Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Last Post

A candid pic from last night's Motella Xmas Party

So what's happening with the blog?

Have the writers become distracted? Has the blog run its course? Have we finally stuttered to an inevitable end?.....Maybe.

After a rapturous Xmas party last night celebrating an eventful year, the Motella secret lair now has an eerie silence.

We are about to lock-up and turn off the lights on this blog while we concentrate on the day-job that's about to get chaotic.

If you get bored or require some maternal guidance, there's over 1,700 posts to read in the "Blog Archive" section.

May you get what you deserve....have a profitable and joyous Christmas and Happy New Year!
"The best aspect of Christmas is that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift buying stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decorations put up by departments stores and other institutions—the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors—provide the city with a spectacular display, which only 'commercial greed' could afford to give us. One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle."
Ayn Rand

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Jasons Travel Media - R.I.P ?

Apologies for the tardiness with the lack of updates.

I've been distracted over the last few months and have confined myself to the dark recesses of the Motella secret lair...

The following dramatic announcement has awoken me from my dazed self-imposed slumber.

We all knew it was coming, however it is still a shock to contemplate that a habitual long-standing default marketing solution for the motel industry may be no more...Even the writer of today's announcement to the NZX seems to have been somewhat stunned by including the incorrect date.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Winds Of Political Change

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Motel Pets

In the first few pages of the motel-manual, is a section on motel pets.

Apparently it's a compulsory requirement to own a pet of some description when you operate a motel and most moteliers seem to oblige. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

A one-night stay at the Capri Motel

As moteliers contemplate a where to focus their advertising dollar, they are frustratingly aware that they are trying to hit a moving target. Consumers are rapidly changing media consumption habits as media continues to shift and fragment.

There has been lots written in recent days about print verses digital and this has been prompted by the announcement that Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos has purchased the Washington Post - One of the biggest names in the digital world has purchased one of the biggest names in the print world.

Reading various media commentary about Bezos's new acquisition, it is unclear what he intends to do with it. Will print be saved or the existing media gathering assets be rehashed and redirected online?

The newspaper industry is clearly in trouble as consumers access current and dynamic news stories online and most pay nothing for the privilege.

Bezos has revolutionized American retailing, so is he able to save an American newspaper icon?

There is no doubt that digital is the future, however we are currently in a transition point from print to digital and even in a disrupted market there remains a passionate, robust market for print.

Whatever the news platforms of the future, newspaper companies need to change their business model and become multi-media companies with several easily accessible channels available to their readers. The trouble is that no one seems to have figured out how to leverage the (growing) popularity of online news consumption to support robust and expensive news gathering operations.

One aspect that some newspaper companies can still do very well is producing quality journalism that is compelling and exclusive...

A one-night stay at the Capri Motel

I enjoyed an investigative report compiled by a journo that works for a New Orleans newspaper company. This was a great example of a newspaper company producing unique content and using multi-media channels to tell a story.

The exclusive report was printed in the newspaper company's print edition and reproduced online with an accompanying video, photo gallery and a comments section where the journalist engaged with readers.

Check-out: A one-night stay at the Capri Motel

Thursday, August 8, 2013

It pays to be nice...

100% Pure Treason?

I'm watching the Fonterra fallout with interest, especially as the blowtorch is applied to New Zealand's 100% Pure branding proposition.

As Kiwis, we constantly fret about what others think about us and earnestly dissect and examine any mention of New Zealand from overseas sources. And we have good reason to - as a large chunk of our economy is based on the perceptions of overseas consumers.

As overseas media seek sensationalist headlines by cutting-and-pasting unsubstantiated stories of environmental woe, much of this material can be easily found from the hysterical rantings of Russel Norman.

When he's not boring bewildered moteliers by a reading a political broadcast from his iPad at their motel conference, that nice, mild-mannered Russel Norman is promoting his own toxic brand by scaring the bejesus out of unsuspecting folk with tall tales of economic and environmental armageddon.

