Friday, May 31, 2013

Destination Tourism Promotion By Winston



Winston Peter's latest destination tourism promotion campaign seems to have worked a treat.

A widely reported speech by Peters in front of  NZ First's youth division (North Shore Grey Power), has sparked up wonderful imagery of Auckland as the "the supercity of sin"

You just can't put a price on free publicity like that!

And who can we thank for creating an exciting, vibrant, must-visit city awash with prostitution, gambling and crime? Well, according to Peters, it's all those Chinese immigrants of course!

After a tip-off, we can exclusively reveal what inspired Peters to start promoting Auckland.

While formulating his latest outburst, Peters booked into an Auckland waterfront city hotel that had been recently purchased by a Chinese investment company.

While ensconced in his guest room, Peters started looking for late-night entertainment venues by thumbing through the hotel's guest information compendium and soon became outraged with what he saw...
"Getting There

Our representative will make you wait at the airport. The bus to the hotel runs along the Manukau Harbour. Soon you will feel pleasure in passing water. You will know that you are getting near the hotel, because you will go round the bend. The manager will await you in the entrance hall. He always tries to have intercourse with all new guests.

The Hotel 

This is a family hotel, so children are very welcome. We of course are always pleased to accept adultery. Highly skilled nurses are available in the evenings to put down your children. Guests are invited to conjugate in the bar and expose themselves to others. But please note that ladies are not allowed to have babies in the bar. We organize social games, so no guest is ever left alone to play with them self.

The Restaurant

Our menus have been carefully chosen to be ordinary and unexciting. At dinner, our quartet will circulate from table to table, and fiddle with you.

Your Room 

Every room has excellent facilities for your private parts. In winter, every room is on heat. Each room has a balcony offering views of outstanding obscenity! . You will not be disturbed by traffic noise, since the road between the hotel and the harbour is used only by pederasts.

Bed

Your bed has been made in accordance with local tradition. If you have any other ideas please ring for the chambermaid. Please take advantage of her. She will be very pleased to squash your shirts, blouses and underwear. If asked, she will also squeeze your trousers.

Above all

When you leave us at the end of your holiday, you will have no hope. You will struggle to forget it."

More Concrete Block Motel

The song, Concrete Block Motel featured in our post yesterday has certainly touched a nerve.

Most of the feedback has been positive and a couple of dear readers have even requested the lyrics. Unfortunately the lyrics don't seem to be available online and as I can't be bothered to recreate them, I've done the next best thing and found the song in a clearer studio format (below).

And as for the solitary negative response I received...well, this particular person gave me a serve for allegedly denigrating the motel industry by publishing the video of this amusing song. There is an irony that this special-person has probably unwittingly provided material for the song's writer and personifies the main challenge that faces the motel industry - the overabundance of grizzly, silly-old-male motel operators that are unable to move-on from the shadows of the past...

Please feel free to crank up those tinny 5 watt computer speakers and enjoy;-)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Please Make It Stop!

One of the horror predictions that no business likes to dwell on is the likelihood of a grand-left wing coalition getting their hands on the levers of power after the next election.

Even though there have been numerous polls telling us that this may be so, most level-headed Kiwis grasp onto the hope that sanity will prevail and the majority of society aren't bat-shit crazy when it comes to ticking appropriate boxes behind the closed curtain of an electoral booth.

If businesses really believe that times are tough right now, just wait until a Labour/Green led government starts using the dwindling productive members of society as income generators for their own wacky social and environmental goals. Any social or environmental need unsatisfied by the redistribution of earnings from others, will be instantly remedied with cash from the flick of  a photocopy machine.

A recent wake up call for businesses has come with the latest Roy Morgan poll that has shown support for a loony-left collective is now outstripping that for the Government.

And thanks to Whaleoil by leaking the following memo, business owners that are already feeling queasy will be throwing-up a little bit in their mouths:

The Concrete Block Motel

 Nothing is more depressing in a motel than a cold painted concrete block wall

For moteliers inspired by the customer service gems found on the "real-life TV documentary", Fawlty Towers, we've discovered another must-see media resource brimming with motivational ideas to improve motel guest interaction skills.

Hot Club Sandwich is a 3-piece band from Wellington that obviously have first-hand knowledge of staying at dodgy Kiwi motels run by grumpy and indifferent moteliers. They've used their experience by cleverly putting together a very amusing medley of Kiwiana motel customer service clichés.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry...


Hat tip: The Motel Guru

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ode To the Motel Portable Phone

Probably the hardest working item of hardware in a motel is the trusty portable phone. Yes, believe it or not, in spite of the "digital revolution" our customers still phone us - maybe not quite as often as they used to!

The portable phone gives the motelier the freedom to roam and multi-task - albeit within 100-odd metres from the phone's base unit.

A motelier's badge of honor is a portable phone that has seen some action - battle weary, covered in nicks and grazes with the numerals on the buttons all but worn away.

The portable phone is part of a motelier's attire and is required close-by during the usual hectic multi-tasking motel day...So don't be disturbed if you notice a motelier with an unsightly bulge in the trouser area, as it is more-than-likely caused by a lurking portable phone.

While trousers with large pockets are the preferred method for moteliers to carry around these devices, evolution has dictated that they have become proficient at attending to most tasks with one hand while constantly clutching a portable phone in the other.

The top pocket is another favorite way to carry a portable phone, although this comes with the risk of constant spills and every now and again you see a motelier with a classic belt clip phone holder so that they are able to quickly attend to incoming calls cowboy style.

