Monday, May 31, 2010

Whale Wars

We see that friend of the Motella Blog and fellow blogger Cameron Slater aka Whaleoil is in trouble. 

Cameron has bravely shared with us his struggles with the black dog. The amateur psychologist in all of us has been able to track the highs, the lows and the compulsive behavior through his blog.

We feel for him and his family for their latest challenges that have culminated in the sale of their family home.

Cactus Kate has offered the best insight in her own succinct style on the ongoing Whaleoil saga HERE  

Love him or hate him, we need folk like Whaleoil that offer an alternative to the blandness of the MSM.

We wish Cameron and his family all the best and suggest that you head over to the Whaleoil Blog and give him your regards.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Motel Industry Branding Campaign Part 2

Some time ago we started a think-tank on ideas for a motel industry branding campaign HERE. 

Although we have devoted many hours to this we don't expect to be given any accolades or reward in return - This is our way of giving a little back to our own industry.

We have narrowed down a few of the following concepts, however we are a little concerned that we seem to be stuck with a recurring theme:


 Please feel free to contact us HERE with any further suggestions that you may have ;-)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hotel Stolen From Millennium and Copthorne

Managing director of Millennium and Copthorne Hotels New Zealand Ltd, BK Chiu explains to shareholders how his company lost a hotel.

Tucked away in the New Zealand Herald was a bizarre story about a Kiwi hotel company that appears to have had one of its hotels stolen from under them. 

Millennium and Copthorne Hotels New Zealand Ltd (MCK) owns, leases, manages and franchises a portfolio of 30 hotels in New Zealand under the Millennium, Copthorne and Kingsgate brands. The Company, that has hotel assets with a net book value of $326 million recorded a modest profit of $12.4 million for the year to December 2009.

Disappointingly, profit was down 30% and total revenue of $108 million was down from $123.7 million last year. 

Trading conditions have been described by the hotel's MD, BK Chiu as "one of the firm's most difficult trading years in recent times. We remain cautious about the trading prospects for 2010 as a sustainable recovery and an increase in tourism numbers is still some way off." 

Although MCK may blame market conditions with the hotel sector losing 111,000 guest nights last year, the progress of the company has been described "at best pedestrian and at worst, very disappointing."

In 2007, MCK were not confident of future growth in the New Zealand hotel sector and decided to chase better returns overseas. MCK entered into a joint venture with a Chinese property developer and purchased shares in a hotel in Hainan Island off the southern coast of China.

In a strange twist it would appear that MCK's joint venture partner sold the Chinese hotel along with other outside shareholders and has scarpered off with the proceeds.

Leaving themselves exposed and having a hotel stolen from under them has left MCK out of pocket by about $26.1 million. It would appear that this is not the first time MCK have taken a hit - we suggest that you read the New Zealand Herald article HERE. 

This is not a good look for the hapless NZ company. Was this bad luck or bad management? Could the MCK directors have been naive in Chinese business practices? Were the complexities of business arrangements, structures and operating in another market also beyond the abilities of the directors?

The Annual meeting held last Wednesday would have been a grim affair as MCK directors fronted up to angry and bemused Kiwi shareholders.

We intend to purchase the smallest parcel of shares possible in MCK, just for the entertainment value of attending their annual meeting next year.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Motel (1968)

We love the original Australian soap opera, Motel that first screened in 1968.

The 132 episodes faithfully followed the trials and tribulations of the Gillian family, who ran the Greenfields Motel just out of Canberra.

We think that an Aussie rural motel was the perfect setting for a steamy daytime TV soap. The acting in Motel was so bad and wooden that it made compulsive viewing.

Can someone please start a Facebook group to bring this back!

1-Star People

There seems to be a growing trend of accommodation providers that market their "4-star rooms for a 1-star price."

Is this such a great marketing strategy?

Greg Warren points out some of the less than obvious pitfalls of mixing distinct market segments.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

13 Things Your Hotel Desk Clerk Won’t Tell You

While lurking in the dark recesses of the internet, we found the following provocative list of behind the scenes tips, observations and comments from hotel receptionists.

We warn you that some are better than others ;-)

This was originally published in Readers Digest and we have cut and pasted this article warts and all:

13 Things Your Hotel Desk Clerk Won’t Tell You

1. The 0800 reservations number will probably send you to a central office with set rates. If you call the hotel directly instead, you can negotiate.

2. Hotels can pay a commission of up to 30 percent to online booking sites. So offer me 20 percent less than the online price, and we both come out ahead.  

3. Independently owned hotels are far more likely to give you a discount. Some chains balk at dropping the rate.

4. If you show up at 11 a.m. and check-in time is 2 p.m., please don’t be upset if your room isn’t ready. I can’t make the housekeepers go any faster. And you don’t want them to rush.

5. Don’t ask me for an upgrade when other guests are within earshot. Want a more spacious room without paying more? Request a corner room or a handicapped one.

6. Some concierges get kickbacks for sending you to pricey tourist traps. If you want an unbiased recommendation, ask me.

7. Sometimes my boss makes me lie, like when the elevator’s not working and I tell you someone is coming to fix it soon. I know it won’t be fixed until Monday, because the manager doesn’t want to pay the repairman’s weekend rate.

