Thursday, September 30, 2010

School Holiday Break

We are doing our bit for the domestic tourism industry and are taking a break from the motel over the school holidays.

We have taken the family on a skiing holiday and will end up in Auckland for a few days to remind ourselves why we live in the provinces.

Blogging will also take a rest while family bonding is in progress, however we will be posting the odd update via twitter, facebook and foursquare.

We may see you on the road;-)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bathroom Advisory

We have a general rule for erecting notices in motel rooms - DONT!

A dear reader that shares our aversion for silly motel signs sent us the following picture. We like the parental consideration that this motel has displayed for all to see.

If you happen to come across any gems in your travels, please feel free to share;-)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Only the geeks will understand...

Late Night With The Obamas

Friday, September 24, 2010

Travelling With Adult Toys

At Motella, we tackle those big "Elephant-in-the-room" issues.

The subject of Adult Toys is something that pops-up in the motel industry from time-to-time. The odd one gets left behind at our motel and like other lost property they are bagged, tagged and stored for 6-months.

One of the funniest sights we have seen was the look of shock and horror of one of our motel housekeepers when we explained to her what the large pink, torpedo shaped item that she found left behind in a room was. Unfortunately she dutifully presented her find to us after nonchalantly entering our reception area waving the object in the air as we were checking-in a bemused guest.

So for the benefit of our dear readers that do not wish to cause embarrassment to others on their travels we have scoured the dark recesses of the interweb and have found some handy tips on travelling with adult toys.

Apparently the first important consideration is packing the cache of battery powered devices that you wish to keep private  by burying them in the deepest crevice of your checked luggage. Please do not leave these in full display for motel housekeeping staff to view. This causes a huge disruption to their work-flow.

If travelling by aircraft, a suggestion is to pack light and leave your favorite larger, bulkier equipment at home and make full use of your carry-on baggage. And remember to always check the carry-on limit rule for liquids as they also apply to accompanying lubricants.

It is also advisable to label the said items, not by their cute pet-names - but for the function that they dutifully carry out. This is especially relevant to those highly technical complicated devices that others may mistake for some sort of bomb threat. There is nothing worse than causing a ruckus when "your beloved companion" is discovered by an over zealous officer in an airport security check. 

Remember to always remove the batteries as Murphy's Law dictates that a sex toy will always accidentally turn its self on during transit at the most awkward moment. An even worse scenario is arriving at your destination after an excruciating journey, looking forward to some "alone time" and finding that your travel companion has discharged all of its battery power.

When making a sex toy purchase, regular travellers should always choose products with a lock feature.

And the most important recommendation is NOT to leave these items behind in your motel room. After a long evening of getting to know yourself, please remember to pack your midnight massager, otherwise the motel owner might send you a bill for the therapy required for the housekeeper that discovers your lost property under the bed in your room after your departure. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Nice One Brucie"

We note that Bruce Robinson, boss of the Hospitality Association of NZ sticks his neck out and gives some succinct and worthy advice to his membership via the media:
"An industry association is advising bar and restaurant owners to put prices up next Friday to compensate for the GST increase that comes into force that day.

Hospitality Association NZ chief executive Bruce Robertson said he supported prices going up because otherwise businesses would suffer and jobs within the industry could be put at risk."
We reckon that motels should also be following his advice...

Air New Zealand's new All Black Livery

Black never goes out of style:

Motella Joins A Cult!


After being a curious spectator for many years, I've blindly made a commitment to join the Apple cult - My iPhone4 is only 7-days away!

Thanks to the folks at I've ordered my first accessory...

Mario's Motor Inn

We enjoy reading about the "dark side" of motelling from time to time. Thankfully, there are few examples dominciled in New Zealand.

From the early days, motels in America were associated with drugs, desperadoes, and declining moral values. Today, this notoriety has faded somewhat, however there are still some fine examples of "No Tell motels" to keep the legend alive. 

On our journey around the interweb we stumbled upon Mario's Motor Inn that is an excellent example of a motel that has found a specialist niche market over on the dark side.

Mario's Motor Inn is a inconspicuous 14-room motel located on the outskirts of town in Massachusetts and has been used as a backdrop for numerous B grade movies. The 1950s motel reeks of character and current owner, Brenda D'Agostino doesn't mind that her motel is regularly sought after as a characteristically dark "No Tell Motel" by film makers.

D'Agostino purchased the motel with her husband in 1984. Tragedy struck 18-months later when her husband was was killed in a drunken-driving crash. D'Agostino battled on alone over the years and refurbished the motel rooms to her own unique kitsch style.

Improvements included heart-shaped "luv-tubs" with foaming jet action, red towels and silver glitter wallpaper of naked women adorned the bathroom walls. The heart theme continued with heart shaped mirrors and heart shaped trash baskets for good measure. Glittery ceilings were added and strategically placed mirrors were placed above the circular beds that were dressed with red blankets and zebra striped comforters. The red shag-pile carpets completed the perfect setting for a 1970s porn movie scene.

D'Agostino claimed that her changes set the motel apart from other motels and her rooms are booked solid every weekend.

It is frustrating that there are few photos available on the interweb and characteristically the motel does not have a website. In this digital age we are grateful that folk are more that willing to paint a vivid picture with their experiences and we were lucky to find the following reviews on Mario's Motor Inn:  
"If you're into the trashy, the funny and the cheezy, this is the place to go. $95 for the night and signs posted everywhere (including a nailed down plaque on the wall in each room) stating that two persons only are allowed to be in the room. If more than that are found, you will be thrown out with no refund!

As a followup to a Kowloon's visit and in the mood for tempting fate, myself and four other girlfriends had a birthday party in the "Luv- tub" complete with cupcakes, strawberries, pink Champagne and episodes of Beavis and Butthead.

