Sunday, October 31, 2010

The ladies love a man with a mo

The month formally known as November has now become "Movember" and is almost upon us!

We have been a keen supporter of the Movember and will partake in this year's campaign by cultivating facial foliage that much to the indignation of Mrs Motella, will steadily take on a life of its own.

You will note that our Motella alter-ego has been adorned with the "trucker"and "soul patch" to provide inspiration along the way.

The reaction of our motel guests has always been extremely supportive and positive. It's a beautiful man moment when a fellow Mo-bro gives a nod and a wry grin in salute. Movember is a great fundraiser. It's about men having fun, taking the p*ss, celebrating manliness and raising much needed funds and awareness for men’s health.

Unlike our woman-folk, men do not dwell on health issues. Nor should we, however during the 30-days of Movember, many men will pause briefly and think about the health of their fathers, their sons and themselves. They can reflect on the tragedy that more than 3,000 men in New Zealand will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 1 in 10 men will experience depression in their lifetime.

We urge you to join us and celebrate being a man, enjoy the fellowship of like-minded men and proudly wear your commitment to your manhood on your upper lip!

Fellow Mo-Bros and Mo-Sistas needn't sprout facial fluff if they don't wish to, but can still show commitment by joining us and donating to a worthy cause Click: HERE.

Will hotels dump front reception desks?

We were interested to read an article on the trend for hotels to dump front reception desks. 

Apparently some hotels are removing those large imposing check-in counters in the lobby and are replacing these with iPad carrying one-on-one welcomes from remote staff. Sounds like a great use of technology to us, however we see that other hotels are installing self-service kiosks or virtual check-ins that allow guests to proceed through the lobby and make their on way directly to their allotted room.

While we can see some value in reception staff getting out behind the counter to meet and greet guests, we are wary of technology being used to effectively bypass human contact during the important check-in process. Maybe we are being a little old fashioned. After all, many of us take for granted that we can now book airline flights online, allocate our own seats and download the boarding pass onto our PDA. With all things going well, any verbal interaction or even eye contact with airline staff can be avoided throughout the entire process.

We like to think that accommodation is more of an experience that can be difficult to commoditise when compared with an airline seat purchase. Should hotels go down this path? Are guests demanding less human contact or is this just a cynical fad that is using technology to save staffing costs?

Interestingly, the article asked the question: What hotel check-in option do you prefer? 

With a response of over 13,000 readers only 10% preferred self service. 69% preferred full service and 21% didn't care, as long as the room as clean.

As an accommodation operator in the motel industry, I say to my hotel industry cuzzies "go for it!" Please take out those pesky front desks and replace them with self-service kiosks.

Personalised service is one of the many attributes that defines the motel industry and if hotels are really planning to disconnect from their guests, then motels have an opportunity to amplify an existing important point of difference.

Larger corporations running accommodation businesses often forget that they are embedded into the "hospitality" industry. As a consequence, staff are unfortunately required to get out of the operations side of the business and spend time connecting with guests.

While we love technology, we believe that in most cases the meet and greet, setting the scene and personally answering those inevitable guest queries at the time of arrival will probably continue to be a critical part of running a successful accommodation business for some time.

Read the article that includes some interesting feedback: HERE...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rico hams it up in safety video

We are enjoying following Air New Zealand as they roll out new videos featuring Rico

The usually risqué, potty-mouthed puppet has been toned down and used as an entertaining backdrop in Air New Zealand's new 777-300 Safety video.

Tracking Bad Guests

When accommodation providers gather and discuss guests rating and reviewing their properties online with sites like, they often comment tongue-in-cheek that they would like to return the favour and rate their guests. Now they can!

We were interested to read about Guest Checker an innovative website that allows accommodation providers to post and share information about destructive, rude or disrespectful guests. Guest Checker's tag line sums up their service: "Check them out, before they check in!"

What type of "bad"guest behavior can accommodation providers report?
"There are a total of five categories of behavior which include at the lower level, blatant disregard for applicable terms and conditions such as smoking in non-smoking areas, using facilities such as swimming pools tennis courts out of hours etc., all the way to non-payment of tariff, assault, stealing etc. Persons in breach of the minor conditions referred to would not be reported unless they failed to heed several warnings regarding their activities."
Collecting and sharing data on guests has all sorts of privacy and legal connotations, however the American based website claims to have covered all bases. Along with alleged guest indiscretions, their database only contains a guest's name, address, and phone number as opposed to more personal information such as credit-card number, race or religion. The information is kept in a secure database that can only be viewed by accommodation members. We note that the site has the endorsement of the major American trade associations. 

