Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The All New Motella Blog 2013 Intro...

Press play and turn up the volume:

Sir Bob's Tourism Observations

I always look forward to Sir Bob Jones's regular rants in the New Zealand Herald and today's latest random scatter-gun attack on NZ tourism is an amusing and provocative read.

Sir Bob commences his opinion piece by mocking John Key's decision to take on the "low-ranked tourism portfolio" suggesting that this is not a worthy choice for a serious career-minded politician.

While acknowledging that tourism contributes nearly $2 billion to the economy every month, Sir Bob has a grumble about what the net benefits may actually be?
"...tourist-related businesses produce notoriously meagre returns and tourism jobs are mainly semi-skilled and thus low paid".

"Add intangible costs costs such as sewage, road wear and tear, petrol and other related imports, police and search-and-rescue expenses finding missing trampers, which seems a monthly occurrence, hospital costs and so on, and financially, tourism is not quite what it's cracked up to be."
The next subject of scorn is the often overstated benefits of cruise ship visits and Sir Bob makes an observation in Wellington that after cruise passengers are are bussed to the museum and go up the cable car..."large numbers troop back to the ship at lunchtime rather than pay for lunch in the numerous restaurants and coffee-houses".

The final target for Sir Bob's acid has the potential to be rather controversial and this maybe the reason why I'm unable to immediately find today's column online? The touchy subject of crime against tourists is raised and characteristically, Sir Bob wades-in boots-n-all....
"Sooner or later a foreign journalist will research our tourist crimes history and write a sensationalist account, pointing out that on a pro-rata basis , New Zealand is statistically the most dangerous popular tourist destination in the world - which beyond question it is".
So what can be done?
"Why not legislate  that crimes against tourists automatically yield double the maximum sentences. That should produce a sharp improvement in what is nothing less than a scandalous national embarrassment".
Helped by a few recent high-profile criminal cases involving tourists, Sir Bob's shocking pontification of New Zealand's alleged high crime-risk may seem to be feasible at first glance, however we suspect he is somewhat wide of the mark.

I suspect that Sir Bob's column today will spark further debate and others will be lining-up to counter the sensationalist allegation that New Zealand is "the most dangerous popular tourist destination in the world".

Wherever New Zealand stands in world rankings, the serious consequences of negative publicity involving crimes against tourists is something that should be considered. Sir Bob's pragmatic solution to lessen the risk should at least upset the left-wing, criminal-hugging, academic-theorists - we like that!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Should Moteliers Start Flogging Off Guest-Room Chattels?

I've attended a lot of tourism meetings over the years and when it comes to discussions about marketing, "packaging" different products and "collaboration" between operators are common themes that are presented as new ideas with the potential to open the floodgates of eager destination visitors.

Being aware and working in with other business operators has its advantages and packaging a mix of different products and services can have modest success in niche markets.

In motel-world, the thick-end of consumer demand is for individual product via different channels at different times. Combining rooms with outside product or services can over-complicate a simple offer. While this may not make sense, consumers are irrational and seem to have a natural instinct to hunt and gather distinct individual products that are presented well and appear to offer value.

From this weekend's Twitter feeds, we see that SoLoMo Consulting have presented a collaboration idea for moteliers to assist them sell more room nights:

So what's the idea?

Well, the main gist is that moteliers are encouraged to partner with bed retailers and offer guest rooms for overnight consumer testing of new beds. The motelier gets the use of a new bed and a night's accommodation while the bed retailer has the opportunity to sell a bed.

Sounds crazy? Well, maybe not...Some moteliers are already embracing this general concept.

I know of one motelier that actively sells beds as a successful business sideline. If a guest initiates a conversation about the qualities of the bed in their guest room or happens to mention a favourable night's sleep, this particular motelier will often cross-sell a new bed! By the time the guest arrives home, the motelier has done the deal and arranged a new bed to be delivered and waiting direct from the manufacturer.

From my motel, I've also sold beds to guests from time-to-time that have become attached to the bed that they've slept upon the night before and I wager that many other moteliers have done the same.

Beds are not the only item that moteliers have cross-sold to guests. Probably the most common collaboration is between moteliers and local artists that display artwork for sale in guest rooms.

The most extreme example of cross-selling items from motel guest rooms that I've come across is a Hamilton motelier that had a problem with guests pilfering. An interesting knee-jerk reaction was to offer in-room chattels for sale. A "menu" was placed in each guest room that included all in-room chattels with a purchase price. I'm not too sure if guests ever willingly made a purchase, however if any item went missing after a guest departed, their credit card was instantly debited with the appropriate price on the chattel-menu!
"Retail and Hospitality: Sell More Beds and Bed Nights by Collaborating
Posted on April 28, 2013 by Luigi Cappel

Three industries for the price of one. If you see me speak, you will know that ‘collaboration’ is a common word in my vocabulary. You may have a lot more opportunities with businesses in your neighborhood than you realize. If you are in the hospitality industry renting out rooms, or a retailer selling beds, or a bed manufacturer, this blog is for you.

I and other members of my family are in the market for a new bed. I believe my bed is over ten years old and I have had a number of back injuries over the years, so getting the right bed is very important.

The problem is, when you go to a retailer like Harvey Norman (only mentioning them because I have tried beds there, although I haven’t purchased yet) the sales people will obligingly let you try various beds, starting at the mid price range, then let you try dearer ones and cheaper ones and by the time you have been on half a dozen beds you are totally confused with independent coils and chiropractic society recommendations, whilst tempted by 5 years of interest free finance. That was deliberately a long sentence by the way, as can be the result of buying the wrong bed. Once you’ve made the decision, you are the proud owner of a second hand bed, worth about half of what you paid for it, assuming there is nothing physically wrong with the bed.
Read More: Click HERE

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Signs you've chosen the wrong motel...continued

Choosing the right motel can make or break a happy holiday or business trip.