The place was definitely not a place you would want your mother to find you in, but it was a novelty. Glittery ceilings, heart shaped mirrors, heart shaped trash basket, red towels, red blankets, red shag carpets.

I'm sure at some point, someone has had to have shot a sleazy porn in this place. But great for laughs."

I  don't know whether I want to give this place 1 star or 5 stars. I can't tell if it deserves 5 stars for irony or 1 star for honesty.

I am -so- ashamed to be reviewing this place, let alone the first, let alone the only one. We've all seen their classy hot tub loving sign while driving down Route 1, averting our eyes from the potential pay by the hour sleaze that must reside within.

WELL, this jackass went there once (with her husband, which lessens the skeeze factor I think. I hope, especially it's not one of those wacky, "Kids, let me tell you how I met your dad" stories that will entertain and shame the family for generations to come). We were lured by the hot-tubs. This was also years ago, before we discovered nicer B and Bs that also had hot tubs WITHOUT silver glitter wallpaper of naked women on the bathroom walls.

They have heart shaped hot tubs in the bedrooms, which is good because as far as I could tell because there were no other heat sources to be found, though management did bring us a space heater so we didn't die.

I mean....Seriously, I don't know what to say about this place. They have heart shaped hot tubs! They have worn thin zebra striped comforters on  the beds I wouldn't touch without either wearing a hazmat suit or having a few doses of penicillin, they have televisions that, as far as I could tell, only showed barely unscrambled it kind of transports you back to jr high when you'd flip the channels really quickly to see if you could catch a glimpse of what was happening on one of the "Adult" cable channels that only came on after 10pm. Apparently some rooms are even classier and include accommodations like mirrors on the ceiling and circular waterbeds.

So's a motor inn on the side of Rte.1 that has heart shaped hot tubs and not much else. It's sketchy, it's sleazy, and I don't think I'd ever go back, but it was really funny at the time. FUNNY, -not- sexy, not at all.

Oh, for the curious, it is -NOT- pay by the hour.
And it's good news for those of you wanting to have a challenging business project - we see that the motel is for sale! 
"Motel On Route 1 Southbound. Rooms Individually Themed, Some With Heart-Shaped Tubs. Newer Roof And Updated Electrical Systems. Seller Will Entertain Offers Between $375,000 And $398,876!"  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shaky Christchurch Hotel

After the Christchurch earthquake there was a coordinated industry clarion call to encourage visitors to continue visiting the ravaged region. Within days it was broadcast that "approximately 98% of accommodation providers and tourism attractions were now up and running in Christchurch city and the wider Canterbury region."

This was extremely encouraging for the visitor industry that appeared to have regained its composure very quickly. That's not to say that it was necessarily "business as usual" for many accommodation providers, especially as there would have been difficult times maintaining a calm exterior for their guests while coping with many challenges in the background.

From news reports it would appear that the 10 floor Copthorne Hotel in Durham Street is likely to have been the wost hit accommodation complex from the quake.

We read in the paper today that Millennium and Copthorne Hotels New Zealand Ltd (MCK) has issued a press release advising that the damage sustained was non-structural and repairs were likely to commence this week with completion up to six months.

MCK have disputed "wild rumours" that the leased hotel building was condemned and earmarked for demolition. MCK have confirmed that all hotel staff would continue to be employed and deployed at their other Christchurch properties.

It was also reported that MCK is "hoping the bulk of costs associated with the earthquake will be covered by insurance..."

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.

The company appears to have had a bit of bad luck and the Christchurch quake has added another chapter of woe. We posted an item at the end of May this year about MCK that fronted up to their bemused shareholders with unspectacular returns and a bizarre story about dodgy Chinese deals resulting in having one of its hotels stolen from under them. 

MCK's trading performance for the six months ending June 2010 had improved with revenues of $61 million compared with $54.5 million in the same period last year. Occupancy increased to 68.1% compared with 63% for the same period last year. Not surprisingly the hotel group has found overseas tourist markets remaining soft, however they reported a lift in the domestic tourism market. 

In spite of improved trading, MCK reported a $20.2 million loss in the six months to June 30 2010.

Ignoring the losses incurred with the shenanigans of exposing themselves in China, MCK took a one-off non-cash hit of $26.8 million by the recent tax changes relating to the way depreciation of commercial buildings will be treated for tax. Interestingly tax woes may continue with fears that depreciation changes will cost MCK up to $2 million a year in additional taxation that will cancel out any gains from the 2% reduction in corporate tax.

We would imagine that MCK's hapless investors will be following the fallout from the Christchurch earthquake with interest.

Has Tariff Finally Bottomed Out?

OTA's like have a wealth of data that can be padded into interesting press releases that most journalists can easily cut and paste into newsworthy items after adding some localised observations and comments.

Using this dynamic stream of data is a great publicity branding exercise by that are sought for comment and are able to freely place their website address across worldwide television, newspapers, websites and social media networks (including this one!). 

The annual - Hotel Price Survey that was released earlier this year recorded hotel rates around the world plunging by 14 per cent in the 2009 year. Tariff levels were reduced to levels last seen in 2004. 

Interestingly, Auckland was the only New Zealand city of the 77 destinations surveyed by In the race for the world's cheapest hotel location, Auckland sadly took 75th place with only Manila and Warsaw achieving lower average tariff. Embarrassingly, the average room rate in Auckland in 2009 averaged $130, down from $172 in 2008, a 24 per cent decrease.

We see that David Roche, President of appeared on CNN last week and has commented on current indicators that may suggest that accommodation tariff could be on the way up?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Paul Henry - Uncut

There is a wonderful irony that the most refreshing and entertaining television presenter is given plenty of rope by our usually uptight state broadcaster.

