Sunday, August 29, 2010

Off to eTourism

Taking a flight to Auckland early Monday morning and may check in from time to time:


Merchant Services By iPhone

Square looks to be a great new concept that enables anyone to accept credit card payment via an iPhone.

Merchants in New Zealand that are grappling with the new chip cards that seem to take an age to process and spending time untangling wires from antiquated EFTPOS keypads will find the slick way that Square handles transactions appealing. 

There have been a few teething problems and the payment system is only available in the States, however by the time Square it lands in New Zealand the problems should be ironed out.

This is an exciting new concept and looking at the what has been offered to American merchants, Square (or another similar service) has the potential to dramatically stir up the few companies in New Zealand that offer merchant services. It will be a relief for moteliers that the end may be nigh for restrictive term rental contracts for EFTPOS hardware and services.

Here's a more of a detailed rundown of the transaction process:



Not only does Square have the potential to benefit motel merchants, this video also demonstrates that that this nifty credit card processing application can also be used by motel guests;-)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Alternative 100% Pure

Tim Denee simply describes himself as "a burgeoning graphic designer based in Wellington, New Zealand."

We like his clever understated retro style in graphic design and his love of irony that can be viewed on his website HERE.

Inspired by the posters on the office wall of Murray, the hapless manager from The Flight of the Conchords, Denee has produced a series of tourism posters using classic New Zealand landscapes and down-to-earth slogans.

The quirky posters unashamedly takes the p*ss out of Tourism New Zealand's lofty campaign by highlighting unique Kiwi scenery with irrelevant slogans that assures the viewer that we have a sense of humour and don't take ourselves too seriously.

Here's some of our favourites:

 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Motel Regrets?

While they were taking up the collection in church, John leaned forward and said, "Hey, Marie, how about you and me go to dinner next Friday?"

"Why Yes, John, that would be nice," said Marie.

Well, John couldn't believe his luck. All week long he polished up his car, and on Friday he picked up Marie and took her to dinner, the finest restaurant in Hamilton. When they sat down, John looked over at Marie said, "Hey, Marie, would you like a cocktail before dinner?"

"Oh, no, John, "said Marie. "What would I tell my Sunday School class?"

Well, John was setback a bit, so he didn't say much until after dinner. Then he reached in his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. "Hey, Marie," said John, "Would you like a smoke?"

"Oh, no, John," said Marie. "What would I tell my Sunday School class?"

Well, John was feeling pretty low after that, so he just got in his car and was driving Marie home when they passed a motel along Ulster street. He'd struck out twice already, so he figured he had nothing to lose.

"Hey, Marie," said John, "how would you like to stop at this motel with me?"

"Sure, John, that would be nice," said Marie.

Well, John couldn't believe his luck. He did a U-turn right then and there across the median, drove back to the motel and checked in with Marie. The next morning John got up first. He looked at Marie lying there in the bed. "What have I done? What have I done?" thought John.

He shook Marie and she woke up. "Marie, I've got to ask you one thing, said John. "What are you going to tell your Sunday School class?" 

Marie said, "The same thing I always tell them... You don't have to smoke and drink to have a good time.

eTourism Conference Countdown

We are in countdown mode for the eTourism Conference that kicks off next week with a reception at the Ellerslie Event Centre in Auckland on Monday.

Lea Boodée  from onCue Conferences + Events has kindly given us a run-down on what to expect:
"A spectacular line up of speakers will provide delegates with terrific insight into some of the latest marketing trends and business practices in the tourism industry in the digital age. Speakers will present how to take advantage of the latest social media and mobile marketing tools, and discuss some of the challenges and opportunities facing tourism operators and marketers in an ever-changing online business environment. This conference will leave you buzzing with new ideas to implement when you return to the office, saving you weeks of research and valuable time!"
As a bonus, this year "The TourismTech Expo" will run concurrently at the Ellerslie Event Centre and entry will be free of charge for eTourism attendees. 

In order to encourage more fellow moteliers to join us this year, "Motella" has become a Supporting Sponsor of the eTourism Conference. It's got to be good if it gets the Motella seal of approval! 

We suggest that you register HERE.

Police Crack Down on Campers!

This is hilarious! A family of five that were nonchalantly driving along the freeway in their white mini van on their way to a camping holiday were pulled over by the LA Police in a case of serious mistaken identity. 

No less than half a dozen police cruisers and a helicopter were in attendance to stop a supposed stolen vehicle. All four lanes of the freeway were blocked as police with weapons drawn individually ordered the family out of their mini van and had them lie face down, spread eagle across the freeway before cuffing and taking them into custody for questioning.

We can only hope that NZ police will also start cracking down on mean-spirited families that dodge motels and clutter up the roads with those dreadful slow moving, insipid mini vans! 


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Social Media WIN

We will never know if it was the barrage of outrage from Kiwi blogs or if the National Business Review had an unprompted sudden change of heart and decided to do the right thing:
"The National Business Review unreservedly apologises for the confusion surrounding our 40th birthday competition. It was never our intention to cause confusion about the voting for the Win Your Weight in Veuve promotion but people have expressed frustration and we have listened to their concerns.
The official winner (as chosen by the judges from the top 10 voted entries) will be announced, on schedule, in NBR print tomorrow.
In addition, the publisher will personally provide Busted Blonde’s weight in Veuve Clicquot to her to demonstrate that NBR will not allow its integrity, transparency or honesty in its dealings with its readers to be compromised in any way. She received the most online votes in the competition and NBR happily salutes that success.
As a responsible host, the publisher would, however, appeal to Busted Blonde to urge her guests to wear life jackets if celebrating their win on Wellington Harbour. Let the festivities begin."
A "Spectacular Social Media FAIL" has been turned into a social media WIN.