The grumpy Veteran over at No Minister muses:
WANTED FOR ECONOMIC TREASON

"Russel Norman, Male Australian, 46, ex-Communist (Australian Socialist Workers' Party) and co-leader of the Greens in the New Zealand Parliament.

For years the Greens have pedalled the canard that New Zealand rivers are too polluted to swim in. That has come home to bite with a vengeance as Fonterra works its way through the crisis of its own making with the Chinese media now picking up on the lie and using to discredit both New Zealand and our Clean Green image. This will cause major damage to our biggest exporter and to the New Zealand economy..." Read more HERE
And this reminds me of the post we published some time ago that's become rather topical again as Green-vandals feeding overseas media help ramp-up further emotive debate about New Zealand's 100% Pure destination tag-line:
Has Idiocy Hijacked 100% Pure?

"When making claims of the effectiveness of a product or service in the advertising world, it's very rare to include the phrase: "100 percent". Companies need to give themselves a bit of wriggle-room - any "new" wonder cleaning product will only ever kill up to 99 percent of household germs.

In 1999, Tourism New Zealand launched 100% Pure New Zealand with much fan-fare. When it comes to a tag-line in advertising, this is very powerful. If someone in the marketplace makes a claim that something is "100%" then this boldly stands out and makes you pause.

The 100% Pure New Zealand tag-line was never meant to measure anything that is quantifiable or tangible. It relates to a mystical Kiwi state of mind. It's a feeling, an attitude, a set of values or an aspiration that is unique to this country. This may seem to be somewhat wishy-washy, however if you look at the campaign in context, you will see majestic landscapes, unique people and exciting experiences that play out to the back-beat of an iconic Kiwi soundtrack. The tears will start to swell and all of a sudden the 100% Pure New Zealand tagline starts to make sense.

Back in 1999 the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign resonated as a message that the public understood. The tag-line could be taken at face-value or could invite a simple thought process to uncover a deeper meaning. As time has moved on, the tag-line has accumulated some baggage. For many, the ability to think for themselves and understand the meaning behind 100% Pure New Zealand has been lost.

Unfortunately there seems to be an increasing amount of people that suffer from the inability to view things in context. These uncreative, bland folk seem to have varying degrees of Asperger's syndrome and tend to take things too literally. They just don't get the 100% Pure New Zealand tagline and assume it's an overreaching environmental catch-cry.

Inevitably, these same mean-spirited, hapless folk believe 100% in the headline grabbing hysteria created by University environmental science lecturers, Green Party activists and Greenpeace vandals that get a kick from knocking New Zealand as a tourism destination.

Has idiocy finally hijacked 100% Pure New Zealand?"
Well, maybe it finally has?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Taunting Travellers by Twitter

I'm guessing that the person behind the fake Twitter site, @unitedairlanes has been frustrated and left scarred after doing time in the travel industry.

What better way to poke fun and inflict revenge on all those pesky whinging and whining travellers, than to set up a parody account that relies upon a stream of regular customer dissatisfaction with a major American airline.... then, sit back and start taunting angry, gullible customers by mocking and ridiculing them.

Sounds like some great therapy for anyone that is in the front line and regually grits their teeth while experiencing the sometimes rude and bizarre behavior of the travelling public ;-)
"Thinking they were contacting United Airlines, which has the Twitter handle @united, the passengers were left gobsmacked by the replies from the spoof account.

The lesson here: make sure you go via the airline's official communication channels!

Here are some examples: "





Source: Click HERE

And of course any post about United Airlines and social media, we'd be remiss not to mention the viral media-storm that occurred after a passenger witnessed the special care and attention of their ground crew:



Monday, August 5, 2013

The Cruise Ship Hotel

Since Psy unleashed his madcap horse-riding Gangnam Style into popular culture, South Korea has attracted a whole lot of attention as a tourism destination.

Maybe it's because South Koreans live in the murky shadow of a rogue nation, run by a nut job boy-child that makes them appear to have such a bizzare sense of humour?