Paul Henry's acceptance speech receiving the New Idea People's Choice award at the Qantas Film & Television Awards on Saturday night will be fondly remembered for years.

Check it out before the video is taken down:

Monday, September 20, 2010

The V8 Hotel

We have often ranted against Luddites that wish to inflict their guilt and restrict others the freedom of travel. For similar reasons, we have rallied against the current trend of car companies becoming apologists for their products with promoting social virtues above style and function by feminizing their brands.

We are unashamedly car nuts and believe that the car is the ultimate prize of commercialism that unlocks the freedom to travel for the majority. We need to rid ourselves of the senseless eco-guilt and celebrate the benefits of living in a modern, mobile society while burning carbon.

Cars are a magical combination of ego, beauty, sex form and function and New Zealand has the perfect environment to enjoy the journey.

Out of blatant self-interest, we need the public to get passionate about cars again. We need them to fall in love, get behind the wheel and enjoy the journey - while stopping off at a few motels along the way;-) 

...That's why we love the concept of the V8 Hotel in Germany. 

If you happen to find yourself traveling in or around Stuttgart, you might want to stop in at the appropriately named, V8 Hotel. A 34 room shrine for the auto obsessed among us to pause and get close and personal in a handful of suites that are themed-up.

These Germans don't seem to be restricted by tree-hugging hippies and celebrate the fun of travel alongside the engineering marvels of man with just a hint of tackiness;-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Great Kiwi Road Trips Event Launch!

AA Tourism boss, Peter Blackwell has often described himself as a "one-trick-pony" by consistently reminding everyone that cares to listen that his organisation stands alone in promoting domestic tourism.

In the latest AA Advertiser Newsletter, Peter Blackwell gets passionate:
"I always end my introduction to this newsletter by saying 'see you on the road'. On Monday this motto goes nationwide with the launch of Great Kiwi Road Trips, our massive domestic tourism campaign. As we have now come to expect, we are promoting domestic tourism without any contribution from the government, but we have welcomed big support from some of New Zealand’s leading companies and over 600 local tourism businesses. I hope this unified effort can motivate a few families to leave the mall and discover everything New Zealand has to offer."
The AA have created a great heroic self-promotional story and have assigned themselves as the market leader in domestic tourism promotion. The motel industry probably doesn't give AA Tourism the credence it deserves as over 70 percent of guest nights hosted at motels are domestic folk. 

Great Kiwi Road Trips is the AA's new tactical domestic tourism campaign that is an update on last year's successful 101 campaign. It will create some great opportunities to spotlight some iconic Kiwiana eye candy and promote the concept of burning carbon between domestic stopovers. 

We like that.

It is disappointing that only two RTOs are participating in Great Kiwi Road TripsChristchurch & Canterbury Tourism and Venture Taranaki. In a tough market it will be interesting to see the makeup of other advertisors that took the opportunity to sign on. 

The following video prop was created several months ago 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.

If you happen to be hanging around Mexicali Fresh, Princess Wharf tomorrow between 11:00am - 1:00pm, why not check out the Great Kiwi Road Trips Pit Stop Event Launch.

Friday Frivolity

Inspired by a notice erected in the Penn State University Campus dorms, we are busy this morning laminating our own fashioned notices to hang in our motel bathrooms:

TripAdvisor Goes Exclusive

One of the unfortunate aspects of modern travel is that it is now within easy reach of the great unwashed.

Low cost airlines and commercial accommodation that have not kept tariffs in pace with inflation have allowed tattooed, lager swilling, cigarette-sucking Britneys and Gazzas to holiday accompanied with their ghastly feral kids, Chardonnay and Chantelle.

Back in the good old days there was a class system in travel that would separate the genteel from the underclass.

Luckily, TripAdvisor Media Group have announced this week the launch of, a U.S. based private sale website featuring travel deals across the globe.

SniqueAway is being promoted as an exclusive members-only site where each travel deal is endorsed by the people.  All luxury properties featured on SniqueAway have earned four- to five-star rating classification on TripAdvisor's review rating.

On SniqueAway, TripAdvisor hotel reviews are shown alongside limited-time, members-only offers, providing trusted traveler opinions of the hotels, making it easy to book a room before they sell out.  SniqueAway will also rely on the wisdom of the in-crowds to spread the news, since membership can only be obtained through invitation by another member.

According to Steve Kaufer, founder and CEO of TripAdvisor, "the accompanying TripAdvisor reviews will provide an extra element of confidence to SniqueAway members as they book their travel deals."

We are still anxiously waiting for our invite...

It will be interesting to follow the fortunes of this new concept.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lonely Planet Staying Relevant

Lonely Planet is the world’s best known travel brand that sells 6.5 million guidebooks a year.

New Zealand travel publishing companies will be closely following the performance of Lonely Planet as inspiration for their own future economic fortunes.

The UK based travel media company that is majority owned by BBC Worldwide was able to turn a UK£3.2 million loss in 2008/09 into a £1.9 million profit for the year ending March 31 2010 largely due to digital innovation.

Last year digital grew by more than one third and now accounts for 22 per cent of Lonely Planet's total revenues. Web traffic is also on the up with visitors increasing by 7 per cent. While still a core product, traditional guide books are dramatically trending downwards with revenues falling by 25 per cent. 

Print is still the backbone of the company, however Lonely Planet are keeping up with a rapid consumer shift and have been investing heavily in digital delivery of travel information. This has included travel applications for mobile devices such as the highly successful iPad app “1000 Ultimate Experiences” and the recent launch of interactive e-books for the iPad should also prove popular. 