From time-to-time, as a public service we highlight those subtle tell-tale signs that indicate that you may have chosen the wrong motel.

If you see a sign similar to the one below as you enter a motel reception, we respectfully suggest that you slowly back-out without attracting attention to yourself and look for alternative digs...

Our favourite items from the terms and conditions thoughtfully tacked to the back wall of this random motel reception area is the succinct number 5: No guarantee of anything and the helpful capitised number 9: CAUTION PARENTS: BLOCK THE ADULT MOVIES IN ROOM.

Source: Murder Motels

Friday, April 26, 2013

Low-Life Motel Guests?

Dameon Aaron Pullan and Troy Edward Maddock

We see that the alleged selfish criminal actions of two low-lifes that include ripping off a Kaikoura motel will play out in the District Court next week...No doubt the justice system needs time to locate and moisten a couple of bus tickets.
"Two Dunedin men have been charged with trying to defraud a Kaikoura Motel of more than $1000.
One of the two men has also been charged with possession of a knife and stealing a beanie from the Kaikoura I-Site.

Troy Edward Maddock, 21, and Dameon Aaron Pullan, 20, appeared in the Blenheim District Court yesterday charged with using a false credit card to obtain credit of $1133 from the Kaikoura Gateway Motel between April 18 and April 22.

Maddock was also charged with possession of a knife in public, while in Scarborough Tce, and stealing the beanie, while Pullan was also charged with breaching an intensive supervision sentence.

Both men agreed to being remanded in custody and were remanded to appear in the Christchurch District Court on Tuesday."
Source: Click HERE


A dear reader sent us the following picture that claims to be a self-indulgent "selfy" of Troy Edward Maddock. This was allegedly taken last week while staying at the same motel that he has been co-charged with trying to defraud.


Oh dear....It would appear that motel-defrauding feral Troy Edward Maddock hasn't changed his self-indulgent, selfish ways.

We see that Maddock (now 22) has recently appeared in the Blenheim District Court and has admitted breaking into Redwood Tavern on Saturday morning, as well as a second charge of theft, relating to another incident.

Source: Click HERE

Tourism Train Set For Sale

Here's something that caught my eye....

On the face of it, the exciting, dynamic world of owning a tourism business is a lot of fun and some may believe it's an industry that is license to print money faster than one of Russel Norman's mad-cap economic brainwaves. Sadly, the reality can be a little different.

Here's a tourism business opportunity that is probably typical of many hobbyist tourism businesses (just on a larger scale).

This may be a perfect fit for someone that has always dreamed of having their very own train set.

If "somebody else" will fork-out the funding, Auckland Mayor, Len Brown could be interested? Or maybe Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory could also consider putting his hand up?  

If you are blinded by your passion of steam trains, are not shy about loss-making ventures and don't mind heartache and hard graft, here's a "business" opportunity just for you:


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Remembering Them

Motel commitments dictate that it's been many years since I've been to an ANZAC Dawn Service, but I've been to a few RSAs over the years...

Every night in RSAs across the country, a moment of silence is generally observed in memory of comrades who made the supreme sacrifice in the service of their country. 

The lights are dimmed, the music is cut and the laughter and chatter immediately cease. The silence is broken with the clear baritone voice of an RSA official on a mic:
"Ladies and Gentlemen: The Remembrance Ceremony" 
In unison all dutifully stand:

The silence is broken by the RSA official that recites:
"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them"
Then all standing respond in unison:  
"We Will Remember Them"
Lighting is restored, everyone resumes their seat, the music and the chatter recommences.

I've witnessed this in several small provincial RSAs across the country and this haunting ceremony has always moved me.

Least we forget.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Colin Craig's Social Media Lesson

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig fills a legitimate (and amusing) place in the political spectrum.

The budding, wannabe politician paints an unfortunate rich-prick, uptight, detached, honky persona that is an easy target for ridicule.

This week, Craig set his lawyers onto an independent blogger that publishes a satirical blog, The Civilian. Craig's petty and precious actions have handed the MSM an easy cut-and-paste story.

As a leader of one of National's dwindling political party friend-base, Craig needs to quickly familiarise himself with three important rules when interacting with social media.
1. Social media is ALWAYS bigger than you are

2. Beware the Streisand effect

3. N.F.W.A.B.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Overstated, Inaccurate Motel Listings

I see that our friends at Travel Memo have run a story in their latest newsletter about the inaccuracies of accommodation listings on HotelsCombined.com that aggregates accommodation listings across all major Online Travel Agencies.

Users of HotelsCombined.com are able to compare room availability and prices from all major Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), including Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com, Agoda etc all in one set of search results.

While the information presented on major OTAs are directly sourced and are regularly updated by accommodation providers, the directory listing information that appears on the HotelsCombined.com website appears to have been independently sourced and produced. If you look at several accommodation listings you start to recognise common threads of language used. Attributes are often overstated and there is a wooden detachment that would indicate that the information could have been translated from another language?

It almost makes me wonder if the production of the accommodation listings on HotelsCombined.com were outsourced to Indian call centre staff that wrote accommodation descriptions and listed features between telephone calls ;-)

Of major concern to accommodation providers is the inaccuracy of the information presented, in particular overstated facilities or services offered. This can cause a lot of unnecessary angst and customers relying on this information could be left unsatisfied with their accommodation experience. The resulting backlash to an accommodation provider's online reputation can be servere.

