for New Zealand visitor information resources. It means that visitors on the look out for a free guide book with a wide range of quality assured places to stay, things to do and ways to get there need look no further," said Qualmark Chief Executive Geoff Penrose.

Qualmark is New Zealand’s official mark of quality in tourism. With a print run of 15,000, and at over 900 pages, the guidebook features a useful page marker with the star grading explanation for accommodation properties, regional information, city and town directories, maps and the AA’s popular 101 Must-Do’s and Must-Do Weekends.

Peter Blackwell, General Manager - AA Tourism, said that the publication of Qualmark only rated businesses is complementary to the existing range of AA travel guide and map publications.

"As a joint owner of Qualmark, the AA’s support for the guide reflects our commitment to industry-wide quality service standards, an integral component of delivering a truly satisfying and memorable experience. AA is pleased that our publishing expertise could be used to enhance Qualmark’s offering to licensees," he said.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton said the size of the guide demonstrated the sheer number of New Zealand tourism businesses providing quality assured experiences.

"We know our international visitors are more satisfied with their experiences when they use Qualmark-rated businesses and this guide will ensure New Zealand remains highly competitive on the international stage as a high quality destination. This travel guide will prove to be a useful tool for both international and domestic travellers," Mr Hickton said.

In addition to being provided to the i-SITE Visitor Information Network, Tourism New Zealand has an international distribution plan under way for the guides.

Planning for the guide’s second edition is underway, and this will include the new Qualmark Green enviro-logos alongside star grading and endorsement logos. "This means that travellers will also be able to easily identify top-performing environmentally conscious tourism experiences, from backpackers, to luxury lodges, and a range of visitor activities and transport providers that are proactively and effectively managing their impacts on their environment," Mr Penrose said. "There are currently over 70 tourism businesses that have achieved Qualmark Enviro-Bronze, Enviro-Silver or Enviro-Gold recognition."

Source: Click HERE

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Green Energy Fantasy


As a fledgling member of the VRWC (Vast Right Wing Conspiracy), I enjoy beating up socialist non-producers; in particular those that regulate and influence the motel and tourism industry. I also enjoy ridiculing dictatorial environmentalists that use compulsion to force their green religion on to others.

To its credit, the National lead government has curbed the creep of environmentalism by overturning a ban on incandescent lightbulbs, repealed compulsory obligation for oil companies to sell biofuels, scrapped a ban on new coal / gas-fired power stations and is reviewing the flawed Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

It's a good start!


It will be interesting to follow what influence the government will have in curbing the wave of "Pollyanna Environmentalism" entrenched within the tourism industry. Already we note a subtle change of direction from environmental apologists within the tourism industry that are now promoting assumed economic benefits derived from mandated environmental measures.


The following article appeals to me and has many synergies of what is happening in New Zealand:

The Green Energy Fantasy
Green energy policies would hobble the economy.

By Keith Lockitch
February 25, 2009


Will a green energy industry be an engine of economic growth? Many want us to think so, including our new President. Apparently a booming green economy with millions of new jobs is just around the corner. All we need is the right mix of government “incentives.”

These include a huge (de facto) tax on carbon emissions imposed through a cap-and-trade regulatory scheme, as well as huge government subsidies for “renewable,” carbon-free sources. The hope is that these government sticks and carrots will turn today’s pitiful “green energy” industry, which produces an insignificant fraction of American energy, into a source of abundant, affordable energy that can replace today’s fossil-fuel-dominated industry.

This view is a fantasy--one that could devastate America’s economy. The reality is that “green energy” is at best a sophisticated make-work program.

There is a reason why less than 2 percent of the world’s energy currently comes from “renewable” sources such as wind and solar--the very sources that are supposedly going to power the new green economy: despite billions of dollars in government subsidies, funding decades of research, they have not proven themselves to be practical sources of energy. Indeed, without government mandates forcing their adoption in most Western countries, their high cost would make them even less prevalent.

Consider that it takes about 1,000 wind turbines, occupying tens of thousands of acres, to produce as much electricity as just one medium-sized, coal-fired power plant. And that’s if the wind is blowing: the intermittency of wind wreaks havoc on electricity grids, which need a stable flow of power, thus requiring expensive, redundant backup capacity or an unbuilt, unproven “smart grid.”

Or consider the “promise” of solar. Two projects in development will cover 12.5 square miles of central California with solar cells in the hope of generating about 800 megawatts of power (as much as one large coal-fired plant). But that power output will only be achieved when the sun is shining brightly--around noon on sunny days; the actual output will be less than a third that amount. And the electricity will cost more than market price, even with the life-support of federal subsidies that keeps the solar industry going. The major factor driving the project is not the promise of abundant power but California’s state quota requiring 20 percent “renewable” electricity by 2010.

More than 81 percent of world energy comes from fossil fuels, and half of America’s electricity is generated by burning coal. Carbon sources are literally keeping us alive. There is no evidence that they have--or will soon have--a viable replacement in transportation fuel, and there is only one in electricity generation, nuclear, which “green energy” advocates also oppose.

We all saw the ripple effects last summer when gas prices shot above $4 per gallon, and higher transportation costs drove up prices of everything from plane fares to vegetables. If green policies cause a permanent, and likely far greater, hike in the cost of all forms of energy, what shockwaves would that send through our already badly damaged economy?