Social media celebrity, Busted Blond can now "organise a kick arse party!" that will generate some great publicity.

And how much did Busted Blond win?

At the risk of of revealing the vivacious lady's weight, Busted Blond has received 62 bottles of Veuve clicquot. 60 ordinary bottles and a magnum. 

Should be a fantastic party;-)

UPDATE: BB appears on Campbell Live:

The Aussie Green Vote Explained

Following the Australian election has been fascinating and in the spirit of Trans-Tasman rivalry, we can't help feeling somewhat smug and amused with the result resting upon a few mad independent MPs including one rabid Green MP. 

As Labor and the Coalition inch forward with negotiations to gain the necessary seats to form a government, we can't help wondering: How did the Greens manage to achieve 11% of the national vote and what does an average Aussie Green supporter look like?



I guess we can observe that Aussie and Kiwi Green supporters have a lot in common;-)

Hat tip: Kiwiblog

Will Compulsory Registration Save Lives?

Prime Minister, John Key announced a review of risk management and safety practices of adventure tourism operators last year following the publicity of fatalities that occurred in a swing bridge operation last year and in a river boarding business the year prior. 

We see that the report has finally been released with the MSM playing up to the default sensationalist claims that the industry needs to be regulated in order to drum out "cowboy" tourism operators that are placing lives at risk. And of course it is assumed that regulation will protect our worldwide reputation as a safe haven for tourists to frolic without the fear of being sullied by mythical reckless tourism businesses.

So what were the report's main conclusions?
  • There does not appear to be a fundamental problem in the sector’s ability to develop appropriate safety systems 
  • However, there are gaps in the safety management framework which allow businesses to operate at different standards than those generally accepted 
  • While these gaps remain there is insufficient assurance that preventable accidents will not occur 
  • This situation could result in harm to individuals and their families and damage to New Zealand’s reputation as an international visitor destination.
Reading the report in context, adventure tourism operators are doing a good job and there is an excellent adherence to safety systems already in place. The industry has the ability to develop their own safety standards without legislation and the gaps between operational standards are not adequately identified as causing a high level of risk.

The report even states:
"...that people should not expect that all accidents in these sectors can be eliminated. Rather, it should be expected that all practicable efforts are made to effectively manage the risk and minimise accidents as much as possible."
The main threat would appear to be that companies could start up an adventure tourism business without checks or controls. Existing businesses are apparently OK, but there is a potential threat from an unidentified source.

You would think that the unqualified threat of industry regulation that is likely to impose a compulsory registration scheme with up-front and ongoing external safety audits financed by yet to be determined levies would mobilise the adventure tourism industry into calling out some of the report's unbalanced assumptions. 

Well no! Incredibly, according to media reports they are all for it!

Quick to give unqualified support were Destination Queenstown Board chairman Mark Quickfall and the Tourism Industry Association.

Last year The New Zealand Herald blog asked the question: "Does NZ's adventure tourism industry need more regulation?" Not surprisingly the usual state worshipers responded with calls to regulate, however they were in the minority. We were heartened that most respondents were well reasoned and were horrified at the prospect that NZ's Adventure Tourism could be turned into a sanitised Disney experience.

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.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Trial Of Social Commentary?

We have been following with some interest today's trial of controversial blogger, Cameron Slater. He is defending nine charges of breaching name suppression, and one of identifying a victim in a sex case on his popular blog, gotcha.co.nz.

Cameron has made no secret of his crusade against the current name suppression laws and is defending charges that relate to allegedly outing high profile New Zealanders by using pictograms and encrypted messages on his blog.

We admire Cameron's audacity and are amused by the irony that the publicity from the trial that is widely covered in social media and repeated in the MSM will only serve to raise the profile of his cause.

Interestingly, Slater's lawyer has claimed that his client is exempt from name suppression laws, as blogging is a form of commentary.

We look forward to the decision on the case due on September 14.

Spectacular Social Media FAIL

Although marketing via social networks can still be considered a new phenomenon, the rules of engagement should be fairly obvious and not too dissimilar from other mediums.

Small businesses that are grappling with how to extract benefits of engaging with social media can take a valuable lesson from a large corporate that has embarrassingly failed with a promotion that used social media. This FAIL will have ongoing harsh consequences. 

The National Business Review (NBR) in association with Veuve Clicquot celebrated their 40th birthday with a competition. It was a great idea that captured people's imagination. Entrants had the opportunity to win their weight in Veuve Clicquot by suggesting ideas on how they would celebrate. The public could then vote on the best suggestion.

The Roarprawn Blog along with other popular blogs backed social media celebrity entrant, Busted Blond by encouraging their thousands of readers to vote. Busted Blond ended up winning the hard fought popular vote from others that were also promoting their entry via social networks

It would be fair to say that the duration of the competition was a success. There were plenty of great ideas and NBR along with Veuve Clicquot got some tremendous publicity via social networks.