Guests that check-in to member properties will need to sign a disclosure at registration that will allow information to be stored and shared amongst other Guest Checker members. If the accommodation provider posts adverse information about a guests behavior on the Guest Check website, they are obliged to inform the guest. The information can stay on the Guest Check database for up to four years and the guest has the ability to comment on and dispute any post. 

I would personally struggle to add terms and conditions that included the necessary Guest Checker disclosure onto my registration forms, however the concept would have a wide appeal amongst accommodation providers.

What do you think about the concept?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Charlie Sheen Trashes Hotel

We love the Charlie Sheen's method acting technique that ensures that his character on Two and a Half Men is believable. In fact, Sheen never seems to venture out of character with his real-life drinking, womanising and hell-raising.

In a typical career enhancing form, earlier this week Charlie Sheen gets distracted while on a family holiday, books into The Plaza Hotel with a budding porn actress, gets drunk, high on cocaine, naked and ends up trashing his room. As much as we admire Charlie Sheen's authenticity, we probably won't allow him to stay at our motel anytime soon.

Luckily for us, the good folk at Next Media Animation have captured for prosperity Sheen's hotel antics.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Hobbit Wins!

Great news that The Hobbit will be filmed in New Zealand!

We see that some commentators are claiming that the New Zealand government have sold out and are picking winners, however according to Not PC there is an important distinction between handouts and tax breaks. 

The New Zealand tourism marketing partnership with Warner Bros looks like an innovative proposition and we look forward to seeing how this plays out.

The other "concession" is that the government under urgency are to sort out the lingering problem of defining independent contractors and employees. As this will be only for the film industry, this begs the question why this wasn't sorted out for all industries?

We will probably never know if Warner Bros were genuinely spooked over the actions of the CTU and their Aussie cuzzies or if they were more concerned about how much favour they were able to extract from trading-off governments in competing countries.

On the positive side what we have learned from this fiasco is that unions restrict trade and workers choice. Governments by freeing up labour laws and reducing tax are able to broaden worker's choices and allow businesses to flourish.

Must get on with my casting call...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Youth Transition Services

Every day you learn something new and today I was introduced to Youth Transition Services along with a small example of the outcomes they are delivering.

Three young "ladies" from our local high school were this morning nonchalantly walking past our motel while verbally interacting with one another (This involved screaming interlaced with copious swearing). This was not unusual, however they were pushing a supermarket trolley and after taking turns at pushing it, one of the girls heaved it into my driveway and ran off down the road with her other mates.

After I retrieved the trolley I delved through the discarded rubbish they had filled the trolley with and found amongst the fast food wrappers an interesting pamphlet from Youth Transition Services. I had never heard of this institution before and was intrigued.

After reading the discarded pamphlet and looking on the internet I am still not too sure exactly what Youth Transition Services provide. Apparently they "empower young people to identify and reach their potential through creating positive pathways."

There are 11 of these Youth Transition Services offices throughout the country that were set up in 2005 with the Mayors Task Force for Jobs and the Labour government to ensure that all 15 to 19 year-olds are in work, education or training by 2007. I wonder how that worked out?

A quick Google search on Youth Transition Services brings up various articles that mainly feature Auckland's current mayor elect, Len Brown that was championing the virtues of setting up a new institution at the time. As with many government's social initiatives it is difficult to ascertain how much this is costing me, however the establishment of Youth Transition Service was  part of the government's $56.9 million package that was to "make sure young people have the tools to become productive members of their communities." Are you feeling queasy yet?

...So what we can ascertain is that Youth Transition Services  have 11 offices that set up to receive a stream of goverment funding. They are each staffed with earnest folk that call themselves "coaches" and each branch has their own cool website. Photos on their various media show the laid-back coaches in their branded gear interacting with smiling baseball wearing youths that look reasonably pleased with themselves for not having the imposition of turning up at school and learning how to read and write.

I have no doubt that Youth Transition Services also produce the mandatory branded stickers, beanies, pens and other giveaways to promote their FREE public feel-good services. Translation: FREE means that you and I pay.