We don’t want to find out.

Regardless of one’s views on global warming--and there is ample scientific evidence to reject the claim that manmade carbon emissions are causing catastrophe--the fact is that kneecapping the fossil fuel industry while diverting tax dollars into expensive, impractical forms of energy will not be an economic boon, but an economic disaster.

We in developed countries take industrial-scale energy for granted and often fail to appreciate its crucial value to our lives--including its indispensable role in enabling us to deal with drought, storms, temperature extremes, and other climate challenges we are told to fear by global-warming alarmists.

If we want to restore economic growth and reduce our vulnerability to the elements, what we need is not “green energy” forced upon us by government coercion but real energy delivered on a free market.

Keith Lockitch, PhD in physics, is a fellow at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, focusing on science and environmentalism. The Ayn Rand Center is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute and promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”


Source: Click HERE

One Million Hotel Rooms On Sale – Going Fast!

One Million Hotel Rooms On Sale – Going Fast! This is the headline grabbing campaign from Accor Hotels and Resorts that are selling room nights in New Zealand for just $79 between 1 April – 31 July 2009.

I respect this hotel company's right to market their product as they see fit and we wish them well with it. This campaign may broaden their market considerably and encourage a few more guests to stay with them that wouldn't have otherwise traveled. It may encourage a few guests to swap loyalties from other accommodation choices, however it may also save their existing client base a considerable sum that would have stayed anyway.

I guess Accor's housekeeping staff will be happy with sustained hours of work and the maintenance staff will also be kept busy after the rigors of "price conscious" travellers that were ensuring that they were getting the full value of a $79 experience.

What will happen at the end of the campaign when the same guest wishes to re-book. What appreciation and value will the public have of paying Accor's "usual tariff" after the campaign period. What expectation of value will the traveling public have of other accommodation options after being exposed to this marketing gimmick?

A kneejerk reaction of some players in accommodation industry that are devoid of innovation is to discount below sustainable levels or to simply market on price.

Motel specialist broker extraordinaire, Kathy Shepherd comments on Occupancy vs Tariff in the current market and it is well worth a read:

Click HERE

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Seedy Motels


I find the differences in the evolution of the motel product between America and New Zealand fascinating. Motels in the two countries have gone down very different pathways.

In America it is not uncommon for motels to be perceived as establishments of ill repute, teaming with crack cocaine and prostitution. The image of a classic American motel will often provide a suitable backdrop for tacky B-grade movies.

Thankfully the majority of travelers in New Zealand will quickly appreciate that the Kiwi motel offers quality, convenience and value for money.

The following tale from an ex-motel housekeeper helps keep the legend of American motel tackiness alive!

February 21 2009

By Bryan Rice

I once held down a housekeeping gig at a motel. We worked in pairs. One person turned the linens and vacuumed; the other person scrubbed the bathroom and emptied the waste baskets. The morning I started, my housekeeping partner told me, “Don’t ever remove your gloves.” She described herself as a veteran housekeeper; she’d seen things laying around that would turn my

Ah, I shooed her off. I figured I could handle dust and dirt. I could handle empty beer bottles and banana peels. I could handle the sight and stench of half-eaten Big Macs.

Less than a week later, I thought differently. I was convinced that our supervisor should be bound by federal law to give us more than latex gloves to protect ourselves. We needed gas masks and rubber suits.

It’s true that most of the rooms were in decent shape, the bathrooms spotless and the sheets so crisp you’d never guess that a person had slept between them. In fact, if the comforter was relatively clean, as was often the case, we tossed it aside until we were finished changing the sheets-then we threw it back over the bed, merely brushing off a few visible strands of hair.

“It would take us hours and hours to wash and dry every comforter, every day,” my partner explained.
Such was the type of room we hoped for.

But there were other kinds of rooms, the ones my partner warned me about. Walking into these rooms was like walking onto a battlefield where the primary instrument of warfare was an erect penis. DNA was everywhere-you could smell it. Bleach and grease and cheap body spray clogged your nostrils. Used condoms, occasionally streaked with blood or excrement, littered the carpet, looking like dead jellyfish.

If I was in charge of making the bed, I’d have to peel away bed sheets and pillowcases still moist with semen. If I was in charge of cleaning the bathroom, I’d find rogue pubic hairs in the tub, along the seat of the toilet, and even-I kid you not-stuck to the surface of the mirror. In the wastebasket I’d see condom wrappers and empty vials of lube. One time, I found a porn stash geared towards every conceivable fetish stuffed in a drawer-almost as though it been left in lieu of an actual tip.

To this day, whenever I pass a motel, the cellar door of my imagination swings open. At this very moment, I think, seediness is happening. Seediness is happening between two strangers, between a man and a woman, between two men, between two women, between a prostitute and a john, between a businessman and a cocktail waitress, between a businesswoman and a masseuse, between a young man and an older leather daddy, between a young woman and her professor, between two people so high on meth they’re f**king each other senseless.

Indeed, the possibilities are endless, but the relics of such raptures generally end up in the same place: on the floor, in the trash, on the sheets, in the toilet.

My point? When seediness happens at a motel, tidy up. And tip.

Source: Click HERE

Couple finds hotel room with a view

Alfred Hitchcock has a lot to answer for!

Ooops! An example of a simple mistake(?) that has turned into a marketing nightmare for a Hollywood hotel.


