Friday, November 28, 2008

World's weirdest hotel guest complaints

What is it about some guests that appear to disengage their brains when they are away from familiar surroundings?

I recieved a phonecall form a disgruntled lady guest last night whose husband was unable to work the spa bath in their room. 

Over the phone, I methodically went through the location of the spa switch that was required to be switched on to operate the jets in the spa bath (as in the instructions on the bathroom wall), however the location of the switch was eluding both guests.

In the end I offered to go down and show them where the the spa switch was. When I arrived at the unit the wife answered the door and lead me to the bathroom where the husband was nonchalantly sitting in the middle of the spa bath surrounded by a mountain of foam that almost filled the entire bathroom. No wonder they couldn't find the switch!

I quickly pointed and stammered the location of the switch and hightailed it out of there as the sound of the spa motor burst into life...

November 10, 2008
Sydney Morning Herald

A star footballer complained his ocean-view hotel room overlooking Sydney's Manly beach was unsuitable because the sound of the sea kept him awake.

A British tourist at an upscale Caribbean island resort had a similar gripe. While she could step from her room to the beach, she would have preferred cheaper accommodation because the sound of crashing breakers supposedly interrupted her slumber.

And what of the foreign tourist at a top African game lodge who occupied a much-in-demand high-priced perch overlooking a waterhole where wild animals came to drink? He moaned that one of the elephants was visibly aroused and that the sight of this rampant beast ruined his honeymoon by making him feel "inadequate".
Travel industry sources say some complaints are motivated by genuine misunderstandings. Others, however, are off-the-wall attempts to obtain compensation.

"By and large, Australians are pretty relaxed about travel and don't make many strange complaints or demands," says Haydn Long, spokesman for the big Flight Centre chain. "They're mostly good travellers who understand that things may be done differently to what they'd expect in Australia."

Peter Hook, spokesman for the country's largest hotel group, Accor Asia Pacific - with Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Mercure, All Seasons, Ibis and Formule 1 brands - agrees: "Outlandish complaints aren't common." Nonetheless, zany incidents do occur.

For instance, a panic-stricken woman called reception and angrily protested that she was locked in her room. Staff were initially puzzled. It turned out that she had never previously stayed in a hotel and, seeing a "Do Not Disturb" sign hanging on the doorknob, wrongly assumed that she should not open the door that would has allowed her to leave her room.

That's a bit like the wheeze - no, this one isn't a complaint - described by an American comedian, with an evident weakness for toilet humour, who regularly stayed at motels where toilet seats sported paper strips saying "Sanitised for your protection". His mischievous advice: remove the strip of paper carefully each time you use the toilet and replace it afterwards. Then, on the third day at the motel, buttonhole a member of the housekeeping staff and say: "I've been here for three days and I very desperately need to use a toilet. Is it all right to remove the piece of paper saying 'Sanitised for your protection'?"

I accidentally got out of the lift on the wrong floor at a Berlin hotel and tried to enter a room I thought was mine. A terrified-sounding English voice screamed from inside: "Go away - I've got a gun and I'll call the police!" Next morning in the lobby I heard a complaining British businessman telling the assistant manager: "I'm checking out a day early because of terribly lax security in this hotel. People try to get into your room in the middle of the night.

At a Novotel in Australia, a guest complained that there was cheese on the cheese platter and demanded a replacement without the offensive dairy product.

A customer in one of the same hotel chain's restaurants complained his soup was too thick and strong. He was inadvertently slurping the gravy at the time.

Weird indeed was a group of security-conscious UFO-believers who held a conference at a Novotel and complained of a risk their gathering would be infiltrated by aliens from outer space because the locks on meeting room doors hadn't been changed.

One recent complaint from an Australian male traveller was that his hotel room "was decorated in a feminine manner".

Another opted to travel by train at night because doing so was cheaper - then complained of an inability to see the European scenery.

Or, there was the traveller who accidentally managed to board an aircraft to the wrong destination and wasn't detected before take-off. He later complained his baggage was not on the same flight. He had checked in correctly so his bags had gone to the right destination.

After making a reservation at a cheap $12-a-night hotel in Bali, a couple were annoyed because it didn't provide free bottled water.

Elizabeth Clarke, cruise manager at Brisbane's The Cruise Centre, a Travelscene American Express affiliate, has heard many strange complaints - as well as fielding distinctly odd questions. Among her favourites: "Are port-holes cabins above the waterline?"; "If we book a balcony cabin, will there be anybody walking past?"
An oft-heard question from first-time cruise passengers unfamiliar with the industry's usual all-inclusive format is whether any meals are included.