Further delving into the discarded shopping trolley, I found an interesting letter from the high school that was addressed to one of the student's caregivers (surnames have been deleted). Click for a larger view:

The letter is a sad indictment that invites so many questions including the aptitude of the school, however I was pleased that I was finally able to ascertain exactly what Youth Transition Services achieve.

Youth Transition Services is a separate learning institution set up because some students can't be arsed going to school. When kids are bothered to turn up at their alternative learning institution, they don't have to be accountable and get to wear their cool mufti-gear. Sorta makes us wonder why the remaining hapless kids still decide to stay at a mainstream school?

And I guess that we can also be grateful that mainstream teachers that can't be arsed teaching certain students have a handy alternative institution to refer these awkward pupils to;-)

Are Youth Transition Services performing a necessary task or are they creating special-needs students that are encouraged to leave school if the going gets too tough to be pampered and cajoled with a duplicated taxpayer funded education service?

Mo-tella-mo is locked and loaded

I have been contemplating for some time if I should again join the throng of men that will be spending the month of Mo-vember cultivating their upper lip region. 

Mrs Motella has once again banned me from taking part, however I have been inspired by the following video featuring Malin Akerman that confirms what most men already know.

The Ladies love a man with a mo!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bizarre discoveries in Tauranga motels

We have a busy week ahead of us at the motel as the pace quickly changes from the demands of Labour Weekend leisure guests back to our regular corporates.

While we focus on the day job, we will instigate the fine art of cut-and-paste with some lazy blogging...

The following excerpts are from an article that appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times over the weekend. Reporter Jamie Morton spent a bit of time phoning around various hotels and motels in Tauranga and came up with some great examples of items guests leave behind:
"One hotel manager, who did not want to be named, listed sex toys, adult DVDs and erotic body paint among her strangest finds. She said one particular guest had to make an awkward phone call to reception after leaving behind a whip.

"He said: 'I was staying in an apartment and I left behind a ...' and I spared him having to explain and said, 'oh yes, I know what you left behind'.

And then there was the time she thought she'd found a guest hanging in the shower - but was then relieved to see it was just a left-behind wetsuit.

Another motelier recalled one guest at another Tauranga motel who discarded his family when he leapt out a rear window to escape police: "but all we get are phone chargers, pillows and G-strings."

Athol Potterill of Macy's Motor Inn and Conference Centre had also had run-ins with body paint - but not the naughty kind.

"We sometimes get bodybuilders staying for the body sculpting event in Tauranga who leave yellow paint all over the sheets."

A ring around of motels and hotels found cellphone chargers were by far the most common item left behind.

Mount Maunganui's Oceanside Resort and Twin Towers has a bag full of them in its lost property cupboard, along with shoes, wine, nail polish, baby oil, underwear, jewellery, a sugar jar and a rubber duck.

Resort marketing manager Vanessa Gillard said a wedding veil and wedding rings had also been found. 

Sebel Hotel manager Gary Dickman said expensive rings and large amounts of cash were sometimes left in hotel safe boxes. One guest somehow managed to forget $10,000 - but collected it quickly.

Mr Dickman's favourite tale was of a 7-year-old girl from a wealthy Monaco family.

"They were here buying an expensive boat and she forgot to take her little teddy bear. I couriered it all the way back to her and then later I got a very nice card that Christmas."
Source: Click HERE

Monday, October 25, 2010

Flash Mob Attack At Botany!

Regular readers will appreciate that we are avid fans of the "flash mob" phenomenon...

...See HERE and HERE. 

The following video captures a flash mob attack at Botany Town Centre on a beautiful Sunday afternoon much to the delight of surprised shoppers. 

We expect that this phenomenon to catch on in the tourism industry, so expect to see the odd impromptu flash mob to break out at a motel near you:


How's that social conscience working out for ya?

Most New Zealanders seem to be oblivious to real-world consequences and would prefer to sit back in smug self denial by blindly allowing self-appointed political activists like Lucy Lawless and Keisha Castle-Hughes speak on their behalf.

Now that fellow political giant, chardonnay-socialist and Greenpeace flunky, Robyn Malcolm has exposed herself in the Hobbit fiasco, do you think that at least some Kiwis will be encouraged to start thinking for themselves? 

Risqué Air New Zealand

When it comes to multi-media marketing, Air New Zealand are at the top of their game.