I've got a fetish for themed accommodation and when I first saw pictures of the Sun Cruise Resort, I assumed someone had gone crazy with photoshop - but the purpose built on-land cruise-themed resort appearing to be percasiously sitting on top of a hill is the real-deal and gives guests the experience of being on a luxury queen of the seas - but without the motion sickness.

From a distance, the Sun Cruise Resort and Yacht in Jeongdongjin, South Korea looks as if it's been beached on a cliff by a mega-wave.

But this spectacular hotel is one of the country’s top tourist destinations, boasting a restaurant, wedding hall, nightspot, volleyball court, fitness club and even netted golf range.

The mock-liner has 211 rooms, with an assortment of plush suites and self-contained apartments.

Guests enjoy sloping, nautical-themed rooms complete with wooden panelling and 'porthole' windows.

The sound of waves crashing against the deck is played over loudspeakers to give guests a further realistic cruise ship experience.

While, the revolving sky bar is said to boast the best views of sunrise in the country.

Other bespoke features include a sea water swimming pool and a karaoke bar. Rooms start at pocket-friendly £45.12 a night(80,000 South Korean Won).

Sea you there!


 Source: Click HERE

Saturday, August 3, 2013

MANZ TV

I see that Sky TV have generously produced and are currently screening a new commercial for the Motel Association of NZ (MANZ).

If you follow the money, Sky's motivation to appear to be the good-guy is fairly obvious. The enhanced commercial relationship with MANZ will assist Sky solidify their strong position as a monopoly provider for motels. In particular, this will also support Sky's efforts to divide-and-conquer the motel industry with the roll-out of their outrageously expensive Guest Select product.

The 15 second television commercial crams-in a lot of messages. It promotes the generic concept of motels and directs viewers to engage with MANZ members via a revamped website portal that can be used for direct online bookings.

MANZ may also be encouraging a higher level of customer feedback by standing behind their brand and assuring a level of customer satisfaction.

Overall the commercial does a great job...but nothing comes for free.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Barney's Motel - Our Rooms

In a continuing series, we study an example of how a modest motel business can reach out to consumers by developing a personality and using workplace humour to connect and break down barriers.

A renowned business success story that has been featured in newspapers, books and included in university marketing papers, is Barney's Motel. The motel uses workplace humour in an authentic way as a unique selling proposition and to communicate obvious shortcomings of a business that can't be easily remedied.

Using the wonders of the Wayback Machine, we've trolled around the internet graveyard and brought back to life selected pages from the deactivated Barney's Motel website.
Click for larger photo DOUBLE ROOMS
Our double rooms have 2 beds with a space between so your sleeping partner doesn't "accidently" roll into your slumber zone. Notice the wall lamps and alarm clock. When we finally pay our power bill and get some electricity happening - these are going to be very cool.
[ CLICK FOR LARGER PICTURE ]
This is a different room ...really!
As you can see, some of our rooms have square headboards and some have kind of rounded like a partial moon. Oh ya, half moon - that's right. We did this not because we were trying to cheap out and buy second hand headboards that didn't match. We hired a decorative consultant from somewhere who said that because people come in all shapes and sizes that our headboards should reflect this. That's why our pillows look like that, too.
[ CLICK FOR LARGER PICTURE ]
Click for larger photo
Click for larger photo BATHROOMS
All our bathrooms have 3 things that use water (4 if you include yourself). There's a toilet for going number one and number 2. There's a tub for going uhhh... number 3 (number 3 is going number 1 while standing up - if number 1 is what I think it is) and a sink for going number .... 6 (washing your hands is number 6 because this is where you remove the evidence of all the other numbers).
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TAN IN YOUR ROOM
This room comes with a tanning light that will toast you to a golden brown by the time you check out in the morning. Please be sure to purchase some sun screen from our front office or that tan may start out as third degree burns! We must insist that you follow our Tanning Lights Out at 11 pm rule because with these 7,000 watt bulbs you'll be keeping your neighbours awake as well!
[ CLICK FOR LARGER PICTURE ]
Click for larger photo
Click for larger photo HOLES IN WALLS
Barney had holes cut into some of the walls to allow the bright police seachlights to illuminate your room in the late evening. Being so close to the north pole, our guests welcome the comforting feeling of hearing police helicopters hovering overhead as the million candlepower beams flood the motel with daytime brightness. This is why we don't allow people to leave their pets in the vehicles - can you imagine the cleanup?!
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TV TIME