But it's not just novice travellers who ask unexpected questions. Sharen (Sharen) Shelnutt, general manager of Travel Specialists in Sydney's Mosman, which is also in the American Express Travelscene stable, recalls an experienced and infuriated corporate traveller calling from the Qantas check-in desk. The road warrior noted he was booked at a Best Western hotel in Washington, DC, but how would he know which of numerous Best Westerns in the city held his reservation? The travel agent patiently pointed out that the hotel's address was clearly printed on the itinerary from which he was reading.

Complaints at times leave staff in the travel industry speechless.

According to one British travel company's survey, some travellers complain of not enjoying going away on holiday because foreigners "didn't want to speak English".

Locals fill visitor gap left by foreigners

A more positive story in today's New Zealand Herald. 

Hopefully more Kiwis will be encouraged to hit the road and stay in the country's most popular accommodation choice - motels.

It is interesting that Tim Cossar, chief executive of the Tourism Industry Association (TIA) appears to be the new self-appointed spokesman for New Zealand's accommodation industry.

Nov 28, 2008
New Zealand Herald
By Jarrod Booker 

It may be all gloom for tourist operators as the global economic crisis bites, but many are finding a silver lining by looking closer to home.

They are finding that as international visitor numbers drop off, New Zealanders are increasingly looking to explore the attractions in their own country.

Cheaper petrol is making travel within more enticing, while tax cuts and falling interest rates are leaving many consumers with more cash in their pockets.

The International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch is on track for 255,000 visitors this financial year - a 5 per cent increase on the previous year.

Director Richard Benton said that while overseas tourist numbers were falling, he expected any shortfall would be offset by an increase in visitors from within New Zealand.

The number of Christchurch visitors had risen by 8 per cent, while North Island visitors were up 10 per cent.

"While the international tourism market is undoubtedly going to be very challenging over the next few months, there are some positive factors that we should not lose sight of," Mr Benton said. "It is highly likely that New Zealanders are going to take advantage of much lower petrol prices to travel around their own country, and the drop in interest rates and personal taxes are going to leave some discretionary money available to spend on leisure activities."

Any increases in domestic tourism will be welcomed by the industry when trends over recent months have been all bad.

For the year ended June 2008, the overall number of domestic overnight trips fell 5.5 per cent to 14.36 million, while the number of visitor night stays dropped 4.3 per cent to 42.94 million. Spending by domestic tourists fell 6.4 per cent to $7.389 billion for the year.

Tim Cossar, chief executive of the Tourism Industry Association, said domestic tourism was now a big focus as international markets came under pressure. "There are some encouraging signs for domestic tourism across the summer season. We are getting some regions in some parts of the industry reporting some quite good forward bookings."

Domestic markets make up about half the tourism turnover - about $26 million a day.

"It's a critical market and very, very important for the future. But one thing we have got to remember is that one size doesn't fit all here. There's regions that do really well out of it and those that don't."

The international crisis is also having other spinoffs for New Zealand.

The Christchurch and Canterbury Convention Bureau has recently fielded inquiries from two Australian companies who are rethinking their plans to hold conferences in long-haul destinations because of the cost, and are now considering New Zealand as an alternative venue.

Report Tells Councils to Focus on Core Services

Local authorities have blossomed beyond their original brief and have increased rates at an unacceptable level ahead of inflation. 

Motels have been disproportionately targeted, seemingly based on a perceived ability to pay rather than actual use of goods and services. 

Over the years, motels throughout the country have endured  general rate increases and the introduction of pan tax, capital rating, tourism tax, road user tax, CBD retail tax....the list goes on. As a commercial business, motels are expected to cross subsidise local authority business operations from port companies to farms.

The Local Government Forum has produced a report that states the obvious: Coucils should stick to their knitting!

The Local Government Forum comprises organisations that have a vital interest in the activities of local government. Its members include Business New Zealand, the Electricity Networks Association, Federated Farmers of New Zealand, New Zealand Business Roundtable, New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and New Zealand Retailers’ Association.

Sounds like the sort of company the Motel Association of NZ should be keeping...

27 November 2008

Local authorities have strayed, at great cost, far beyond their core role of providing certain vital services to their local communities, according to a new report released today by the Local Government Forum.