24 February 2009
Posted by Barbara HijekSouth
Florida Sun Sentinel

Hey, who's looking at me?

And through a peephole!

That's what Amy Cali wondered as she pondered a peephole -- in her hotel room door.

She and her husband Aaron, from Colorado, had ended their Caribbean cruise on Valentine's night at a Quality Inn in Hollywood, Fla.

The next morning, Amy got a disturbing surprise, reports Fox 31.

I noticed a light coming from the hotel door about 3 feet up. I realized it was a peephole. I tried looking out of it and didn't see anything," says Amy.

So, she went outside and looked in.

"You could see the entire hotel room, the bed, bathroom. You could see the entire room. Everything," she says.

It was one of two peepholes on the door. One is handicapped accessible.

The hotel's management says it reviewed 24 hours of surveillance video from the Cali's stay at the hotel.
They say the video showed no one looking in their door.

But we're betting that everyone will start doing peephole checks when they check-in.

Source: Click HERE

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What is Twitter?

The latest and fastest moving medium on the social media front is "Twitter."

Is this a valid business tool or is it the latest plaything for Generation Y?

We asked Gareth Pearce, innovative Managing Director of Kiwi owned, Ezibed.com to explain to us what this phenomenon is all about:

Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows users to post bite-size messages (called tweets) of no more than 140 characters. These can be smart, useful or maybe even necessary.

Why does Twitter matter?

Ezibed.com views Twitter as an ‘in vogue’ method of communicating the very best deals daily, or company communications to a loyal following. We can pitch our offers and services and respond directly to the needs of customers.

The ongoing potential is that our accommodation providers can follow us and post their very best deals directly to our followers. This in turn creates fast, effective brand awareness and the opportunity to sell rooms very quickly - true last minute!

Of course you need to build followers first. After starting only this week Ezibed.com already has a small following however the potential can be enormous if the target & content is right. Not only is there the potential to communicate great one off offers to users but also the ability to gauge feedback on properties and to create a community that discusses issues surrounding accommodation.

Why deal with an issue after it has happened. Why not deal with the issue while it is happening? Users can receive RSS feeds of ‘Tweets’ which allows them to monitor online feedback and respond within moments.

Will Twitter take off?

Only time will tell. Blogging, Facebook & MySpace were all initial fads but these sites have proven their commercial worth, especially to companies who have embraced the social media model. Potential customers actively use these websites - it’s how companies can market to these potential customers without coming across too strongly is the key.

Companies will see positive ROI when they interact with their customers and don’t just pitch to them. This is important when engaging in social media.

Mother-in-law coming to visit?

The tragedy of owning a motel means that it is difficult to sell the notion that the in-laws should stay in alternative accommodation when they visit.

However, we like the marketing idea of treating friends and family by putting them up in commercial accommodation.

Tourism promotion 101 is to encourage local communities to invite friends and family to stay with them. Often this foundation of tourism promotion is overlooked by tourism bodies that would prefer to chase the glamor of overseas marketing.

It's good to see that Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Christine Prince values domestic tourism, however we believe that motels should also be promoted alongside hotels as accommodation for the "visiting friends and family" market

Of interest to the accommodation industry is the high proportion of guest nights that are spent in private households. This should be pointed out to lazy local councils that simply target commercial accommodation operators to recover assumed use of public goods by tourists.

24 February 2009
Press Release: Tourism New Zealand


Mother-in-law coming to visit? Treat her to a night in a hotel

If you’re groaning at the thought of the in-laws next visit you could show your support for Christchurch & Canterbury's tourism industry by organising them alternative accommodation for a night or two.

It could win you brownies points with your mother-in-law and it would be good for the local economy.

Tourism New Zealand’s latest national Regional Visitor Monitor (RVM) provides an interesting insight into the Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) market and its importance to the tourism industry.

Around 22% (compared with a national benchmark of 18%) of visitors to Christchurch & Canterbury say the main reason for visiting is to catch up with friends and family. While around 67% of those visitors will stay in private homes, around a third pay for commercial accommodation.

They tend to stay for longer, on average, than visitors travelling on holiday. They are also more likely to take part in some activities/attractions than their holiday counterparts (including visiting natural attractions, attending concerts/events/shows, and participating in wine/food experiences such as wine trails, cooking classes and farmers’ markets).

"Visiting friends and family are a very important market for us," says Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Christine Prince. "There is a common misperception that this market isn't that important because they don’t tend to spend as much as other visitors to the region but this report dispels that myth.

"Our residents are our best ambassadors. We need to encourage them to get their friends and family to come here for a visit and to take them out to as many of our attractions as possible. That's partly why we launched the Come Out and Play promotion last year; we wanted to remind the people who live and work here just how much their region has to offer, not only to them, but also to their friends and family," Ms Prince says.

With the decision to visit friends and family often less affected by changing economic conditions than other types of holidays, it could be an important market for the region over the coming months.

"It’s lovely that people can open their homes to family but it’s also nice to treat them to a night or two at a hotel. It adds to the holiday experience," Ms Prince says.

"We really want to see people really encouraging their friends and family here and doing their bit to promote the region as a holiday destination. Christchurch’s I-SITE visitor centre is geared for assisting and advising not only visitors, but also locals who want to be good hosts and impress their friends and family," Ms Prince says.