8. Don’t call between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. with a special request. Chances are I’ll have a long line of guests waiting to check out or in and will just want to get you off the phone.

9. My official job description: errand runner, toilet plunger, bow-tie tier, towel deliverer, and chef (that free continental breakfast doesn’t appear from above). I’ve also sprinkled rooms with rose petals and dealt with dead bodies. All for about $10 an hour.

10. We love it when you steal the soap, shampoo, and lotion. That’s why we put our logo on them. But pillows, bedspreads, and irons? We’re billing your credit card.

11. Keep it down. Even the best hotels aren’t totally soundproof, and I’m the one who has to send the security guard up to knock on your door when someone complains.

12. It’s a lot easier for me to remove Wi-Fi charges from your bill at checkout than to agree to waive them in advance.

13. No, we don’t have an hourly rate. You don’t want to be at a hotel like that anyway. "Going For A Thong"

We note that Tourism Queensland is teaming up with and launching a new tourism campaign “going for a thong.”

It is interesting that seem to be actively seeking relationships with official tourism organisations in order to move inventory via its network. partnered with Tourism New Zealand last year and was criticised within Kiwi  travel industry circles for promoting "through the floor" sub-$99 deals and 50 percent-off stimulus promotions. and Tourism New Zealand again joined forces in April this year to promote New Zealand accommodation deals to the Australian market. The "Pick Your Pricepoint!" promotion proved to be less provocative amongst kiwi providers as it offered the public the choice of broad tariff bands to drill down accommodation deals.

According to publicity, the latest Queensland “going for a thong.” campaign "will see people save up to 60 per cent off their holiday." There is an irony that Queenland accommodation providers seem to be echoing concerns expressed by Kiwi providers last year about an official tourism organisation partnering with and endorsing a campaign that is based on slashing and burning tariff. 

A typical reaction from from a disgruntled straight-talking Aussie was posted on
"It’s a bit of a worry for the Queensland tourism industry when the body charged with promoting it scratches it’s head, shrugs it’s shoulders, and says “i dunno what to do, let’s just slash the rates and have a firesale on”
Quite - It will be interesting to follow how may be modifying future campaigns.

TripAdvisor iPhone App

TripAdvisor has released its eagerly anticipated new iPhone app this week. 

This is a completely new build that replaces their restaurant review app. Users can now access the full monty of travel information available on TripAdvisor's website including accommodation.

The iPhone's GPS technology will allow users to search for nearby hotels, restaurants and attractions. Users can search by rating, distance, price and update reviews on the move.

The all new TripAdvisor iPhone application will capitalise on the surge of travellers that are using mobile devices to make travel decisions.

The app is free and can be viewed HERE.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cougar Town

At last it's Wednesday! Please do not bother contacting me this evening as I have a big night-in planned with Courteney Cox - Cougar Town is on television tonight!

Just saying...

Tourism's Luddite Cuddling

Have you heard of David Clendon? Well if you haven't, you are not alone. David "Mystery" Clendon is Sue Bradford's replacement in the The Green Party and their "spokesperson" for Tourism.

David "Mystery" Clendon is a vegetarian, an academic that has always relied on government institutions for employment and his favorite New Zealand animal is the Tuatara. Along with his fellow comrades, David "Mystery" Clendon holds watermelon political views (green on the outside and red on the inside) and considers that the movie Avatar is a real-life documentary. Sounds like perfect qualifications for a left wing MP.

So, what's he achieved in parliament so far?

A quick search on Google unfortunately did not uncover anything other than cliche ramblings, however one of his his latest press releases was of some interest to us.

We see that David "Mystery" Clendon has worryingly become a cheerleader for the The Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand (TIA) and has enthusiastically endorsed their recent submission on mining.

The TIA recently surveyed their membership for views on the government’s proposals for mining protected land under Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act. The  results were inconclusive with 50.6% either fully or partly support of land being removed and 49.4% were against. 

Before the survey, the TIA had been adding to the hysteria about "damaging New Zealand's green image" if further mining of national parks were allowed to proceed. So it was not surprising that the association with its casting vote sided with Greenpeace and Forest & Bird with their mining submission with the following conclusions and key recommendations :
a. Brand and Perception - The goodwill and leverage, built up from New Zealand’s green and clean image is priceless. The tourism industry and other sectors that have leveraged from this image may be at risk if additional mining goes ahead in national parks.

b. National parks – National parks are New Zealand’s crown jewels and no additional mining should be allowed within their boundaries.

c. Outside national parks – Mining may be considered on certain Schedule 4 land outside of national parks but only under strict RMA and environmental criteria. TIA does not support removal of Schedule 4 status from the Coromandel and Great Barrier Island.
We say that when a tourism trade body that represents Kiwi small business aligns itself with the Luddites of left you have to start to seriously question the leadership and acumen of the organisation.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Double Guarantee

The Paihia Accommodation Group is a marketing group made up of of four accommodation businesses in Paihia; The Swallows Nest Lodge, The Nautilus Resort, The Abel Tasman Lodge and The Bay Adventurer Resort.

In the midst of the region's low season, we see that The Paihia Accommodation Group have issued a press release HERE that announces a new and interesting marketing initiative.