As the world's most recognised travel books, it is a major event when the new Lonely Planet directories are released every year. It is a worthy news item as oversensitive Kiwis seem to be as eager as anyone to find out what others think of them;-)

Tourists continue to give Lonely Planet a lot of credence with their travel decisions and it is pleasing that New Zealand gets some very good press as a tourist destination, however there are some amusing exceptions:
Auckland: The rest of the country loves to hate it, tut-tutting about its traffic snarls ... With its many riches, Auckland can justifiably respond to its detractors, 'Don't hate me because I'm beautiful'. 

Bay of Islands: Gets a mostly positive review but is also singled out for being expensive and a teensy bit overhyped. The budget goes out the window as a bewildering array of boat trips clamour to wrestle money out of your wallet. 

Christchurch: Christchurch is now embracing the increasingly multicultural nature of urban NZ society. 

Dunedin: Long credited as New Zealand's indie-music heartland and definitive student party town. 

Hamilton: It is difficult to imagine the decadent The Rocky Horror Show came from Hamilton. Perhaps it's a sign of the rising fortunes of Waikato farmers that the city's main street has sprouted a sophisticated and vibrant stretch of bars and eateries ... that leave Auckland's Viaduct Harbour for dead in the boozy fun stakes. 

Invercargill: Flat and suburban, with endlessly treeless streets, Invercargill won't enthral you if you came here via the Catlins or Fiordland.

Kaitaia and other parts of the Far North: Are noticeably economically depressed and in places could best be described as gritty.

Rotorua: Although landlocked, Rotorua compensates with boiling mud. With more motels than nights in November, the urban fabric of 'RotoVegas' is far from appealing - but still, where else can you see a 30m geothermal geyser! 

Wellington: Is a proud, tight-knit town, where the citizenry are convinced they're living in the world's best-kept secret".Wellingtonians lay passionate claim to the crown of 'cultural capital', and the mantle is surely theirs.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blogger found guilty flouting name suppression laws

Source: TV3 News

Motel Service In A Dressing Gown

Ele Ludemann that writes the popular Homepaddock Blog finds herself in a situation that is more common than you may think. What we like about this story is the appreciation she gave a helpful motelier that was awoken from his late-night slumber:

"The name of the motel is...

When we fly out of Christchurch early or in late we usually stay in the city to avoid the long drive in the middle of the night.

My flight Townsville to last Thursday took off at 6am which meant checking in by 4.30 but because of the earthquake I only went as far as Ashburton the night before.

The return flight was scheduled to land at 11.50pm on Sunday but I waited to see how much shaking was going on before booking a room. By Saturday I decided it was safe enough, booked a motel through Wotif then phoned to find out how I  got in after-hours.

I hadn’t printed the booking form but knew the road the motel was in and thought I remembered the name."

However, when I got to the door I couldn’t find a key where I was told it would be.
I rang the bell, a man answered, I explained my predicament and he came to the door in his dressing gown. He checked the bookings and my name wasn’t among them.

Oh dear, right road wrong motel.

I went back yesterday morning with some chocolates and an apology.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jasons Travel Media Apologises

We see that Jasons Travel Media is feeling the enviro-guilt of printing 5.7 million guides.

In a tweet sent to followers today, Jasons announced that they will be lessening their hand-wringing angst by giving away native tree seeds to their advertisers:
Sorry Jasons - we appreciate your work and have a nostalgic respect for your company, however we call-out any tourism business that champions the politically correct, fashionable trend of corporate social responsibility with naff gestures.

We say that no business should shrink and apologise for its core business. Man-up and have pride in what you do. Printing 5.7 million guides is impressive, so why not stand up and be proud of this fact.

Business should not be seen as a social welfare adjunct. The best “social” role for any business is to meet consumers' needs in the most efficient manner and this is how capitalism has raised living standards to the level we enjoy today. 

We respectfully request that you keep your native trees earmarked for us and credit our account instead;-)

Hotels Lead In Visitor Guest Nights

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

Overall it's moderately good news with total guest nights in July 2010 flat-lining compared with July 2009 with a modest increase of 0.2 percent. May stands alone as the month with the only comparable guest night decrease for the year so far - July squeaking in with a positive result is welcomed. 

With the second month of Winter's guest night results now in, it is pleasing that trade so far has not lived up to the worst of gloomy predictions.

The North Island after out performing the South Island for two months in a row recorded flat guest nights while the South Island regained its accustomed dominance by achieving a 1 percent increase. 

Only four of the 12 regions recorded more guest nights in July 2010 than in July 2009:
  • Bay of Plenty, up 24,000 (12 percent)
  • Otago, up 12,000 (3 percent)
  • Southland, up 3,000 (9 percent)
  • Northland, up 1,000 (1 percent).
The Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui region had the largest decrease, down 9 percent.

International visitor guest nights in July 2010 held their end up by increasing 2 percent compared with July 2009.

Disappointingly domestic guest nights decreased by 1 percent in July 2010 compared with July 2009. 

In spite of a relatively soft month, hotels have again managed to solidify their market share by being the only sector to record an increase in guest nights compared with July 2009, up 4 percent.

The three other accommodation types in the survey all recorded decreases in July 2010:
  • Motels, down 2 percent
  • Backpackers, down 2 percent
  • Holiday parks, down 2 percent.
Hotels again achieved the highest occupancy rate (51 percent) of all the accommodation types in July 2010, followed by motels (41 percent), and backpackers (35 percent).

The growth in guest nights may not be spectacular, however a win is a win. We can optimistically look forward to rounding off the Winter period with a continued guest night increases. 

Source: Click HERE

Shhh Motel

We have featured many different concepts in commercial accommodation including properties that feature Theme Rooms, a wacky property that promotes a Hamster Lifestyle and properties that are just plain Weird.