The report, Local Government and the Provision of Public Goods , examines the services provided by councils. It assesses which services can be regarded as essential activities that can only practicably be provided directly or under contract by local bodies (these are termed public goods) and which can readily and more efficiently be provided by the private sector.

Local Government Forum chairman Don Nicolson said the report would be a valuable tool for everyone involved in local government, particularly given the reality that demands for services are unlimited, but resources are scarce.

"Local authorities have got into the habit of steadily expanding their brief to provide a whole range of services that could easily be provided by the private sector. The end result has been an explosion in rates. "Part of the problem is confusion over what a 'public good' actually is. It is not whatever might be deemed 'good' for people, or anything at all that might be regarded as in the public interest.

"A public good, for example street lighting or civil defence, is something that no-one else would provide because it can't be 'user-paid'. You couldn't stop non-payers from using it, nor could you limit access to it to those who've paid. As a rule of thumb, if it is feasible and cost-effective to charge directly for a service it is not a public good.

"The role of local government is clearly spelt out in legislation: it is to uphold local democratic processes, set rules and regulations to govern local activities, and ensure the provision of certain local services and infrastructure, with recourse to local taxation and charges to recover costs.

"If local bodies are to serve their communities well they should be clear about which are the vital services they need to provide, and they should excel at them.

"Many other services communities need are in the nature of private goods and can be provided more capably either in partnership with private firms or by the private sector exclusively," Mr Nicolson said.

The report provides helpful criteria for determining what functions should be performed by local government and recommends stronger legislative constraints to ensure that decisions that are made are consistent with local authorities' core roles.

"We see this as an essential primer on public goods that everyone involved in local government should read", said Mr Nicolson. "We are meeting with the new Minister of Local Government Hon Rodney Hide today to offer our support for a reform programme that streamlines local government and gets rate burdens down."

The publication can be downloaded here or from (under 'commentaries)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Vintage motel neon

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 office counter.

Crank up the speakers and enjoy classic Motel Americana, cruising Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street. The soundtrack is Chris Isaak's "Blue Hotel"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The World's First Zero-Star Hotel

Housed in a subterranean fallout shelter in Switzerland, the Null Stern Hotel bills itself as the world's first zero-star hotel.

Accommodations are cheap but spartan: No TV, no private bathrooms and, most jarring of all, no daylight. The official opening isn't until 2009, but the hotel recently hosted volunteers for a test run.

For more click HERE

Reponsible Tourism Distraction

We have expressed our disquiet with the hijacking of Qualmark's assessment criteria by environmental idealism. (Refer to our previous posts here and here).

We have suggested that Qualmark have lost focus on their core quality benchmarking business and are being distracted by amplifying the myths of climate change.

We have kept score on Qualmark's continuing dark green obsession by monitoring the content of their newsletters distributed to license holders.

How many times is "Responsible Tourism" mentioned compared to the word "Quality?"
  • August Newsletter “Responsible Tourism” 16 / "Quality” nil
  • October Newsletter "Responsible Tourism” 11 / "Quality" 7
  • November Newsletter “Responsible Tourism” 11 / "Quality” 4
We were somewhat encouraged with Qualmark's reintroduction of the word "Quality" in their October newsletter, however with the arrival of Qualmark's November newsletter yesterday our optimism was short-lived.

In a time of worldwide financial meltdown, the motel industry needs to focus on economic sustainability. This will require an urgent focus on profitability and quality. Trade Associations have a role in promoting profitability. Qualmark have a core role in benchmarking quality.

Star rating political opinions of environmentalists has no place in a credible quality rating system and should be separated from Qualmark's Quality assessmnet criteria forthwith.

NZ Look

We have posted about the activities of National Business Online (NBO) before - click Here.

Today we received a phone call from NZ Look, a similar organisation that appears to be using the same sales techniques as NBO. There also appears to be other connections between the two organisations (see links below).

An unsolicited phone call from NZ Look, makes an offer to "renew" our listing in their business directory. I know very well that we have never had a listing with them before. As an "existing customer" I was offered to renew and enhance my listing by adding web, email and business description details for $120.00 for the next 2-years. I guess I should be grateful, as this is somewhat cheaper than the $150.00 offer from NBO.

This time the sales pitch is performed by a charming lady that has a full grasp of the English language. This is a pleasant change from having to endure the exotic dialects commonly used by other call centre staff. Surprisingly the renewal needs to be confirmed by this afternoon. Oh the pressure!