The accommodation collective will be offering all of their guests a "Double Guarantee" that they describe as follows:
"First Guarantee; If any guest feels that we do not live up to their expectations, just let us know within a day of arrival and we will refund their payment in full.

Second Guarantee; we believe our prices are very competitive. However, if any one finds a lower price – like for like- we will refund the difference + $5 or beat the competitors’ price by $5"
So will it work?

We guess that the marketing initiative may give a potential guest some reassurance and encourage a few to make a reservation. This could become an important point of difference when a guest compares accommodation options.

But will guests take advantage of the guarantee?

Probably not. We know of an accommodation property that used as a gimmick a money back guarantee if the guest was not satisfied with their stay - it was never used once.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Motella politician of the week" award.

Stop Press!

In a surprising development, a Labour MP has talked some common-sense and wins the prestigious "Motella politician of the week" award.

The Motella Blog is quick to make fun of Labour List MP and Tourism spokesperson, Kelvin "Little School" Davis, however we were surprised and somewhat impressed with a his recent plain-talking in the following press release. 
22 May 2010
Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

In the wake of an attack on three French tourists in Mangamuka, Northland by two Maori males, Labour Party Maori MP and Tourism spokesperson Kelvin Davis says he is sickened and ashamed of the way some of his own people treat visitors.

"It is totally opposite to our customs and values to abuse visitors, and these thugs don't deserve the right to be called Maori. We are a proud and noble people and these scum undermine that," Kelvin Davis said.

"Just yesterday I wrote an article for a tourism publication, urging the government to support Maori in tourism, saying we are a unique and vital element to the New Zealand tourism scene.

These mongrels simply undermine any attempts for Maori to get ahead in the industry.

"They will undermine those Maori entrepreneurs who are looking to open marae up to the influx of tourists expected at next years Rugby World Cup.

"This latest attack on tourists just jeopardises that whole concept, because no one will want to be hosted by a bunch of Maoris who in their minds are just going to smack them over and pinch their belongings.

"Those folk who were opening up their marae were adamant that tourists would have to follow correct tikanga or protocol. This incident by two brainless bums, demonstrates how pathetically hypocritical we are. One moment we have a group of Maori insisting visitors abide by tikanga, then the next moment we have another group of Maori trampling on tikanga as they loot and pillage our visitors. So much for manaakitanga (hospitality).

"Tourism is a job rich industry that is crying out for constructive Maori input. Thugs like this just keep Maori rooted at the bottom of the ladder to success.

"This latest incident is the latest in a long line of attacks on tourists in Northland over the last 4 years. Tourists are visitors, they take their experiences in New Zealand and share them with others.

"My message to those who prey on tourists remains the same. Cut it out, stop embarrassing us and watch out if you get caught."
Source: Click HERE
Never fear dear readers. Regular pinko bashing is scheduled to resume shortly :-)

The Budget

The Budget has been announced and it appears that landlords of residential and commercial property have been singled out as the source of all past economic evils as they are targeted for special treatment by Bill English.

The theme for this Budget for moteliers is while the government will giveth they will also taketh away. 

Deductions will no longer be allowed for buildings with an estimated useful life of 50 years or more from 1 April 2010. This effectively means that all commercial property including motels will be caught up in the net with only some industrial buildings exempt. With over 80 percent of motels leased in New Zealand, the reality of this new regime will soon be experienced by the majority of moteliers during their next rent review.

Most of of the budget's contents have been well signaled before, including the confirmation that GST will increase from from 1 October 2010 to 15 percent. This will cause some headaches for the motel industry as moteliers nervously scan their forward bookings from 1 October to see what tariff has been set in stone. There will be tariff agreements with companies, travel agencies, wholesalers etc to consider. The hardcore of business in motels comes from individual company reps that regularly stay on a month by month basis and a tariff increase will need to be communicated.

A rise in GST will also be a test Property Management System software. Those properties that operate mainstream systems and have a service contract should have a seamless ride. Unfortunately those properties that have let service agreements lapse as a cost cutting measure may have to pay dearly to bring their front office software up to spec. Updating back office accounting software may also pose similar challenges for moteliers.

Most moteliers would have booked space in the paper based guides by now, however it is not too late to tweak published tariff that will be applicable from October 2010 for 12-months.

Other changes that will affect the motel industry are tax cuts that have come as a welcome surprise with the top rate for income over $70,000 reduced from 38% to 33% from 1 October 2010.

Corporate tax drops from 30% to 28% from 1 April 2011 is great news!

The removal of the 20 per cent depreciation loading on new plant and equipment purchased after budget day is disappointing for motel leaseholds.

As previously announced, Tourism New Zealand will get a one-off $25 million increase in budget to promote New Zealand  during the lead up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Regional Tourism Organisations will get $5 million for joint venture initiatives with Tourism New Zealand.

Buried in the Budget was an additional $4.5 million set aside for initiatives currently being developed to strengthen and promote Maori tourism that will be administered by Te Puni Kokiri. One wonders what happened to the recent $3 million Tekau Plus project also administered by Te Puni Kokiri that was supposed to have seen 10 Maori companies earn $10 million within a decade but delivered nothing - We suspect that the latest 4.5 million handout that will only appease a small number of providers and racially chosen recipients will deliver similar results.