The ability of a referral business to source, modify and publish details of an accommodation's business online can cause uncertainty and anger amongst moteliers - especially if incorrect information is presented. A knee-jerk reaction for moteliers is to cry foul and "opt-out". This is a natural reaction, as most businesses wish to maintain control on how they are presented.

Probably a better option for moteliers, is to increase awareness and adopt a glass-half-full attitude to the opportunities the internet can provide.

Travel Memo has helpfully suggested that accommodation providers check their listing on HotelsCombined.com and we further suggest that an audit of ALL online listings is carried out on a regular basis - you'll be surprised what you may find out there... .

Source: Click HERE

Monday, April 22, 2013

Las Vegas calls at Christchurch motel

MGM Resorts International's 3,933-room Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas seem to be very protective of its brand and one of its holding companies has registered the trademark "Bellagio" across the globe, including New Zealand.

MGM takes property rights very seriously and a legal team must be kept busy regularly performing Google vanity searches to identify businesses that are allegedly "trading-off" on the Bellagio name.

MGM have previous form leaning on businesses that dare to trade using "their" name including a Canadian company trading as Bellagio Limousines and a New York mattress maker that sold a range of Bellagio-branded mattresses.

It looks like MGM's lawyers have caught up with a motel in Christchurch, Bellagio Motel Suites and have pressured the business to go through the expense and rigmarole of changing their trading name.

The small Christchurch motel is now known as Bellano Motel Suites to minimise any possible consumer confusion with the Las Vegas mega hospitality business located over 11,000 km away.
"There's only one Bellagio Hotel, and it isn't in Christchurch.

We did have one. Until very recently guests could enjoy "stylish, modern, boutique-style accommodation" at the Bellagio Motel Suites on the corner of Bealey Ave and Montreal St.
But no more. In recent weeks the motel's sign has discreetly evolved from Bellagio to Bellano, after a shoulder tap from some lawyers in Las Vegas.

The Bellagio hotel and casinoon the Sin City strip, boasts 4000 rooms, and is famous for its dancing water fountain. It has featured in Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Thirteen, and The Hangover.

The Christchurch version is somewhat more understated, offering studio and one-bedroom suites and no dancing fountain.

The Bellagio name is trademarked in New Zealand, registered several times, including once by Mirage Resorts, Incorporated, for "hotel and resort services".

The Bellano owners declined to comment because of a current court case, but confirmed they had changed the motel's name, and not by choice.

A spokesman for the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office said there was no legal action before it on the Bellagio trademark, but said it was likely a case of "the trademark holder exercising their private property rights".
Source: Click HERE

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Microsoft Motel

The Sundowner Motel as it is today

Using Google Earth, a cruise along Route 66 in Albuquerque New Mexico takes you through an industrial wasteland. In a once thriving area of small businesses is now a high-crime zone known for prostitution. In-amongst the gloom of deteriorating commercial buildings stands the vacant and unloved Sundowner Motel.

As you pass by the blight of the boarded-up, abandoned motel, there is no indication that great things happened in one of the modest motel rooms in the mid 1970s that changed the world...

"A Route 66 motor lodge in Albuquerque where Bill Gates and Paul Allen lived while launching Microsoft Corp. is being redeveloped into apartments as part of a neighborhood revival project.

Officials broke ground Thursday on the redevelopment of the Sundowner Uhuru Apartment Complex, one of many projects sought to help revive a once busy area of Albuquerque.

The federally-funded project will create 70 apartments for veterans, the homeless, mixed-income residents, and residents with special needs.

The Sundowner was built in 1960 during the heart of Route 66 tourism.
Gates and Allen later lived at the Sundowner Motel when they wrote a version of the programming language BASIC for the Altair 8800 computer, invented in 1975 by the Albuquerque-based company MITS. The motel was used as a base camp in the mid-1970s before the pair moved Microsoft to the Seattle-area.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry says the motel was "ground zero" for the personal computer revolution and needs to be redeveloped for history.

"All these historic hotels up and down Route 66 have so many stories to tell," Berry said. "If the walls could talk...."

Justin Spielmann, the geoscience collections manager at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, said the motel "is practically where Microsoft started" and played a key role in the upcoming technology revolution."
"This is really the cradle where personal computing sort of came into its own," said Spielmann. "Albuquerque is really the seat of personal computers and the Sundowner plays into that origin."
The $9 million-development includes plans for a growers market, retail, and community space intended for small businesses.
Asbestos remediation on the motel was recently completed and constructed has started on a project official says will bring dozens of jobs to the city.
The Sundowner project is one of many slated for a once popular area of Albuquerque along Route 66.
In recent years, the area around the Sundowner, which was vacant, has been a high-crime zone and known for prostitution."
The partnership that had its origins in a modest guest room of the Sundowner Motel was the beginning of a software giant that now accounts for software on 91% of personal computers worldwide. In my humble opinion, the revitalisation project aimed at attracting corporate welfare doesn't seem to be a fitting tribute.

America was once a country that unapologetically celebrated its nation's corporate achievements in its own brash (and often tacky) style.

Sadly with public money propping up the viability of the Sundowner Motel's revitalisation project, the transformation of a once thriving motel into a low-cost social housing project is destined to become yet another blight on the landscape.

 The Sundowner Motel in its 1960s heyday

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Motel Rooms - What Happens Behind Closed Doors?


We've been closely following the outcome of an ongoing court case in Australia that will determine if an injury that occurred during a ''vigorous'' sex session in a motel while on a business trip counts as a work accident?

How the story unfolded...
"She was a public servant in her late 30s, passing through a quiet country town for a night on federal government business. He was a local she'd met a few weeks previously. Their steamy rendezvous in a Nowra motel room took place late one November evening in 2007. Five-and-a-half years later, it is heading for an unlikely denouement, most probably in the High Court.