It is an unwritten law between husband and wife operators, that whoever is holding the portable phone, also looks after the reception area. This allows the other partner the freedom to roam the motel complex - sometimes for many hours. Unfortunately this pass-the-baton rule has become muddied with the introduction of portable phone units with multiple handsets.

We note that our friends at CentrePoint on Colombo Motel have retired their trusty motel portable phone after many years of service and are reasonably excited about the new features of the replacement:
"Extending our eco range to the way we talk!

Timing to perfection - out with the old 'n in with the new!

After 5 years and probably a few more before us, our last trusty handheld gave up the ghost yesterday....in the middle of a snow storm!

Looks like getting dropped....again.....was just once too often and so it hung up for the last time!
Naomi battled snowdrifts, blizzard conditions & freezing temperatures to drive to the mall & shop in total comfort.

She came away with 3 snazzy new phones although once home and in the Motel setting they started looking at us with trepidation......fearing just how long it would be till they are dropped for the first time.....

In line with our green credentials.....please note that we use the trusty rusty till the end - no wasting resources here oh no! - and also the all new "eco" button, meaning you can talk to us longer and make more and more bookings without putting any strain on our precious resources........ wouldn't Qualmark be proud of us!"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Employers Rights v Staff Self Expression

As a company that regularly grandstands its social responsibility, Air New Zealand will be hyper-sensitive about the unfolding news story of its alleged discriminatory employment policy of turning away hostess staff with visible tattoos.  

We note that the precious and self-righteous job applicant is being pimped by the media as a naive victim being shunned by a mean "culturally insensitive" Air New Zealand.

This story has a lot in common with a story we posted in 2011 about a rare Employer WIN - A hospitality worker lost her case with the Human Rights Commission after claiming that she was discriminated against because of her visible tattoo.

The hospitality worker claimed she was "humiliated" by her former boss after he allegedly made her cover up a tattoo on her forearm with a staff uniform provided for her during a catering function.

In the hospitality worker's case, it was established that the employer has the right to insist that staff are appropriately presented in a customer service role and this included restricting staff flaunting visible tattoos. We reckon that's fair enough.

We can understand after being sheltered by the liberal elite in the education system, many New Zealanders may adopt the mistaken belief that the world owes them a living and others should blindly accept their inked self-expression. Unfortunately in the real world, anyone that adorns their body with a visible tattoo, that may include ink of a self-imposed spiritual significance, needs to take personal responsibility and accept that they WILL be limiting their future employment options.

In the hospitality and travel industry it is accepted that an employee's individual expression should be left at the gate. As a general guideline, it is not unreasonable to expect staff to look, talk and act in a way that is acceptable to the environment they are working in. Particular attention must be taken when staff deal with or are in view of the public. It may be accepted that staff should wear a well presented uniform, tie their hair back, and remove caps. Piercings and excessive jewellery should be removed and staff should not swear, chew gum, swear, spit, wander around clutching cell phones AND keep tattoos covered...

Luckily, Mrs Motella does not have any similar issues with her employer as she does not find the necessity to expose her indulgent body adornment while at work...:

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Smoking Motel

It's shocking to think that a few years ago, we used to allow smoking in our motel guest rooms.

The thought that we once allowed rooms to be continually subjected to plumes of nasty cigarette smoke absorbing into surfaces in a confined space and regularly subjecting hapless guests to foul air is difficult to comprehend.

Although we have various techniques to freshen-up rooms after smokers depart, in spite of the claimed benefits of sprays, ozone generators etc, in reality it takes many days for the stench of cigarette smoke to subside.

Back-in-the-day, complaints about smoky guest rooms were reasonably common, however there was also a reluctant acceptance by many other guests that a hint of cigarette smoke went with the territory.

In more enlightened times, the mere whiff of cigarette smoke in a guest room is offensive to most travellers - and rightly so.

I see that motels in New Zealand are being contacted by Smokers-United.com - a website that  provides an online platform for the "discerning" traveller that wish to select accommodation businesses based on their smoking policy.

The emphasis of the site is to highlight smoker-friendly travelling and lodging:
"Smokers United is not a political action group.
The main purpose of this project is to provide smokers with information about hotels with a smoker friendly policy.
By using this website for your bookings you give a clear signal that smokers are a significant target-group.
We do not approve smoking; smoking is not the best thing for your health.
We simple accept the fact that 23% of all people do smoke, and we hate discrimination.

Our team consists of 4 people (without a job and over 50 years of age) who try to make a living by contacting hotels, and providing you with smoker-friendly information."
The directory information presented on the Smokers United website, appears to be sourced from listings on Booking.com and identifies accommodation businesses that: provide "smoking rooms", smoking lounges, allow smoking on balcony/patios and those that are 100 percent non-smoking.

A quick scan of the directory information presented would indicate that the smoking policy assumptions used on the website may not be 100 percent accurate, however I guess that's why they are contacting accommodation businesses directly and inviting them to to update information.

Using data from their listings, Smokers-United.com provide an interesting country comparison.

Today's snapshot has New Zealand featuring mid-pack:


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Motel Fraud - Continued

We've been following the plight of an ex-motel manager, Steven Francis Younger, 45, that was bailed to an Auckland address after being convicted of five fraud charges involving more than $50,000 in the New Plymouth District Court earlier this year.

It was reported that charges included changing the names on cheques paid by sports teams while managing a Taranaki motel and ripping off elderly folk.

Younger initially pleaded not guilty to 16 fraud charges, then changed his pleas to guilty midway through the trial after charges were condensed from 16 to five.