Source: Click HERE

Monday, February 23, 2009

Debbie Mayo-Smith: Free internet tools to build your business

Debbie Mayo-Smith has previously intrigued moteliers at MANZ conferences with her off-topic revelation that she balances nine children and a busy career.

Some of her internet savvy marketing advice has also struck a cord within the motel industry.

www.nzherald.co.nz
Monday Feb 23, 2009


Feeling challenged finding new business and opportunities in this economic climate? I've got two ideas you might like.

First, try googlealert.com. It monitors the internet for your searches and sends you a daily (or weekly) email update. Put this free service to work for you. Here are several other ideas to get you started.

NEW BUSINESS

Do you respond to requests for proposals? Do you look for business activity that you can fit into? Have Google Alert send the search to you, then decide if you want to investigate.
I use it to look for speaking opportunities. One of my alerts is to search for the words "conference 2009" in a website ending in ".com.au" where the word "scientific" does not appear.

HELP YOUR CLIENTS

In this economy, great customer service will shine brightly. Let Google Alert help you to help your clients. If you know their interests, their industry problems and what their roles and responsibilities are, you can sift through the alerts for relevant material and then email the information to them.

One of my clients, Leisa Donlan, who is chief executive of the Rotational Moulders Association of Australasia, has been doing this for years.

"Our customers [members] operate in a constantly changing market. Information is vital. We use Google alerts for daily updates on new articles on the internet relevant to our customers' interests," she says.
"That's great on its own, but often not all is pertinent.

"We personally sort out the stories that are specifically relevant to our member's interest (eg, water tanks) and then send a weekly 'Media Update' tailored to suit them, which includes just a few sentences on the story and the hyperlink to the rest. If they want to continue reading, it's just a click. Our members love it."

CHECK YOUR COMPETITION

Why not use Google alerts to keep an eye on what your competition is doing? Set an alert with an individual's name, the company name or a product as the search term. You might want to hone it to exclude their website to ascertain what is happening outside their company.

The second suggestion is to consider setting up a profile and connecting with others on social networking sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook. LinkedIn is skewed towards business, jobs, opportunities and networking. Facebook has a different complexion; it's more aligned with building relationships.

Don't entirely dismiss Facebook for business though.

Christina Force, managing director of photographer marketing agent The Collective Force, recommends knowing exactly what you want to use networking sites for before you begin.

"I buckled under pressure and signed up for a Facebook page early this year. All my clients in Asia are on it and I've managed to track down and rebuild relationships with clients who have become highly successful decision-makers in countries with much bigger accounts such as the US and Europe. It's been brilliant.

"I purposely refuse access to any family members and friends unless they're in the right industry or have the right attitude to be exposed to all my clients. I have of course explained to my family that it is a work tool only. I hide my list of "friends" (which on Facebook is exposed to all and sundry unless you block it) until they have been accepted as a friend on my page. This keeps my client list away from competitors' prying eyes. I refuse access to any photographers other than those I represent for the same reason - even if they're really good friends.

"I use the picture gallery to display my photographers' work, such as exhibitions and specific series of work not on our website. I also have a link to the website.

"When I travel overseas to meet clients I put general travel announcements on Facebook so my clients know I'm in town. Many of my clients freelance so they respond very positively to these postings as otherwise I wouldn't have been able to reach them.

"Facebook is set as my home page so I can easily update it daily. When on holiday, I post notes of where I am - even though not working, my clients are still exposed to my news.

"Every day I'm amazed at the number of clients and old clients who ask to be on my page. This is also because they want to know what other creatives in their industry are doing - potential networking for them too!"

I am sure you'll agree that when you consider that both of these tools are free, you shouldn't go past using them to your advantage.

Google Alert brings you opportunities from outside your sphere of influence and social networking sites work from within.

Debbie Mayo-Smith is a best-selling author and international speaker. www.debbiespeaks.co.nz

Source: Click HERE

New Motel Group in Australia and NZ



The Budget Motel Chain has expanded to incorporate three tiers of accommodation as well as taking on a new name, being the Arra Accommodation Group.

Budget – which is aimed at economy-conscious travellers and offers good, clean comfortable accommodation at below average rates – has been operating since 1978 and covers all Australian states and territories and both islands of New Zealand.

While it remains intact and has grown to incorporate more than 300 properties, the Arra Accommodation Group now also caters for those wanting mid-range and up-market places to stay.

Orbit Inns are three and a half star properties with the guarantee of greater room space and a series of affordable luxuries, while Paragon provides stylish, high-quality four star plus accommodation and is ideal for the corporate sector and discerning travellers.

Group General Manager Ross Luhrs says the three tier Arra structure ensures everyone interested in good accommodation is now catered for.

"Our properties can satisfy everyone from the budget to the executive traveller, from those on business trips to families and seniors.

"No chain has a greater depth of accommodation choices at prices ranging from $60 to $180 dollars per night. We are extremely proud of our range of independently owned and operated motels.

"In launching Orbit Inns today, we recognise there was a gap in the market and have now filled it.

"The Arra Group has done its homework and added greater space and more quality to its offerings,” Mr Luhrs says.

In order to remain an accredited property, establishments will need to meet stringent guidelines, which include regular inspections from quality assurance officers.

Arra Accommodation Group will release its first motel directory, listing the features of all its properties (complete with rates), on 1st April this year.