STV time is at least as important as family time so we have a room set up with a bench where no one can get in the way of watching those Janet Jackson at the Superbowl reruns.
[ CLICK FOR LARGER PICTURE ]
Click for larger photo
Click for larger photo It's CURRENT Information
How do you get a huge electro magnetic current happening without piling up electronic devices? Barney's a huge fan of George Lakhovsky and his Multiple Wave Ocillator and we might just have found a cure for cancer. You can try this at home by putting many things that use power - one on top of the other and voila - instant cancer cure (or cause .... I'm not quite sure). We also have cancer curing snacks in each room as well. Hey - you can get some too - they're from "Point the Bone Shaman Supplies" in Winnipeg, Manitoba!
[ CLICK FOR LARGER PICTURE ]
SPECIAL CHAIRS
All rooms have a couple of chairs that are not facing each other so you don't have to look directly at your partner. The seats look like they can be moved but they can't. We find it makes cleaning the rooms easier for us and the cost saving to the motel far outweighs the customer complaints we get. You can't see the TV from these seats but without power there's not much sense in staring at it anyway. Each room has it's own fingerprinting kit so you can leave your prints all over our walls like everybody else. It's the only chance we have to use our Wacky Wall Washer!
[ CLICK FOR LARGER PICTURE ]
Click for larger photo

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Trouble With TripAdvisor…

Martin Kelly over at Travel Trends posts a thought provoking article on "the demon child" that wields enormous power in the on-line travel space - TripAdvisor.

At any gathering of accommodation providers, conversation about TripAdvisor can instantly raise blood pressure levels and divide a room. 

Unfortunately living and interacting with the demon child is not optional. Fighting TripAdvisor will only waste energy and get you beat-up, so the only way forward for accommodation providers is to adopt a positive attitude by increasing awareness, working with it and and accepting co-habitation.

Although the blame for the recent fall in fortunes for world's largest online travel company, Expedia has been pointed at the rise of TripAdvisor, there are other factors at play that include a rising trend for consumers to use TripAdvisor along with OTAs to research and then book direct.

So maybe the biggest future threat to TripAdvisor (and OTAs) will increasingly come from accommodation providers that are adopting their own highly accessible and intuitive online booking channels? 

We'd like to see that trend continue :-)
The Trouble With TripAdvisor…
31 July, 2013 by Martin Kelly

The trouble with TripAdvisor is …. that … it's … too … damn …. powerful. Even more powerful than it was a few weeks ago. One day it launches a new meta-search engine and the next – bam – the business of the world's largest online travel company, Expedia, goes through the floor.

Just like Google, TripAdvisor can make or break a company. The power of its (unsubstantiated) reviews is notorious. Has been for years. Now it has double the force. TripAdvisor is coming at you from both directions – if its reviews don't impact you in some way, its search engine will.

The recent second quarter results from TripAdvisor and Expedia, which once owned TripAdvisor and spun off its demon child in 2011, sum up the situation beautifully.

TripAdvisor made a lot more money in the second quarter than it did the year before – net profit was up 26% to USD67 million – while Expedia's result was down 32% to USD71.5 million.

Expedia CEO Dara whatshisname cited TripAdvisor's replacement of its product pop-ups  with a real honest to goodness search engine as the major factor.

No two ways about it, Expedia got slammed, in the process demonstrating how vulnerable, and perhaps unsustainable, it is.

Like all online travel agents, Expedia is utterly dependent on marketing – especially through online channels such as Google and TripAdvisor – to drive traffic and customers.

Feed the beast, spend more on advertising.

This approach has already brought a few online travel agents undone.

Check-in.com.au is a great example here in Australia.