Surprisingly, NBR allowed the published deadline of the competition to pass and caused confusion by seemingly changing the rules. All of a sudden an appealing, simple and transparent competition got complicated with a hint of conspiracy. To the dismay of many, NBR announced that the popular vote winner would not win the competition and the top ten would go into a pool and judges would decide the winner...a week later.

The irony is that two major brands that promoted a popular, well received competition have put themselves in a position where the public have ended up questioning their credibility. Social media was used to successfully promote these brands during the competition and now the same medium is being used to mock and discredit.

A lot of folk are upset about how NBR have handled this and the same popular blogs that were promoting the competition are now calling out NBR and Veuve Clicquot by questioning their ethics including Roarprawn, Cactus Kate, Whailoil, Keeping Stock et al along with the customary Facebook page: "We drink anything but Veuve Clicquot."

So the valuable lesson here is that businesses when using social media need to be upfront and transparent. If they are seen to deviate from the righteous course, then social media will bite them on the bum.

The results of a Google search using the terms: National Business Review (NBR) and Veuve Clicquot will dredge up bad publicity that will dog these brands for some time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Moral Dilemma

At Motella we are constantly measuring our own moral standards.

A dear reader has sent us a simple test that will only take one minute and only has one question, but it's very important one.

By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally.

Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous.

Please scroll down slowly and give due consideration to each line..

THE SITUATION:

You are in Kaitaia.

There is chaos all around you caused by a cyclone, with severe flooding.

This is a flood of biblical proportions.

You are a photo-journalist working for a major newspaper, and you're caught in the middle of this epic disaster.

The situation is nearly hopeless. You're trying to shoot career-making photos.

There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing into the water.

Nature is unleashing all of its destructive fury.

THE TEST:

Suddenly, you see a man in the water.

He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris. You move closer... Somehow, the man looks familiar...

You suddenly realise who it is.

It's Hone Harawera.

You notice that the raging waters are about to take him under forever.

You have two options:

1. You can save his life; or

2. You can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning photo, documenting the death of one of the country's "most honest politicians!"

THE QUESTION:

Here's the question, and please give an honest answer...

Would you select the high contrast colour setting, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?

Checking In With Facebook

Location based social networking seems to be a growing phenomenon that has largely become popular with users that wish to show-off the GPS capabilities of their smartphone. 

Foursquare is currently the market leader with over 500,000 users that can use the application to connect with friends by updating their current location. Points, badges and mayorships are awarded for checking in to locations for no apparent reason other than kudos. Foursquare users can also have their location updates automatically broadcast via Twitter and Facebook.

On the face of it, location based social networking would appear to be rather pointless and an open invitation to be cyberstalked, however we have used Foursquare as as a member of the public and as a location based business owner and we can see why folk find it appealing.

The game is potentially about to be ramped up with Facebook releasing its own location based social networking platform, "Facebook Places" that should quickly grow in popularity. For tourism businesses this is an opportunity and a challenge.

Accommodation providers may need to consider encouraging users to update their location at their property on Facebook Places with some reward in order to benefit from the exposure on social networks. Location updates may be able to be incorporated into a module on the accommodation provider's Facebook Fan Page along with a display of users that have previously checked-in.

An accommodation provider that wishes to invest the time would have an insight into the type of guest that would use Facebook Places. By using Facebook Places, the guest would be revealing what they did once they arrived at a destination, who they hung out with and what their interests are.

An obvious discussion that a guest may have with their network of friends after they update their accommodation location on Facebook Places is critiquing the motel or hotel that they are staying at. An iPhone wielding guest could be updating their experience live starting from the check-in at reception and continue with insightful opinions on the in-room services and amenities etc.

Accommodation providers need to be aware and quickly develop a process of dealing with both positive and negative feedback from the exposure on yet another customer feedback platform.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Aussie Election A Win For Kiwi Tourism?

In a democracy it is often said that you get what you deserve, however it is hard to believe that Australians deserve the contrived vanilla prospects of either Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott.

Australians after enduring a build up to the election (that makes politics in New Zealand seem exciting) may have to be subjected to a drawn out horse trading process to decide what party collective will come out on top.

We suspect that this is a good opportunity for New Zealand tourism operators to lure Aussie holiday makers that may need a break.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Qualmark de-coupling Enviro Green

Qualmark licence holders would have noticed that Qualmark have been a bit quiet of late. They have good reason as there has obviously been a lot of activity behind the scenes. Qualmark released their "monthly" newsletter to licence holders yesterday after a 3-month drought.

As previously reported, Qualmark Chair David Wilks welcomed new General Manager, Paula McCallum and announced that he is to step down to take a position as a Director of DOC's Commercial Business Unit. Tim Hunter, Tourism New Zealand's General Manager New Zealand Operations will  take over as Chair.

Further changes from an ongoung fundamental revamp of Qualmark's operations have also been announced. Qualmark have confirmed that they will be evacuating their Auckland inner city offices off Queen Street and camping with Tourism New Zealand further up the road.

Qualmark licence holders that are interested in how Qualmark will carry out future assessments were given some clues:
"...in future we plan to tailor the process more closely to business type and make it more appropriate to a business's assessment history."
If anyone knows what this means, please enlighten us?

We see that after accommodation sector reviews, the Hotels and Holiday Parks criteria have been finalised. This begs the question: when can we expect the "Motel" sector criteria to be finally completed after "years" of inane, unfocused debate? Maybe new General Manager, Paula McCallum can take charge of this elongated consultation merry-go-round soon after commencing her new position. This would be a worthy project for her to cut her teeth on and get an early insight into the complex dynamics of herding cats.