Bookings can be made now by phoning a free call number, namely 1800 811 223, while all Budget, Orbit and Paragon establishments can be found online at www.arrahotels.com.

Source: Click HERE

Government calls delay on S92!

Paint it Black!

This is one pragmatic decision of John Key that we agree with!

Common sense broke out today with the delay of the onerous Section 92A of the Copywright Amendment Act.

Is this another example of the power of social networking?

www.nbr.co.nz
By Chris Keall
February 23 2009

THE NEW FACE OF PUBLIC POLICY: Anti-S92 "black-out" protesters lobby the government. Don't knock it; it worked.

Score one for the black-out brigade: The government is to delay implementation of the controversial Section 92A of the Copyright Amendment (New Technologies Act) due to come into force February 28.

Prime Minister John Key announced at a post-cabinet press conference this afternoon that implementation of the controversial clause of the copyright legislation is to be delayed until March 27.

“We are hoping that by that time we will have come up with a voluntary code of practice,” Mr Key said.
If no agreement is reached, Section 92A will be suspended.

On January 21, a spokesman for Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson's office told NBR that "a last minute stall won't happen". The minister wanted to see how the act would work in practice before considering any tweaks.

However, it appears Mr Finlayson's boss had his ear on the Creative Freedom Foundation's high-volume "blackout" campaign - which will now go down in history as the first viral internet campaign to stop - or at least delay - a law.

Battle won, war not over

InternetNZ Executive Director Keith Davidson praised the delay in a statement, saying "New Zealanders can breathe a sigh of relief that their internet access is no longer under threat due to unproven allegations of copyright infringement."

However, Mr Davidson cautions that - from the anti-S92 campaigners' point-of-view, the fight is far from over. While the deferral is welcome, InternetNZ would rather see S92 repealed altogether rather than finessed with a volunatry code of practice.

The Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand, representing around 500 corporate telco customers, was also quick to praise Mr Key's climb-down:

“Tuanz members, and especially large network owners, applaud the government for deferring the controversial Section 92a of the Copyright Act,.” said Chief Executive Ernie Newman in a statement.
“At a time when businesses of all shapes and sizes are struggling to cope, this delay will give some breathing space.

“We remain committed to working in good faith with the Telecommunications Carriers Forum, rights holder representatives and other interests to find a solution that will be workable and fair to all. We thank, and congratulate the government, and Parliament as a whole, for listening and acting on the concerns expressed.”

While NBR was one of the first publications to round on the act as a poor piece of legislation (including here and earlier last year), it has also criticised the black-out lobby, whose campaign has seen Facebook and Twitter photos - and today, whole websites - blacked out as twisting the the debate beyond the factual.
But, hey, whatever works.

Source: Click HERE

Paint it Black!

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Motella on notice


I enjoy signs and notices that emerge from the accommodation industry. I particularly enjoy in-room signs that are often hand written with words screaming DONT and NOT. Capitalisation and underlining key words is often used for maximum effect. Blu-tack is usually the favored fixing method.

I keep a sign on my desk that has been typed by an old typewriter and laminated that was faithfully blu-tacked to the kitchen wall of a motel that shall remain nameless...it reads:
"ALL DISHES CREATED BY YOUR CULINARY EXPERTISE ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AND NOT THE CLEANERS.

THANK YOU

MANAGMENT"
I have promised myself that if I ever have the urge to errect such a notice on the walls of any of my guest rooms then it will be time for me to gracefully leave the industry.

Bedjump.com

As moteliers, we host a lot of people from all walks of life.

I have heard it said by many wise old moteliers that "if we knew only half of what goes on behind closed doors, we wouldn't sleep at night". What some of our guests get up to behind closed doors, we hate to speculate. As long as it is legal (or close enough!), is not disturbing others, nothing is wrecked and doesn't leave a mess - we don't care!

When I tripped across the website www.bedjump.com it made me initially recoil in horror. The website is devoted to people all over the world submitting aeriel photos of themselves jumping onto motel/hotel beds!

Soon, I was able to suppress the outraged motelier entrenched within me and have a good laugh.

I guess in some way this website captures the childlike excitement of staying in a motel/hotel. It's irrelevant, naughty and fun. In a humorous way it celebrates travel and makes it a wee bit sexy - we like that!

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Motel Fan

In her pursuit of political corruption busting and sampling fine food & wine, Busted Blonde over at Roar Prawn is required to be a perennial user of commercial accommodation.

She posts HERE about the indignity of having to stay at a hotel in central Christchurch, courtesy of the government.

Busted Blonde makes the comment:
"We are a fan of motor lodges and motels. We think that the government should become a fan of them as well."
We couldn't agree more!

Now we may be accused of being biased, however as a measure to stimulate the motel industry and to assit trimming the bloated largeness of govenment spending, civil servants should be immediately instructed to choose motels over hotels.

ezibed.com

Ezibed.com have joined us by advertising on our blog (see the sidebar link).

Accommodation specialist Ezibed.com solely focuses on accommodation with accommodation providers presenting their best deals to customers over a 28 day window. Customers can book securely with instant confirmation.

Anything that makes it easy for customers to look, compare and book accommodation has to be good!

Why do we like ezibed.com?


They have got a few point of differences that separate them from the scrum of the other website accommodation resellers:

It's New Zealand based and owned, the site is easy to navigate, customers can receive their booking confirmation via text messaging and they encourage customer reviews.