A mid-size operator, it collapsed under the weight of excessive marketing spend – read Google AdWords – a diktat from delusional management who could see no other way forward for a struggling business.

Feed the beast. It gets hungry.

But there's no long-term future in that.

Yet marketing budgets keep on growing.

For example, at Expedia marketing as a proportion of revenue reached a staggering 48.7% in Q2 compared with 42.4% the previous year.

In late 2008 Expedia's marketing as a percentage of revenue was 34.6%.

That's an increase of 40% (as a pecentage of revenue) in just five years.

At some point it has to stop. Or something will give.

Are the first cracks appearing?

Maybe so.

But what about TripAdvisor – where does it go from here?

Onwards and upwards you would think.

Its millions upon millions of reviews give it an enormous free presence on Google while it now more than 50 million members.

And membership spells loyalty – something that's many online travel businesses do not have.

Combine all that and you have a sustainable business model.

For now.
Source: Click HERE

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Memories of a motel ban

Photo courtesy of keepingstock.blogspot.co.nz

In a desperate bid to gain traction, Labour has appealed to bewildered fractions of Kiwi's that are burdened with entrenched xenophobia and entitlement.

Labour's recently announced policy to ban those nasty, foreigners from buying existing houses is a masterstroke and will appeal to the left with nostalgic memories of regulation, protectionism and high taxes.

Labour's Trever Mallard is enthusiastically bullish about his party's new policy of selectively banning folk that have the misfortune of being domiciled in certain locations.

Trever has even taken to Twitter using a nationalistic hashtag #itsourcountry in support:

So is this the same Trevor Mallard that rallied against selective preference by directing his wrath at an infamous Palmerston North motelier that chose to ban the good folk of Wainuiomata from staying at his motel?

Aussie Motel Receives Corporate Welfare

When it comes to operating tourism businesses, our feekless Aussie cousins seem to be unable to supply adequate services to met consumer demand without outside intervention.

Following on from media reports about an Australian Government initiative to provide a "FREE" online booking solution that is available to all tourism operators, I see that the South Australian Federal Government are redistributing national tourism funding to operators that are unable to cope with the rigors of the open market.

The following bizarre news story that demands to be parodied, features moteliers that were able to identify that there is more consumer demand for the few 4-star rooms available at their property. They will be gifted a "windfall" of $85,000 to upgrade their entire property to 4-star standard and apparently this will include a brand new communal outdoor kitchen!

The Australian Government should cut-out-the-middleman and simply purchase and run accommodation businesses themselves...
"A MOUNT Gambier motel has received an $85,000 windfall from the Federal Government in a bid to boost the quality of accommodation stock in the region.

The Tower Motor Inn grant follows other regional accommodation providers The Barn and Commodore on the Park also receiving similar funding packages in recent years.

This follows only 22pc of rooms in regional South Australia being rated as four-star, compared with 39pc across regional Australia.

The SA Tourism Commission has recommended 280 rooms across the Limestone Coast should be upgraded from three to four stars.

Tower Motor Inn owners Gary and Caroline Walters yesterday welcomed the funding boost, revealing it would help fast-track refurbishment plans at the Jubilee Highway West business.
Ms Walters said the motel had plans to upgrade eight rooms to a four-star rating following increased demand from patrons.

She said the motel had been making improvements to the 19-room facility since 2004 in a move to stay competitive and satisfy growing tourist standards.

Ms Walters said their own internal research showed there was currently a 17pc gap for four-star rooms for the motel.

“Our occupancy rates are 11pc higher for our four-star rooms,” she said.

“There is strong demand for four-star rooms and over the past 12 months there have been a lot of international tourists, particularly from the growing Chinese market, whose expectations are really high.”

She said patrons wanted frameless showers, quality fixtures, leather couches and Blu-ray technology.
“They want that bit extra,” Ms Walters said.

She said the motel also planned to build an outdoor kitchen for patrons who wanted to self-cater.
Ms Walters said major refurbishment works were expected to begin in February and were expected to take five months.