The couple's names have never been released, but it is known from an agreed statement of facts that she contacted her new friend after finishing business for the day, met him for dinner, and they went back to her motel room for what was described as ''vigorous'' sex. During their tryst, a light fitting was pulled from the wall above the bed, and her evening ended in hospital with injuries to her mouth and nose.

The looming finale in the long battle over her workers' compensation claim (which insurer Comcare is seeking to appeal in the High Court) is now being nervously awaited by every boss around the country with employees who travel for work."
Whatever the outcome of the court case, all moteliers should become part of the solution to minimise health and safety risks of motel guests by immediately identifying all wall fixtures within reach of motel beds (that may be grasped for leverage purposes) and ensure that they are securely fastened!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hotel/Motel Mini Bars Under Threat?

Oh Dear!

Will an anomaly with the new liquor laws to be introduced later this year threaten hotel and motel mini bars?

Read: New liquor law could close mini-bar doors

Kiwi-Made Travel App Hits #1

We've profiled our young hip friends at "Stay Today" in a previous post.

The Kiwi-based company offer a same-day, last-minute accommodation booking app and their consumer offer is very clean and simple:
"Stay Today is a same-day hotel booking app that lets iPhone users get insanely good deals if they book their room on the day of their stay.

Our discounts get better as the day progresses, so the later you book the more you save."
The easy-to-use, one-trick, iPhone-only app takes the concept of last minute booking to the extreme. Customers are able to book same-day rooms at key locations in New Zealand and Australia from noon until 2am.
From an accommodation providers' perspective, this concept would make many recoil in horror at the prospect of offering fenced discounted promotions below rate parity arrangements with mainstream OTAs. Many accommodation providers are against signaling to consumers that their inventory is "distressed" and there is also the perception that late night "revelers" may be attracted to the late-night check-in service.
The reality is that there is a consumer demand for an intuitive, well marketed same-day booking service and we see that Stay Today have reached a significant milestone by being the most popular Kiwi travel app in the Apple App Store.
It's hard to say how this quirky app has managed to attract more downloads than the other offerings from larger Kiwi "mainstream" travel companies like AA Travel and Jasons Travel
Besides the relative attributes of Stay Today's app compared to others, we suspect that one of the reasons for their success has been their ability to effectively communicate to consumers in a fun, irrelevant manner by using a younger, fresher tone than their more staid competitors.
For immediate release

18th April 2013 
Kiwi-Made Travel App Hits #1

Stay Today, the Kiwi-made hotel booking app has hit number one free app in the NZ Travel charts.

Stay Today offers ultra last minute hotel deals that are always better than the lowest online price. It is the first same-day hotel booking app in Australia and New Zealand.

“We target the person that books their hotel on the day” says Matthew Mayne, Stay Today’s Managing Director. “If you’re the type that books your room while you’re sitting at the airport, then this app is perfect for you.”

Mayne says there are two reasons for the app’s success – “Best price and convenience. We always offer lower prices than you’ll find on the web, and our app is uber-simple to use. That’s important because when you’re on the go, you don’t have time to muck around. With Stay Today, you can actually book in ten seconds, from opening the app to getting the reciept”.

Accessible after midday each day, Stay Today delivers rates that are always cheaper than Wotif. The service is available in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Rotorua.

Stay Today is backed by several investment funds, including Global From Day One, Sparkbox and New Zealand Venture Investment Fund.

Stay Today's 80 hotel partners across New Zealand and Australia include Rendezvous in Auckland, the five star Princes Gate in Rotorua and the Museum Hotel in Wellington.

The Stay Today app can be downloaded free in the iTunes app store or from the company's New Zealand website www.staytoday.co.nz. All new customers receive a free $15 credit to use on their first booking.


For further enquiries:

Matthew Mayne, Managing Director, Stay Today - 022 122 8924

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More Motel Name Suppression

I see that the Human Rights Tribunal has made an interim ruling today that the murky identity of a convicted paedophile that is allegedly operating a Taupo motel will remain anonymous...for now.

Acting on behalf of the paedophile, The Human Rights Commission has been successful in gaining an interim name suppression order. This is in spite of an accusation in the media is that the  paedophile lied about living at and running a motel in his interim name suppression application earlier this month.

The Human Rights Commission is prosecuting the Sensible Sentencing Trust in the Auckland District Court today after they published details of the convicted paedophole on their online offender register.

The trust is claiming that there has never been name suppression of the paedophile but this is denied by him and the commission. 

The Truth Newspaper in last Thursday's print edition published the the convicted paedophile's name along with the motel he is allegedly running in Taupo.

While dodgy name suppression laws dictate that we are unable to publish the alleged motelier's name or the motel he allegedly operates, there is an irony that the convicted paedophile by whining to the Human Rights Commission has put the blowtorch on himself and his business.

Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn Humour

The following humorous slice-of-life article appeared in the Santa Maria Sun newspaper earlier this month.

Although this has been written from an American perspective, the article covers several universal themes that occur when leisure couples stay at commercial accommodation.

As accommodation operators, we often forget that an average couple rarely stay at commercial accommodation and when they do, it is usually an "occasion".

Although leisure guests can appear to be price sensitive, most are really after "value".

For couples, the guest room is an opportunity to escape the mundane, forget about those pressing day-to-day responsibilities and recapture memories of their youth.