Younger seems to have some extremely passionate support, including persistent blog posters that have made bizarre comments and counter-claims in reaction to our post: HERE.

We see that Younger appeared in the New Plymouth District Court for sentencing on five fraud charges yesterday and has  dodged a likely prison sentence...for now:
"A former Stratford man could escape a jail sentence if he pays back money to the people he defrauded.

Steven Francis Younger, 45, was to have been sentenced yesterday in the New Plymouth District Court on five fraud charges.

Younger pleaded guilty mid-trial in February to the charges, most of which involved obtaining money from elderly people and failing to pay them back.

Sentencing was postponed, however, when Judge Allan Roberts asked for proof that Younger had paid $7000 into the account of one of his victims, Bruce Moore, on May 20.

"I will need to be satisfied that man [Mr Moore] has his money," Judge Roberts said.

Crown prosecutor Justin Marinovich said Younger had effectively stolen the money from three complainants who were genuine, honest and good people who had felt betrayed.

Mr Marinovich called for a jail sentence of two years.

Younger's lawyer, Jeremy Bioletti, of Auckland, said his client intended to pay the full reparation but needed to be allowed to continue to work in order to do so.

As the probation officer said, Younger was "working his bum off" on a farm in Auckland while his wife was working two jobs, Mr Bioletti said.

Younger would have the $34,000 to repay the remainder of the outstanding money in 28 days, Mr Bioletti said.

Judge Roberts said if the $34,000 was returned to both Mr Moore and Barbara Coles, Younger would escape jail.

If he defaulted on either debt, the issue of imprisonment would be addressed at the new sentencing date on June 28, Judge Roberts said."
Source: Click HERE

Friday, May 24, 2013

The "unregulated" short-stay accommodation sector

The Motel Association of NZ (MANZ), are yet again revisiting the perennial bogey of the "unregulated" short-stay residential accommodation sector.

While I personally detest amateur accommodation providers operating from residential properties, I'm unable to bring myself to support the proposition that an additional layer of regulation should be imposed, or agree with the hysterical notion that residential properties if used for short term accommodation are "death-traps".
 
The fear I have with a grouping of moteliers advocating the imposition of regulation on another accommodation sector is that this could unleash a backlash of a protectionist bureaucratic regime across all accommodation sectors. It is concerning that this abhorrent possibility has been openly pontificated by MANZ before.

While the level playing field argument used by MANZ is compelling, realistically there is no fast solution.

Advocating for less regulation and changes in the rating regime based on closing the gap between business/private household rate differentials would appear to be more worthy priorities.

Interestingly this circular debate never seems to mention what the customer wants? If there is a trend for customers to bypass motels in favour of renting short-term residential accommodation, you have to ask the question: What is the motel industry doing differently to meet the changing wants and needs of customers?

Michael Baines, CEO of the New Zealand Motel Association, talks to Larry Williams about the unfair advantage they reckon is given to bed and breakfasts and holiday homes.  



Thursday, 23 May 2013, 9:57 am
Press Release: Motel Association of New Zealand


It’s time the accommodation sector had a level playing field, with sectors such as holiday homes and Bed & Breakfasts regulated and taxed to the same extent as other commercial providers, says the Motel Association of New Zealand (MANZ).

Regulation at both a central and local government level is colluding to create the uneven playing field, with the focus on the ‘traditional’ sectors such as motels and hotels which overlooks the huge growth in the use of private dwellings as commercial accommodation.

“It’s simply unfair that if I operate a motel I’m hit by a raft of taxes, levies and regulatory obligations yet if I rent out my house for short-term accommodation I can avoid all of this,” MANZ Chief Executive Michael Baines says.

Not only is this unfair it also raises serious safety questions Mr Baines says.

“If I operate a motel there are a number of requirements I have to meet to protect the safety of my guests, and rightly so. It is important to ensure that the building is up to scratch through a certificate of fitness and a fire plan,” Mr Baines says.
“Yet if I rent out a block of apartments as holiday flats then I avoid all these obligations – the building could be a death-trap and no-one would know. Is it going to take some kind of disaster in which lives are lost before authorities take this issue seriously?”

“It seems that central and local government are happy to sit back and clip the ticket for taxes and levies for motels and let the unregulated side of the sector do whatever they like.”
“We’re calling on central and local government to ensure a fair go for motels and their owner-operators by creating a level playing field. Protect the quality and the reputation of the Kiwi accommodation sector by clamping down on these uncontrolled and potentially unsafe providers,” Mr Baines concluded.

Ends
Source: Click HERE

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fully Booked? Refer Guests To Make Money

The accommodation industry awaits the next new and disruptive service provider to enter the market....

Roomixer probably won't be delivering that next game-changing big-idea, however the new start-up business has an interesting concept that may rapidly catch on.

Roomixer provides an online platform for accommodation businesses that are fully booked to trade business they are turning away.

The unique new service is especially attractive to large, busy accommodation businesses with strong brands that can offer a unique referral service to guests that are unable to be accommodated. Giving a prospective guest an alternative solution fits-in to a good customer service dynamic and is one way to maintain a positive relationship. Clipping the ticket along the way is an added bonus.

Roomixer, will earn revenue from commissions as well as fees charged on the money made by accommodation providers from buying and selling rooms via the platform.

In the NZ motel industry this is already happening on a more personal level. Moteliers can easily make informed referrals by using publicly available online room availability and sharing this information directly with customers. The free exchange of referral business by working-in with competing local accommodation providers is unique to the motel industry.