For us the highlight of the newsletter was the first official communication that we have seen from Qualmark that confirms that the contentious, politically correct environmental criteria will be finally extracted from their quality assessment (Qualmark prefers to use the term "de-coupling"). This means that accommodation businesses will no longer have their quality star gradings dependent upon demonstrating their allegiance to fashionable environmental and social mantra. 

We have to give credit where credit is due. Qualmark after making a lot of noise and effort peddling a Dark Green Agenda have at last admitted that they were wrong. We hope they get back on track by focusing on offering a compelling quality benchmarking system for the tourism industry.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Air New Zealand Safety Video

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

In the build up to the RWC, Air New Zealand have today released their new in-flight safety video. Until recently, who would have thought that an in-flight safety brief could be used as a marketing tool for an airline?

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:

Motel Pet Policy

Frivolous Friday

Have you heard the one about the young man that after a long courtship finally managed to convince his gorgeous girlfriend to accompany him to a local motel?

Soon after checking-in, matters had progressed to the point where the young man and his girlfriend were naked in the motel bed when the girl had a sudden change of heart.

"I suppose you're going to tell me now that you're waiting for 'Mr. Right'," he said dejectedly.

"That's a silly old romantic notion," laughed the girl. "I'm just waiting for 'Mr. Big'."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Challenges Ahead For Qualmark's New General Manager

We see that Paula McCallum has been appointed to the position of General Manager of Qualmark NZ Ltd and commences her position on the 1 September 2010.

Her last position was General Manager, Auckland and Northland for Fastway Couriers. She has operated two of her own businesses and held a significant channel management and marketing role with United Networks in Auckland. 

What is immediately evident is that the job-title of Qulamark's head has been amended from "Chief Executive" to "General Manager."

The streamlining of Qualmark's operations started in April this year when  Chief Executive, Geoff Penrose was issued with a DCM (Don't come Monday). David Wilks, General Manager with Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) took over a caretakers role of Qualmark until a replacement was found. 

Geoff Penrose will probably be most remembered for being at the helm when Qualmark inserted a fashionable and politically correct environmental criteria into their quality assessment under the maternal eye of the previous government. This meant that accommodation businesses were assessed on their allegiance to environmental and social mantra as part of their quality assessment process. 

This embedded criteria meant that an accommodation property had the opportunity to maintain or in some circumstances, increase their quality star rating due to their environmental and social efforts. 

We understand that the environmental criteria will be extracted from Qualmark's quality assessment and be offered as a stand alone assessment. Token minimum environmental standards will remain within the quality assessment. 

As Qualmark will now be run remotely from Tourism New Zealand, the vacant CEO position has been made redundant and has been replaced with a "General Manager" that will have reduced discretion by performing the function of an office manager. Major strategic decisions will be made outside the organisation.

There is no doubt Qualmark's other "back office" functions will also move over to TNZ and this will have an immediate positive effect on Qualmark's efficiencies and financial outgoings.

We suspect that Qualmark will be moving out of their offices just off Queen Street in Auckland into a more modest abode, possibly camping within existing Tourism New Zealand office space. 

As is usual with any major corporate shake-up there will be a customary change in branding and it is planed to give greater prominence to the stars. For motels, Qualmark will finally drop the contentious "Service and Self-contained" moniker and the sector will be branded as "Motels." 

The assessment process is to be streamlined, however there is not too much detail released to stakeholders on how this will be achieved at this stage. We do know that properties that choose to be assessed for a separate Qualmark Green enviro rating will now be able to be assessed and graded on the spot. 

Qualmark's Shareholders, Tourism NZ and the Automobile Association have "renewed their support" so funding streams at least in the short term have been agreed. 

It will be interesting to follow what savings and efficiencies Qualmark will achieve? What future public funding it will take to sustain Qualmark? And how will the tourism industry react to the changes?

Hopefully, Paula McCallum's appointment will not prove to be a hospital pass. She will have an exciting ride over the next couple of years as Qualmark goes through the pain of evolving from a government funded social adjunct to a lean and mean business unit that will be privatised in the National led government's second term.


Online Trends

Click for larger image

We see that Nielsen have recently published a report on internet usage in the United States and there are some interesting trends that will be comparable to users in New Zealand.

The stats reveal that online activities on social networks are increasingly a big deal. We have all read gushing media reports about the importance of social media and impressive user figures of the social network platforms. Now that social media has overtaken porn as the number 1 activity on the web, we intuitively know that as a business operator we need to be in this space!

The big daddy of social media is Facebook that has been able to reach 200 million users in 12-months and has recently claimed to have surpassed 500 million users. It is difficult to put this into context without breaking down exactly how Facebook users are using this medium. As a business operator we are interested in finding out how many users are open to be persuaded on ways to spend discretionary income from information posted by their commercial friends on social networks?

Facebook is of course not the only social media platform out there and a 43% jump in time that internet users spend on all social media networks tells us that the public are giving more credence to other people's recommendations and opinions.

Most of the leading examples in the travel industry that are using social media well are larger corporates. Air New Zealand is arguably the best example of a company that manipulates all media extremely well.

What we are interested in is how small accommodation business operators can use social media to their advantage to achieve an acceptable ROI on the time and effort that they invest. There are a few that are active in this space, however we find it difficult to find good examples of small accommodation providers that are churning out compelling content.

