Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Name Announced For The Motel Sector

Only a month after introducing new branding in June this year, Qualmark NZ  announced that they were going to split the Self Contained and Serviced accommodation category into two new sector categories in order to differentiate "Motels" from "Apartments."

Those moteliers that were keen to update Qualmark branding on roadside signs and other marketing collateral were put in a frustrating holding pattern while the new moniker of the split accommodation sectors was decided.

The Self Contained and Serviced category included motels, motor lodges, motor inns, motel apartments, serviced apartments and serviced holiday cottages. In earlier correspondence to licence holders, Qualmark suggested that the two new accommodation sector categories would be most likely named "Motel Apartments" and "Serviced Apartments" effective from the 1st of September. 

The final decision came two months late, however it was finally publicly released today that the new sector name for the motel industry will be fittingly called "Motel" and "Apartment" will be used for the apartment sector.

While sector names are generally used within the industry, they do tend to spill out into the public domain and can cause confusion.  Many moteliers considered the generic term, Serviced and Self Contained being somewhat clunky and having little relevance in describing an accommodation category that is largely made-up of motels.

While for years unable to provide clear advocacy in the elongated Self Contained and Serviced criteria review, the motel industry has devoted a lot of time and wasted emotional energy into trying to decide what sector name Qualmark should use to describe the collection of motels. Hopefully the focus should now be on thrashing out what should be included in the assessment criteria that will be used to benchmark motel licence holders. 

While renaming the sector is academic, the more important aspect of the separation is that different criteria will be used to assess Motels and Apartments.

Many moteliers have an unhealthy inferiority complex to their perceived flash-harry apartment sector cousins and will be celebrating the removal of apartment businesses from "their" sector. I suspect that the old-school seasoned campaigners that have long since advocated separation will be under the illusion that with the competition removed, motels will somehow now have a fairer crack at the stars. They will be disappointed. 

Moteliers are quick to point-out the perceived unfair operating advantages apartments enjoy with differing ownership structures, council rating and Building Act interpretations etc. What is overlooked is that these factors do not influence the customer experience. While motels and apartments started off life in slightly different camps, the two sectors have a lot in common and in time I can see them morphing together.

Purely from a guest perspective the main difference between apartments and motels is that most apartment units are built on top of one another while motel units are built alongside one another - this is of course not strictly true in every example. Guests find it difficult to tell the difference between the two sectors and more importantly they probably don't care. 

I can see that there are more advantages keeping motels and apartments benchmarked under a common quality criteria as it is now. In my opinion the motel industry will be the loser in the proposed separation and there is a risk that they will quickly become the poor second cousin to the new Apartment sector.

 I suspect in this case the motel sector should have been more careful what they wished for.

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