Probably one of their most successful campaigns has been their in-flight safety video that has been used across all media. Until recently, who would have thought that an in-flight safety brief could be used as a marketing tool for an airline?

Not all of Air New Zealand's promotions are released across all mediums and social media has been used exclusively to test edgy material and push the boundaries.

Our favorite campaign was when Air New Zealand is tapped into the cult of the Cougar by producing a spoof animal planet styled documentary to support a sevens rugby promotion.

Now Air New Zealand have created Rico - a potty-mouthed puppet that is the controversial new social media ambassador of the majority government owned national carrier.

Rico's risqué comments have already gained him a fan base of thousands on Facebook and YouTube. As a stand alone effort, Rico could be seen as missing the mark or even lame, however we are titivated with the schoolboy humour and admire that Air New Zealand is willing to take a risk by shunning political correctness.

A key ingredient for many successful social media campaigns seems to be irritating opinionated, hand-wringing, humorless pinkos that just don't get it. Luckily New Zealand has these over-sensitive, prickly folk in abundance and ironically their outrage gives these campaigns an added lift and exposure in the MSM. 

Air NZ's marketing team seem to understand that travel should be sexy and fun, with a bit of humour thrown in for good measure. We like that.

Have you seen the ads? What do you think of them?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Motella's Labour Weekend

Labour Weekend seems to be a very busy time for most motels though out the country as Kiwis embark on the great New Zealand road trip with the promise of events, family gatherings and good weather.

With a full motel, Mrs Motella and I decided that we didn't want to miss-out and had a rare public outing together. With our our kids in tow we joined some good friends for an evening of social frivolity. 

After cajoling Miss 11 and Master 15 that an evening without cell phone coverage or wireless internet wouldn't be sooo bad, we all jumped into the Motella-mobile and  headed 60km inland where we were soon far way from the demands of the motel and our guests.

I must admit that I wasn't too devastated arriving a little too late to take part in the lamb docking, however we arrived on time to sample the delicacy of charred lamb's tails and damper cooked on an open fire.

This was quickly followed by the woman and menfolk segregating themselves on various farm bikes to feed out the livestock.

Soon after all electronic equipment was abandoned, so unfortunately there are no photos of the wonderful feast we enjoyed back at the farm house that included roast fresh lamb, venison along with some great company.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Travel Blogger Meets Hotel Manager

The wonderful world of  social media has given the accommodation industry so much...including self-proclaimed online travel publishers that have an overinflated sense of worth and insist on freebies;-)

Popular NZ Travel Websites

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

The following data is courtesy of Experian Hitwise and ranks the most popular websites for the week ending 16 October 2010: Does this give us an indication of what websites Kiwis were browsing when thinking about planning a last minute short break over Labour Weekend?


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Please consider the environment before printing

Looking back on our previous posts we have been remiss and have not poked fun at environmentalists for some time.

While we respect those greenies that quietly make enviro-choices without being boring, inflicting their views on others and insisting upon compulsion, we particularly enjoy ridiculing those hypocritical folk that grandstand their environmental and social commitment in a cynical way hoping to gain acceptance and favour.

Unfortunately the accommodation industry has hard-core pockets of these blow-hards.

Qualmark's "de-coupling" exercise that has rightfully extracted their Responsible Tourism criteria from their quality benchmarking assessment will assist to weed out enviro-posers that were creating copious amounts of green-wash while cluttering the environment with enviro-green neon signage.

A simple acid test to identify an eco-poser is to look for an insidious eco-vanity message that they commonly use at the end of every email they send. You know the ones, they look like this:

Who are these self-appointed guardians of the environment that insist on digitally cluttering up in-boxes by adding this inane message ?

Another growing scourge out there that needs to be challenged is the use of eco-vanity messages appearing on some blogs.

For the sake of balance we have developed the Motella vanity message that we invite others to use:

I guess we should be grateful that those that use naff enviro messages can be easily profiled. At the risk of generalising and being accused of pigeonholing, those that attach these insidious green messages are: smug, self-satisfied, self righteous, holier-than-thou, condescending, socialist prats.

Do these enviro message users really think that a renewable resource such as pine trees need saving? Do they think that others are gullible and will suddenly have a change of heart and not press that print button? Do they think that the people that they associate with are so stupid that they need their guidance? Do they really think that they will be considered by others to be ground breaking eco-heroes?