Meanwhile, South Australian Senator Anne McEwen welcomed the funding.

“The Tower Motor Inn will refurbish current 3.5 star rooms to create AAA four-star facilities, as well as build an outdoor kitchen - a great addition to any accommodation,” Senator McEwen said.

“This project will increase the availability of four-star rooms for the many interstate and international visitors to Mount Gambier.

“I congratulate the Tower Motor Inn for winning the funding by strongly demonstrating their commitment to improving the tourism experience throughout the South East.”

The initiative was among 89 projects nationally that shared in $8.5m in the funding round."
Source: Click HERE

Friday, July 26, 2013

Top 10 Incredibly Unique Accommodation

Thanks to Trip Advisor, we've plagiarised their list of unique accommodation options.

This is a great resource for those travellers looking for an alternative places to stay as a backdrop for those quirky Facebook holiday snaps:

Ecocamp PatagoniaTorres del Paine, Chile Eco-friendly domes in Patagonia
"Rugged luxury like you couldn't imagine... The domes were cozy and the perfect size. I loved listening to the rain..."
read more »
 
"This place was so beautiful inside... you would not believe it was a cave except for the walls - which made it so cool."
read more »
 
"Could not be more pleased with the magic of the experience. Located majestically like a small village above the sea…"
read more »
 
Brussels Welcome HotelBrussels, Belgium Choose from 17 country-themed rooms
"The rooms do not have numbers, they are distinguished by themes... Themes included Egypt, Congo, Cuba, etc."
read more »
 
Hotel Palacio de SalUyuni, Bolivia A hotel built from salt
"Of course to prove that everything was made of salt we, like probably hundreds of others, had to lick a few objects."
read more »
 

Source: Thanks to TripAdvisor

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The 2013 AA Supreme Host of the Year Award Winners are...

One highlight of the Motel Association of New Zealand (MANZ) Conference is the announcement of the AA Supreme Host of the Year Award.

Moteliers are traditionally a reserved lot, so this award is an opportunity for them to gather, celebrate and pay homage to moteliers that a doing that little bit extra in providing excellent quality customer service.

This is the Academy Award for moteliers that exceed guests' expectations beyond the call of duty.

What we like about this award is that it unashamedly singles out high achievers above all others and recognises the motel industry's biggest point of difference - the hosts.

The award underlines that motels are part of the "hospitality industry" and the way they provide customer service and host their guests sets them apart from the scrum of other accommodation providers.

The AA Supreme Host of the Year promotes the importance of the human element in the motel experience.

It is a tremendous feel-good opportunity to record and recognise great deeds in hospitality - We like that.

The winners of the AA Supreme Host of the Year Award for 2013 are:
 Kerri and Steve James - Radfords Motel - Te Anau

Awkward Flight

Oh dear...one of those awkward travelling moments captured on tape:
"Here I was... Minding my own business on a flight home, when I ended up in an extremely awkward situation. This lady was totally out of it. As soon as she sat down, she started falling asleep, and it only got worse as the flight continued. I tried lifting her up, shaking her, and startling her, but it seemed like nothing was going to work. So, I thought it would be fun to get some of it on video to share with family and friends. Then she finally moved... Only to find someone else for the last part of the flight. Ha! (I did try a LOT to wake her and move her off of me, but it was not working until the end. I did not get it all on film, but even if I did, that would have been boring and way too long. Also, I promise that none of this is staged. We are all 3 random people who had never met before.) On a side note, people have been asking why I didn't notify a flight attendant. The flight attendants were not allowed to get up during this flight, due to turbulence. They told us not to use our call buttons unless it was a medical emergency. Also, I would like to speak with this lady, so if you have any leads, please let me know. I would like to ask for (albeit late) permission (and now forgiveness)."

Aussie Government Launches New Booking Widget

As a general guiding principle, governments should stay out of business ventures that can be adequately provided by the private sector.

That's why I'm somewhat queasy about gushy media releases announcing an Australian Government initiative to provide a "FREE" online booking solution that is available to all tourism operators.