So what would make a member of the public follow the social network of a motel operator? Would they be interested in the motel's latest weekend specials, the new widescreen LCD TVs, local events or the operator's progress on Farmville? In our humble opinion most moteliers find it difficult to find an appropriate, consistent pitch and articulate a compelling reason for the public to follow them on social networks.

There seems to be a stilted reluctance and inability for most moteliers to expose themselves to the world via social networks. This is ironic, as behind the counter or on the phone, most motel operators sell themselves extremely well without hesitation. When it comes to telling a story about themselves and their business online in a powerful, irresistible way, most moteliers fail miserably - including ourselves.

We like to use the adage that: 
"In the motel business, the money is made in the office, not on the ride-on mower." 
While attending the eTourism Conference at the end of this month, we will be contemplating the new skills "in the office" that will be needed if we wish to maximize social media platforms to maintain and attract new business.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Motel Hot Tub

Hat tip: John Horn

Best Motel/hotel Movie Scenes - Part 4

This is the second to last post of the lazy blogging series that counts down the "Top 10 Best Motel/Hotel Movie Scenes" compiled by hotel company Travelodge from more than 3,000 respondents.

We have added some movie footage for good measure and will reveal the number 1 best scene along with the runner up in our final post in this series (when we get around to it):

3. The Shining - The murdered twins meeting  



4. Beverly Hills Cop - Eddie Murphy chatting his way upstairs

Hotels.com go Virtual

OTAs are investing a lot of money trying to attract a greater audience.

We have been reading the publicity about the launch of Hotels.com's new 3D augmented reality website: virtualvacay.com. This interactive website allows the viewer to place themselves in popular holiday destinations across the U.S. via webcam, check out the weather and send personalized postcards of their virtual trip.

We took it for a test drive and....were somewhat underwhelmed, however the graphics were very cool and we can see the potential of this type of application in other travel websites.

So, ignoring the hoopla, did it work? Well apparently yes -  Hotels.com claim that traffic jumped by 26% and bookings soared by 36%. When it comes to planning a trip away, the public are more than happy to spend a lot of time (usually at work!) and are turned on by a new quirky screen based attraction.

It will be interesting to see if more user interaction via webcam will be used to spice up other travel based websites.

Check out Hotel.com's Virtual Vacation website HERE and the introductory video:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

eTourism Conference Update

We are counting down to the eTourism Conference that we will be attending in Auckland at the end of this month.

In this post, we profile the speakers that that we look forward to delivering a credible mix of the latest of eTourism trends.

To register and for further details we suggest that you click HERE. 

Jim Brody - TripAdvisor (USA)
trip advisor
Jim Brody heads up destination marketing outreach efforts for TripAdvisor. Jim joined the company in 2005, bringing with him fifteen years experience working with DMOs in the broadcast and internet arenas, and over twenty years experience in media as a whole. Jim developed the DMO program for TripAdvisor, and has grown their DMO team from one to six people, working with hundreds of organizations from all over the world, ranging from small towns to whole countriesw. He specialises in helping his clients navigate the social media terrain and effectively utilize both TripAdvisor and other Web 2.0 sites to market themselves. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
http://www.tripadvisor.com 

Fabienne Wintle Rabbiosi - Untangle My Web (Australia)
fabien
Fabienne is a web savvy tourism marketer and business entrepreneur. She holds Masters Degrees in Information Technology and Tourism Management, a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and has spent the past 10 years in different positions blending web and marketing. Before setting up UntangleMyWeb.com in 2007 she developed and managed the Market Intelligence division of Gold Coast Tourism. Fabienne has experience in working closely with local small business operators to national and international tourism entities in areas as diverse as the Swiss Alps to Coastal and Outback Australia.
www.UntangleMyWeb.com 

Craig Garner - Magpie Media
trip advisor
As Managing Director of Magpie Media, Craig Garner helps people who want to use online communications to market and grow their business. Craig is actively engaged in a wide range of projects working alongside business leaders that are passionate about making the most of their potential. By helping them create effective strategic and operational pathways to their existing and future customers and markets he can help minimise your frustration, reduce your risks and save you considerable time and money.
www.magpiemedia.biz 

Michael Carney - Netmarketing Services Limited
Michael Carney
Michael Carney is a longtime marketer and an early adopter in the online world (since 1987) who brings traditional marketing practices and processes into the digital space. Michael is Chairman of the NZ Marketing Association's eMarketing Network and runs his own marketing consultancy based in Auckland. He's also the creator and tutor of a very-well-received seven week online course on Social Media Marketing and offers a customised version for Travel & Tourism Marketers available via http://travelandsocialmedia.co.nz
www.travelandsocialmedia.co.nz 

Andrew Pascoe - Price Tech Solutions
Michael Carney
Andrew Pascoe founded PriceTech Solutions in 2006. PriceTech Solutions provides for the provision of revenue, management and dynamic pricing software and consultancy in the accommodation, car rental, ferry, sport and event / activity markets in New Zealand and Australia.
He had previously presented at the Pricing in Travel Conference Asia / Pacific in Bangkok 2007 and also Singapore in 2008.
www.pricetech.co.nz 