What about a motel that caters for folk that have just robbed a bank? On the run from a drug deal gone bad? Or looking for a place to spend some quality time with the neighbor's wife? We have found an ideal accommodation concept property that specializes in catering for folk that demand the utmost discretion - The Shhh Motel
"Shhh …. Discretion is our Motto

This new concept in hotels that has been designed exclusively with privacy in mind and to offer an unforgettable stay in the company of your partner or on your own.

On the outskirts of town and with excellent connections to the main roads and future airport, this 4 star motel offers the intimacy necessary to relax and unwind at the end of the day.

A unique environment where the most important things are your privacy and comfort.

Go ahead, follow the arrows and discover more about Shhh Motel."
Bookings can be conveniently made in 12 or 24 hour allotments and all rooms feature King sized beds, LCD TV, adjustable LED lighting, private terrace and the obligatory jacuzzi. OK, the concept sort of follows the MO of Love Motels prominently found in Asia, but we love the mystery, the edgy design and the understated style that you can view on their quirky website HERE. 

He's a step through of the check in process:

Discreetly enter the underground car park in your car

There you will fond the AUTO CHECK IN PANEL: Follow the instructions on the machine until you have completed your reservation. You will be able to choose your room, length of stay and other details.
Once the check in is completed a map will appear on the screen to show you how to get to your private garage and you will observe that only your room number will be lit up and your garage door open.

Enter the garage of your room, press the button to close the door and prepare to enjoy your stay at the Shhh Motel.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Motella Blog BacksTwo Council Contenders

Amongst a sea of bland contenders, two hopefuls in this year's council elections stand out.

Cameron Slater for the Albany Ward and Lisa Lewis for Hamilton.

Both candidates have their own special attributes and are extensively using social media to assist their campaigns.

We reckon that Lisa and Cameron would give their respective councils a much needed shake-up and a fresh perspective.... and besides, it would be fun to watch!

We have added their billboards to the sidebar on our blog along with a link to their campaign mother-ship. 

A Study in Motel Eco-Guests

As moteliers we learn by experience to quickly make judgment calls about our prospective guests and offer appropriate tariff according to their likely behavior during their stay.

High management guests like sports teams and heavy smokers are charged at the upper end of the scale, while guests that require little or no management like our regular reps are charged at the lower end.

One interesting subset of guest are those that choose to drive a Toyota Prius. Spotting these hideous vehicles pull up at our reception immediately puts us on high alert and quoting tariff at the high end of our dynamic pricing scale. 

Anyone that drives a vehicle like a Toyota Prius can be classed as "special people." They are willing to pay a premium for a vehicle that forces them to give up on pride, comfort, style, road-handling and acceleration in order to smugly make a statement to others that they are saving the planet.

We know from experience that a Prius driver by their choice of vehicle is more that willing to make an enviro-statement in public, however away from scrutiny behind the closed doors of their motel room, they gluttonously consume anything they can get their hands on throughout their stay.

The Prius driver always occupies the unit that has every single light on, the bathroom consistency has hot water running as a mountain of towels pile up in the corner, rubbish bins are always overflowing, every guest amenity including shampoos, soaps, moisturizer, makeup remover and all tea, coffee, sugar sachets are stripped daily.

We also observe the same behavior from occupants of vehicles adorned with Greenpeace stickers.

We were interested to read a recent study that backed our own guest behavioral observations that concluded that the public that showcase their environmental and social acts do so for the general satisfaction of moral self and in doing so this gives license to indulgence in self-interested and unethical behaviors - In other words environmentalists are meaner and more selfish than others.

Thanks to Whaleoil we note that there are drivers of another vehicle that moteliers should also be wary of:
"If you thought the Toy­ota Prius was gay, then Nis­san has gone one bet­ter and made a gayer car with a gayer adver­tise­ment that if fol­lowed to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion will get you deader faster than you could imagine.
I now have a new car to hate as I drive."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Economics 101

We enjoy the wacky logic behind the Freakonomics books and are looking forward to seeing "Freakonomics - The Movie."

In the tourism industry we use incentives-based thinking all the time. Like in the following clip, we we sometimes get it wrong. When we try to second-guess human nature there are often unintended consequences:

Travel Trauma

Moteliers see different levels of trauma that members of the public suffer when they are travelling. The journey should be enjoyed, however away from their usual surrounds a lot of folk tend to be on edge and irrational. 

We were amused to read about model Tiffany Livingston, that had a sudden panic attack on a flight from Florida, to New Jersey. To the horror of fellow passengers, it was claimed that Livingstone suddenly bolted from her seat and tried to open the door of the plane.

Livingstone's excuse for her bizarre behavior was that she forgot her medication. Americans don't take too kindly to odd behavior on commercial flights - She has been detained and placed in federal custody, with charges pending.

Luckily, stored in our motel shed below old toasters, heaters and candlewick bedspreads we were able to retrieve the April 2009 Playboy edition from our vast collection that portrays a more subdued Miss Livingstone in happier times:

The Right Social Media

We see that the Right Network launched this week.

Here's what founder, David Jaget has to say:
At RIGHTNETWORK we have created an entertainment television network for Right-Minded people. RIGHTNETWORK will have a presence on the web (Right Here), your mobile device and, yes, your television.

What is "Right-Minded" you ask? It is all that is Right with the world. We'll appeal to those among us who are thoughtful and reserved, as well as the bold and brash. At RIGHTNETWORK.COM you'll find programming, commentary, and lifestyle sections in addition to a mix of personalities not seen on any other network. Here you’ll find a fresh daily perspective that is unapologetically American. Everything will be presented with humor, insight, wit, and an optimistic turn.
Popular actor Kelsey Grammer best known for his television roles on Cheers and Frasier has alienated himself from the left-leaning, Prius driving, Hollywood elite by investing and fronting the network.