Soon after hanging up the phone, the sting arrives in the form of a fax that invites us to complete, sign and fax back to secure listing details.

Much like NBO, this appears to be is a well worn tactic that dupes and pressures business operators into believing that they, other staff members or previous owners have subscribed to a directory listing. The listing benefit is dubious and the objectives for the company appears to be questionable.

We will not be subscribing to the NZ Look directory and after clicking on the following links below, we advise you to do the same...

Monday, November 24, 2008 - Int'l Footprint 'Destroys' Wotif - Int
Watch They are big and talk big. They claim to be Europe’s leading online hotel reservations agency by room nights sold, attracting over 20 million unique visitors each month.

Their website offers over 57,000 hotels in more than 15,000 destinations. Over 80 properties in New Zealand already have inventory listed. established in 1996 and employ over 935 staff.

The company has offices in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Cambridge, Cape Town, Dubai, Dublin, London, Loulé (PT), Lyon, Munich, Norwalk (USA), Paris, Rome, Vienna, Warsaw....and now an office in Sydney.

CEO, Jeffrey Boyd (pictured) plans to take on in their own patch. Time will tell if's model can capture the imagination of the traveling public and suppliers down under.

By Martin Kelly

Editor, Travel Trends –one of the world’s biggest online accommodation brands – has identified Australian hoteliers as a major sales target, setting up an office in Sydney and declaring that its international scope “destroys”

“We’re building up supply in Australia and we think we have a compelling sales pitch to the hotels there,” said Jeffrey Boyd, CEO of Priceline, which owns

Boyd told delegates at the PhoCusWright conference: “We have a global calling card that destroys … we’ll certainly give that market a go.”

Later, Boyd professed respect for Wotif (“it’s a blue chip stock – think of that, an online agency that’s a blue chip stock”) but was confident of gaining traction among hoteliers Down Under.

Unlike other US online business, Boyd said is going with a “straight commission model but can’t tell you the actual rates” however indicated they were above 10%. The website is getting tiny numbers from the Australian consumer market and Boyd says the company needs to build up local inventory before marketing the brand.

Holiday voucher scam

We received a telephone call today from a potential guest that was inquiring about our "2nd night free" deal. Naturally we were somewhat bemused as we do not offer such a deal!

On further inquiry, the caller was looking at a website where our motel was supposedly advertised. We apologised to the caller for being unable to assist him with his enquiry at that time and offered to call back after investigation.

Who are Well, according to their website their customer service office is a post office box in St Ives, NSW and their Head Office is at a street address in Central Hong Kong. There are no contact phone numbers listed. appear to be in the holiday voucher selling business (are the alarm bells ringing yet?). Various packages of vouchers are on offer and are priced according to the number of vouchers purchased. The holder of the vouchers can opt to dine at the hotel for both breakfast and dinner for free or stay the second night at the hotel free. Sounds too good to be true!?! may have some motel and hotel properties that accept these vouchers. It is difficuilt to accertain who are these properties?? What is confusing to the public is that have a reservation engine on their site that uses the database of popular on-line reseller, It would be fair for the public to assume that properties that list on this database will redeem these vouchers. This assumption is not correct!

I rang and they have confirmed that are not authorised to use their reservation engine and they have no formal arrangements with this company. HotelClub have been aware of this situation for some time and have received numerous complaints about are in the process of trying to have their reservation engine removed from the site, however with the vagueness of the web, this is proving to be a difficult process.

In recent months the media and consumer groups have warned the public to check out carefully any discount-voucher schemes for accommodation. Often these vouchers are sold by cold calling telemarketers using persuasive and pressure selling techniques. Websites are used to support these schemes and add legitimacy.

Complaints appear to be common from consumers once they find it difficult to redeem the vouchers.

It is embarrassing for the hotels and motels that are unfairly seen to be part of these dubious schemes.

If you receive a call from a potential guest that wishes to inquire about or redeem such a voucher I would suggest that you take down as much detail as possible, make a complaint to the Commerce Commission and suggest the caller does the same.

Unfortunately it is difficult to satisfy the duped potential guest after they contact you expecting to enjoy your hospitality for a couple of nights for half price!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Burj Al Arab - World's first seven star hotel

Yeah, yeah. I know there are others built since, but the Burj Al Arab is such a stunning building and will remain iconic for years to come:

Visitor drought means holiday bargains for Kiwis

Bizarre hotpotch of a story form the Sunday Star Times today.