Patrick Verryt -Tourism New Zealand

Patrick is a New Zealander who returned in 2009 after living offshore for seven years. He worked in Belgium for Sony Esolutions as the General Manager of Marketing for the online business throughout Europe before moving to the United Kingdom to set up and grow a New Zealand business owned by ex Navman founder Peter Maire. Following expansion of this business into Europe, Asia and Africa his family returned to New Zealand where he took up the role as Online Manager for Tourism New Zealand.
www.tourismnewzealand.com
www.newzealand.com 

Daniel Roberts - Xebidy

Dan Roberts is the Managing Director of Xebidy with over 15 years experience in tourism and the web. Dan started in the tourism industry as General Manager of Outside Adventure Exchange (a chain of travel equipment retail stores and traveller meeting places in Sydney, Auckland and Cairns) before becoming the General Manager of Kiwi Experience from 1995 to 1999, which along with Oz Experience was at the forefront of developing the modern backpacking industry in Australia and New Zealand. In 2003 Dan took the helm of TravelFAT (now Travelonomy) an Irish technology company specialising in the development of booking engines for the backpacking industry. Dan is also Managing Editor for the travel online community Travel Generation, is a Travel Insights 100 Travel Expert, and heads up the small South Inc. Southern Lakes Business Incubator.
www.Xebidy.com

Monday, August 16, 2010

Shouldn't the market decide motel tariff and terms?

What a terrible bunch of money-hungry capitalists the moteliers are in Napier - Fancy leaving a bad taste in a woman’s mouth by imposing a minimum night stay requirement during a high demand period. Surely this hapless woman has an entitlement according to her needs?

The cheek of moteliers picking and choosing accommodation reservations at will, hiking up fees according to demand AND imposing minimum night stays. Surely everyone in this utilitarian society are created equal and motels should be not be permitted to set tariff and conditions for rooms according to market forces?

Everyone knows that the free market is an outdated regime and the best way to allocate a scarce resource would be for motels in Napier to allow Venture Hawkes Bay to sell rooms on behalf at a knock-down tariff as dictated by a small sub-committee of ex-school teachers, councilors and other self described tourism and marketing experts.
 

The commissions charged to Napier moteliers by Venture Hawkes Bay for taking on the burden of managing motel reservations could make up for their "oversight" of blowing the budget by $500k ;-)

Driving NZ by iPhone


We have visited the secret lair of The Stimulus Group that produce unique applications for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

We have been privileged to have personally taken part in a creative late night brain storming session, however after waking up late the next morning feeling somewhat groggy with a splitting headache we are unable to report the inner workings of The Stimulus Group with much clarity.

You may remember that Stimulus Group recently released the Complete Stain Removal app that allows moteliers to reach for their iPhone to provide a solution for those pesky stains left behind by accident prone guests.

We see that Stimulus have released a new app that we think will be extremely useful for overseas tourists driving between motels in New Zealand. They have aptly called it, Driving in New Zealand.
"If you are a tourist travelling to New Zealand this is an essential guide for you. This app covers the main things you need to know before you drive on New Zealand roads. The guide contains information on speed restrictions, what side of the road to drive on, overtaking rules and who goes first at the intersection... and a lot more stuff you thought you knew but probably didn't."
We suggest that you head over HERE to check it out.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Well done!

Peter Nash (MANZ Board Member) presenting John Haynes Life Membership of the East Coast Branch Motel Association of NZ accompanied with Valmai Haynes

More intriguing statistics

Are you over those intriguing statistics videos set to pretentious music?

Best Motel/Hotel Movie Scenes Part 3

Lazy blogging continues with the countdown to the "Top 10 Best Motel/Hotel Movie Scenes" compiled by hotel company Travelodge from more than 3,000 respondents.

We have added some movie footage for good measure and are counting down to the number 1 best scene over several posts: 

6. Thelma and Louise – Brad Pitt and Geena Davis’ sex scene


5. Indecent Proposal - Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore’s sex scene on a $1m bed

 

    Regrets

    Had to laugh at this scruffy "bongo wagon" that I parked next to recently;-)

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Motel Relations

    One day grandpa says to grandma "Why don't we go to the motel like we used to do when we were young and get kinky?"

    So they get to the motel and go into the room.

    Grandpa takes off his glasses and says he going to get into the shower to freshen up.

    In the meantime grandma takes off her clothes and gets into bed.

    She decides to do some leg stretches to limber up ( it's been awhile ).

    Well she throws her legs over her head and they get caught in the headboard.

    Right then grandpa walks out of the bathroom and sees her that way.

    "My God woman" he says "you need to put your teeth in and comb your hair!".


    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Name and Shame Campaign

    We missed Paul Henry this morning and had to catch up with his grilling of Helen Kelly from the CTU on the interweb. Kelly is the spokesperson behind the provocative "Name and Shame Campaign" to protest against the 90 day work trial regime and expose alleged "bad" employers.

    Henry's suggestion towards the end of the interview that bad and inefficient employees could also be exposed is an interesting proposition.

    We are curious if the accommodation and tourism industry have a position on the National led government's employment laws?



    Source: TVNZ

    Property Rights?

    Today we received the following notice from a website that we have published a small selection of pictures with.

    To protect the innocent, we have replaced the website's name with xxxx.
    "Unfortunately, it appears that your product, Anti-Green, contains content that is not suitable for printing on xxxx.

    We will be removing this product from xxxx shortly.

    Design contains an image or text that infringes on intellectual property rights. We have been contacted by the intellectual property right holder and at their request we will be removing your product from xxxx’s Marketplace due to intellectual property claims."
    Gee, we wonder who made that request? Sorta ironic if it was from an organisation that has little respect for other people's property rights.