Other themes covered in the article are:
  • Men consider commercial accommodation as an opportunity for sex
  • Woman consider commercial accommodation as an opportunity for "romance"
  • Woman have a higher expectation of facilities and service than men
  • Woman are the decision makers 
  • Men intuitively know that if the woman is happy with the choice of accommodation, they will be happy 
Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn Camping isn't for everyone

"When I first met my wife, I was living in a dorm room. I was also skinny at the time. Unfortunately I didn’t have the self-realization to understand how incredibly lucky I was to be skinny; I feel as if I really took that time of my life for granted. As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and youth is wasted on the young. Regardless of my lack of a beer belly or lack of a sense of carpe diem back in those days, let’s get back to the point at hand: In college I met my wife while I was living in the dorms. Unfortunately, I had a roommate who didn’t have much of a social life. He wouldn’t leave the dorm room, ever. He had become addicted to the video game Doom, and he played it 24/7 in my room. The guy wouldn’t even stop to go to class. What that resulted in was my wife and I doing a lot of tent camping. Of course, back then she wasn’t my wife. She wasn’t even really my wife-to-be. At the time, she was referred to as “The blonde girl from the second floor.” She loved to camp, and I loved her for it.

Don’t worry moms and dads out there: We got married. It’s all good. In fact, we have been married for more than 16 years. Some things have changed: I got fat, and now she doesn’t like camping as much. Bummer. But things aren’t all grim, because my wife, whom I love, loves hotels. I don’t know what these hotel companies are pumping through the vents (pheromones?), but you get my wife away from the hustle and bustle of her daily life and throw her in a nice hotel room and BAM! We are on vacation!

Vacations are a good thing. They don’t come as often as anybody would like, but when they do come, they come hard: hard on the wallet, that is. You see, I wish I could afford to take my wife to a hotel every weekend, but my budget just can’t handle that kind of excitement. Camping is much cheaper than a hotel, but my wife has become a hotel kind of girl. She doesn’t do the whole granola outdoorsy thing anymore. I have tried to compromise and take her to a motel, but that doesn’t work either. She told me flat out, “I don’t do motels”—as if the word “motel” was a dirty thing. She only appreciates the finer establishments. I made the foolish mistake of trying the whole “stay-cation” thing. It was a huge flop. It certainly didn’t knock her socks off like I was hoping.

What it all comes down to is getting away from responsibility. Home equals laundry, dishes, bills to pay, essentially the four-letter word: work. Work isn’t sexy. Camping equals setting up the tent, dirt, sleeping with a rock in your back, and cooking food. A hotel is much better. A hotel means someone else makes the bed, and since there is no kitchen, we have no other choice but to go out to eat. A hotel equals no work, no responsibilities, and no roommate playing Doom until 4 a.m. So I have learned that the secret to making a woman happy is to get her away from responsibility and work. Ironically, getting a woman to a place where she feels like she doesn’t have to work is a lot of work for us guys. There are reservations to be made and decisions about rooms with views, or rooms with Jacuzzis, or rooms with two separate bathrooms (always a chick favorite).

But I’ve learned the hard way that not all hotels are created equal. Some smell. Some don’t give my wife enough conditioner. Sometimes the front desk doesn’t pick up on the first ring when my wife wants a complimentary toothbrush sent up to the room. Sometimes the valet takes too long to get our car. Sometimes the line at the bar during complimentary happy hour is too long. Sometimes the hotel forgets to give my wife a free cookie when she checked in WHEN THE SIGN IN THE FRONT CLEARLY SAID EVERYBODY GETS A FREE COOKIE! Yup, the manager got a nasty letter for that one.

My wife not only requires a hotel for her relaxing vacations, she requires the hotel meet her stringent specifications. There isn’t an extra pillow? Call the front desk. We didn’t get a laundry bag? Call the front desk. I’m going to need a late checkout. Call the front desk. They didn’t give us enough towels? Call the front desk. The ice machine on this floor is broken? Call the front desk!

We call the front desk a lot. They know us quite well before we leave. We sure do get big smiles as the staff waves goodbye to us.

Hotel budgets aren’t cheap, especially when you have kids (a result of an earlier hotel visit). Sure, it is cozy to have the whole family share a room, but if the whole point was to help the wife relax, sharing a small room and one toilet with two teenagers isn’t the answer. So that means getting two separate hotel rooms, which is doubling the budget. In the morning when the bill gets slipped under the door, I realize that spending quality time with my wife is really expensive. I might even think to myself, what other type of entertainment could I afford for the same amount of cash? A go-kart!

I’m not complaining. I am a very lucky man who has been married to a great gal for a long time. And that success comes from a lot of hard work and support from the people around us. I just want to take the time to thank the staff at the Hilton, the Holiday Inn, the Radisson, every hotel on Las Vegas Boulevard, the Hyatt, the … .

Only two Q-tips? Right now Rob is on the phone with the front desk."
Source: Click HERE

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Accommodation Chain Drop Qualmark

In breaking news....Our good friends at the Host Accommodation Group have announced today that that are dropping the compulsion of it's member properties to be star-rated by Qualmark.

On an industry level, this is a big deal. It would appear that Host Accommodation, a leading New Zealand marketing chain is reacting to a rapidly changing marketplace by turning its back on Qualmark and will be diverting energies into its own quality management systems.

Marketing chains are a big part of Qualmark's accommodation client-base. We predict that this bold announcement by Host Accommodation will encourage other marketing chains to leave the security blanket of Qualmark and become fast-followers.

We assume that individual Host Accommodation properties will be free to carry-on with their old-school Qualmark star rating along with the Enviro-award if they choose. And with the possible late entry of a Qualmark competitor, it's interesting to note that accommodation properties that persist with static, onsite inspections may soon have at least two star-rating agencies to choose from.

Host Accommodation will rise above industry-based banal circular conversations about static standards set by a detached centralised rating agency in favour of listening to the dynamic wants and needs of the customer.