Kiwis are predicted to stay home rather than head overseas for their holidays due to the global recession - sounds reasonable to us. However, it is also inferred that another reason for Kiwis to stay at home is to take advantage of "cheaper baches" available to rent. Really!?!

Motel operators would have been somewhat bemused with the elevation of domestic residences offered on the commercial market by non-compliant private entities. (more on this issue later!)

The story gets worse. Tourism Industry Association (TIA) chief executive Tim Cossa comments on the broader tourism industry and "recommends people approach operators directly for discounts and special offers. "I'm convinced there will be some good deals this summer"

Hmmm, I wonder if TIA members will be happy with a clarion call from their boss for the public to demand discounts and special offers!

The tourism industry deserves better than this...

Sunday Star Times
23 November 2008

Kiwi holidaymakers are likely to reap bargains this summer as the tourist industry turns to the domestic market to drum up business and cheaper baches are made available to rent.

Tourism Industry Association chief executive Tim Cossa said the global recession meant fewer international visitors to New Zealand and Kiwis were more likely to stay closer to home.

Cossa said summer beach destination bookings were holding up but word from the association's 2000 members, including accommodation, attraction and transport operators, suggested most people were delaying their decision on where to go. Cossa recommends people approach operators directly for discounts and special offers. "I'm convinced there will be some good deals this summer," he said.

Peter Blackwell, AA Tourism general manager, told the Sunday Star-Times he expected some "eye-opening behaviour" from operators this summer. "I believe a lot have built their businesses based on foreign visitors." Many would have to change their attitude towards Kiwi tourists who would become the key to their future. He said New Zealanders were holding out for deals but he urged those planning a camping or holiday park getaway to book now or risk missing out. The top end of the market, such as beachside apartment owners, would be more likely to feel the pinch.

In the Coromandel, Gordon Turner, the principal of First National Whangamata, said this summer for the first time he could remember beach house supply far exceeded demand. But visitor numbers were expected to be on a par with other years. "The Thames Coromandel District Council rates have gone up so much, more bach owners are renting their properties during the peak season." Rental rates were down by about 10%. There was also a glut of baches that slept five or fewer. "More people are wanting to sleep eight to 10." This was possibly because families, looking to spread the cost of a holiday, were joining forces. Turner said he had 30 properties available for the summer holidays.

The trend in the Bay of Islands is the same. Days in the Bay spokeswoman Marilyn Jones said she had noticed more cases of house owners giving up their properties to rent out. "We do have more properties on the books than we did last year." Demand between Christmas and January 10 was still very high, but there were vacancies on either side of those dates, she said. Demand for bigger houses was also high: "We have two or three families wanting to holiday together."

It was similar in the South Island's Golden Bay. Golden Bay Homes owner Fran O'Connell said she had listed more properties during the past year. Bookings for the summer were on a par with other years but there had been fewer forward bookings, she said. "I think we will really suffer during February and March."
Most of this summer's holidaymakers were from the South Island, she said.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Movember - the last days

The month formally known as November has now become "Movember" and it's almost over!

My newly sprouted growth will thankfully come off on the first morning of December.

The "trucker"and "soul patch" have almost taken on a life of their own. The reaction of our motel guests has been extremely supportive and positive. It's a beautiful man moment when a fellow Mo-bro gives a nod and a wry grin in salute.

Movember is a great fundraiser. It's about men having fun, celebrating manliness and breaking the ice to talk man to man about men's health issues. The funds raised will go to two beneficiaries:

  • The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand will use the funds raised by Movember for their "Out of the Blue" campaign to encourage men to take action, provide men with information to know what they can do for themselves and where they might go for help when experiencing depression.
  • The Cancer Society of New Zealand will use the funds raised by Movember to research into the causes, detection, diagnosis and improved treatment of prostate cancer. They will also raise community awareness of issues affecting men's health and provide support services for those affected with cancer.

I urge you to show your support. To donate click here

Poseidon Undersea Resort

I often like to read about happenings in the accommodation industry offshore. I also enjoy reading about the feats of men that conquer nature and push the envelope to the extreme.

Poseidon Resort is unlikely to change the accommodation industry, but it's development is inspiring. I would like to meet the man that is taking an extreme financial risk of trying something new and is turning his dream into reality.

Imagine a futuristic vacation that brings you to the bottom of the sea floor to experience luxury and stunning views. It may seem like a far-fetched dream, but the Poseidon Undersea Resorts makes this dream a reality. Taking reservations now, it is possible to be one of the first to sleep, eat, and play under the sea off the coast of Fiji.