    So dear readers, as a public service we respectfully request that you do not publish the above image anywhere on the interweb for fear of causing the intellectual property right holder any further anguish.


    Friday The 13th

    One of the many idiosyncrasies of the accommodation industry is that we go out of our way to avoid offering to the public a "Unit 13."

    As moteliers, it's not that we an overly superstitious lot. It's just that it would wreck our day if we were unable to sell the last room that happened to be unit 13 to a phobic guest. And besides, we like to ensure the comfort of all guests - even those that are superstitious! 

    How do moteliers avoid offering a unit 13? 

    Sometimes units are numbered in number blocks eg: 1-10 and then, 21-30. This is along the same principal of multi-floored accommodation complexes, where units on the first floor are numbered with the first numeral depicting the floor, eg: the first floor units would start from 100 and the second floor from 200 and so on.

    Some accommodation complexes simply skip unit 13 by having unit 12 followed by a unit 14. Another trick is to have a unit 12A, but the trouble with this is that everyone knows it's really unit 13!

    It is also fairly common for commercial building high rises not to have a 13th floor. 

    It must be said that many commercial accommodation complexes offer a unit 13, however why do many persist with a mystical avoidance? Surely in this modern world, the enlightened public laugh in the face of ludicrous and irrational superstitions. 

    Er, NO! 

    A Harris Poll (Forbes, March 2009) found that of those surveyed:
    • 31% said they think astrology is "very" or "sort of" scientific
    • 44% believe in ghosts
    • 31% believe in witches
    • 33% said they believe intelligent beings from other planets have visited
    • 25% are superstitious about knocking on wood
    • 13% are superstitious about a black cat crossing a path
    • 12% are superstitious about walking under a ladder
    • 11% are superstitious breaking a mirror
    • AND 9% are superstitious about the number 13
    Good grief! Maybe those moteliers that smugly persist in "hiding" unit 13, understand more about the frailalties of the human condition than those that don't.

    Will "Balconing" be the next motel/hotel craze?

    Being a professional socially responsible blog, we do not like to encourage unseemly activities by guests staying in motels (Cue Tui ad).

    However, last year we exposed a phenomenon occurring behind closed hotel and motel doors - Bed Jumping. That's right, the crazy antics of guests taking photos of one another mid-flight as they jump on motel/hotel beds and sharing these images on the internet!

    Earlier this year, we discovered a new world-wide phenomenon occurring at motels and hotels that we predicted would grow in popularity - Balcony Diving! 

    Many multi-floor motel/hotel buildings tend to conveniently nestle close to a pool and this mixed with an exhibitionist guest accompanied with a camera wielding accomplice can produce great web viral video - much like this one: 



    And this one:



    Unfortunately, one of the consequences of guests leaping from a great height (usually after consuming large quantities of alcohol) is that they tend to regularly maim themselves.

    We see that The Guardian has reported:
    "The number of balcony accidents is already triple that of previous summers, with hotel owners saying there seems to be a growing craze for balcony dares and local media pointing to a series of internet videos labelled "balconing".
    As we head towards warmer climes in New Zealand, accommodation operators of multi-floor buildings should brace themselves for guests frequently hurtling themselves off guest room balconies;-) 

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    "Yellow Pages" Gives The Fingers!

    As a small business we are open to an increasing amount of scam offers.

    Recently, we received the following fax from a company claiming to be from "Yellow Page New Zealand." All we needed to do was simply fill out a few simple details, sign and fax back and our business would be submitted to Google in order for folk to easily find us- sounds like a great service!

    If fellow business owners bother to read the small print it may dampen some enthusiasm. Signing this document apparently locks the business owner into a 2-year contract at a monthly cost of $159.

    OK, we have seen this MO many times before, however what struck us was the scammers unique sense of humour. The Yellow Pages logo that they were using to trade-off had been cheekily turned upside down to give their prospective clients the fingers ;-)

    Yellow Pages Scam

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    June Guest Night Stats a Pleasant Surprise

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

    Overall it's good news with total guest nights in June 2010 increasing by 7 percent compared with June 2009. After May recorded the only comparable guest night decrease for the year so far, June's positive results are to be welcomed. With the first month of Winter's guest night results behind us, trade so far has not lived up to the worst of gloomy predictions.

    Against a longer term trend, the North Island has out performed the South Island for the second month in a row by achieving an 8 percent increase in guest nights, compared to the South Island's 6 percent increase. 

    Ten of the 12 regions recorded more guest nights in June 2010 than in June 2009 with the West Coast and Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman isolating themselves from the pack as the only regions to record a decrease.
    The regions showing the largest decreases were: 
    • Bay of Plenty, up 24 percent
    • Otago, up 11 percent
    • Auckland, up 7 percent).
    International visitor guest nights in June 2010 increased by 4 percent compared with June 2009. 

    It was especially pleasing to see that domestic guest nights increased by 9 percent in June 2010 compared with June 2009. This all but cancels out the domestic decline recorded the previous month. After staying at home for the first month of Winter, Kiwis appear to have stirred and have made the most of the fair-weather. 

    Hotels attracted the lion's share of June's guest night increase and continue the trend of taking market share from other sectors. Hotels had the largest increase in guest nights, up 9 percent compared with June 2009.