Tax cuts are appreciated, however moteliers will be weary of pending rises in rents, inflation, ACC levies and the increases in petrol and power tax because of the ETS.

While there will be challenges ahead for small businesses, we can console ourselves that the economy is powered by hope, optimism, sun, smoke and mirrors. The Budget seems to have been widely accepted by the general populace that will be looking forward to spending their apparent new riches and will hopefully be staying in a motel or two along the way...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tax system explained in beer

Can't be arsed commenting about the Budget as the day job is somewhat hectic.

Instead here's a wee story directed at folk who grizzle about "tax breaks for the rich" that need to be aware of the risk and repercussions of the nation's producers "Going Galt".
Every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.

They decided to pay the bill by apportioning the total cost of all the drinks in the same way that we, in NZ, pay our taxes.

This meant that:

the first four men (the 'poorest') would pay nothing.

the fifth man would pay $1.
the sixth man would pay $3.
the seventh man would pay $7.
the eighth man would pay $12.
the ninth man would pay $18.
the tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with this arrangement - until one day, the owner threw them a curve.

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.  
"Drinks for the ten of you will now cost just $80".

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes - so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.But what about the other six men? The paying customers?

How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?'

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested a graduated price reduction based on what each man was currently paying, so that everyone would benefit. They all agreed that this was a good idea so he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay:

the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
the sixth man now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
the seventh man now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
the eighth man now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
the ninth man now paid $14 instead of $18 ( 22% savings).
the tenth man now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free.

But once they got outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $ 20,"declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man," but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a Dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I did!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, this is how our tax system works.

The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction.

Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

We see that even some of the pinko blogs are supporting freedom of speech with Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.

Hawke's Bay Rumble

We note that there are rumblings in Hawke's Bay about the effectiveness of their regional promotion. Comparative guest night stats in Hawke's Bay have generally been in decline over the last 12-months and fingers are pointing at Venture Hawke’s Bay’s promotion strategy.

Leading into the Christmas / New Year high season, Venture Hawke’s Bay embarked upon a $200,000 domestic marketing campaign with a new tagline "Everything Under the Sun" to add to their existing "Hawke’s Bay Wine Country" brand. The new campaign went down the obligatory route of re-designing the 2010 Visitor Guide and re-vamping their website at In addition Venture Hawke’s Bay invested in a TV advertising campaign using irrelevant animated "eggs" to focus on the Wellington market to attract vacationing families to the Bay.


So how effective is the campaign having a “brand” (Wine Country) and a “tagline” (Everything Under the Sun)? And what has been the return on investment so far?

One of the features of tourism promotion is that  there is often no accountability. No-one can tell if generic promotion is effective or not. All regions build empires of committees made up of well-meaning, optimistic enthusiastic folk that chew through tens of thousands of public money in the name of promoting tourism. 

John Wanamaker, the US department store pioneer, is often quoted as saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”. We can only conclude that John Wanamaker wasn't part of a Regional Tourism Committee as the majority of publicly funded tourism dollars are wasted and only serve to build empires and massage egos.

Yesterday's article in the Hawke's Bay Today was interesting. Self appointed Moteliers representative, Tim Stephens claimed that the "Everything Under the Sun" campaign missed the mark and suggested that Venture Hawke's Bay should have outsourced promotion to AA Tourism. 

Venture Hawke's Bay regional promotion and marketing manager Michael Wan claims that AA Tourism's involvement would not give a satisfactory return and attempted to defer some flak by claiming that "Venture Hawke's Bay's own communications programme could deliver better results over time."
19 May 2010
Hawke's Bay Today
Moteliers urge change as visitor numbers fall

Moteliers are claiming Hawke's Bay's visitor appeal has "dropped off the map" but the region's tourism and economic development organisation says more visitors will come to the Bay "over time".

Napier Moteliers' Association is again calling for changes in the way the region is marketed after it reported poor patronage over the summer and few forward bookings going into winter.

The association was upset Hawke's Bay was removed from AA Tourism's Great Kiwi Road Trip travel campaign that aimed to draw more visitors to regional destinations.

Napier Moteliers' Association spokesman Tim Stephens said he believed Venture Hawke's Bay's "Everything Under The Sun" media campaign hadn't worked for some of its members.

He agreed visitor numbers did go up in January, by about 4 per cent, but didn't think it was because of the Venture Hawke's Bay campaign.

"In January there were two big sporting tournaments here, the National Maori Golf tournament for eight days and the World Cup Under 19 cricket for a week," Mr Stephens said. "That's why the overnight stay figures are up but arrival numbers are still down. None [visitors from the sport events] were attracted to the Bay by the 'Everything Under The Sun' campaign."

Mr Stephens runs Ballina Motel in Taradale and said if it hadn't been for an event coming up around Queen's Birthday Weekend, his rooms would be "100 per cent empty". "A few years ago we were fully booked but now it's like the region's dropped off the map," he said.

Venture Hawke's Bay regional promotion and marketing manager Michael Wan said AA Tourism's spring campaign was considered "an ineffectual spend of our budget" and had done little to promote Hawke's Bay's Wine Country brand.