Host Accommodation appear to be looking to the future by catching a new-wave of businesses that are using guest feedback to improve products and services.

In an article titled "Social Intelligence Trends for 2013," the social market intelligence group said:
 "The explosion of online customer feedback is transforming how businesses will use social intelligence to deliver a quality customer experience." newBrandAnalytics predicts that businesses will stop investing in solicited surveys in 2013 due to consistent, reliable and free customer feedback coming from the web via guest reviews. The company also predicts that star ratings will become a thing of the past, as they are being recognized by consumers and businesses as "misleading, unreliable and not actionable." Instead, "consumers will seek verbatim reviews in making their purchase decisions; businesses will decipher the true meaning and uncover important themes discussed in these unstructured reviews to drive improvements."  
In the accommodation industry, there's no more exact or tougher quality assessor than the customers that stay every night of the year. Market leaders, Host Accommodation seems to think so too...

"16th April 2013



After reviewing current trends, customer feedback and consulting with its member properties, The Host Accommodation Group have made the decision to drop the compulsion for their properties to be licence holders with New Zealand tourism’s official quality assurance organisation, Qualmark NZ.

"It's a decision that Host Accommodation hasn't taken lightly" said Chris Lee, Host Accommodation General Manager.

"After exhaustive consultation and research, we've decided that our network of motels, motor lodges, motels & apartments should individually decide for themselves if they wish to be star-rated by Qualmark".

Mr Lee believes that a hard core of Host Accommodation properties will initially maintain their Qualmark licence, but effective immediately, a Qualmark licence will no longer be a compulsory requirement to become a member of the Host Accommodation network of properties throughout New Zealand.

Quality will continue to be a cornerstone of Host Accommodation and this will be vigorously monitored and supported through various in-house programmes that include using mystery shoppers and dynamic guest feedback.

"The world has moved on from quality being measured by static onsite inspections from clipboard carrying inspectors" Mr Lee said. "The customer is now king and it is important for us to be attuned to their requirements and changing demands".

"Our customers are extremely important to us and only they can tell us what we are doing right and how we can improve".

Mr Lee concluded "Listening directly to our customers will assist Host Accommodation to remain New Zealand's leading accommodation group".

More information:
Chris Lee – General Manager 

Are OTAs Starting To Own The Mobile Space?

Traditional sources of business for motels are changing rapidly.

In our Predictions For 2013, we earmarked the mobile channel as the most potential for growth:
"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."
The mobile channel is an important part of consumers' journey from inspiration to finally committing to an accommodation choice. This journey can involve a complex chain of different media from word-of-mouth, print, customer review sites to an array of bookable desktop websites etc. Mobile is increasingly being added to the chain of mediums that consumers regularly visit to research accommodation options.

For accommodation providers, having a professional presence across all mediums regularly visited by consumers is critical. Those accommodation providers that aren't serving up their own dedicated mobile option, can easily break the chain of a consumer's decision making journey.

From my own market observations, the impact of mobile channel is not immediately obvious, as the consumer tends to use other mediums to make the final booking. At the moment, the benefits of having a mobile presence is caught-up in the murky science of The Billboard Effect - ie the benefits that accommodation providers gain from marketing their property across many mediums that generates reservations through other channels, such as the accommodation provider's own desktop website, OTA, telephone, off-road etc.

As the majority of consumers are currently not using mobile websites or apps to book online, accommodation providers that faithfully record sources of business are only aware of the last medium the consumer visited before they committed to a decision. The influence of other mediums along the consumer decision making chain such as mobile are still hugely important, but harder to measure.

There appears to be an emerging game-changing trend where consumers are beginning to have the confidence to use their mobile devices to make an online reservation. As smartphones and tablets are now commonplace consumer items, the use of these devices as a one-stop research AND booking tool appears to be increasing.

As consumers become more comfortable getting instant gratification with a hand-held device, Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are benefiting from their trusted brands and investment in intuitive mobile websites and apps to capture the change in consumer behavior.

Interestingly, the fortunes of the mobile channel for the most successful OTAs that operate in the New Zealand market have been mentioned in the media recently:
"More than 20% of all bookings made on leading travel website Wotif.com are now processed through mobile devices, an increase of more than 100% in 12 months.
Wotif.com has seen a steady surge in bookings across mobile platforms since launching a mobile site in 2009 and apps for iPhone and Android last year."
"Mobile devices are taking the online accommodation market by storm with a spectacular increase in the number of customers using mobile devices to book accommodations. Booking.com has seen its total transaction value of mobile hotel bookings rise from $1 billion in 2011 to over $3 billion in 2012."
While OTAs appear to be hitting the ground running, many individual accommodation providers may have been caught napping.

As the accommodation industry focuses on wrestling back consumers from OTAs by relying upon their desktop websites, professional mobile website development along with mobilised booking engines doesn't seem to be a high priority.

Is there a risk that the emerging mobile channel will soon be owned by OTAs?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Motel Name Suppression - Updated

I see that the Human Rights Commission is prosecuting the Sensible Sentencing Trust for allegedly breaching name suppression orders of a convicted paedophile.

There is an obvious irony that the government funded Human Rights Commission, a hand-wringing adjunct that seeks justice for members of the public with hurt feelings, is spending public money on defending the "rights" of an upset convicted paedophile.

While it seems murky if the courts granted permanent name suppression or not, it is interesting what details we can find while sitting in a darkened room, in front of a glowing computer screen.

While the Sensible Sentencing Trust is talking tough (see their media release below), they have appeared to have reacted to legal threats by removing all details of the published convicted paedophile on their website and have altered their original media release (see below).

While the Sensible Sentencing Trust and online mainstream media may have played ball by removing the name of the convicted paedophile, Google cached pages are still available if you know where to look....