Frankly I don't need a message insinuating that I am some kind of inconsiderate abuser.

I never print out any email or blog post - but that's not the point. If I wanted to, then I would without any cause for guilt.


Still contemplating if I should join the throng of men that will be spending the month of Mo-vember cultivating their upper lip region. 

Raising dosh for men's health while celebrating manliness in prickly retro style has been a positive experience in previous years that has been enthusiastically supported by many Mo-teliers.

The only downside is that we have several regular motel guests that are permanently furnished with outstanding examples of facial growth that I have difficulty looking in the eye during the month of Mo-vember. The other small consideration is that Mrs Motella has once again banned me from taking part this year.

Still deciding... Is Getting Social

We are interested to read that have finally conceded what we knew for some time. have finally admitted that they will be adding  the ability for customers to post user reviews on their popular accommodation reselling website.

It hardly seems news when we all knew it was going to eventually happen, however it will be interesting to see what's guest review platform will look like. With the advantage of allowing other OTAs to lead in this area, will take guest feedback to another level? Sometimes launching a service last can have its advantages...

Australian owned, is consistently amongst the most popular accommodation websites visited by Kiwis and once user reviews are added, this will provide a substantial stream of online accommodation feedback. 

In anticipation, we see that accommodation providers have three choices:

1) Emulate Paul Henry and "start a group"

A good start would be join "Motelier Reviews" on Facebook that is hosted by a disgruntled motelier that doesn't particularly appreciate the concept of online review platforms including those hosted by Jasons Travel Media and AA Travel.  

TripAdvisor gets special mention on the "Motelier Reviews" Facebook bio:
"I hate Trip Advisor. They have no proof of reviewer content.
It is the most defamatory website on the planet.
Imagine saying you worked for Trip Advisor - how embarrassing !!!
I score you 0/10 Trip Advisor."
2) Rate them before they rate you!

Here's a nifty idea for an apprehensive accommodation provider. Why not rate before their guests rate you. The website Product Review describes themselves as Australia's first and most comprehensive consumer opinion site were people can rate and review products and services. The comments and ratings of make interesting reading.

3) Embrace it!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Is discounting the solution?

There has been a lively discussion on our Facebook page about the reasons why the motel sector is steadily losing market share. 

The following article that appeared in the latest Resort Brokers "Tourism Informer" was mentioned by a Facebook friend that covers one aspect of the decline. This was written by Gordon McGregor a director at Resort Brokers and gives a simple, easy to understand overview on the perils of dropping tariff. After reading, most moteliers will enthusiastically nod in agreement. 

While it is difficult to argue with the sentiments we wouldn't recommend that motels consider taking in long term tenants as a solution to boost flagging occupancies:

"Seldom will any motel operator think about discounting when the market is strong and the business is going well. However, when business declines or looks set to decline many operators consider the option of discounting – a rudimentary fix for declining trade – but what are the effects?

It surprises us that many operators of motels have little idea of just how their business is performing on a monthly basis and it is often not until their accountants present them with their annual accounts that they have a semblance of the past year’s trade. So to consider discounting without any real analysis of the financial effects can be disastrous. Dropping room rates is the easiest thing to do and may seem like the only logical approach to adopt in a declining market – we hope to give you another perspective on this issue.

The New Zealand accommodation sector has been reasonably insulated from the international effects of several Gulf Wars, SARS, Asian crises, terrorist attacks, Bird Flu and political unrest. Statistics have shown us that our accommodation markets bounced back faster than most other countries. However, dark clouds hit the horizon for many of our operators as long ago as two years with higher petrol prices, higher food costs and increased interest rates affecting domestic travellers. Just as these events settled we were lumbered with the credit crisis which has been a world wide event and has been of a lasting nature.

The effects to this crisis and the ripples to follow look set to be with us for some time to come as the focus goes onto sovereign debt issues. Governments can only get more money by raising taxes and the mere act of higher taxes means lower disposable incomes. Many travellers make decisions on trips and holidays based on a combination of cash at hand, cost of travel, and future prospects. So as total room nights sold are under threat many motelliers dust off the sandwich boards demonstrating an acceptance of tougher times ahead and a quick fix attitude.

Reducing room rates seldom ends up in getting more business in anything other than the short term as the market has proven that others will match or better your pricing structures and so the downward spiral begins.