He said Venture Hawke's Bay's own communications programme could deliver better results over time. "However we are working with the AA as they have other opportunities that are a good fit for our domestic marketing programme," he said.

Mr Stephens said Venture Hawke's Bay had not met motel associations regularly to talk about the problems members faced. But Mr Wan said quarterly meetings were open to everyone working in the visitor industry.
"As you can appreciate, working on a one-to-one basis with every sector group is difficult," Mr Wan said. "We prefer to work through one agency body that represents the voice of the entire industry. The Hawke's Bay Wine Country Tourism Association has assumed this role and we will work with them on matters relating to the industry."

Mr Wan said he was happy to meet any group, if invited.

Both the moteliers and Venture Hawke's Bay studied statistics marking the movement of the visitor and accommodation industry but most times those numbers were at odds with one another.

The moteliers' association used figures from Statistics New Zealand while Venture Hawke's Bay used figures directly from the Ministry of Tourism.

The ministry forecasted total visits by travellers to Hawke's Bay would increase from 2.3 million in 2008 to 2.39 million in 2015, an increase of 94,100 visitors, or 0.6 per cent per year.

Total visitor nights were forecast to rise from 3.43 million in 2008 to 3.66 million in 2015, an increase of 6.6 per cent, 227,600 visitor nights.

Monday, May 17, 2010

More Tourism Corporate Welfare?

John Key's pre-Budget announcement of the redistribution of $30 million into tourism was met with the expected fawning press releases from various tourism organisations last week.

Tourism New Zealand will get a one-off $25 million increase in budget to promote New Zealand  during the lead up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Regional Tourism Organisations will get $5 million for joint venture initiatives with Tourism New Zealand.

With this latest announcement, the tourism sector will enjoy corporate welfare of just under $100 million this year. Politically, Key needs to keep his own tourism constituents happy as they will soon have a harsh reality check as increased ACC charges, a rise in GST and the impact of ETS start to hit home.

Outside the blogisphere there appears to be universal approval that the tourism industry needs to be subsidised with public money.

The only disparaging comment in the MSM came from Labour's spokesperson for Tourism, Kelvin "little-school" Davis, that shrieked that "funding fell short of what the industry expected".

With over 70 percent of guest nights sourced domestically, the motel industry relies on a vibrant and confident domestic economy to sustain and grow trade. The motel and greater tourism industry is made up of a network of small businesses that rely on a core base of demand from Kiwi guests. This demand is dependent upon a solid economy, confidence and the ease/cost of travel.

Instead of becoming distracted vying for handouts, shouldn't the tourism industry be looking at measures that would improve the general economy including reducing business costs and asking the government for less?

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Busted Blonde who is behind the popular Roarprawn blog published a post recently about "the antics of the attention seeking bevy of mistresses who are milking the Tiger phenomenon - for all its worth". She outlined her own helpful guide for mistresses and titled the post "Mistressology".

Busted Blonde is now being cyber-stalked from the UK by a Ms. Kala Elliot that claims to have ownership of the Trademark term Mistressology and has launched a spate of threatening emails demanding that the post be removed. She has also whinged to and Google demanding action.

Ms. Kala Elliot has overestimated the legitimacy of her cause and underestimated the abilities and influence of her target. She also didn't count on the fact that Kiwi bloggers tend to stick together and don't appreciate bully tactics from overinflated pommy authoritarians trying to restrict freedom of speech.

Ms. Kala Elliot is about to learn a valuable lesson in who not to pick a fight with and the power of Kiwi social media commentators. If you type in the term Mistressology into Google you used to get Ms. Kala Elliot's Mistressology blog in a prominent position in search results - now you don't!

After hearing about the harassment that Busted Blonde was receiving, a few fellow bloggers joined in with a bit of cyber-justice. Suddenly Ms. Kala Elliot's Mistressology blog has been buried into insignificance on Google beneath numerous Kiwi blog posts such as this one.

Google tends to be very kind to blog posts with their rankings as their content is deemed to be relevant and timely, so we urge you to create your own blog post using the term Mistressology. If you use the word, Mistressology regularly in your post, the Google search term of Mistressology will bury Ms. Kala Elliot's blog even further into the darkness of cyberspace.

A rather harsh, but valuable lesson...

Mistressology - Part 2

Anyone that doubts the influence of blog posts on Google search, need go no further than this example.

Fellow bloggers joining in with a bit of cyber-justice in reaction to the harassment of Busted Blonde have been publishing posts with the term Mistressology. See our post HERE.

After only 4-minutes of us publishing a blog post on Mistressology, we note that we have appeared on page one of Google using the search phrase, Mistressology.

Just imagine what damage the forces of evil could do if they used this power;-)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Air NZ About To Downgrade Service?

In their latest publication, the NZ Listener has claimed that it was inevitable for Air New Zealand to be transformed into a budget airline on international short-haul flights. Read the article HERE.

Air New Zealand CEO, Rob Fyfe responded by saying "Bollocks" and has used social media in a unique attempt to get the airline's reaction across.

Air New Zealand have become very clever at effective use of all forms of media:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Guest nights Up In March

The latest accommodation survey results for March have been released today by Statistics New Zealand.