Or you can simply buy this week's Truth newspaper where the convicted paedophile's name and the motel he is allegedly running in Taupo is published for all to see...
Sensible Sentencing Trust in David and Goliath fight for life 
6th April 2013

The Sensible Sentencing Trust is once again going into battle with a far bigger adversary – the Crown.

(Name withheld) was convicted of numerous indecent assault charges against young girls and was listed on the Trusts sex offenders database.

Mr (Name withheld)'s lawyers wrote to the Trust stating their client had name suppression but could not produce any evidence; the case has ultimately ended up in the Office of Human Rights Proceedings who has also failed to produce any evidence of name suppression.

Sensible Sentencing Trust Spokesman, Garth McVicar said the case was shaping up to be a David and Goliath battle of "gigantic proportions".

"On one hand we have a fledgling voluntary organization fighting for the rights of victims and on the other we have the enormous resources of the Crown fighting to protect the so called 'rights' of a convicted paedophile."

"We have a minute from the Court saying There is no record of a final name suppression Order being made, yet the Office of Human Rights Proceedings is prepared to spend taxpayer dollars to fight us solely on the strength of Mr (Name withheld)’s claim he has one – yet all available evidence suggests he does not."

Mr McVicar said that the SST was once again having to go into battle for victims. "We did it in the Sue Couch case where the Crown spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on Court and legal costs and ultimately made an out-of-Court settlement."

"The Crown is very good at defending the rights of criminals at the expense of law abiding citizens and seems to be prepared to spend vast sums of taxpayers’ money to do so."

"This battle is about the safety and protection of our children and the rights of citizens to know who is living in our communities free from the fear of some unnamed sexual predator or violent offender."

"Its no wonder New Zealand has a shocking level of child abuse when taxpayer money is being squandered defending the so called 'rights' of a convicted paedophile."

"We believe children deserve better – they are unable to defend themselves – and we are prepared to vigorously defend the right to access information about predators."
“Let the battle begin."

Garth McVicar
National Spokesperson,
Sensible Sentencing Trust.

UPDATE 14/04/13
"The Sunday Star-Times is following Truth again, this time over the dirty pedophile running a Taupo motel that is described as “ the perfect choice for the whole family”.

We spoke to the pedophile earlier in the week so it is good to see Sunday Star-Times reporters buying Truth so they can follow up. We named the pedophile, we published his photo and we named his place of work.

Meanwhile the Sunday Star-Times does add a tiny bit more to the story, it appears he has lied to the Privacy Commission and the Human Rights Commission."
Source: Whaleoil

Friday, April 12, 2013

Frivolous Friday

I had a few relevant ideas to post about today....then I got bored and saw this:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mr and Mr Smith Booking Into A Motel Near You

I've been keeping a casual eye on the imminent passing of the gay marriage bill.

I've got no problem with any contract or relationship that adults willingly enter into. All sectors of society should have the opportunity to endure a mother-in-law!

There's been several media reports about the tourism opportunities that NZ's gay marriage bill may open-up. According to a story in yesterday's Dom, "Same-sex Aussie couples eye NZ wedding vows".

Apparently 2,000 Aussie gay couples are fizzing at the bung to get hitched and with easy access to New Zealand there could soon be a flood of happy same-sex couples enjoying Kiwi hospitality. With $36,000 spent on the average Aussie wedding, this niche tourism market would appear to have great economic benefits.

The General characteristics of same-sex couples dictate that they are ideal target customers for the motel industry. Same-sex couples are more likely to be domiciled in urban centres, are younger than opposite sex partnerships, have fewer dependent children, are in employment and highly educated.

We say, bring it on!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Margaret Thatcher

Sadly, one of the world's greatest former leaders, Margaret Thatcher has died.

I can't help comparing the Iron Lady with a few of our stoic, long-serving woman in the motel industry that keep it all together and do-the-business with a resolute determination.
"If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
Margaret Thatcher 
Born 1925 / Died 2013

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Russel Norman To Enlighten Moteliers?

I was chatting to a fellow motelier earlier today that gave me reason to pause after his WTF revelation.

The Motel Association of NZ (MANZ) appear to be drip-feeding the announcement of speakers, building up to their 40th Conference and AGM to be held in Nelson later this year.

So who is the latest speaker that has been announced?

Who will front a small-but-perfectly-formed assembly of professional small-business owners at a time when the motel industry is searching for direction and inspiration?

Who is the person that will stand at a lectern in front of weary small-business owners offering encouragement, business-friendly advice and enlighten with innovative pathways forward?

Well, according to MANZ the answer is....Dr Russel Norman!

That's right, the prescribed male co-leader of The Greens, representing a political party of the naive and bewildered - Appealing to an eclectic mix of left-wing radicals that includes aging wanna-be hippies, dim-witted Generation Y youth and menopausal Remurea housewives.

The Geens are a narrow-minded, anti-business party, gift wrapped in green rhetoric. They promote statist policies that include common threads of either "banning it" or "taxing it". When they are completely stumped for ideas, they simply call for an enquiry.

Aussie export, Russel Norman is the man that has recently advocated solving New Zealand's economic woes with the mad-cap brainwave of printing billions of more money. While this would provide a temporary boon for Xerox, the hard-earned wealth of a vast number of Kiwis would be handed over to the state - But those noxious Watermelon Greens kinda like that!

At first glance it would appear that inviting the ilk of Russel Norman along to a business industry conference is a worthy of an ironic face-palm. Why would a trade association wish to legitimise the looney-extremes of the left?