Admittedly local referrals between motels is more stronger in some areas than others, so maybe a service like Roomixer is a heads-up for moteliers? Old-school referrals using established connections have value and shouldn't be taken for granted.

So, will this new online service catch on?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Social Media WIN!

When your Twitter account is followed by a sex-toy retailer:

Voluntary Liquidation for Check-in.com.au

The news that Australian accommodation website Check-in.com.au has been placed in voluntary liquidation doesn't change my view - but it does make you wary and is a heads-up that even established OTAs are volatile in an environment of rising business costs, increasingly aggressive competition and customers' rapidly changing whims.
"Popular Australian accommodation website Check-in.com.au – which claims to have taken one million bookings since it was founded in 2002 – was today placed in voluntary liquidation and is no longer processing new bookings.

An email sent to the industry said there'll be a creditor's meeting in June and told hoteliers that if they are holding "future bookings to please contact the guest to arrange direct booking and payment.
"For a refund to be issued, please advise the guest to submit a claim to their credit card provider," the email said.

"If their credit card provider is unable to assist in providing the guest with a refund, the guest should contact the liquidator, Holzman Associates for further assistance."

Liquidator Manfred Holzman said he'd been only given the job today and declined to comment on the number and nature of creditors.

Check-in.com.au was founded by Managing Director Simon Isaacs 11 years ago.
The site has historically performed well in terms of traffic with Mr Isaacs telling TravelTrends.biz in 2010 that it was attracting 450,000 unique visitors a month.

However, at the time he said rising search engine marketing costs had become a major challenge for the business.

As result, Check-in.com.au increased commission to 15% to give it the extra funds it needed to better compete with the multi-national online travel agencies.

Mr Isaacs was contacted for comment but has not yet responded."
Source: Click HERE

Yet Another New Accommodation Sector

As Kiwi accommodation businesses enter the dreaded Winter season, the majority of motels situated away from the popular ski areas are hunkering down contemplating low-demand-survival.

With an ongoing squeeze on the domestic leisure market, motel operators are becoming increasingly wary of competing with the latest consumer trend of booking private homes for overnight stays.

Well known Kiwi hero-websites that are providing a platform and legitimacy for the emerging holiday home market are AA's Bookabach and TradeMe's Holiday Houses. These sites consistently feature in the top-10 most popular Kiwi websites and attract huge traffic flows from domestic travellers contemplating alternative short-term accommodation options.

And punters are spoiled for choice with an over abundance of Ma and Pa owners of surplus residential accommodation that crave to get some short-term rental action.

The market of available short term rentals is surprisingly huge with reselling sites, Bookabach claiming to have over 6,500 listings and Holiday Houses over 8,000. Not only are these fee collecting websites very successful, they are also providing convenient happy hunting grounds for the IRD;-)

Although guest nights for short term rentals of private homes are not recorded on the Statistics NZ's official accommodation survey, we reckon that holiday rentals while operating below the radar are New Zealand's fastest growing accommodation sector.

While we applaud any free market that brings willing sellers and buyers together, we have to wonder if the minimal rentals received by private property owners is worth the numerous risks of allowing the general public loose, unsupervised for a short-stay. For many property owners, the appeal of a quick-buck from short-term rental is soon tarnished after cleaning up after self-entitled-fee-paying-customers, shelling out for damage, increased wear-and-tear and the hassle of accounting for GST and other tax obligations - they pay tax don't they? 

Generally, short-term residential rentals aren't covered by commercial insurance, commercial WOF requirements and the public require a leap in faith when dealing with folksy residential building owners that apply varying degrees of contract agreement commitment, quality and cleaning standards.

As a motel operator, I struggle to understand, why some consumers would wish to negotiate around the landmines prevalent in the alternative accommodation sector that includes Guest Houses, B and Bs AND privately owned holiday homes.

Some time ago, I tripped across a new spin on alternative accommodation that has bewildered me with its apparent success. This involves the concept of renting out spare bedrooms within private residences - Ewww!

The new "rent-my-spare-room" accommodation sector seems to be a clarion call for crazy old ladies to invite strangers into their musty homes to show off their ballooning cat collection!

San Francisco based, Airbnb has been around since 2008 and has been the main innovator of this new subset of the alternative accommodation sector by providing an online service that commoditises spare rooms and other potentially dodgy short-term lodging for sale to a growing consumer base.

Airbnb claim to have over 300,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries. There is an embedded social aspect that gives this accommodation reselling platform a point of difference with mainstream accommodation sites. All listings are associated with a host (usually the occupier) whose profile includes recommendations by other users, reviews by previous guests, as well as a response rating and private messaging system.

So just how popular is Airbnb in New Zealand?

Go to their mobile/desktop website or download their easy to use app and you may be surprised at the motley swarm of empty bedrooms, sleep-outs etc available for rent in residential locations near you...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

More Motel Discrimination

We've been closely following the evolving story of GK, the sex worker from the Gold Coast that habitually uses motels to conduct her trade.

In a landmark legal decision earlier this year, it was determined that motel operators across Australia, could find themselves in breach of the anti-discrimination laws that exist in every state if they try to turn away prostitutes.

The decision in GK's favour was based upon the simple premise that sex workers using a motel bed to conduct trade should be treated no differently from other guests (ie sales reps etc) that may conduct business in a motel room by using the telephone or internet.

In (hopefully) the last chapter of this story, the beleaguered operators of the Drovers Rest Motel at Moranbah have finally won their landmark case, overturning last year's tribunal decision.

Although the decision was greatly assisted by a rushed amendment to Queenland's Anti-Discrimination Act, it is pleasing that this supports "business owners' ability to decide about what does or does not occur on their premises."