The Australian Tourism Booking Widget (ATBW) is a widget that provides an online payment solution, a supplier portal, a Facebook booking app and customer support services.

So why would the Australian Government venture into this space?

A 2010 - Operators Online Capabilities Benchmark Survey commissioned by the Federal Department of Tourism revealed that while 84 per cent of Australia’s tourism operators are online, only a third have ‘real-time’ online booking and payment facilities.

A 2012 – Online Booking Capability, Understanding the Barriers Study was commissioned by the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) concluded that there was a need for a simple to identify, simple to use and simple to implement booking widget for operators and that such a tool would provide tourism operators with an opportunity to enter the online booking space.

While there would appear to me to be numerous existing suppliers that adequately provide online booking services to tourism businesses, the above studies were obviously taken at face-value and gave enough rationale for the Australian Govenment to release AUD$500,000 funding to the ATBW to kick-start the project.

It will be interesting to gauge how many businesses that are currently offline will be motivated enough to load and update live inventory? And how many online businesses will convert from existing commercial booking widget suppliers?

While some Aussie travel businesses may gain short-term benefit, I wonder if this initiative may stifle ongoing innovation in this space in the private sector.

Expect howls from Kiwi tourism groups for the New Zealand Government to duplicate this initiative. 
Tourism Minister Gary Gray today launched a new online booking tool to improve the capability of Australian tourism businesses to service customers online.
The Australian Tourism Booking Widget is a Government initiative for all sectors of the tourism industry to help them capitalise on visits to their websites by providing an easily accessible booking and payment facility.
The Widget will provide tourism operators with a basic system providing a real time booking and payment solution through the operators' own websites and Facebook pages, as well as helpdesk services.
Mr Gray launched the Widget while attending the Cradle Coast Regional Tourism Forum with the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Member for Braddon, Sid Sidebottom.
"The challenge for the Australian tourism sector is converting potential visitor interest into a booking," Mr Gray said.
"This Widget aims to fix this by getting more of our tourism operators online for bookings and payments - and help them grow their businesses, particularly in regional areas where online facilities may be the only channel for operators to directly engage with their customers.
"The Australian Government provided $500,000 to the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse to fund the project. The initiative is part of the Tourism 2020 strategy to increase tourism expenditure from $70 billion to $140 billion by the end of the decade."
Globally more than 50 per cent of consumers use digital channels to research, plan and book holidays and this is expected to grow in the next decade. While 84 per cent of Australia's tourism operators are online, only a third of these have 'real-time' online booking and payment facilities.
"This is a first step in helping tourism operators transition to online services by providing a basic framework that is easy to install and use."
Mr Gray said the initiative will set operators on the way to exploring more sophisticated booking and payment solutions for their businesses in the future.
Mr Sidebottom said initiatives such as the Widget will help an important industry for the North-West region and Tasmania grow.
"Anything that helps our tourist operators promote the region and attract visitors is to be welcomed," Mr Sidebottom said.
"I've travelled to many places and our region is the equal of the best that I've seen - if not better.
"We have much to offer and should use any means possible to promote it. The Widget will help us do this.
"Tourism is a significant part of our State's economy, is growing and can grow much more," Mr Sidebottom said.
- See more at: http://www.noodls.com/view/F91792C3E14A53390A6B26F511722BC097270B3D#sthash.rXVOz9Lk.dpuf

Here's how the Aussie system works:

More Tweets LIVE from the MANZ Conference




Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Keeping track of your stuff

The item that travellers most often forget when they venture forth...is their brain.

Away from their natural, familiar environment, travellers can act very differently and often irrationally.

One theme that is familiar to moteliers is the regular occurrence of guests losing things. Wallets and keys are the main culprits and we've spent countless hours with agonised guests retracing their steps and assisting them search for personal items that regually escape their possession.

And of course there's the growing mountain of lost property that gets absentmindedly left behind after departure - cell phone charges, clothing and an assortment of computer peripherals seem to be the most common...

