Saturday, October 31, 2009

Calling all Mo-teliers

OK, it's the last day of the month and after deliberating for the last few weeks I've decided to again grow a mo for Movember this year. 

Movember is about raising much needed funds and awareness for men’s health – specifically prostate cancer and depression in men.

Important when you learn that close to 600 men die of prostate cancer each year in New Zealand and one in ten men will experience depression in their lifetime.

...So, we are looking for Mo-teliers to join "Team Motella" (It's not compulsory to be a motelier - by joining our team we will grant you "honorary-mo-telier" status).

The more people we can get board, the more awareness and money will be raised and so we are asking you to join our team and either grow a moustache as a Mo Bro, or sign on as a Mo Sista and help out with raising funds.

2009 is Movember’s fourth consecutive year. If you are interested in learning more about the work that is being carried out as a result of Movember funds, check out the details by clicking HERE.

To join my Movember team click HERE and follow the simple steps.

A walk on the wild side of the motel industry

From time to time we like to take a walk on the wild side of the motel industry.

We are not ones to actually get down and dirty ourselves, so we use Google Earth to explore the basement of motel culture from the comforts of the Motella Corporate HQ. 

Thankfully, the motel extremes are found far away from our own sanitised industry in New Zealand. 

As we traveled in cyberspace we stumbled across the Bridge Motel situated in the Marina district, San Francisco. Quite frankly we could not have hoped for better! 

The pictures below tell a thousand words, however according to a court order filed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, the Bridge Motel has an impressive array of violations including: roaches, overflowing dumpsters, illegal drugs, counterfeiting and unregistered sex offenders as guests.

The Bridge Motel is nestled in an area that has been described as "urban blight at its best." Crack heads, meth freaks, pimps and whores make up an diverse cultural experience of humanity at its lowest ebb.

I feel like I need a shower...


Hey the Bridge Motel doesn't look too bad, with its Spanish Mission Art Deco architectural street style. (Napier moteliers may wish to correct me on my architectural interpretation?)



We like the indoor/outdoor flow. As an added bonus it looks like the strategically positioned dumpster is violation free and has been emptied today.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ezibed.com Business Award Winner


Gareth Pearce, Managing Director Ezibed.com

Congratulations to our friends at Ezibed.com for again walking away with a category win in the ‘Online’ section of the Hawkes Bay Business Awards at the Awards Night held yesterday at the HB Opera House.

Good to see a Kiwi owned Online Travel Agent do well!

30 October 2009, 3pm
Press Release: Ezibed.com

Hawke’s Bay – Last minute accommodation website Ezibed.com has been awarded category winner in the ‘Online’ section of the Hawkes Bay Business Awards for the second year running.

Last minute accommodation website Ezibed.com has been awarded category winner in the ‘Online’ section of the Hawkes Bay Business Awards for the second year running.

The company fought off four other companies to take the prestigious award.

The judges commented that Ezibed.com has an excellent planning process with well-documented action plans.

“They certainly know where they are heading with a strategic plan that’s a living document which is constantly evolving”, said the judges.

“From the small town of Waipukurau, Ezibed.com has been able to successfully compete against significantly larger competitors. The company has harnessed the power of the web and taken advantage of technological advances to create a business that delivers excellent value to customers and accommodation providers”.

Innovation & simplicity are important aspects for attracting both new customers and retaining existing ones says the company’s Managing Director, Gareth Pearce.

“We have international competitors that have multi-million dollar marketing budgets so we have to be much smarter about how we communicate and interact with our customers. Having great deals on accommodation helps but once a customer has made the choice to make a booking through us, there is then a high degree of loyalty, as our website is simple to use and we are New Zealand owned which New Zealanders like.”

The company that was founded in late 2003 has become a leading online accommodation booking website within New Zealand, recently expanding into Australia, Pacific Islands, USA and Canada. With over 3000 registered accommodation providers providing deals, & over 50,000 visitors per month looking for and booking accommodation, the company’s growth has been rapid.

Ezibed.com is a 100% New Zealand owned company.

Climate Realists' Network

We like what a couple of sheep and beef farmers farming off the East Coast of the North Island of NZ have achieved with the Climate Realists' Network

We suggest that you head over to their website: www.climaterealists.org.nz for further information and to sign their petition, urging the Government not to commit to any emissions reductions at the Copenhagen climate change negotiations.