While Russel Norman's conference gig may not serve to bolster MANZ's credibility as an association allegedly representing mainstream businesses, maybe this bizarre inclusion has been inspired to boost curious attendees?

What ever the reason, we're betting Russel Norman's conference presentation will be hilarious and prove to be a major conference highlight!

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Future Of Guide Books?

One of the benefits of operating a travel related business, isolated from the rest of the world is that we can glimpse into the future by observing trends occurring within more "advanced" overseas markets.

So what can we learn from Google's announcement this month that they are selling-up Frommer's? Frommer's is known worldwide for printing the iconic Frommer's Guidebooks.

Google  purchased the Frommer's brand last year and promptly ceased production and publication of printed guidebooks bearing the Frommer's name in favour of associating the brand with online assets.

Iconic, 83 year-old stalwart, Arthur Frommer, that first published Frommer's guide 57 years ago has recently purchased the brand back from Google and intends to resume publishing Frommer's travel guides in print and ebook along with operating the travel site Frommers.com."

Only time will tell if Frommer was right to wrestle the company back and in particular if there will be a sustainable consumer demand for the soon to be reintroduced Frommer's paper-based guides?

Following the theme of "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic", last month another well-known travel guide brand changed hands. BBC Worldwide cut-loose Lonely Planet by selling it to a Nashville-based digital media company for less than half what it paid for the company in 2007.

While most considered opinion would suggest that the future of paper-based travel guides are on shaky ground, history gives us many examples of sure-fire predictions in travel that turn out to be wrong.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dive Into The Starlite Motel

"What hides behind the faded glamour of motel neon?
Anger, heartache, guilt, despair, anticipation, desire, hope, joy..."
The no-tell motel has many untold stories from those that stand in front and behind the motel reception counter....The stories are worthy of preserving and with some motels the classic roadside signs are also worth saving.

One aspect of American culture that we like is the sentimental fondness of retro-business pop-culture, that includes motels .

Interesting that the classic motel, Starlite Motel in Mesa Arizona has had its 1950's "Diving Lady" neon sign resurrected after a restoration project by the local preservation foundation.

The motel and the sign have a great history - read more about it HERE.

Although the roadside sign has been spruced-up, it looks like that's where the romance of a bygone era abruptly stops. The motel's glory days appear to be well behind it.

Hovering over the motel in Google Earth, it looks like the swimming pool has long been filled-in and the sole review on TripAdvisor is less than complimentary.

Judging by the motel management featured in the following video, it looks like the motel is now part of the current-day 'Patel-Motel' phenomenon that are keeping the dreams of faded-motels alive in America.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fat Fares By Samoa Air

Don't you love the indignant howling from self-important academics and outraged social groups that are apologists for "victimised" flabby folk.

With the exception of a very small minority with rare medical conditions and pumped-up athletes, people are considered obese simply because of a self-imposed habit of consuming more energy than they use. It's not the fault of the food industry, government or society. The hand that selects and scoops up copious amounts of food while laying on the couch belongs to the person that is individually responsible for their own ballooning body shape...

So should an oversized traveller pay more than others on an airline? Absolutely! Basic physics dictates that in order for a plane to get off the ground, a major consideration is the weight onboard, not the number of passengers.

If you send off a courier package to another destination, doesn't make sense that you'll be charged according the weight and bulk of the item? So does it make sense to charge airline passengers per-kilo as well?

No doubt other airlines will be watching Samoa Air's newly imposed per-kilo fare system with interest. 

Good on the airline for trying out a world-first fare system as a business solution to manage the weight of its "cargo". Predictably, the new fare regime has been widely reported in the media as targeting and discriminating against poor, blameless fatties. Samoa Air have responded with a smokescreen of social responsibility by claiming that they are trying to promote healthy living. Hilarious!

So will other airlines follow? Probably not - In the travel industry that depends upon online sales, it's easier and less threatening to treat all passengers as a one-size-fits-all commodity.

It's likely that airlines will continue to assume an average weight for its passengers and police weight with overzealous baggage fees;-)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Government To Open New Motel Chain

As an exclusive announcement we can reveal that Tourism Minister John Key will this week announce a cross-party initiative to form a new state owned entity:  

Tourist Motel Corporation of New Zealand

The announcement will herald a brave new era of "hands-on-government" in the tourism industry that will hark back to the good old days of the 50's when publicly owned assets and control were at the forefront of New Zealand's burgeoning tourism industry.  

According to John Key: "We've already got skin in a fleet of planes, i-Sites, a star rating agency and tourism marketing, so it was an easy decision for us to add a chain of motels to the set"

An extensive network of government owned motels will be built and operated to strict minimum standards ensuring that all visitors can enjoy accommodation regardless of  age, disability, race, marital status, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or employment status. 

The principles of the Treaty of Waitangi will be embedded into day-to-day motel operations and regional co-ops will elect motel management to ensure the motelier behind the reception desk reflects the unique cultural diversity of Aotearoa.

The new motels will be compulsorily Qualmark star-rated and Tourism NZ will flex its marketing strength by awarding a priority-listing to the government-owned motel chain on their website, newzealand.com.

Further marketing initiatives will include making full use of the government's stake in the i-Site network by using this channel to distribute brightly coloured brochures (on recyclable paper) for each motel.

Old-school protectionism will also make a welcome return to the tourism industry. It's been decided that the new motel chain will only list room inventory on approved New Zealand domiciled Online Travel Agency websites. Those nasty foreign-owned OTAs will be avoided at all cost.

The chain of motels will also opt-out of TripAdvisor and legislation will soon be passed that will ban all guest feedback on this forum. It is believed that government ownership and strict controls will eliminate the distraction of monitoring the opinion of guests that will be staying at the vast government-owned motel network.

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