Although discrimination laws in Australia and New Zealand are based on a similar premise, it would probably be a long-shot if a sex worker plying trade from a motel guest room in this country could successfully claim discrimination after being asked to leave. It would take very good legal representation acting for a "victimised sex worker to squeeze a result from our well established Human Rights Act.

It has to be kept in mind that when hurt feelings, entitlement and legal aid is involved, it's not inconceivable that any "undesirable" motel guest could construct case against a hapless Kiwi motel after enduring the humiliation of being refused entry or being tossed out. It's not unknown for courts and tribunals to interpret laws for the benefit of the individual over businesses.

Moteliers in order to protect their business and the peaceful enjoyment of the majority of their guests are required to turn away trade from time to time. Generally the best way for moteliers to manage this is to set tariff at a reasonable level in order to detract an undesirable element.

Although there are legal remidies that the public can persue for alledged discriminatory practices by accommodaqtion providers, probably the biggest consequence is the exposure from trial by media.

We've posted before about the "outrage" that followed the story in the media about accommodation providers in Myrtle Beach South Carolina, that have a location-based "discriminatory" policy of not accepting locals at their establishments. From an accommodation providers' point of view, we can see a sound logic to this policy.

Probably the most memorable local story of  discrimination based on location was the media frenzy that followed  the hapless Palmerston North motelier that directed his wrath upon all residents of Wainuiomata by announcing a ban upon anyone from the town that attempted to to stay at his motel. While the blanket ban was bizarre, extreme and probably bad for business, we defended the motelier's right to operate his business under this policy.

And we have also more recently posted on the lodge owners in Whangarei that exposed their naive bigotry tendencies by insisting that gay couples sleep twin beds. Clearly these zealots are in the wrong business!

Within the accommodation industry, sometimes it is necessary to discriminate in order to maximise returns and ensure happy returning guests. And by discrimination I don't mean turning business away based on race, religion, marital status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation etc - This type of discrimination is clearly a no-go zone!

However for good reason, some accommodation providers may have a policy of not accepting reservations from guests that: only want one-night over a long weekend, sports groups, wedding parties, school ball attendees, stag parties, working girls, locals etc. And this is acceptable...

Accommodation providers that have legitimate discriminatory guest policies should NEVER communicate these with the public. The public have an antenna for any perceived inequity and are quick to play victim with media that are more than willing to ramp up the angst. They will never understand why they could be denied and will always believe that they have a god-given "entitlement" to your services - They do not!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Motel Car Pool

There is something inherently funny about a car that ends up in a swimming pool - particually a motel swimming pool.

The Camry’s driver, who suffered injuries that were possibly life-threatening - not so funny...

Check out the dramatic incident caught on cam.

Patel-No-Tell-Motel

Taking yet another trip over on the dark side of motel-world, we came across, The California Inn. Located in Modesto California, nestled between a busy freeway and a baron industrial park, the motel seems to be typical example of a Patel-No-Tell-Motel that has seen better days.

A  fly-over using Google Maps reveals a classic U-shaped motel with a swimming pool that has been boarded-up, an unsightly shipping container strategically placed near the motel entrance and unkempt grounds.

  TripAdvisor pulls no punches:

This week, the motel has appeared on Fox News after a 14 day voyeuristic investigation into prostitution that is openly sold from the motel's guest rooms, Amsterdam style.

This is a sad indictment and reinforces the stereotype of seedy motels in America.

There are many reasons why New Zealand's motel industry isn't going down this pathway to Hell. Motels in this country offer relatively good value and quality standards. Our economic environment simply dictates that offering seedy, unkempt accommodation facilities is unsustainable (Housing New Zealand seems to have this covered;-)).

And maybe more liberal laws in this country such as legalising prostitution is another reason why The California Inn wouldn't last long in New Zealand.

It is gratifying that we need to look overseas in order to get our regular fix of the dark side of motelling ;-)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Motel Granny Flats?


Here's something a little different...

Generally a motel that is past its best use is demolished to make way for a new-use development that can pay its way and make good of well located land.

Before this occurs, often the motel owners will bide their time and rent the guest rooms on a weekly basis to locals, while others push this theme a little further and unit-title the guest rooms to individually flog them off.

The transition of a motel providing overnight accommodation to the travelling public, to a commercial housing development that accommodates permanent residents is a rocky road that often doesn't turn out well. Unless a lot of money is tipped into the project, a converted motel accommodating permanent residents has a tendency to quickly turn into a ghetto of social rejects.

I see that the Kiwi Motel in Alexandra after falling on tough times, have refurbished their motel in bold funky tones and are planning to market the guest rooms to the local aged community as permanent rentals.

I wonder how that will work out?
"Mature Alexandra residents struggling to find suitable housing could soon have some relief.

Kiwi Motel owners Janet and Philip Lucas have applied to the Central Otago District Council to have the motel's land-use consent changed to allow the units at the motel to become permanent rentals.
There were seven units in total, three with two bedrooms and four with one bedroom, which were used for travellers' accommodation.

However, because of a shift in the motel industry in Alexandra with other businesses expanding and clientele bases being lost, it was proving uneconomical to run a motel with fewer then 12 units, Mrs Lucas said.

''This is the time of the year when occupancy drops and everyone is scrabbling to fill their places,'' she said.

After speaking with real estate agents she found there was a ''gap in the market'' for mature people's accommodation and realised the units would be prefect for someone looking to down-size and not have the responsibility of maintenance.