Before you go, why not check out the following videos:

Lord Christopher Monckton gives an emotive presentation on the realities of the Copenhagen Treaty:



... and finally a scary bedtime story:


iBookings on Wotif.com


I appear to be the only person that does not bow at the altar of Apple and own an iPhone.

Many of my friends and colleagues do and regularly gaze at their beloved iPhone with religious zeal.

In March this year, Air New Zealand introduced new technology to allow users of Java enabled phones, including the iPhone to download their boarding passes that can be scanned at kiosks or at the boarding gate and keep up to date with flight details. I must say that I look with envy at those smug travellers breezing through the boarding scanner with their iPhones as I pause to uncurl and turn my old-school paper boarding pass the right way up.

Back in March 2009, 30,000 upwardly mobile Kiwis already had an iPhone and numbers have dramatically increased since then. Air NZ were early adapters and captured an important market of high-end users that are fanatical about their device and will go out of their way to use them.

We were interested to learn that online travel agent, Wotif.com have officially launched their new iPhone interface site this week for users to access its popular accommodation booking website and make a booking by using their iPhone. 

The timing of the interface couldn't be better for Wotif.com as the weeks leading up to Christmas 2010 should be a boom for iPhone sales. Making an accommodation booking for the Christmas/January period with a new iPhone could soon be a popular pastime.

We wonder when similar iPhone applications and interface websites will be launched for popular website booking engines used on motel and hotel home pages?

In the interim, I've decided that I need to join the cult and buy an iPhone!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Minimum Wage


We are amused to read that the Unite Union is mobilising hundreds of its stooges this Friday night to don Halloween costumes and march in Auckland to campaign for a $15 per hour minimum wage.

The Minimum Wage debate appears to be territory where our industry representatives have been afraid to tread.

Will accommodation providers and the wider tourism industry continue to rely on other business organisations  to speak out against further government impositions in the labour market.

Motel Identity


This is a great story about a guy that purchased an old 1950's motel sign while surfing eBay under the influence.

He then goes on a road trip to pick up his purchase from the Sunset Motel and is shocked when he discovers that the new owners were replacing their classic old sign with a soulless new one.

The video captures the passion of someone feeling the pain of a motel's identity consigned to the scrapheap. We like the human emotion towards the importance of a motel's history and branding.

Be warned that the video is raw and has liberal use of the "F" word.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Fun Theory


Volkswagen (an auto company that produces all those nasty carbon producing vehicles) is behind a socially responsible initiative, The Fun Theory.

The concept is based on a simple philosophy: That people will change their behavior for the better if it is fun to do. 

Volkswagen came up with three videos to demonstrate this belief and set up a competition to encourage others to come up with their own ideas to help prove The Fun Theory.

So what?

Well, the idea for the campaign is brilliant. It is based on an idea that is easily communicated, the ideal is widely recognised by most people, it provides one of those penny dropping moments and it is fun to watch.

As a campaign, it would appear to be extremely successful for Volkswagen. The videos produced and branded by Volkswagen have gone viral on YouTube with the the most popular video below already having over 5 million views. The campaign is cost effective with the website www.thefuntheory.com used as the central focus of the campaign that is fed by viral social media.

One motivator behind the campaign is to convince the public that Volkswagen is a caring, sharing corporate citizen. After all the videos on the website encourage the virtues of recycling, not littering and in the video below, motivates people to use the stairs. And of course the public competition for the public to produce similar videos will create all sorts of socially responsible ideas that Volkswagen can attach their branding to.

We do not think that the underlying PC, social responsibility is the main motivator for this campaign's mass appeal. In fact the campaign was probably was at risk of failing because of it.

The success of the campaign was the humor behind the frailties of human nature by encouraging people to have FUN while doing mundane activities. We like taking the p*ss out of ourselves.

Will the campaign raise brand awareness? Probably. 

More importantly will the campaign encourage the sale of more Volkswagen cars? Who knows?

So what can the travel industry learn from this?




Source: Video stolen from www.facebook.com/geraldspeers

Monday, October 26, 2009

On The Road Again



I will be placing myself in the care of Air New Zealand tommorow and jetting off to Auckland to attend a series of meetings on some important "Motella" issues.

I believe it is important to occasionally spend time in Auckland just to appreciate how good the rest of the country really is ;-)

If my batteries can keep pace, I may update with some pithy observations on Twitter:

What is Social Media?

