Friday, February 8, 2013

Our Predictions For 2013

After a somewhat stuttering start we are well into 2013.

So as we cautiously look through the peephole of a motel guest room door, what lies ahead for this year?

Trade - Will this be our last winter of discontent? Overall, trade will be "not bad" in 2013. But we have to believe this don't we? 

i-Sites - If you a good intentioned fellow working at an i-Site - be worried. The world is moving on from static, publicly funded brochure racks. This year the blow torch will start to be applied to to these outdated, feel-good, job-creating institutions as councils reluctantly go through the motions of reigning-in unqualified spending.

Qualmark - Also heading in the direction of the dinosaur is Qualmark that promote themselves as New Zealand tourism's official mark of quality. Sadly, Qualmark will continue to be unloved and "underfunded" in 2013.

Tourism New Zealand and the AA are reluctant shareholders and are looking at a face-saving way to get-out. Accommodation providers and marketing chains (the backbone of Qualmark) are starting to question value, while travellers ignore the stars and rely on crowd sourced opinion websites such as TripAdvisor.

The only bright light ahead for Qualmark is the possibility of lurching through with scarce resources beyond the next election. A left-wing grand-coalition government cheered-on by Trade Associations will be more than happy to throw other people's money at Qualmark - in fact, they probably will make a Qualmark licence for tourism businesses compulsory!

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) - Much to the bewildered angst of the Motel Association, overseas owned OTAs will continue to gobble market share. The rule for 2013 is that existing well-known OTAs North of the equator are likely to prosper. Sadly, OTAs South of the equator, are going to be out-muscled and only achieve modest growth at best.

Oh, and just to make accommodation providers even more frenzied, expect further OTA commission rises in 2013.

Trade Associations - Any free-willed collective of businesses has to be a good thing, but an eclectic grouping of business's wants and expectations from their respective "trade union" are wide and varied. Trade Associations by providing their members leadership, distribution of relevant information, networking opportunities, support, advocacy, setting standards and generally promoting their relative industry can be under-appreciated.

As workers trade unions are under threat by flagging membership, so are Trade Associations. They need to lift their game, get professional and start changing what they have always done.

We suspect that 2013 to be a year of culling and merger.  

Bed Tax - Whenever I've done yearly predictions, the possibility of Bed Tax is always raised. Maybe this hoary prospect isn't likely this year, however with socialist Mayors like Len Brown looking for ways to fund their wet-dreams anything is possible - 2013 is a year to continue vigilance.

Social Media - The buzz around social media seems to be bigger than the phenomenon itself. Accommodation providers jump-in and publish Blogs, Facebook and Twitter accounts et all, but only a few have the acumen or the time to update meaningful content that will enhance their business.

The promise of social media channels evolving into a mainstream method of marketing for the mass of the accommodation industry is not going to happen in 2013 - or anytime soon.

The mobile channel will continue to grow as a viable new source of business. Apps will continue to generate leads and moteliers will mostly rely on OTAs to be part of this space. The mobile web is where the growth will occur in 2013 and moteliers need to look at their own web investment to catch this wave.

Travel Media - Probably one of the most safest predictions for 2013 is that being a rep for one of the two major travel media companies will be challenging. For moteliers, the allocation of the advertising dollar will prove to be more vexing that it ever has been before. 

Moteliers - please be nice when that beleaguered AA and Jasons rep calls to see you.

Disruption? Other than the mobile channel, change seems to be occurring at a predictable and pedestrian pace. Will a new disruptive channel be released that will throw us all? Maybe the might of Google will release something in 2013 that will change the travel industry? And what is Apple up to?

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