There are 8182 rooms available to book right now. Ezibed.com customers have already posted 3451 ratings and 2077 accommodation reviews.

Compare & book HERE

Thursday, February 19, 2009

8% Fall in Air NZ Passenger Numbers


Air New Zealand's first half year results due out next week will make interesting reading. We suspect that the second half performance playing out at the moment will prove to be not as good as the first.

Encouraged with the prospect that John Key may consider propping up under performing businesses, Air New Zealand's media spin will be working overtime to ensure that the company is seen to be worthy of "iconic" status.

The prospect of Qantas Airways’ Jetstar entering domestic main trunk routes is likely to create a greater abundance of low-fare seats, as four airlines compete for a smaller pool of passengers.





Air New Zealand Ltd., which is scheduled to report first-half earnings next week, said passenger numbers continued to drop in January, led by a decline in demand for long-haul flights and domestic services.

Total passenger numbers declined 8% to 923,000 last month, while available seat kilometres dropped 6.6%.

Total long-haul passengers fell 11%, reflecting a 13% drop on North American/UK routes and an 8.9% decline on Asia/Japan/UK routes.

Domestic passenger numbers fell 7.8% to 521,000 and on the Tasman and Pacific routes they fell 5.8% to 242,000.

A global economic slump is reducing demand for travel while rivals including Emirates and Singapore Air have added capacity on key routes across the Tasman. This week, Qantas Airways’ low-fare Jetstar unit announced it would begin operating on New Zealand domestic routes following the pull-out of its parent. It kicked off its entry to the market by selling 20,000 NZ$1 fares.

Air New Zealand “will compete vigorously with everyday low fares and a high level of service,” it said in a statement today. Its shares fell 2.2% to 89 cents and have fallen 49% in the past 12 months.

Source: Click HERE

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wotif's half year results

Robbie Cooke, Group CEO/Managing Director of
Wotif.com Holdings Limited has plenty to be pleased about

Wotif have released their half year results for the 6 month period ending 31 December 2008.

The Wotif Group claim to have maintained the number 1 position in core Australian & New Zealand markets.

The highlights for wotif.com were:
  • Visits grew by 12%
  • 13,089 properties represented (Increased from: 10,988)
  • Average room rate up 1.6% to $146.33
  • Room nights sold up 11% to 411,000 a month
  • Bookings grew 11% to 224,000 a month
  • Average 1.84 room nights per booking (Increase from: 1.83)
The Australian wotif.com brand awareness is now at 51%, an increase from: 47%.

The Net Profit Before Tax % of total revenue is now 61%, an increase from: 58%.

With the development of the 3-month booking window there are 11,390 properties with deals outside 28 days

Wotif.com has become the most popular Australian website in the Travel – Destination and Accommodation category (Hitwise).

For the presentation material used in investor presentations: Click HERE

How's was trade in January?

After enduring camping and staying with the Mother-in-Law, Frank wished he had spent the holidays with his family at a motel!


We suspect that the headline that tourism has been "still steady in January" mentioned in our previous post is somewhat optimistic.

For many accommodation businesses, January is the busiest and most critical month when the majority of operators maximise high occupancies and average tariff. This coincides with the great New Zealand close down, when 4 million Kiwis go on holiday.


We have predicted that January '09 will prove to be softer than January last year.

In our own survey we have concluded that demand in January was not as intense as it has been in previous years with unprecedented gaps appearing in
accommodation booking sheets.

Media attention appears to be focused on international tourism numbers however the majority of motels rely on domestic tourism (particularly over the December and January holiday period). The mix of visitors have changed somewhat, however the greatest change over this holiday season has been the absence of the traditional Kiwi middle class family group of Mum, Dad and 2-kids.

This subset are New Zealand's new beneficiaries, the middle-class "Working for Families" subsidised honky family appear to be the most conservative and are not confident to load up the credit card with motel accommodation at the beginning of an uncertain year.


Anecdotal evidence suggests that this subset still had a break, but downgraded their accommodation choice by staying with friends and family or at camping grounds/holiday parks.

For the year 2008, motels lost market share to hotels and caravan parks/camping grounds and is no longer the preferred option for the majority of travelers.

The motel industry needs to
do some serious navel gazing to establish how this has occurred.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tourism still steady in January


Tourism Industry Association (TIA) Chief Executive Tim Cossar puts a "bob both ways" when analysing a mixed survey response from 23 tourism businesses surveyed on trade.

We suspect that the headline that tourism has been "still steady in January" is somewhat optimistic.

On another matter, it will be interesting what our tourism industry leaders will be asking of the government from the Job Summit. I suspect a cloth cap will be firmly ensconced and the issue of corporate welfare will be quickly brought to the table.

We will be watching with interest and adding our own suggestions starting with the abolition of the Minimum Wage ...

16 February 2009
Press Release: Tourism Industry Association New Zealand

Tourism businesses surveyed as part of the BNZ Capital-Business NZ Performance of Services Index (PSI) continued to report reasonably steady results for the January period.

Of the 23 tourism businesses surveyed, 10 (43%) reported that their main activity was positive while 13 (57%) reported a negative trading environment.