We like the "alternative" independent mantra of the network and the delivery of quality content via websites and social media.

It should be interesting to follow:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Mayor Bob Parker welcomes visitors back to Christchurch

Hat tip: Host Accommodation

Popular NZ Travel Websites

It is always interesting to get a snapshot of comparative Kiwi visits to travel websites in the Destinations and Accommodation category.

This data is courtesy of Experian Hitwise and ranks the most popular websites for the week ending 4 September 2010:

10 Tricked Out Hotel House Cars

It seems that there is a trend amongst some accommodation providers to appease those guests that feel the guilt of living in a modern society.

Shower pressure is being restricted, lighting is getting dimmer and rooms are becoming littered with notices hectoring guests to use less.

We say that an accommodation experience should be one of luxury, excess and fantasy. A haven away from those that wish to inflict their guilt upon others. 

We salute those accommodation providers that provide an environment where guests have chance to live out a fantasy, live beyond their means, if only for one night... Ok, that's a great segway for us to cut and paste the "10 Tricked Out Hotel House Cars."

For your viewing pleasure, we have found 10 hotels that unashamedly ferry their guests around in some of the most expensive cars on the market:

1. Jaguar XJ
· Where You Can Ride It: Shutters on the Beach and Casa Del Mar, Santa Monica, California. Guests at these beachfront hotels can get chauffeured around in style but only within Santa Monica.
· Ticket to Ride: FREE for hotel guests. Room rates start at around $500 a night

2. Porsche Panamera 4S
· Where You Can Ride It: Gansevoort Hotel and Gansevoort Park in New York. Having two sister hotels in the same city means that guests will want to go back and forth from one hotel to the other. Naturally, a Porsche is the car for the job.
· Ticket to Ride: FREE. Room rates at the Gansevoorts start around $300 a night.

3. Range Rover
· Where You Can Ride It: Mondrian South Beach in Miami. Guests at this bayfront hotel can be ferried to the Mondrian's sister hotel, The Delano, on the beach. There's plenty of room for your rollerblades!
· Ticket to Ride: FREE. Room rates at the Mondrian start at $350 a night.

4. Bentley Continental GTC
· Where You Can Ride It: At the Haleuakani in Honolulu which has a exotic automobile amenity program called "Art in Motion." Guests can choose from a Maserati Gran Turismo, a Bentley Continental GTC, a Lotus Elise and a Lotus Exige S to play with during their stay.
· Ticket to Ride: You have to pony up at least $7,000 for the hotel's suites to have access to this program. But regular ole' guests can rent the cars for the day starting at $250. (The Bentley is the most expensive car to rent at $995 a day.)

5. Hermes Rolls Royce Phantom
· Where You Can Ride It: At The Four Seasons George V in Paris who had the luxury car custom-made to their specifications and which includes Hermes-customized upholstery and accessories.
· Ticket to Ride: Room rates here start around €750 a night but renting the car costs an additional €3,800 for day trips and €750 for airport pick-up.

6. Mercedes Maybach
· Where You Can Ride It: At the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi where the use of a chauffeur-driven $410,000 Maybach is available with the hotel's most expensive package see below. The hotel also has a Rolls Royce on hand if you so desire.
· Ticket to Ride: The car can be yours exclusively for seven days when you book the $1 Million Hotel Package which includes a stay in a three-bedroom suite, private jet excursions, all food and drink and more.

7. Rolls Royce Extended Wheelbase Phantoms
· Where You Can Ride It: At the Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong which actually has 14 of these cars on hand. Not feeling the Phantoms? You can also choose from a helicopter or two custom Mini-Coopers.
· Ticket to Ride: The cars are complimentary for guests in the suites which start around $8,800 a night.

8. Yet Another Rolls Royce Phantom
· Where You Can Ride It: At the Pretty Woman Hotel aka The Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills. The cars are available on a first come, first serve basis for hotel guests and they can be dropped off (or picked up) from any location within a three mile radius.
· Ticket to Ride: FREE. Rooms at the Four Seasons here start around $400 a night.

9. Mercedes Maybach 62S
· Where You Can Ride It: At the Ciragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul where guests can hire the car and its driver for airport transfers or for private rental.
· Ticket to Ride: Room rates start around $600 a night but the ride in the Maybach will cost you extra.

10. BMW 7 Series Limousines
· Where You Can Ride It: At the Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg which has seven BMW 7 series limousines in their luxury fleet. Looking for something more sporty? The hotel can also chauffeur you around in a BMW X1 or X5 at your wish.
· Ticket to Ride: Room rates start around $400 a night but an airport transfer in the limo will cost about $115.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Business As Usual For Christchurch Motels

We see on Facebook that the Christchurch Motel Association (CMA) are asking for assistance - Forget about sending off a Red Cross package or writing out a cheque.

Christchurch moteliers are a bunch of hard nosed, pragmatic folk that are soldiering on under adverse conditions. They have suggested that the best assistance that can be given is to encourage people to still visit Christchurch. The CBD is being cleared up and for the majority of Christchurch it is "business as usual" so please send guests to Christchurch. Spread the word Christchurch is open for business and the CMA members have a bed for you.

Although news reports are focusing on what has been damaged, demolished and closed, we see that Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism were quick to get the word out that: 
The best assistance you can give businesses in Christchurch is to continue trading with them.

Stripped Down Hotel Offer

I must admit that I never heard of Tune Hotels - they operate properties in London, Bali and Malaysia. The hotel group have announced plans of expanding further into the UK by opening a further 15 hotels in London by 2017.