    All other accommodation types also recorded increases: 
    • motels, up 5 percent
    • holiday parks, up 14 percent
    • backpackers, 1 percent.
    Hotels had the highest occupancy rate (44 percent) of all the accommodation types in June 2010, followed by motels (37 percent), and backpackers (32 percent).

    It has to be kept in mind that June 2009 was considered to be a relatively low base month that may have made comparable increases recorded in June 2010 somewhat flattering. However, a win is a win and we optimistically look forward to maintaining guest night increases throughout the cooler months ahead.

    Who's going to eTourism this year?

    One highlight for us last year was attending the inaugural eTourism Conference in Wellington. Lea Boodee and her team at on-Cue put on a very successful gathering of tourism industry folk at Te Papa.

    eTourism has become a buzzword in an environment where more than 80% of global travellers first turn to the Internet when making travel plans. The Internet has empowered travellers, but has also distracted them. When on-tour they not only inhabit the real world, but continue to interact with a multitude of virtual communities.

    So how do tourism operators leverage the increasing customer use of the Internet to research and purchase travel related items online and to gain loyal returning visitors?

    For us it was a no-brainer to register again this year for the 2nd eTourism Conference, 31 August and 1 September this year being held in Auckland.

    Lea Boodée  from onCue Conferences + Events has kindly given us a run-down on what to expect:
    "A spectacular line up of speakers will provide delegates with terrific insight into some of the latest marketing trends and business practices in the tourism industry in the digital age. Speakers will present how to take advantage of the latest social media and mobile marketing tools, and discuss some of the challenges and opportunities facing tourism operators and marketers in an ever-changing online business environment. This conference will leave you buzzing with new ideas to implement when you return to the office, saving you weeks of research and valuable time!"
    As a bonus, this year "The TourismTech Expo" will run concurrently at the Ellerslie Event Centre and entry will be free of charge for eTourism attendees. 

    Sounds great!

    In order to encourage more fellow moteliers to join us this year, "Motella" has become a Supporting Sponsor of the eTourism Conference. 

    We have registered online HERE, booked the flights, reserved a hotel room and look forward to seeing you there!

    Customer Service FAIL?

    Have you ever had one of those days?

    Any customer service role can be difficult, however there can be special challenges in the travel industry as you are often dealing with customers that have left their brains at home and are on edge away from their usual comfort zone.

    As a customer service professional you often bite your tongue, smile and keep the peace...Not so Steven Slater, a flight attendant who is at risk of becoming a folk-hero.

    Soon after a plane touched down at JFK Airport, Slater lost his cool with an uncooperative passenger and snapped.  An argument ensued and punches were thrown. Slater broadcast a few expletives over the airplane's loud speaker system and announced: "I've been in this business 28 years and I've had it!" Slater then grabbed a beer and exited the plane in style by activating the emergency chute before ditching his job and driving home.

    Steven Slater - we think we know how you feel;-)

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Millennium and Copthorne Hotels

    We posted an item at the end of May this year about the Millennium and Copthorne Hotels New Zealand Ltd (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 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.

    MCK's trading performance for the six months ending June 2010 has improved with revenues of $61 million compared with $54.5 million in the same period last year. Occupancy has 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 we were surprised that they have reported a lift in the domestic tourism market. 

    In spite of improved trading, we see that MCK have 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 has taken 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.

    It will be interesting to see how the new depreciation tax rules will influence the bottom line of accommodation businesses, in particular those that wish to continue to add value by investing in refurbishment and future development.

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Motel Bathroom Planning FAIL

    Econo-Motel

    We see that Choice Hotels are planning to expand into the New Zealand motel market under its budget 3.5 star Econo Lodge brand. 

    So far, Econo Lodge has signed up one property, Canterbury Court in Christchurch and hopes to have 20 properties operating  in New Zealand within three years. Currently the franchise has 13 properties in Australia.

    Many moteliers are experiencing tough economic times and there will be an appeal aligning to a maternal marketing organisation that promises a new market of travellers through international advertising and marketing. 

    In particular, some moteliers may be attracted to a marketing group that promises to tap into a seam of those lucrative Australian travellers that continue to be the rising stars of New Zealand's inbound tourism.

    Although similar chains have a token domestic program, the focus has always been to clip the ticket in the wholesale accommodation market. The wholesale market in an area that the motel product has traditionally struggled in. There are good reasons for this.

    Ideally, properties that are serious about participating the in wholesale market should be setting their published tariff at a level to sustain a 20-30% commission. Average motel tariff has stagnated for many years and continued industry low published tariff levels will make it difficult for moteliers to participate sustainably within the wholesale model.

    Wholesale business can be a valid market for many accommodation providers, however in order to make it work, properties need to sustain high published rack rates, maintain a high volume of business and have the ability to upsell other services such as restaurant, bar sales etc. Hotels seem to thrive in this market, motels do not.

    In the wholesale market, management costs and marketing are always much higher than operating in the domestic market. To add insult, the accommodation provider needs to carry the cost of credit and is always the last to be paid. To depend on this market takes a lot of dedication, hard work and time. 

    Time will tell if Econo Lodge can give long term value to the motel industry that will need to bear the high cost of top heavy management, low net rates, little opportunity for reciprocal business and dependence on the volatile wholesale market.

    Motels that join Econo Lodge should not hope for a quick fix. They should be keeping a close eye on the sustainability of their net rates and overall ROI as they trade out of a depressed economy.

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