In tougher times it is often better to concentrate on increasing your revenue from other income steams – up-selling your inventory, promoting the use of the pay laundry facilities, pushing tourism operators and  restaurants and receiving commissions, complimentary early check in and late check out, or utilising excess capacity into another use. If you are running your motel at 50% occupancy it would be an easy process to check your records and see how often your motel operates above 70% - if your motel has 20 rooms it might pay to look at having 5 or 6 of the rooms let to permanent occupants on monthly or 6 monthly tenancies.

You will also recall from previous articles by the writer that the industry has a major problem in that not enough revenue is put aside for repairs, maintenance and refurbishment. Harder and quieter times might give you an opportunity to pick up the paintbrush, sew some new curtains, recover some furniture or the like. Look to reposition yourself upwards instead of cheapening your product by reducing price.

Let’s have a look at some numbers (See Figure 1). In this situation I have assumed a 20 room motel that has been running profitably based on an average room rate of $115.96 and an occupancy of 64.4%. The costs detailed are based on averages over 12 sample motels so this is not an actual property.

Many operators understand the concept of increasing room rates adds revenue almost unfettered to the bottom line – what they seldom consider is that by reducing the room rate it has the opposite effect.

The motel above has been operating pretty well with the operator benefiting from a bottom line profit of just short of $170,000. Now let’s assume that the neighbours put out their sandwich boards and market their comparable rooms at $95.00 in an attempt to “steal” your trade. “Not on” you say, so you try to dissuade the neighbours from discounting but you hit a brick wall because their occupancy has increased and they are feeling smug about their marvellous initiative. Now you feel that you have no choice and other operators follow suit – you match the rate and beat it a bit in an attempt to have customers come to your door. You might even comfort yourself that it is a temporary move and that you will only sell a few rooms at this rate.

Sorry, the rot has set in. Customers who have paid more on the internet or through other means arrive and see your discount signs and no amount of explanation can relieve them of their frustration – you’ll probably never see them again – customer loyalty straight out the window. So now you and others have entered a price war – who will be the winner – the customers only. All operators stand to lose.

Only so many bed nights can be sold in any particular market so acceptance of the situation and maintaining the status quo is the most sensible approach. However, you have now chosen to make the bad times worse. You feel pretty comfortable that you have maintained your occupancy at 64.4% but let’s check to see what this has done to revenue and bottom line (see Figure 2).

Now you can see that your revenue has reduced $122,000 with a bottom line profit being only $48,100 (a reduction of $121,195). Reducing your room rate has a very minor effect on costs of operation.You now have a very susceptible motel and any further price reductions will see you out of business.

We have seen a number of motelliers walk from their businesses over the last 12 months and if the situation persists others will soon follow. Now if everyone was sensible and accepted that there were less room nights available and all shared the burden then the situation would be quite different. If everyone maintained their room rates and accepted lower occupancy then there would have needed to be an almost 20% drop in total room nights to equate with the losses suffered by the industry in the example above.

The figures below show that if you maintained the rate then occupancy would need to drop from 64.4% to 46.04% before you netted the same bottom line as the discounted model (see Figure 3).

NB. The costs in italics have been adjusted rudimentary on a pro rata basis on changed revenue. So we can see that price wars are expensive and only the guests gain from the experience. It accelerates and exaggerates a problem. The only way discounting works is if only a small part of the market participates in the practice – if the majority hold firm then the market can sustain and those that discount can actually achieve extra-ordinary profits.

Other influences can also come into play to erode your profit and you need to focus on costs as well. Who do you think is going to pay for leaky homes – Council’s main source of revenue is from rates and they are in the gun for 25% of the remedial costs – so rate payers will face increases as this impacts. Rates went from 3.22% of revenue to a massive 4.15% in the discounted model. Landlords are often seeking a rent review even in hard times and the rent went from 32.46% of revenue to 41.82% in the discounted model. Now if a rent increase is achieved the effect is compounded.

The emissions trading scheme will also ensure that electricity costs will increase with some suppliers already announcing higher charges. GST is also going up which will impact on costs even though some is recoverable. You can see in every day life, even in a recession costs can increase and each and every time this happens it has a negative effect on your bottom line. The conclusion is easy – don’t discount, encourage others not to discount and survive to fight another day.