Tune Hotels have a unique point of difference. In order to offer low entry tariffs, they charge for all extras including: luggage storage, daily housekeeping, hairdryer, safe, television, Wi-Fi, towels and toiletries.

The use of the bed and shower seem to be the few room amenities that are inclusive of the knock-down room rate;-)

In the following video, Mark Lankester CEO of Tune Hotels explains a little about the budget airline model that the hotel group have introduced to the accommodation market: Click HERE.

We are not convinced that the public will be necessarily turned on by this experience.

In the accommodation industry if you can create a consistent, comfortable and safe environment with a sense of occasion then you will succeed. One acid test for any accommodation complex is to speculate how many couples that check-in are likely to engage in sex. If it is a high ratio then as an operator, your'e doing it right!

Something tells us that if an eager gentleman books into a Tune Hotel with his girlfriend or wife looking for love, he may check-out dissappointed: using traditional media to become edgy

Part of the unique story about the stratospheric rise of Online Travel Agent, has been their cost effective use of the internet and word of mouth to promote their services. Generally little investment has been made in the Mainstream Media.

Along with other OTAs,'s promotional philosophy appears to be changing with a television promotion HERE and more use of newspaper advertising and radio for generic branding.

The online travel space is becoming crowded and extremely competitive. Ironically there appears to be an increased investment in traditional media to stand out. With the assistance of the MSM, are positioning themselves to the public as a brand that has a cheeky and fun with a spontaneous personality.

A recent example was following Labor's election win, when seized the opportunity to express themselves with a full page ad in The Australian with a tagline: "Enough about seats! Let’s talk beds."

Apparently the ad is the first in what will be a series of edgy topical generic branding initiatives:

Motel Guest's Attitude

It always amuses me when some motel guests just don't get the following self-evident truth:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Legal threat against TripAdvisor?

While we generally support the concept of online guest reviews, we are aware of the vexing problem when accommodation providers experience alleged malicious reviews.

A UK company KwikChex that offers businesses online reputation management tools and their own online customer feedback platform claims to be representing 120 hotels that are threatening legal action against 

KwikChex say that they have been frustrated in trying to remove adverse online reviews on TripAdvisor on behalf of their clients.

KwikChex are preparing to send TripAdvisor a dossier containing details of negative reviews that are claimed to be untrue, damaging or legally unsubstantiated. If their clients reviews are not removed, KwikChex are threatening group defamation charges that they are claiming to front in courts on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

On behalf of their clients, KwikChex are also demanding to see the algorithm behind the rating system for hotels as well the strategy behind an email marketing campaign.

It is difficult to evaluate if KwikChex have a legal case or have the necessary resources to take on Expedia owned TripAdvisor. It has to be kept in mind that KwikChex by going public with a threat of litigation is gaining valuable publicity with a sympathetic group of accommodation providers and are highlighting their own services.

The ability for the public to use a web-based platform to review and recommend (or not!) a product or service seems to be a basic internet freedom that most take for granted.

If TripAdvisor are taken to court, it will be fascinating to see if the courts are willing to try and impose regulation upon platforms of social networking.

Aussie Election a Great Result For Kiwi Tourism

Australia is waking up this morning with the harsh realization that the strange but interesting ranga that they had been flirting with is now their PM.

Kiwi tourism operators should be preparing themselves for an onslaught of Aussies tourists looking for a brief respite from the reality of living in a country that is to be lead by a woman that assaults the eardrums of decent folk with such a ghastly colloquial twang.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Connecting via iPod

In our household September has been eagerly anticipated for some time.

A couple of months ago my son's 18-month old iPod Touch decided that it had enough and stopped working. We sent the iPod back to it's maker and the word soon came back that it's condition was terminal. Our bad luck!

You would think that we would be reasonably p*ssed, however due to our addiction to commercialism and our uncanny ability to always look on the bright side we circled September on the calendar as the time when the new updated iPod Touch was due to be released. Sure enough at the beginning of this month, the Apple deity Steve Jobs announced to his cult of fanatical followers that it would be so. A new iPod Touch has been released and it now comes equipped with a couple of cameras, HD video recording and a screen resolution that's better that life itself.

Naturally we will be shelling out $500 for a replacement.

Essentially the iPod Touch can do everything an iPhone can do, except it doesn't have the ability to connect to a cellular network - it can however connect to the internet via Wi-Fi. 

So what does this mean for the accommodation industry? Accommodation providers with children or grandchildren will first be introduced to the new iPod Touch when their wallet suddenly becomes $500 lighter. Then they will note that their guests will start turning up to their motels and hotels en masse with these devices.

Thanks to Apple, there will be unprecedented consumer demand for quality Wi-Fi in accommodation complexes from guests with multiple devices and it is inevitable that there will be increased expectation that this is to be given free.

With the functionality of High Definition video, guests with an iPod Touch can easily make person to person video phone calls over wifi networks. An HD video movie can be easily shot, edited and uploaded to YouTube that will share "here and now" handheld experiences, including reviews and recommendations that will inevitably include accommodation. 

The iPod Touch with it’s inherent Wi-Fi and instant access to apps makes it easy guests to review  businesses. Traveller reviews are the currency of social networking and the iPod will allow guests to easily post website reviews on the likes of Jasons, AA Travel, TripAdvisor etc.

There is an opportunity is for savvy high-tech accommodation providers to start building location-based information resources for guests around their complex. The introduction of camera on iPod Touch will create a larger uptake in the use of QR (Quick Response) codes and other optical triggers like Microsoft Tags to allow the provision of rich media to guests.