Tourism Industry Association (TIA) Chief Executive Tim Cossar says good weather and steady domestic tourism helped many tourism operators in January but some operators are still reporting that the state of the economy and slowing visitor numbers are impacting their businesses.

Today’s results are an indication that there is still a lot more work to be done to return tourism to the strong growth that has been typical of the sector for the past two decades. Returning tourism to growth is an opportunity, not only for those in the tourism industry but for all New Zealanders,” Mr Cossar says.

“With one in ten New Zealanders (181,200 jobs) employed either directly or indirectly in tourism, our industry is one of New Zealand’s largest employers. Keeping the tourism industry strong, keeps New Zealanders in jobs and that’s one of points we’ll be making strongly when we attend Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key’s Job Summit later this month,” Mr Cossar says.

As one of New Zealand’s single largest export sectors tourism can be a significant part of the answer to not only keeping New Zealand afloat in turbulent economic times, but seeing the country emerge stronger than before. Tourism is a huge driver for New Zealand’s economy and it’s an industry that will turn around reasonably fast - if we do things right.”

“We need to think pragmatically about what we can do here and now to improve the outcomes for tourism businesses and their employees over the next 12-18 months. The tax breaks outlined in the government’s small business relief package are a good start but other options such as increased investment in international and domestic marketing, improving bank credit options and government job retention incentives are also worthy of consideration,” Mr Cossar says.

“Our industry will need to work harder than ever this year to meet the challenges of the current economic environment. International arrivals are expected to be down by a total of 5-10% in the next 2-3 months. We look forward to some positive outcomes from the Job Summit,” Mr Cossar says.

Source: Click HERE

Otago hardest hit by vanishing tourists

Otago Corrections Facility at Milburn

Otago's 'Milton Hilton' seems to be the most successful accommodation facility in the region.
Otago accommodation providers have recorded the biggest decline in occupancy rates in the country, with Queenstown the worst hit, industry authorities say.

Otago recorded double-digit drops in the last quarter of 2008 compared with the corresponding period in 2007, but almost all regions recorded a slight decline in hotel, motel, apartment, hosted accommodation and backpackers occupancy rates, according to an accommodation survey from Statistics New Zealand.

Occupancy-rate declines of 12.4% (September), 12% (October), 16.8% (November) and 10.9% (December), compared with the corresponding period the previous year, resulted in the region recording 112,000 fewer guest nights than in 2007.

"We are aware of the problems, particularly in Queenstown . . . we are noticing the traditional tourist areas are not getting traditional tourists," Motel Association of New Zealand chief executive Michael Baines, of Wellington, said.

Dunedin and other areas of Otago were performing well considering the difficult times, but Queenstown was suffering from a decline in international tourist numbers, he said.

Otago (57%), Southland (56%) and West Coast (61%) were the only regions to record a higher proportion of international guest nights than domestic guest nights in 2008.

Source: Click HERE

Monday, February 16, 2009

Threat against internet freedom

STOP PRESS! We find ourselves agreeing with the Green Party and Peter Dunne!

All other political parties have backed The Copyright Act (Section 92A), which comes into force on 28 February. Internet users’ accounts can be terminated as a result of unproven accusations of piracy.

If a copyright owner thinks that an internet user is guilty of repeatedly breaching copyright, then the user’s Internet Service Provider (ISP) will be forced the terminate their internet connections and websites. Contrary to the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”, this will occur without evidence, without a fair trial, without any right of appeal, and without any punishment for false or vexatious accusations of copyright infringement.

With a track record of fighting for the rights of individuals to be free to communicate without interference from Big Brother government, it is inconceivable that National and Act have supported a law that could see internet providers monitoring everything that internet users are doing or saying.

This will be a gross abuse of privacy and free speech.


Better check your motel website to see if those picturesque local scenery photos belong to you!

For NBR's article on the Copyright Act, click: HERE


New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

Why some companies stand out and are rolling in dough

Success stories in accommodation and travel appear to be thin on the ground at the moment. It is good to see that there is some good news out there, but you need to venture into cyberspace to find it.

Wotif.com will be realeasing their results for the year ending December 2008 on 18 February and this will be available via their website - should make interesting reading...

Sara Rich
16 February 2009
Article from:  The Australian 
 
Online travel agent Webjet and online accommodation company Wotif.com Holdings are actually benefiting from the global downturn as bargain hunters scour the internet for top holiday deals.

Webjet's net profit rose 29 per cent to $3.7 million in the December half from $2.9 million a year ago, while total revenue climbed 20.4 per cent to $13.97 million after a 19 per cent increase in total transaction numbers.

Webjet managing director David Clarke said airline pricing wars had fuelled Webjet's growth.

"The Australian travel market, certainly for the last three months but arguably even the last six months, has been in the most chaotic state that I have ever seen it," he said.

"We have such a deluge of airline price initiatives and opportunities that a consumer trying to get on top of this amount of data has a very difficult task."

With travel demand soaring despite the economic downturn -- evidenced by strong search activity on the online service -- Mr Clarke said the holiday market had become bargain-sensitive.

"Whether this is because the airlines are feeding it and creating the expectations or whether it is consumers just hunting down the cheapest possible deal because of economic circumstances is clearly more difficult to determine," he said. "But it doesn't actually matter because the only way to effectively keep up with the deals is to go to the internet."

Webjet shares remained flat yesterday at $1.15.