Inexperienced and inappropriate behaviour will not just help destroy your business but others as well. Sit tight, control costs, offer incentives to customers which don’t cost you money and accept any market decline. It always comes right as it is in human nature that we all want things to get better and they will. It’s easy to reduce rate but it takes years to get it back up again – a price war has lasting effects."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Motel heaven

Melbourne-based journo, Myf Warnhurst writes a touching account in the Sydney Morning Herald about her obsession with fair-dinkum Aussie motels.
A square of soap, my toast in a bag and a paper seal on the toilet. Motel heaven. 

THE best thing about my ''job'' (if you can call it that) is occasional country travel. And while I enjoy the journey and the destination, there's one part that pleases me the most: motel rooms.

Last weekend I hosted the Tidy Towns Sustainable Communities awards, held in last year's winning town, Beechworth. I couldn't wait to get out of the city. It took forever to hit the Hume. Stuck in Saturday traffic on Sydney Road in Coburg, I eyed off my favourite fast food joint, the Kebab Station (Melbourne's best-kept kebab secret, may I add) and tossed up whether a falafel was an appropriate pre-award meal. A badly timed hummus repeat when announcing, ''And the winner is … Rutherglen'', could ruin things for everyone. I regretted this decision as I passed a million golden arches on the way there.

Empty of kebab and long of drive, I spent some time fantasising about my lodgings for the night. Well before I'd passed the Glenrowan turn-off, I was pining for the motel electric blanket I knew awaited me.

This obsession with electric blankets stems from childhood. I was deprived of one when I was a kid. I use the term ''deprived'' knowing this will annoy my mum terribly. She believed we should regulate our own temperatures in bed. Plus we'd all heard the horror stories of beds catching fire. And no one wanted to get burnt wearing those acrylic PJs that nan gave us for Christmas. We'd seen how easily they stuck to the skin on your backside when you accidentally leant on the gas heater. Electric blanket disaster stories were up there with the one about razor blades being stuck on the waterslide. We lived in fear.

On arrival at my motel, I was ticking boxes. There was a pool that rarely gets swum in because it's too cold. A doorbell to announce your arrival at front desk. A delightful host who gives you the milk you'll need for your cuppa in the morning. Bliss.

It was only 4pm and already I was fantasising about the motel breakfast. I filled out the request form. Kellogg's cereal variety pack or tinned spaghetti on toast? I chose the latter. Canned spag is my secret food shame. That, and when I used to eat the stuff - with a few slices of Straz deli meat in the car on the way home from the supermarket.

As well, I was eagerly anticipating cold white toast in a paper bag, pineapple juice in a glass wearing a little paper drink hat, conveniently delivered through a breakfast hole in the wall so no one has to endure the vision of my sweaty, curly just-slept hair as a result of the electric-blanket-induced night sweats.

On entering my room, I hoped there would be bedspreads (not quilts) with folded towels, a bar of soap perched on top, and a paper seal on the toilet to let me know that no one else's bum had hovered nearby recently. I've heard Madonna orders an entire new toilet at every gig she performs at. Given she's notoriously tight with money, someone should tell her about these convenient paper seals. It would save her heaps. Moteliers of Australia, you are genius. I'll pass it on.

Country motels have really stepped up in recent years. Electric blankets are still de rigueur (thank goodness) but there was no dodgy TV with only two channels and crap reception. Instead, a huge plasma telly, free wi-fi, mini bar, and my spaghetti on toast came on sourdough bread. Prepared with the same level of care I've always experienced.

Two days later, I'm on a different job and staying in an upmarket city hotel. This time there's no electric blanket but I do have an air-conditioner I can't turn off, and a window I'm not allowed to open. There's no wi-fi in the room and if I do need to get work done, they'll sting me $30 a day for the privilege. And breakfast costs as much as my entire one night in a country motel.

Guess I'll be re-heating last night's leftover room-service chips using the hairdryer for breakfast then.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Battle of the Accommodation Sectors

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

Total guest nights in August 2010 continue to flat-line compared with August 2009 by dropping less than 0.1 percent. August just squeaks-in to join May as the only month that has recorded a comparable guest night decrease so far this year.

On the positive side, with the last of the winter month's guest night results now in, it is pleasing that overall trade has not lived up to the worst of gloomy predictions. On the less-than-positive side, domestic guest nights continue to soften and the motel sector continues to bleed market share. 