For many operators that have traded through April and are now going into the winter months, these stats may only be of cursory interest. 

Overall, total guest nights in March 2010 were up 2 percent compared with March 2009. With the first three months of the year all recording increases in guest nights, this is great news for operators that can hunker down for the traditionally quieter winter months with some optimism. 

The South Island continues to out perform the North Island by achieving a 4 percent gain in guest nights, compared to the North Island's 1 percent increase. 

Nine of the 12 regions recorded more guest nights in March 2010 than in March 2009. The regions showing the largest increases were:
  • Otago, up 7 percent
  • Bay of Plenty, up 7 percent
  • Canterbury, 2 percent.
The regions showing decreases were:
  • Hawke's Bay/Gisborne, 4 percent
  • Wellington, down 1 percent.
International visitor guest nights in March 2010 increased by 3 percent compared with March 2009. 

Domestic guest nights improved upon last month's 3 percent decline with a 2 percent increase in March 2010 compared with March 2009.

In March 2010, three of the four accommodation types had more guest nights than in March 2009: 
  • Hotels, up 5 percent
  • Holiday parks, up 3 percent
  • Motels, up 1 percent. 
Backpackers had the only decrease in guest nights, down 1 percent. 

In March 2010, hotels had the largest share of total guest nights (34 percent), followed by motels (32 percent).

Excluding holiday parks, the occupancy rate in March 2010 was 60 percent, compared with 5 percent in March 2009. 

The motel sector can be cautiously optimistic by the gain in overall guest nights, in particular the rebound of domestic guest nights. "Just one last tough winter" appears to be the tourism industry's catch-phrase at the moment... 

While many motel operators will be focusing on getting through over the cooler months, there is a burning question that remains unaddressed. The hotel sector continues to take market share from the motel sector - Why is that? 

Source: HERE

Poi E video from the hit movie Boy

I challenge anyone NOT to smile at Taika Waititi's new Poi E video from the hit movie Boy:

Expedia Challenges Australasian OTAs

Have you seen those Expedia ads on television?

You know the ones - where hotel housekeepers simultaneously make-up beds in the middle of the Australian outback.

Being an "average" motelier I don't watch a lot of television and when I do, I tend to watch a series of interupted soundbites. Because I keep on seeing this ad, I can only assume that there has been a substantial marketing investment by Expedia.

The commercial that has been created for Australasia uses the pithy “Where You Book Matters” tagline and highlights Expedia as a major player in online travel. The commercial shares that over 190,000 hotel beds are booked everyday by Expedia. It suggests that consumers should “book with the world’s largest online travel company”.

This is a significant initial branding campaign as it officially introduces Expedia to Australian and New Zealand travellers. It also shows confidence in the long term sustainability of the local market.

Once the brand is introduced down-under, Expedia will follow their marketing in the northern hemisphere that highlights their website's dynamic packaging capabilities that includes flights, car rental and attractions.

Further marketing investment is planed and it will be interesting what impact Expedia will have in an already crowded market.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Aussie Learning Kiwi

Entirely Kiwi, a Christchurch-based reservation specialist, ran a competition last year where the winner was awarded a three-month expenses paid trip all over New Zealand to become “Entirely World Famous in New Zealand.” This was a great campaign that attracted some good coverage in the MSM and it's not over yet...

The winner, Nicquel Rhoden is travelling the length of New Zealand, participating in different activities and visiting beautiful destinations - basically just being a tourist. We have met this vivacious Aussie and she is a worthy winner. Her adventures have been interesting to follow via social media.

Often, a campaign's measure of success is to make it to television and it was great to see that Nicquel managed to get some excellent exposure on Breakfast television this morning.

Check out the coverage HERE.

If you want to join in the adventures and follow Nicquel, click on any of the links below!



Motel "Complimentary Hot Breakfast"

For those motels that are looking for new marketing ideas, we see that Spoof Times have reported on an innovative way for motels to offer a "Complimentary Hot Breakfast."
Former guests of the Budget Inn and Travel Center of Wichita, Kansas are suing the hotel for failing to follow through on their advertisement of a "Complimentary Hot Breakfast" for their guests. "It was the main reason that we decided to stay there on our cross country trip," said Wayne Garth of Denver, Colorado.

When asked how the motel breakfast did not meet their expectations, Mr. Garth said "Complimentary means free, right? At least, that's what I always thought it meant. My credit card was charged for five $9 meals after we left. There is nothing complimentary about that!"

"Now, let's look at the word hot. They had powdered donuts and bowls of Fruit Loops or Cornflakes. That doesn't look very hot to me!"

Rahad Patel, owner of the motel, offered the following explanation: "When you enter our breakfast area, my daughter is standing there, thanking you for coming in. She tells people that they look nice, that she likes their clothing, or that they have cute kids. She is very complimentary to all of the guests."

"My daughter is also dressed in a string bikini while she does this. Even though I am her father, I must say that she is pretty hot. She is also a straight "A" student and is going to be a doctor."

"Breakfast was served by a very attractive girl saying nice things to people. That qualifies as Complimentary and Hot, doesn't it?"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

RWC Tariff - Industry Reaction

This week there has been  some interesting tourism industry reaction to the adverse media reports of accommodation tariff hikes over the RWC. Most were short, relevant and succinct, however there was one notable exception. 