We like this very good presentation on why businesses should look at Social Media for increasing brand awareness.

Source: Click HERE
Hat tip: twitter.com/BusinessTalk 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

World's 10 Best and Worst Hotel Bathrooms

The bathroom experience has become increasingly important in the accommodation offer that can make or break a guests' experience. This is an area where the guest intimately connects with the room, so it has to be right.

The following "Best and Worst Hotel Bathrooms" have been sourced from TripAdvisor.

Click on the links to view further actual guest comments:


1) "I cannot believe the Board of Health keeps this place open..."
Fun Spots Hotel at Fountain Park Kissimmee, FL, USA


2) "gold swan faucets, ...truly over the top" 
Hotel Ritz, Paris, France


3) "the bathroom is bigger than the bedroom... choice of indoor/outdoor shower..."  
Bulgari Hotels and Resorts Bali Bali, Indonesia
 



4) "poor hygiene conditions... the toilets are in bad shape ... "
Singh's International Hotel Bombay Mumbai, India   
 


5) "the bathroom has one mirrored wall and another of glass with..."  
The Regent Beijing , China



6) "Showering outside with the mountains as a backdrop was wonderfully decadent..."
The Horizon Hotel Palm Springs, CA, USA



7) "...toilets with warmed seat, lots of jets and then self flushes..."
Mandarin Oriental Tokyo, Japan


8) "...bathroom wall. Is there a rat? Who knows?..." 
 Hotel Merryl Paris, France


9) "The bathroom is huge and very modern... even has a window looking into the bedroom..."
EPIC Hotel Miami, FL, USA


10) "The bathroom was a complete wet area with a huge wooden tub and two showers..."
Bon Ton Resort Langkawi, Malaysia

Friday, October 23, 2009

The noble business of selling


Being a motelier, I love to sell. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to sell a room. I still enjoy the cut and thrust of the selling process and the adrenalin rush when a deal is done.

Why I publish this is blog is probably worthy of several posts delving into all sorts of psychobabble, however this blog is NOT about selling or making money.

There is a small component of this blog that advertises product with ads located on the right hand sidebar of this post. We only advertise products and companies that we enjoy a special relationship with.

Other ads on this blog are generated by Google AdSense that we have little control over. Somehow Google are able to cleverly target ads that are suited to our reader's interests by displaying specific ads that have some relation to the subject matter of our blog.

A reader contacted me the other day and jokingly wondered if we were running a brothel after reading our post: Calling all cougars. Google in its wisdom, were displaying various adds on dating and escort agencies. Maybe Google know more about our readers than we think!

Some bloggers refuse to display advertising on their blogs and prefer to have a clean unobstructed canvas to share their worldly views. We respect them for that.

...but deep down I am unashamedly a "trader". I can't help selling and enjoy that that special adrenalin rush when Google sends me another $USD100.00 cheque.

So after reading this post, please feel free to click on every Google Ad before you!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How committed are you?

We were amused with The Dominion's headline: Save the planet: time to eat dog? that highlighted further woolly thinking by environmentalists.

We wonder if this logic may be somehow embedded into Qualmark NZ's politically correct Responsible Tourism criteria that measures the accommodation provider's commitment to environmental and social mantra.

We suspect that the moteliers' family pet may have an anxious wait before the next Qualmark inspector arrives  ;-)

Motel Given a Fair Go


This is a picture of Sue Erasmus.

She was the star of last night's TV program, Fair Go. This plausible South African, self-proclaimed business woman claims to be a immigration and employment consultant. She enjoys using the services of motels and then leaving dud cheques upon departure.

Sue Erasmus is no stranger to attracting attention to herself. She has appeared on television before in a bizare story about her placing an ad on TradeMe looking for a date to accompany her to the Melbourne Grand Prix. See the video of her appearing on Close Up HERE

 Her latest MO is to arrive at a motel in a older beat-up vehicle, claiming that her BMW was stolen. She dresses as a business woman and requests a room "down the back" to interview important clients. There is a steady stream of male visitors that interact with Erasmus in her motel unit with the curtains drawn. Hmmm...maybe moteliers have good reason to be somewhat suspicious. 

After staying at the Camelot Motor Inn in Hamilton, Erasmus leaves behind a worthless cheque for $700.00. The plucky motel proprietors, Warren and Maggie Anderson contact Fair Go after realising they have been done.