In the battle of the two islands, the North Island recorded a 1 percent increase in guest nights while the South Island achieved a 1 percent decrease in August 2010 compared to August 2009. 

Nine out of the 12 regions recorded less guest nights in August 2010 than in August 2009. The regions showing the largest decreases were: 
  • Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui, down 12 percent
  • Waikato, down 9 percent
  • Wellington, down 7 percent.
The regions recording increases were:
  • Auckland, up 11 percent
  • Bay of Plenty, up 6 percent
  • Otago, up 2 percent.
International visitor guest nights in August 2010 held their end up by increasing 2 percent compared with August 2009. 

Disappointingly domestic guest nights decreased by 1 percent in August 2010 compared with August 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 August 2009, up by an impressive 7 percent. 

The three other accommodation types in the survey all recorded decreases in August 2010:
  • Motels, down 5 percent
  • Backpackers, down 3 percent
  • Holiday parks, down 6 percent.
Hotels again achieved the highest occupancy rate (51 percent) of all the accommodation types in August 2010, followed by motels (40 percent), and backpackers (30 percent). 

So the question remains unanswered. Why is the motel sector rapidly losing market share?

To underline their dominance, hotels had the largest ever share of total guest nights in August 2010. Over recent years, hotels have increasingly had the largest share of monthly total guest nights and this would appear to be at the expense of the motel sector.

It would be an easy knee jerk reaction to assume that the hotel sector is merely gaining market share by discounting tariff. While we agree that many more hotels seem to be competing head-to-head with motels by dropping tariff, we do not believe that this is the complete answer as to why the motel sector is under performing.

Now that the insidious enviro debate has been sidelined by Qualmark, the motel industry needs to urgently look in the mirror and critique the acumen of its operators, service levels and quality.

Source: Click HERE

Host Accommodation 5th Birthday

Our trip to Auckland last week happened to coincide with Host Accommodation's 5th birthday function that were held at the The Bluestone Room in central Auckland.

While we weren't officially on the guest list, this didn't deter us from sneaking in the back door, lurking in the shadows and observing the festivities.

Official guests were welcomed as they entered at a "motel desk" manned by actors that gave a reception worthy of several episodes of Faulty Towers. We estimate that there were about 100 attendees that represented a broad range of travel organisations that included Tourism NZ, Jasons Travel Media, AA Travel, Qualmark, Motel Association et al along with a large contingent of enthusiastic Host member property operators.

Brief and lively speeches were given by Host GM, Chris Lee and Host President Debs Suisted. Travel industry icon, John Sandford gave a stirring speech and the highlight of the evening was the presentation to the winner of the Host Accommodation most loyal customer competition.

Overall the evening was a huge success that was professionally executed with authenticity and humor.

The story of Host Accommodation over the last 5-years is most interesting with the quirky referral chain transforming themselves into New Zealand's leading accommodation network. They have somehow developed a unique culture within their group that sets them apart from other corporatised accommodation chains and this is their greatest strength.

While other accommodation chains are attracted to the bright lights and the huge expense of courting overseas trade, there is an irony that Host Accommodation's domestic program is also attracting the lucrative FIT overseas market.  While other chains grandstand investing in digital media, Host's core marketing strategy appears to be distributing a directory. Paper-based marketing may appear to be rather staid and old school, however it appears to be working extremely well for them.

Although the Host directory is a cornerstone marketing tool we were interested to learn that there is an advanced digital strategy in play that includes social media:


Monday, October 11, 2010

We're Back! - Almost...

We are finally back at the motel and busy catching up after an extended break over the school holidays. 

Taking a regular break in the motel game is necessary for the sanity, however it takes a lot of planning before and some time after to attend to matters neatly piled up by our motel minders. 

We have traveled a lot of kms and have talked to many moteliers and other fellow business owners. We will post on our findings later this week... 

Our household is about to lose the boisterous activities of my son as I hit the road again today to deposit him safely back at his boarding school. Today, my daughter has her first day back at intermediate school and left this morning happy to return. We are extremely lucky that she has been assigned a good teacher in the lottery that is state education. 

With the return of school, the rhythm of the motel will change once again.

Looking forward to returning to the blogosphere, however you may need to play amongst yourselves for a while as we clear our desk!

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