In reaction to an Australian tour operator whinging about accommodation charges, Hospitality Association chief Bruce Robertson was quoted as saying that "... fears were just an Australian beat-up, and it was too early to start talking prices. The Australians charged the same sort of rates when they hosted the Sydney Olympics".

Hotel Council chairwoman Jennie Langley has said that prices set by overseas tour operators were "beyond our control", but "the market will rule on the day".

Even the Motel Association of New Zealand chipped in with some common sense by saying: "The market will decide." 

However, there was one industry organisation that stood out. 

We can only determine that @home NEW ZEALAND, the national bed & breakfast association is made up of lonely old moccasin slipper wearing, bed wetting, socialist wowsers that struggle to understand the fundamentals of running a small business. To prove a point they ejaculated a press release this week:
“However, as we could foresee this situation happening, we advised our members by general email on 20 April that apart from a slight adjustment to cover proposed increases in GST and other fixed charges, we felt their room rate should not be substantially different to what they would charge during a normal high season period.  I and my board feel that to hike prices excessively during RWC 2011 could cause future damage to the tourism industry both for accommodation providers and for other services reliant on tourism......" 
Hilarious! We can't wait for @home NEW ZEALAND'S next announcement;-)

Rugby World Cup Reality Check

We were greeted this week with the front pages of the daily papers screaming Sky-high Cup hotel prices and the tirade in the MSM looks to continue for some time.
"Tourists are paying more than $17,000 a week to stay in hotel rooms barely bigger than a prison cell during the Rugby World Cup - but Australian tour operators say other fans will be turned off because of exorbitant hotel prices."
You can read a typical newspaper article HERE, however to paraphrase: the sensationalist revelation is that tariff in New Zealand commercial accommodation will rise during the Rugby World Cup - No kidding!

What amuses us is there is a consensus in the MSM that accommodation providers are the devil's spawn and are desecrating NZ's socialist fair-play image by taking advantage of hapless rugby fans.

The MSM have revealed some of the more extreme examples of RWC tariff and we must say that we admire those accommodation providers that are giving it a go this far out from kick-off.

Predictably, there will be some high tariffs offered by accommodation providers, however as we get closer to the event, tariffs will be pegged back as more room inventory is released and demand falls below the hype.

So should accommodation providers ramp-up tariff during expected high demand? - well of course! The market should be left to determine tariff.

So, will the RWC be the economic boom for accommodation providers?

Maybe. What is forgotten is the the opportunity cost of those visitors that will either cancel or put off travel due to not wishing to be part of the perceived ruckus caused by the RWC. Usual accommodation guest-night patterns will be severally disrupted.

Unfortunately the multipliers that are used to predict economic benefits of events are somewhat biased by only taking into account the business gained, not the business lost. Overall, we believe that the RWC will bring positive economic opportunities, however there are a few reality checks to keep in mind when hosting such a major event.

Hopefully Kiwi accommodation providers will not be following hotels in Beijing that were slashing room prices before the 2008 Olympics by as much as half due to lack-luster demand. While there will be high guest night demand during the RWC tournament, there will also be periods of low demand as the traveling roadshow of rugby games moves throughout the country.

Another lesson from the Beijing Olympics, is that hotels took a hit soon after the event as most visitors took the first plane out leaving hotels wallowing with an unprecedented low demand ebb. So how many new hotel projects have been signed off in Auckland due to the economic momentum that the RWC will be supposedly providing?

During the RWC, commercial accommodation providers will be competing amongst a scrum of overnight options for the predicted 85,000 visitors that will include cruse ships, camper vans and Kiwis hoping to cash-in by offering domestic accommodation. 

Probably the biggest competition for bed nights will come from savvy rugby supporters that have a knack of sniffing out free digs from long lost relatives and friends of friends. And of course there will be those hard-core rugby supporters that will simply stay at home and watch detailed television coverage on large flat-screen televisions with the advantages of instant replays and slow motion analysis. 

So maybe accommodation providers should be reanalysing their tariff structures over the RWC and raising the bar even further?


Those nice folk at Socialnomics have refreshed their original Social Media Revolution video that delves into the growing importance of social media (See the original video HERE).

Sorta makes us bloggers feel self-important and relevant;-)

Hat tip: Whaleoil

Online Directory Scams?

"Strikingly beautiful" Sonia Klair - shareholder and director of  
NZ Look Ltd 

We were interested to read that internet directories NZ Look, National Business Online and New Zealand Businesses Online are being investigated by the Commerce Commission.

It has been alledged that Sonia Klair and brother, Shallandra Singh have been running dodgy pro-former invoicing scams and making false representation when cold-calling businesses to "renew" directory listings.

A quick look through the online directories would indicate that there are many motel operators  and tourism organisations that have unwittingly handed over money to take part in these listings that are of questionable value.

We published the following post in November 2008 that we have repeated here:
We have posted about the activities of National Business Online (NBO) before - click Here. 

Today we received a phone call from NZ Look, a similar organisation that appears to be using the same sales techniques as NBO. There also appears to be other connections between the two organisations (see links below).