What follows next was a brilliant set-up by Fair Go that used the moteliers to pose as prospective clients of Erasmus's TradeMe auction for a camera.

The scene that drew Erasmus outside her Bucklands Beach home to be confronted by the moteliers is hilarious.

Days later, Fair Go received a disturbing phone call from an unknown South African woman that sounded vaguely familiar, claiming that Sue Erasmus had committed suicide.

Luckily, this phone call proved to be somewhat misguided as Erasmus paid up the $700.00 to Camelot Motor Inn some time later.

Well done to Warren and Maggie Anderson that had the gumption to front-up.

It is frustrating for businesses that bouncing a cheque is not a criminal offence, as it is often difficult to prove intent. We suspect that there are many other motels that have been stung by Sue Erasmus living out her fantasy life.

There will need to be a co-ordinated approach to gather other victims together. We suspect that there will be a very good case to convict Erasmus of fraud, once the volume offending is uncovered.

Click on the full Fair Go episode HERE

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kiwi Telco kicks off Project Heal and Protect



Are you confused about what charity to donate your spare funds to assist the people of Samoa?

We reckon that you should consider Project Heal and Protect:

Press Release
Project Heal and Protect Charitable Trust
21 October 2009

A Wellington based Telco support company has kicked off a project to rebuild part of one of villages worst hit by the recent tsunami and to construct a new tsunami warning system for the whole of Samoa.

Project Heal and Protect (Polokei Toe Fa’alelei ma Puipuia) was put together by Oceanic Group after senior staff saw the devastation caused by the September 29 tsunami.

Oceanic Group provides support services for a number of telco companies across the South Pacific, including to Digicel in Samoa.

Oceanic Group Director, Locky Mulholland, said they usually prefer to work behind the scenes, but he felt compelled to do something after seeing the aftermath of the natural disaster.

“We are a community focused company and we struggled to comprehend what had happened to our colleagues and friends in Samoa and that set us to thinking about what we could do to help,” Mr Mulholland said.

Mr Mulholland said the result is the Project Heal and Protect (Poloketi Toe Fa’alelei ma Puipuia) Charitable Trust.

The Heal part of the project refers to a plan to build a new community centre for the village of Poutasi; which being right on the beach bore the full brunt of the Tsunami.

“The community centre and its sports fields was a vital part of daily life in the village and it stood out as an obvious choice to us.

“It will be rebuilt on higher ground so it can be a safe haven for residents of the village during a natural disaster,” Mr Mulholland said.

The Protect part of the project will be the purchase and installation of tsunami warning sirens across Samoa.

These will be erected on Digital cellphone towers and will be linked back to the new civil defence headquarters which is to be built by Digicel itself.

Mr Mulholland said the response to the project has been incredible with a number of companies giving time and services for nothing to support the project and the list is growing by the day.

“We have architects, builders, Telco companies, All Blacks, radio stations, lawyers, engineers, project managers, league players, public relations consultants, building supplies companies all supporting us.”
The Project Heal and Protect Charitable Trust has been lodged with the Charities Commission, independent trustees have been appointed and a trust bank account has been set up.

Words of support from HE Asi Tuiataga JF Blakelock, Samoa High Commissioner to New Zealand.

“Samoa has been drastically affected by the earthquake and tsunami; however our people remain hopeful and determined to rebuild our island nation. I am truly grateful and applaud Oceanic Holdings (International) Ltd for initiating ‘Project Heal & Protect.’
It is aid such as this, that reminds us Samoans not to lose hope and to continue to unite to restore Samoa to what it was before September 29.
In addition to restoring infrastructure, the National Evacuation Siren System to be implemented by Oceanic thru Digicel, will hopefully improve Samoa’s preparations for any future natural disasters.
On behalf of the government and people of Samoa, I convey our appreciation for their invaluable generosity. I would also like to personally thank Mr Locky Mulholland (Director) and partners for their genuine concern and tremendous efforts to bring hope and comfort to Samoa in this time of crisis.”

 ENDS

Account details for Donations
Account Name: Heal and Protect
Account Number: 030502 0416719 00
Swift Code: WPACNZ2W

Media Information

For more information about Project Heal and Protect (Poloketi Toe Fa’alelei ma Puipuia) you can ring us on +64 4 384 7266 or email us at healandprotect@oclgroup.co.nz

For further information contact:
Chris Wikaira +64 27 45 22 472
Or
Tina Nixon +64 27 22 32 789

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Labour Weekend travel bookers more ‘impulsive’ - Ezibed


From our observations, accommodation providers seem to be generally positive about forward bookings for Labour Weekend. 