About 25 per cent of Alexandra's population were over the age of 65, higher than the national average.

The units, which had undergone a stylish upgrade during the past 18 months, were fully self-contained, apart from a shared laundry; fully furnished; had managed grounds, and were close to amenities.

Council planning team leader Ann Rodgers said in the district plan a multi-unit development needed to have 250sqm per residential unit.

Kiwi Motels were over that code.

Council was considering the application"

The Budget - What's In It For Me?

Oh dear, it's Budget day...The day when media pimp a precession of "average" Kiwi battlers that whinge that the government isn't redistributing enough cash their way...


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tourism Hero

Travel is about excitement, fun and sex - it's important that the public feel good about the journey and the car that is used for travellers to arrive at their destination can play a big part.

Bland, insipid new car models do nothing to inspire travel, however cars that evoke passion can turn commuters into travellers.

The release of a car manufacturer's hero model is significant, as the DNA and passion can be filtered down the model range.

I see that Holden's outsourced hero brand, HSV has released their new GEN-F range in Australia with a video below that was made public at midnight last night.

New styling aside, the HSV GTS flagship model is fitted with the most powerful engine ever fitted to an Australian manufactured vehicle - a 430kW & 740Nm power-plant. If that doesn't get your blood pumping - nothing will!

With the Australian government gifting corporate welfare to Holden (and Ford) due to being unable to produce cars efficiently to meet required consumer demands, sadly we all know how the Australian car industry is going to end.

While Australia's car industry may be on its knees, let's enjoy while we can a great story about a niche brand that many consumers admire, but end up purchasing something else.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Free" Convention Centre Finally Announced


Nothing much has changed from our views on this deal when I posted about this in April last year. The build cost has risen from $350 million to $402 million, the increased gambling concessions of 230 more pokies and 40 additional gaming tables are less than what has been reported in the past...

The Greens have again outflanked Labour by claiming the extreme outraged left and are threatening further economic sabotage by legislative change. Hopefully the mandatory petition that the Greens will be commencing, won't cost the taxpayer as much as their last failed attempt:
"I've been following the SkyCity convention centre story with some interest.

Armchair experts, including the Tourism Industry Association have been long-time cheerleaders of the myth that New Zealand was missing out on substantial tourism dollars by not having the facilities to host large conventions.

Up until recently, there has been a will and expectation that public funding will be required to erect a "nice to have" edifice and ironically this has been blindly supported by various tourism industry groups.

The announcement by SkyCity that they will risk their own capital with plans to build a $350 million convention centre in Auckland's CBD seemed to be good news for hapless Auckland ratepayers and central government taxpayers that were being lined up as reluctant investors in the dynamic loss-making convention industry.

SkyCity's deal with the government is dependent upon an agreement to increase its capped number of gaming tables and machines and extend its licence beyond 2021. It is expected that this will generate sufficient income to compensate for a convention centre that even a wildly optimistic mayor Len Brown claims will only break-even.

And as for the alleged social cost, I'll leave the hand-wringing to the pinkos to worry about the consequences of a small element of the public that are unable to cope with the responsibility of personal choice. Gambling is a legal and legitimate activity and as far as I'm concerned the less regulation and controls for all businesses, the better.

While increasing consumer entertainment choice and relaxing regulation has to be seen as positive, the concept of a government adopting crony capitalism by picking winners is harder to accept.

So should Sky City shareholders be worried? "Brokerage Goldman Sachs last month estimated SkyCity would need 350 to 500 extra machines to profit from the deal, generating as much as $46m of revenue in the first full year of operation."

In order for SkyCity to extract an acceptable return on their $350 million investment and cover possible operational losses of a convention centre, they will need to rely upon their new gambling facilities to perform. And the new convention centre will also need to generate extra traffic through their hotels, bars, restaurants and existing casino facilities.

The  consequences of  the government giving special favours to a private company will be interesting to gauge as SkyCity distort the New Zealand market by building an entity that a free market would not normally allow. On the plus side there will be new inbound business that are attracted to a new facility, however a large share of additional income will come from cannibalising existing domestic conference and gambling/entertainment trade.

SkyCity will need to work its new facility hard in order to minimise losses and this will have unintended consequences for competing businesses throughout New Zealand.

Maybe the tourism industry should have been more careful what they wish for?" 

So, Do Travellers Still Love Print?

Our recent post that busted Jasons Travel faking a video as part of their multi-media campaign "Travellers still love print" has caused a bit of a stir.

The post was about exposing the ambiguous nature of the video's production that when slowed down, clearly showed two Jasons employees "simulate" a brochure stand being emptied by the travelling public at Auckland Airport.

This classic SMOG has caused some embarrassment, however the measure of a company is putting it right - and Jasons has done the right thing by quickly fessing-up, fronting-up and removing offending video with the promise of a replacement - Well done Jasons!

Our post wasn't about attacking print as a marketing channel. In fact we accept that ink and paper is still a valid channel for advertising in the travel industry - for now.

A strength of Jasons is their extensive print distribution network and we are not questioning the large numbers of print collateral that is pumped through Jasons customer contact points.

So, do travellers still love print? Well, in spite of media consumption continuing to shift and fragment the answer is yes!

Travel consumers don't often connect with just one media type - it is common for consumers to touch multiple media types before making final travel decisions.

It is not about print vs. digital. It is about a print + digital where both platforms can co-exist and work together as multipliers.

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

Watch out for Jasons new modified video that will be released soon on their Love Print campaign website.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lodge Inflicts Views On Guests

For us, probably the biggest story over the weekend reported in the MSM was about the prissy guesthouse owners that refused a lesbian couple to stay if they slept in a double bed.