An unsolicited phone call from NZ Look, makes an offer to "renew" our listing in their business directory. I know very well that we have never had a listing with them before. As an "existing customer" I was offered to renew and enhance my listing by adding web, email and business description details for $120.00 for the next 2-years. I guess I should be grateful, as this is somewhat cheaper than the $150.00 offer from NBO. 

This time the sales pitch is performed by a charming lady that has a full grasp of the English language. This is a pleasant change from having to endure the exotic dialects commonly used by other call centre staff. Surprisingly the renewal needs to be confirmed by this afternoon. Oh the pressure! 

Soon after hanging up the phone, the sting arrives in the form of a fax that invites us to complete, sign and fax back to secure listing details. 

Much like NBO, this appears to be is a well worn tactic that dupes and pressures business operators into believing that they, other staff members or previous owners have subscribed to a directory listing. The listing benefit is dubious and the objectives for the company appears to be questionable.

We will not be subscribing to the NZ Look directory and after clicking on the following links below, we advise you to do the same...


Online business directory said...
Nice site its very interesting site! your site is fantastic.

Sarah said...
Hi, Just letting you know that due to legal action from Sonia Klair and her legal team at Davenport West I have had to remove the page at The first link remains and I find it interesting that you had that type of call from NZ Look.

"Motella" said...
Thanks Sarah. We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. It's good to see that social networks can be used to raise people's awareness of these type of activities. With regards to Sonia Klair "The lady doth protest too much, methinks..."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

AA Great Kiwi Road Trips

AA Tourism is about to embark on a new campaign that replaces last year's successful 101 domestic tourism campaign.

Great Kiwi Road Trips is the AA's new tactical domestic tourism campaign. It will create some great eye candy opportunities and we like the concept.

As a Motella exclusive, check out the following video prop that has been created to help spread the word to prospective advertisers.

You might recognise the voice – its Peter Elliott – the same guy who voiced the 101 campaign – the tone of this video will be the same as the eventual 30 second TV commercial that will be used to help launch the campaign to the market.

Monday, May 3, 2010 Change Sides

Australian Online Travel Agent (OTA), have become masters of creating cost effective accommodation promotions without committing vast marketing budgets to traditional media.

Wotif's latest promotion strategy appears to be leveraging partnerships with major public tourism promotion organisations. And why wouldn't they? These organisations are awash with taxpayer money that can be extracted by innovative private enterprise.

Fresh from of partnering with Tourism New Zealand to lure Australians to New Zealand, in an ironic twist Wotif have now partnered with Tourism Queensland in a promotion to lure Kiwis to Australia. 

It would appear what Wotif giveth they can also taketh away.

"The 'Land of the Long White Beach" campaign will offer accommodation for up to 50 percent off on the Sunshine Coast and Fraser Coast that begins this week and runs until 9 May.

Should the Kiwi tourism industry feel somewhat aggrieved? 

Well not really - there were some concerns expressed on the process used by Tourism New Zealand in choosing Wotif over a New Zealand owned OTA in previous partnerships, however most Kiwi tourism operators seemed to be supportive of the joint marketing efforts to encourage the flow of Australian tourists to New Zealand.

Using consistent principles it would be difficult to criticise Wotif's latest marketing partnership with Tourism Queensland. In fact it would be naive to think that Wotif would not partner with other competing tourism organisations.

In hindsight, perhaps Tourism New Zealand should have attempted to negotiate a trade restriction window with Wotif in return for support in previous promotions?

The Motel Sleepbox

Accommodation providers grow weary of guests that inquire about staying the night and use catch-phrases "I'm just looking for a room" or "All I want is a place to lay my head for the night" as a rebuttal after being told the nightly tariff.  Such phrases used by potential guests is code for "I am unable to appreciate value" or "I'm not willing to pay".

I have heard a few classic stories within the motel industry about how some moteliers have reacted to guests that have uttered such inane comments as a defense to quoted tariff. One motelier that was obviously having a day of Basil Faulty proportions ushered a guest from the motel's reception to a small back shed and offered to make-up temporary single bed as "a place to lay their head for the night".

Cue the Sleepbox concept has been designed for the travel-weary that need a secure and minimalist place to kip for a couple of hours after enduring the rigors of long haul flight. We can imagine that some motels could consider having a few of these stacked up out the back to appease guests requests for cheap minimal digs for the night.

The Sleepbox is an interesting concept in commercial accommodation. It measures 2m x 1.4m x 2.3m (h) with a bed 2m x 0.6 and offers more convenience than just a place to catch some Zs.

Designed by Arch Group’s Russian architects, the Sleepbox is equipped with a desk, a built-in LCD TV, WiFi, wall-sockets for laptops and recharging cell phones, ventilation, storage space for luggage and a drink dispenser.

What about changing dirty sheets and pillows?

No worries. Guests sleep on a flexible strip of  foamed polymer with a surface of pulp tissue that is automatically rewound from one shaft to another, like hand towels in a bathroom after each occupant exits.

Will this work in the motel industry? Probably not. Guest's that are "just looking for a room" by definition expect to have a super-king sized bed in a separate bedroom, in-room spa pool, full kitchen including complimentary tea and coffee facilities - they just don't want to pay for it;-)

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