For many Kiwis, this long weekend is the first opportunity to shake off the Winter blues and take their first lesisure break away for the season. Our friends at Ezibed.com have distributed the following press release today:

20 October 2009
Press Release: Ezibed.com


Last minute accommodation website Ezibed.com has described domestic Labour Weekend travel bookers as more ‘impulsive’ than previous years, as holiday makers choose to wait before deciding whether to travel this upcoming long weekend.

The New Zealand owned online accommodation booking company has analyzed it’s booking patterns over the past 3 years and compared these to bookings made so far for this year, and the results indicate that domestic travelers are waiting until closer to the weekend before deciding on whether to travel or not.

Factors the company believes is contributing to travelers leaving their purchase decisions to the very last minute include waiting for a more detailed weather forecast and waiting to obtain the best deals often associated with booking at the last minute.

Gareth Pearce, Managing Director of Ezibed.com says that consumers can receive great deals on accommodation at the moment, even through the holiday periods. People are becoming increasingly aware that the longer they leave it, the better the deal that they could receive.

“Because of our current recessionary period it has become increasingly obvious that travelers are not making travel arrangements until they really have to.”

“Customers can get great deals if they put off booking their travel until the last minute but they also run the risk of the accommodation property selling out or putting their rates up as the date gets closer, especially in tourist hotspots. Accommodation deals listed on Ezibed.com are managed by the individual properties and rates vary based on occupancy levels. Rates also vary from region to region.”

Pre-Labour Weekend bookings are set to surpass last year says the company.

“Bookings for the holiday weekend are only 14% down on total bookings for the weekend last year. With 4 days to go and with the weather forecast predicted to be fine we are anticipating an influx of bookings over the coming days”, says Mr Pearce.

Cougar Barbie

In our post Calling all Cougars! we explored the Cougar phenomenon and the opportunity to cash in on this market by offering niche accommodation packages.

We see that our friends at Gotcha have also got an angle on Cougars. (Yeah we admit this is a wee bit off topic - but it's my blog!)


EMBED-Cougar Barbie - 50th Anniversary - Watch more free videos

Wotif.com team up with Tourism NZ


Wotif.com has teamed up with Tourism New Zealand again to promote New Zealand accommodation deals to the Australian market. This time Wotif.com are inviting accommodation suppliers to participate by offering sub-$99 deals.

The "Wotif Under $99" promotion will be active between 30th October to 8th November 2009. This promotion follows on from this year's "Wotif.com 5-Day Sale" in June and the "7-day Ridiculous Rates Sale" in August that promoted deals that were at least 50% off the rack rate.
 

Wotif.com used supporting radio advertising on major Australian radio stations for their last promotion, however there doesn't appear to be any budget allocated to MSM this time around

Promotional support will be by Wotif newsletters sent to its vast database of clients, website buttons on the Wotif.com website, press releases and use of social media such as Twitter.

Like the Wotif 5-Day Sale promotion, Tourism New Zealand will be assisting with promotion and links on www.newzealand.com.

This is an interesting scenario with Tourism New Zealand on one hand elevating New Zealand accommodation that has been "Quality Assured" by Qualmark NZ Ltd and on the other hand assisting an Australian Online Travel Agent promote "unlicensed" accommodation at knock down prices. Does this worry us? Not at all. We just think there is a certain amusing irony.

Many motels that traditionally operate with a narrow band between their rack and sell rates found that they were unable to take part in Wotif's 50% reduction promotions. The latest sub-$99 promotion may be in response to this and could encourage more motels to participate.  

We would have hoped that the accommodation industry was well past offering tariff below $100.00. It will be interesting to analyse the up-take from accommodation providers to gauge the desperation levels of the industry. A net rate of $77.88 after deducting wotif's agent fee and gst from a $99.00 tariff is not a viable proposition for any accommodation provider. 

It could be argued that Wotif's successive promotions are assisting to normalise expectations of deep discounting in the accommodation industry, however the fault is with the accommodation provider that seems to be more than willing to participate.

Shouldn't we consider quality and adding value before sending tariff through the floor?

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