There are 24 rooms available that resemble pods encased in clear acrylic to showcase the activity and coral seascape. Each pod is removable and can be brought to the surface for repairs or maintenance and reattaches to the main structure.

The Poseidon Resort was partially designed using the same safety and structural techniques that are used for submarines. Routine rescue missions are practiced to ensure the safety of all guests and staff.

One week in paradise is going to cost $15,000 per person based on double occupancy. For this, you will get airfare along with 7 days and 6 nights of accommodations. Only 2 of the 6 nights will be spent underwater, the remaining 4 will be spent in a beach villa or one that is overwater.
The luxury package also includes:
  • Submarine trip
  • Training and the ability to control a three-man submarine with the guidance of an onboard captain
  • Scuba diving & snorkeling
  • Photography services and a keepsake album of your time spent at Poseidon
  • Meals and drinks
  • Wine tasting classes
  • Sports - golf, tennis, and water activities
Additional amenities include para-sailing and the opportunity to walk on the sea floor in a special diving suit that supplies air from the surface. Book the private Honeymoon Island for a picnic - you will be dropped off and picked up - having an entire island to yourself.

The underwater resorts boasts a chapel and you can book your own wedding in complete with a reception.

Top Tourism Site Undergoes Changes were early innovators of on-line tourism directories. Over the years this has become an increasingly crowded market, however with persistence, clever web management and marketing, have built up a large database of clients.

Neilsen Netratings have consistently rated as the most visited tourism website in New Zealand, so it is worth while for operators to consider this medium as part of their web strategy.


New Zealands most visited most visited commercial tourism web site according to Nielsen Netratings has a new web site and a new name. New Zealand Tourism Guide as it is now known has been operating successfully for over 10 years on the Internet and attracts equal numbers of domestic and international site visitors.

“The updated design reflects our new branding”, says General Manager Garry Bond, “and together with our new name really reinforces our commitment to local and international travellers who are looking to the Internet for a comprehensive tourism and travel guide”.

New Zealand Yellow Pages Group has owned the company for the last two years confirming it’s commitment to expand online activity overall and in the travel space.

“Our award winning company has always been progressive in its online development and is very aware that it helps influence travellers to choose a destination, said Bond”.

Recent site developments include combining directory listings with direct online bookings and customised multimedia clips showcasing tourism operators.

Slump Continues To Hit Travel Industry

George Hickton echos the Prime Minister's headline making soundbite about tourism taking "a billion dollar hit".

The motel industry will hopefully not bear the initial brunt of the downturn in overseas visitor numbers. Domestic travelers make up 72% of guest nights at motels. There is the potential for an increased in domestic trade to counter any decrease in overseas visitor nights as Kiwis defer their overseas holiday in favour of taking a break at home.

There is also the opportunity for motels to attract a greater share of central and local government funded guest nights away from higher priced hotels, as public spending goes under the spotlight.

21 November 2008
Press Release: Tourism New Zealand

New visitor arrivals figures have shown a worsening situation for New Zealand’s tourism industry.

Statistics New Zealand figures out today showed a 3.3% decline in international visitor arrivals for October compared to the same month last year.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive George Hickton says given falling consumer confidence there is likely to be a drop of more than 10% in visitor numbers over summer compared to the same time last year.

“This economic situation is not something we can control, but what we can control is our reaction to the situation and to try and maximise any benefits where we can find them,” Mr Hickton said.

One initiative to try and boost UK visitors is the Rugby Ball Venue which opens in London on Tuesday (25 November) and is a further phase of the new $7.3 million UK campaign, which was launched in September.

“We may not be able to grow visitor numbers from the UK in the current climate, but it is important to position New Zealand’s brand strongly so that we can come out of this situation with a bigger market share than when we went in,” Mr Hickton said.

Highlights of International Visitor Arrivals October 2008:

• Australia 71,760 up 0.1%
• UK 17,976 down 2.3%
• USA 14,280 down 12.4%
• Canada 3480 up 5.1%
• China 6552 down 31.5%
• Korea 5880 down 17.0%
• Japan 6720 down 15.1%

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hope in face of tourism trip-up

Whangarei Northern Adocate
by André Hueber 

Northland's second-biggest earner is in trouble as plunging tourism numbers threaten the industry.