From their website, the Pilgrim Planet Lodge in Whangarei offers: "5 modern and stylish king-size, queen-size & twin bed options" all with en-suite. A communal lounge and kitchen is also available to guests within the complex.

As a motel operator, I must admit viewing these types of properties with a bit of disdain. I wonder why the public would even contemplate staying at a horrid guest house or B and B etc. It beggars belief, why anyone would want to stay anywhere that requires you to endure shared facilities and the likelihood of being hectored by unusual, lonely owners, surrounded by their collection of molting pets, ghastly family photos and an eclectic range of homely furnishings.

From media reports, the owners of Pilgrim Planet Lodge seem to fit my one-eyed view of quirky operators that run these types of hobbyist accommodation "businesses". The lodge owners' main quirk appears to be that they are bigots by insisting that gay couples sleep twin beds. They also seem to have a misguided view of lesbian relationships by being hilariously quoted in defense of turning away a lesbian couple: "we don't want sodomy".

My views are that this is a simple case of property rights and if the quirky lodge owners are stupid enough to dictate that only twin sleeping arrangements will be offered for same-sex couples - then so be it. The only rider is that they are obliged to fully disclose that they have these certain onerous house rules before entering into a contractual relationship to sell rooms at their lodge.

Clearly the owners of the Pilgrim Planet Lodge are in the wrong business and their biggest indiscretion is that they make naive and silly business decisions based on their out-of-wack views.

And unlike mainstream accommodation facilities such as motels and hotels, the lodge's owners claim to have the backing of the law, under the Human Rights Act: 
"55 Exception in relation to hostels, institutions, etc
Nothing in section 53 shall apply to accommodation in any hostel or in any establishment (such as a hospital, club, school, university, religious institution, or retirement village), or in any part of a hostel or any such establishment, where accommodation is provided only for persons of the same sex, marital status, or religious or ethical belief, or for persons with a particular disability, or for persons in a particular age group."
The shunned lesbian couple have lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, so it will be interesting to follow how this case unfolds...

It would appear that the Pilgrim Lodge have knee-jerked into starting a disclosure process to their future guests by adding the following blurb on the front page of their website hosted by AA Travel:
"Pilgrim Planet: B&B guesthouse in central Whangarei, modern accommodation with old fashioned values*
*Our national moral code has been based on generally accepted values which have even guided legislation.  Essentially parliament's concern is matters legal and the peoples' concern is matters moral.  When these line up we have peace and harmony but when politicians legislate against morality, a disconnect  occurs.  Unjust laws need to be questioned for if we fail to do this we will become corrupted by the law instead of edified by it. You are welcome to stay in our home, whatever your beliefs,  so long as you respect ours."
Hmmm...I wonder how that will work out.

Probably the most damaging for the lodge owners is the backlash on social media. I see that the lodge's Facebook page has been shut down after numerous attacks of outrage and the lesbian couple have taken to the review sites to ensure that the world is aware of the owner's quirks.

Interestingly, the aggrieved lesbian couple's extensive "review" has been removed on TripAdvisor, however others remain:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Motella Trophy Cabinet

*Warning - Vanity post follows*

There are many badges of honour that an earnest blogger can earn from pumping out pithy posts from a darkened secret lair while hunched over a keyboard.

Gaining your first obsessive, schizophrenic troll is a monumental occasion in a blogger's life and every spooky contact received can brighten up your day.

Legal and physical threats are another motivation that spurs bloggers on.

Probably the ultimate prize is an actual legal letter arriving via an outraged and confused reader. These letters are rare prized trophies that are to be be savored by exposing the pettiness to the world over several amusing blog posts.

So far I've manged to accumulate a couple of disturbing trolls and have received inarticulate emails threatening a thump on the nose and/or to set a lawyer onto me.

Sadly, I've yet to receive a prissy lawyer's letter.....but probably the next best thing that a blogger can achieve is being tag-teamed by New Zealand's number one blog, Whale Oil after being first to break a story:

 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Jasons Travel Respond To FAKED Video Allegation

A familiar face that made numerous sneaky appearances on the recent "simulation" (or is that "fake") Jasons video that supported the multi-media campaign "Travellers still love print" was Jasons Marketing Manager, Pascal Languillon.

Our original post that busted the fake social media campaign is HERE.

Pascal has fronted up on social media to allegations that Jasons FAKED a promotional video in an ill-conceived attempt to try and overstate the effectiveness of its print distribution:
"Hi all
All ads on TV are staged, and so is ours, we are just trying to make a point and illustrate it visually!
We never tried to hide the fact that this is a simulation. If you go to Youtube you will see it says "video for demonstration purposes only". The reality is that it always takes less than 24 hours to empty those racks (as stated on the flyer itself!, on youtube and our website; I have now made it clearer on the website). The exact time it takes varies each day depending on flight arrivals etc, but for video purposes we had to stage it without waiting up to 24 hours at the airport which would have been technically difficult for us given our limitations (airport authorizations, camera etc.).
We are not trying to fool anyone, we are illustrating the point that our racks get emptied quickly, which is the reality.
Regards
Pascal Languillon
Marketing Manager
Jasons Travel Media"
Judging by the diversion and politicking, we wonder if Pascal is vying for Aaron Gilmore's soon to be vacant spot on the National Party list?

Frankly, Pascal has let Jasons down here by producing a sloppy and ironic video that has left viewers wondering if travellers really do still love print?

Social media demands that you are credible and authentic and this amateurish attempt at wowing advertisers is a FAIL.