Maybe an inconspicuous Tile that is a slim, attachable tracking device may save travellers (and accommodation providers) a lot of stress:


Monday, July 22, 2013

Check-in.com.au Burn-off Customers and Suppliers

We've previously posted about Australian accommodation booking website Check-in.com.au.

In 2011, we exposed Check-in's offhand treatment of a Christchurch motel" in their darkest hour" after the devastation and emotion of the earthquakes.

More recently, we posted about Check-in being placed in voluntary liquidation leaving thousands of Aussie and Kiwi accommodation operators along with hapless customers that prepaid accommodation exposed.

Check-in has a track record of performing well in terms of web-traffic with a 2010 media report claiming that the website attracted 450,000 unique visitors a month. Although these are impressive stats, it would appear that this popularity alone wasn't enough to sustain a profitable business model.

A quick search around the interwebs, reveals a lot of unhappiness about the demise of Check-in with questions being asked about why the previous owners, Accommodation Clearing House Pty Ltd were permitted to continue trading long after payments to operators ceased? Another common question is why didn't Check-in place funds received from customers in trust?

Last month, Allied Consolidated Ltd, that is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange purchased the failed Check-in business for a knock-down price of $35,000.

The sale price was reported as including, Check-in's e-commerce platform, a 350,000 customer database, supplier lists, domain names, logos, business names and other intellectual property.

Unfortionately, Allied Consolidated has not taken on any liabilities or obligations of Check-in's previous operating entity - In other words, suppliers and customers of Check-in (under previous ownership) have little or no chance of recovering outstanding funds.

After purchase, the new owners were quick to contact accommodation suppliers (many of whom still had outstanding accounts due from the previous owner) to sure-up continued support of the OTA that resumed trading after a brief pause. The "relaunch" of Check-in took place with little obvious change to the previous business operation:
From: suppliers@check-in.com.au [mailto:suppliers@check-in.com.au]
Subject: Check-in.com.au Relaunch

We are pleased to announce Check-in.com.au has been acquired by ASX listed Allied Consolidated Limited (ASX: ABQ); click here to view further details of the acquisition.

With a new experienced leadership team in place Check-in has re-opened and will soon be processing new reservations.

Please feel most welcome to allocate rates and availability for your Property through the Supplier Extranet or via your Channel Manager and update the Check-in Booking Channel as normal to resume sale of your room inventory. If rates and availability were loaded previously please be aware this will activate automatically and will be bookable on Check-in as of 17:00 AEST Tuesday the 18th of June 2013.

Amended terms and conditions are available via the Supplier Site; by selling through Check-in you expressly acknowledge and agree to these terms.

If you have any questions please feel most welcome to drop us a line on 1300 47 22 22 from within Australia or email: suppliers@check-in.com.au.

We look forward to your continued support and a prosperous future.

Supplier Support

P 1300 47 22 22 (within Australia) | E suppliers@check-in.com.au | W www.check-in.com.au

Level 1 | 74 Castlereagh Street | Sydney, 2000 | Australia
A fellow motelier sent us the following email from Check-in's new owners in reply to an outstanding account chaser:
From: suppliers@check-in.com.au [mailto:suppliers@check-in.com.au]

Thank you for your email.

Allied Consolidated Limited (ASX Code - ABQ) have taken on the Check-in assets only; any queries relating to prior debt for completed stays would need to be referred to the Liquidator for Accommodation Clearing House Holzman Associates: mholzman@holzmanassociates.com.

ABQ are focused on delivering revenue moving forward.

Please feel most welcome to contact us for any other queries you may have.

Kind Regards,

Supplier Support
P 1300 47 22 22 | E suppliers@check-in.com.au
Level 1| 74 Castlereagh St| Sydney, 2000 |Australia
So, if a company is willing to take-on the "goodwill" and business operation of the Check-in, what are the consequences if that established brand under previous ownership burnt-off suppliers and customers?

Will customers be aware (or really care) about the consequences of Check-in's business failure under previous ownership?

After sustaining losses, how many accommodation providers are game enough to risk providing inventory to Check-in under new ownership?

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