Often social networking fads are the most unlikely and the application Ping by Apple that makes it easy for fans and followers to give music recommendations could be the next big thing. Could accommodation providers use Ping to share their own music tastes or a genre that closely follows their brand?

One fad that is currently with us and is unlikely to fade anytime soon is location based social networking such as Foursquare and the potential of Facebook's recently released Facebook Places. Although the iPod Touch hasn't got the GPS functionality of the iPhone, location based platforms will enable iPod users to identify their location by the Wi-Fi connection that they are hooked up to.

Accommodation providers have a challenge and an opportunity to take part in the increasing conversations that online communities are having about their travel experiences.

This is a phenomenon that accommodation providers will not be able to opt out of.

Monday, September 6, 2010

NZ's Adventure Tourism Accepts Regulatory Control?

In response to a review ordered by Prime Minister John Key into the adventure tourism industry it has been reported that a compulsory registration and an audit regime is likely to be imposed.

Much like the recent example of the hapless taxi industry, NZ's Adventure Tourism industry appears to be happy sleepwalking towards regulatory control.

In our post HERE we wrote:
"For the sake of New Zealand's tourism industry we hope that the adventure tourism operators are able to back themselves by finding their own reasoned voice. They should be rejecting the politically correct default position of surrendering themselves to regulation by proving that they are able to stand up for themselves and continue along the pathway of self-regulation."
On behalf of adventure tourism operators, Destination Queenstown Board chairman Mark Quickfall and the Tourism Industry Association were quick to give unqualified support for regulation before any details had been fleshed out.

So what do we know so far?

A regulatory scheme could capture 1500 commercial operators that will be charged between $1000 - $2,200 for an initial audit. Further periodic audits would be necessary at an undetermined frequency, however subsequent audits would be half the price of the initial audit. It is not clear if registration fees would be an additional ongoing cost for operators?

It is estimated that a nationwide regulatory regime would cost between $150,000 and $250,000 to set up and it is not reported if this will be self-sustaining or require ongoing funding input to maintain.

One concerning description of the proposed regime is that it will be "world-leading." This is bureaucracy-speak that can be translated into meaning: expensive, prohibitive and ineffective.

NZ Adventure Tourism To Offer Jetpack Flights

Growing up in the 70s we were promised the future will bring us our own personal jetpacks. In spite living in the 21st century going on 10 years now, a casual observer would have noted that this has yet to come to fruition.

We are pleased to learn that flying around with a hi-tech jetpack will soon be possible.

Kiwi Jetpack inventor Glenn Martin is planning to enter the adventure tourism industry by opening a space-age theme park, where tourists will pay between $290 and $320 for a 10-minute flight. 

Sounds great!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Business As Usual For Christchurch Motel

We see that innovative Christchurch moteliers, Jeff and Naomi Peters from CentrePoint on Colombo Motel are updating their guests via social networks on the latest developments after the Christchurch quake:
"Thankfully our family is safe, and the Motel did not sustain any damage.

CentrePoint on Colombo Motel is fully operational. 

We are now ½ way through day 2 and Christchurch City and the Canterbury region is becoming accustomed to our new reality and finding ways to cope with it. Aftershocks are unevenly spread throughout the day and this afternoon we are faced with gale force winds which will give way to rain and cold southerlies tomorrow.

The reality in Christchurch today is that the CBD is still closed, although residents and hotel guests are allowed in and out. All city bus services have been cancelled. Taxi and shuttle services are operating as usual but are busy due to the lack of buses. The Art Gallery is the Civil Defense HQ. Supermarkets and other retail shops began opening yesterday afternoon and more are opening for business today. Some schools are planning to stay closed tomorrow (Monday) to confirm building safety before allowing students to return. The main aim for the disaster relief effort today is to restore electricity and water to as many areas as possible and ready the CBD area for re-opening although the winds could delay the progress. 

Reading the previous paragraph, you could be excused for thinking it does not look good and it would be a normal reaction to say “I’m not going to Christchurch.” However, please remember that it is only day 2 and the situation will improve with time. Us Cantabrians are a resilient lot and bounce back pretty good! 

We do look forward to welcoming you to Christchurch as per your original plans. By the time you get here the main parts of the city should be back to normal.

So how is Christchurch? 

The CBD is closed for cleanup and so that is limiting for tourists, with a reason people can move in and out of the area, but all businesses, restaurants, bars attractions, etc. are closed. CentrePoint on Colombo Motel is about 200 metres from the barrier at the corner of Kilmore St. and Colombo St.

The motel can be accessed easily and directly. Close to the Motel, the older buildings have been seriously damaged and some of our favorite restaurants within 2 minutes walk will unfortunately not be reopening for some time. Apart from that, roads are undamaged and there are very few signs of the disaster we experienced.

The eastern side of the city, closer to the coast and mainly residential did not fare as well. This is where some of the most serious damage occurred, often caused by liquefaction. Many roads, power poles, houses, lawns and footpaths are in need of a lot of repair.

Yesterday, Mayor Bob Parker stated that there is probably not one house that has not been damaged in the quake and this statement is one way of summing up the situation. Christchurch is not in ruins, rather the damage is evenly spread out over almost the entire city and probably no-one is unaffected. Even for us, the residential part of the motel (where we live) received cosmetic damage when a neighbouring chimney fell across the boundary.

We look forward to providing more information to you over the coming days as Christchurch returns to normal by way of Twitter and our motel blog page at and we welcome you to follow the Garden City’s progress.

Jeff and Naomi Peters"
Good on you folks!

It looks like it will be some time before normality returns to the city and there will be challenges ahead. Motel operators along with other spirited business owners are rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it the best they can.

We wish you all the best! 

See our LIVE Twitter Feed of the Christchurch quake updates HERE

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