Jasons Travel Media are better than this.

We suggest that they immediately pull this campaign, apologise and then arrange what should have been presented in the first place - A 24-hour time-lapse video shot by an independent company that demonstrates that the PUBLIC actually takes brochures from the racks. Maybe this may return some credibility to Jasons after their embarrassing SMOG (Social Media Own Goal)?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Has Jasons Travel FAKED Their Latest Campaign?

In our last post we highlighted Jasons Travel Media's latest multi-media campaign that supported the proposition that "Travellers still love print".

Part of their campaign was a time lapse video that was supposedly filmed over a two and a half hour period that showed the contents of a Jasons brochure display being rapidly depleted by apparent eager members of the travelling public at Auckland Airport.

The video seemed to prove that  "Travellers still love print" - Or did it?

Something wasn't quite right...

Although the highlights of the alleged two and a half hours of film were shrunk into a sequence under 12 seconds, we couldn't help recognising flashes of the same two people mysteriously returning time and time again to the brochure display.

How could that be?

So, we slowed the video down and watched it frame by frame....and sure enough we could see two male actors, both with short cropped dark hair, one is of slight build, the other a little more taller and solid. Both men wear the same jeans and sneakers, but appear to regularly change shirts, one frame has one wearing a cap and some other frames the other has a backpack....

We've made our own video using screen shots from the orginal Jasons production.

Did Jasons FAKE a promotional movie to try and fool their advertisers?

You be the judge....


Travellers still love print

I see that Jasons Travel Media that are well into their advertising sales campaign, have thoughtfully produced some online digital media to help convince reluctant moteliers that..."Travellers still love print".

Jasons have produced a website that caries a single and simple sales message: www.loveprint.co.nz 

Part of the supporting multi-media is the clever time-lapse video taken at Auckland's domestic airport:



And the mandatory infographic:

 
Although the motel sector's online and print publication is Jasons largest single income generator, this traditionally represents around one third of Jasons annual revenue. 

I wonder how the Jasons sales pitch that is currently being carried out face-to-face in the living rooms of motels throughout the country is working out so far?

More Motel Ferals

One of the great things about being a motelier is that we generally only deal with good people.

There is a huge cross-section of the general public that wouldn't dream of  stumping-up to stay in a motel - and this is a good thing! For many, the opportunity cost of commercial accommodation would impact too much on their self-indulgent feral lifestyle...but this is changing.

Over the years, the motel industry has not increased tariff in pace with inflation and this has allowed tattooed, lager swilling, cigarette-sucking Britneys and Gazzas to consider indulging themselves with motel accommodation, often accompanied with their ghastly feral kids, Chardonnay and Chantelle.

The burden of self-entitlement that has been thrust upon the unproductive underclass has made them believe that they deserve regular treats and time-out from their routine of sponging off others and lying on the couch. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of disposable cash these folk seem to have access to.

Our hearts go out to the owners of a Blenheim motel that earlier this year allowed an unemployed, meth-crazed feral to book-in after he payed upfront for two nights accommodation. Unfortunately the motel guest flipped-out and barricaded himself in his room threatening to hurt himself and others with explosive devices.

After police surrounded and apprehended the motel occupant, professional cleaners and repairs were necessary to put right the trail of devastation left behind.

We note that the motelier's nightmare that began January this year has finally come to a conclusion after Gary Ramon Neville Green was sentenced to 34 months' jail in the Christchurch District Court yesterday.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

More Motel Religion

Motel and hotel guest rooms can be quiet places of contemplation where desperate, lonely and lost souls can hide away from the madness of the surrounding world.

A romantic notion from yesteryear is that the humble Gideons Bible can offer hope for such folk... 

We've blogged before about the institution of The Gideons Bible inconspicuously tucked away in most motel guest rooms. We regard this "as a quaint, somewhat amusing custom that is part of motel/hotel culture."

We've also earnestly covered the story of a hotelier in the UK, that replaced the Gideons Bible in his guest rooms with risqué-mummy-porn, Fifty Shades of Grey that stoked up howls of outrage from church groups.

So with guest rooms and bibles having a rich and historical connection, it has come of no suprise that our friends at The Civilian blog (that cover topical news with a hint of satire), have today uncovered the startling revelation that the original copy of Book of Genesis has been found in a hotel drawer.

Better get over to The Civilian to: Read MORE.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

TripAdvisor Review Express

TripAdvisor that claims to be the world's largest travel site with more than 200 million unique monthly visitors and over 100 million reviews and opinions wants to get even bigger.

After beta testing since November 2012, TripAdvisor have just launched Review Express, a feature that enables accommodation providers to bulk upload up to 1,000 guest email addresses at a time, add a message with a personalised logo, and then TripAdvisor will email guests in the accommodation providers' name to prod them to write a review.

TripAdvisor will be effectively piggybacking on the databases of motivated properties that wish to boost their number of reviews within a short time - and assuming the solicited reviews are positive, there is an opportunity for these properties to rise up the ranks to gain valuable exposure.

Larger accommodation providers that are already successfully direct marketing to their guest databases will need to weigh-up if a separate controlled email via TripAdvisor could undermine their core marketing efforts - especially loyalty programs.

It is possible that small to medium sized properties without a direct marketing program could use TripAdvisor's new easy-to-use online tool as a simplified total direct marketing solution.

Users will see a message underneath TripAdvisor reviews solicited in this manner that reads: “Review collected in partnership with (accommodation provider's name).

TripAdvisor has produced the following video on Review Express for operators:

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