Wotif, which benefited from its decision to extend the booking window from 28 days to three months, flagged a 20 per cent boost in first-half profit from the $17.06 million booked a year ago as travellers looked to stretch their holiday budgets.

The company's shares rose slightly yesterday to $3.26 ahead of the group's half-year results announcement on February 18.

Source: Click HERE

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Domain Name Scam

The email that is pasted below was forwarded by another motel.

I have seen many different variations, however this email seems to follow the usual modus operandi of a well worn scam that plays on ignorance and fear.

These emails seem to mostly be sourced from China and pretend to be act in your favour, but are merely phishing to generate more business.

They contact businesses on the pretense that a foreign company is trying to purchase websites using your domain and trademark names. However , posing as a responsible and caring Domain Name Registration Service, they first contact you the owner of the existing domain and will give you the amazing opportunity to get these website names first and therefore protect your brand.

There should be no trademark dispute over your domain name for your accommodation website. What they don’t disclose is that their goal is to frighten a business person into “protecting” their trademark by purchasing the overpriced .cn and .com.cn Chinese extensions of your domain.

If you own a .nz, .com, .net domain but are not planning to set up a Chinese office or not even doing any business in China you have no reason to spend money on a domain registration with a Chinese registrar. Also, trademarks and domains are largely separate issues. You don’t become a trademark owner merely by registering a domain and vice versa. So don’t fall for it.

It’s a scam, it’s dodgy, unsolicited and any emails such as this shouyld be ignored. Save yourself a headache and don’t respond.

From: mike.yang [mailto:mike.yang@hongkongnet.hk]
Sent: Friday, 13 February 2009 8:43 p.m.
To: info
Subject: Registration Notice
Dear [ name of motel ]
This is Hong Kong Network Service Company Limited which is the domain name register center in Asia... We received a formal application from a company who is applying to register ‘ [ name of motel ] ’ as their domain name and Internet keyword on Feb 12, 2009. Because this involves your company name or trade mark, so we inform you in no time. We would like to confirm if this company is your partner, subsection or some one you authorized, if it is not, pls inform us if these domain names and internet keyword are important to you and it is necessary to protect them by registering them first or not, thanks for your cooperation, looking forward to your reply.
Kind Regards,

Mike.Yang
Tel:+ 852 31757930 (ext):8011
Fax: +852 31757932
Email: mike.yang@hongkongnet.hk
Hong Kong Network Service Company Limited
Website: http://www.hknsc.hk/

A Business Traveler Rants

The following rant is by a business traveler, Patrick Dixon after he checked into a hotel.

We think he should have stayed in a motel!


Friday, February 13, 2009

The side effects of Stimulus explained

With governments desperately recycling other people's money - do we really know the side effects of all this stimulus?

Hat tip www.whaleoil.co.nz


Hotel sector now hosts more guests

Now that we have the guest night statistics in for 2008 it is interesting to summarise what has been achieved last year.

It is pleasing that overseas visitors to New Zealand have only dropped less than 1% for the last 12-months ending December 2008 compared to the previous year. International guest nights were 42 percent of the total guest nights for all accommodation types in 2008.

For the 2008 year, total guest nights were 32.9 million, a similar total to the previous year.
(Click for larger view)

The trend in total guest nights has been decreasing since October 2007, after increasing since January 2006. The trend level is now 4 percent lower than the peak in October 2007, but is still 3 percent higher than the previous low point in January 2006.

Although guest nights were largely maintained, the biggest concern for the motel industry has been how guest nights were distributed amongst the different accommodation types.

Of note, the Hotel sector has now overtaken the Motel sector by hosting more guest nights in 2008.

For the 2008 year, Hotels have recorded the largest share of total guest nights (33 percent). Disappointingly, Motels have been now relegated to second place (32 percent).

Hotels have recorded the largest guest night increase, up 383,000 (4 percent) followed by caravan parks/camping grounds, up 60,000 (1 percent).

Motels have recorded the largest decrease in guest nights, down 448,000 (4 percent).

It is easy for the Motel industry to use the tough economic times as an apology for a less than perfect performance in 2008.

It would appear that other accommodation sectors are becoming smarter and eating into our market share.

How can the Motel sector get that sexy back?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another caravan down!

Jeremy Clarkson regularly destroys caravans on Top Gear and has been quoted as saying that "caravans are a disgraceful blot on the landscape and a nuisance on the roads..." We couldn't agree more!

As promised, a video devoted to the 60,000 additional guest nights that Kiwis spent enduring the challenges of spending their holidays in a caravan park or camping ground last year.

Oh the joys of close communal rustic living with cold showers, vinyl covered mattresses and enduring the techno beat of the neighbor's all-night activities.


The Stig vs a caravan.

Motels take hit as guest nights fall in December

Ooops! For the second month in a row, motel figures represent two-thirds of the overall fall for the whole accommodation industry.

We suggested in our post HERE that anecdotal evidence told us that the crucial months of December and January would be "softer" compared to previous years. The December figures just released confirms our predictions so far. This does not bode well for motel businesses fortifying themselves for the winter months ahead.

It is interesting that the motel's pain of losing 62,000 guest nights for December is not being shared by the caravan parks/camping sector that have managed to increase their market share for the year 2008.

I'm off to YouTube to search for another Jeremy Clarkson video of blowing up a caravan!

February 12 2009

Source: Click HERE

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