Ministry of Tourism figures show numbers of "guest nights" in Northland plummeted 9.5 per cent in September, compared with a year earlier. But a low dollar and the prospect of luring Kiwi travellers - especially Aucklanders - to the North has left tourism leaders hoping for a reversal of the trend.
Destination Northland boss Robyn Bolton said Tourism NZ predictions pointed to 2009 being even tougher than this year.

But while Northland was likely to suffer a drop in international visitors this summer, Kiwis hit by the economic downturn might choose to holiday at home.

"Northland is close to New Zealand's biggest population base with Auckland and upper North Island right on our doorstep. The Northland tourism industry must maintain its focus on the domestic market, which has the potential to help in these difficult times."

Tourism is Northland's second-biggest earner behind pastoral farming, generating about $750million each year. The industry employs roughly one in 10 people, having a trickle-down effect on the whole region.

Bay of Islands Motel Association head Heather Galloway, who owns Paihia's Dolphin Motel, said bookings were slow for the time of year and most of the association's members were struggling. Some businesses were dropping prices to entice visitors but that left other operators with empty beds, she said.

Ms Galloway said her figures for international travellers were down by 50 per cent on last year."From January we rely on overseas travellers but we've already had three groups from overseas cancel their bookings in the last three months as a result of the economy."

Another threat was the increasing number of private homes being rented out. "Homestays are killing the industry. Lots of new ones are opening up and they tend to have cheaper rates per night, especially for larger groups or families."

Copthorne Hotel Waitangi manager Gavin Fletcher said his bookings were down 10 to 15 per cent on last year. "The drop is predominantly international. New Zealand markets are still quite buoyant - for Kiwis, a trip to Northland is cheaper than a trip overseas. We're also trying to source new business from Australia. We see it as an opportunity because of its proximity and closeness to the New Zealand dollar." He said times were tough but the industry would pick up again.

John Lewis, guest relations manager of the Kauri Cliffs resort at Matauri Bay, , said the luxury market was affected just as much. Bookings at the five-star resort were down 15 per cent but the international financial crisis wasn't the only thing to blame. "New Zealand has had an exceptionally good run in the past two years. Things are bad, but you have to put it all in perspective - 80 per cent of our customers come from North America and a business-class fare costs $12,500 per person. That's a lot of money on flights before you even start booking lodges."

He said many Americans had been waiting until after their elections to get a clearer idea of where the world economy was heading. "New Zealand is still perceived as a safe destination and our low dollar is a great selling point." Mr Lewis was pleased Prime Minister-elect John Key had put his hand up for the role of Tourism Minister. "Tourism has had virtually nothing spent on it while Labour was in power. I think John Key understands the importance of tourism to New Zealand. It's promising to the industry."

Simon Jones, general manager of Carrington Resort on the Karikari Peninsula, agreed: "With the strong arm John Key has, I hope New Zealand tourism will get a bigger push than it's had in the past." While international visitor numbers at the resort were down, the drop had been made up for by Aucklanders holidaying in Northland instead of across the Tasman.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tourism groups believe in working together

Tourism groups believe there are real benefits in working together

The New Zealand Hotel Council (NZHC) and Tourism Industry Association (TIA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) witnessed by heads of industry, local and central government politicians, and government ministries.

Under the MoU, TIA and NZHC will continue to have independent governance structures and independence in their relationships but will operate in good faith and work together collaboratively on issues of mutual interest.

NZHC’s new Executive Officer Sharon Jennings is now working from TIA’s Wellington office. TIA has also co-opted NZHC board member Paul Richardson, Vice President, Accor Hospitality onto the TIA board to further the closer collaboration between the two organisations.

NZHC Chair Jennie Langley says the MoU will encourage the tourism industry to work more cooperatively and present a united front on issues critical to the industry’s ongoing success. “By working in closer alignment the two organisations have already found ways to operate more effectively that will not only benefit our members, but also the industry as a whole,” Ms Langley says. “TIA effectively provides us with a serviced office but the benefits are much greater. We continue to have an independent board and to pursue activities that are in our members’ interests, but the real value is being able to share ideas and work together collaboratively on issues of mutual interest.”

TIA Chief Executive Tim Cossar says the closer alignment between TIA and NZHC will create a stronger voice for tourism in New Zealand and enable practical resource efficiencies for both organisations. “With the economic downturn already having a significant impact on the tourism industry, the case for greater operating efficiencies, increased marketing spend and a united industry lobby has never been more critical. “As a major contributor to the New Zealand economy, tourism will kick start New Zealand’s regional development and be a big part of the solution to getting New Zealand out of its current recession. Having a stronger, more closely aligned industry will help us to achieve this,” Mr Cossar says.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tourism ‘Key’ to transforming NZ economy

John Key and Associate Tourism Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman as soon as possible.

Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) Chief Executive Tim Cossar has been quick to grab headlines and has already had some face-time with Key and Coleman. While it is hoped that MANZ will be able to work with the TIA in some areas, the association will need to communicate a more pragmatic and business friendly point of difference to the incoming government in order to serve it's members.

Contrary to the TIA, MANZ should be supportive of maintaining the existing Tourism NZ budget and call for a line by line cost benefit analyst of expenditure.

Tourism NZ funds should be diverted away from marginal markets and the back office to fund a domestic tourism campaign.
Further funds could be freed from amalgamation of some services with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise .

MANZ should be supporting any moves to improve the plight of small business (ie its motel members). That may include improving labour laws (support the 90-day trial period for new employees), reducing government bureaucracy, lessening taxation and compliance, rationalising local government, reducing impact of ETS etc.

The TIA should be left to the fluff of saving the planet, demanding a nationalised convention centre and prancing about creating committees for the Rugby World Cup.

The tourism industry will meet new Tourism Minister John Key as early as possible to discuss how the industry and government can work together to lift New Zealand out of economic recession.

Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) Chief Executive Tim Cossar says the industry looks forward to building a strong partnership with Prime Minister John Key and Associate Tourism Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman.

“Mr Key’s decision to take the tourism portfolio is recognition that tourism is a bedrock of New Zealand’s economy and is of major importance in overcoming our current economic challenges,” Mr Cossar says.

“As Prime Minister, Mr Key is a natural front person for “Brand New Zealand” and this will present some powerful opportunities to promote New Zealand overseas.”

Having a top-ranking Cabinet Minister, if not the Prime Minister, appointed to the tourism portfolio was a top priority in the Tourism Industry Election Manifesto, released in September.

“We are delighted that the incoming Government is giving tourism the recognition it deserves. In the current economic climate, we believe there is a real need for increased government investment to market New Zealand internationally in a much more aggressive manner. This is crucial to ensure travellers are aware of New Zealand and what we have to offer, in traditional markets like Australia, the UK and USA, as well as in newer markets like China, India and the Middle East.

”We need fast action and a tactical response to the business challenges we are facing – an absolute priority will be to focus on the Australian and New Zealand visitor markets.“

Mr Cossar was among a group of industry and business leaders invited to meet Mr Key last week, but he will seek a second meeting as soon as possible to discuss the priorities for tourism with Mr Key and Dr Coleman.

“Tourism already contributes $50 million a day to the New Zealand economy and will be a big part of the solution to getting New Zealand out of its current recession and putting it in a stronger position for the future,” Mr Cossar says.

National Business Online - NBO

We received a phone call from National Business Online (NBO New Zealand) that kindly offered to "renew" our listing with them. I know very well that we have never had a listing with them, however as an "existing customer" I was offered to renew and enhance my listing for $150.00 for the next 2-years.

The frenetic sales pitch is rattled through by a gentleman with english as a second language. The delayed phone response indicates that the caller is using VOIP technology either here or overseas and the noise of a busy call centre can be heard in the background. Adding to the sales pressure, this generous offer is required to be confirmed by this afternoon.

Soon after hanging up the phone, the sting arrives in the form of a fax that invites the business owner to complete, sign and fax back to secure listing details.

This is a well worn tactic that dupes and pressures business operators into believing that they, other staff members or previous owners have subscribed to a directory listing. The listing benefit is dubious and the objectives for the company appears to be questionable.

We will again not subscribe to this company and their fax will go straight to landfill. After reading the story from TVNZ below, we advise you to do the same...

Concern about website's sales tactics
1 September 2008

Companies are being warned to think twice before signing up for an online business directory that is potentially raking in millions of dollars a year.
NBO New Zealand has listed virtually every business in the country on its website but ONE News has uncovered concerns about its sales tactics.
In a downtown Auckland office block, a call centre is potentially making millions from a business directory that has upset people like Sarah King.
"It really disappoints me that these people have been allowed to stay in business," says King.
NBO New Zealand's website lists 320,000 businesses and the owner says he is offering a value for money alternative to the Yellow Pages.
"We've been providing a great service to all those businesses who are listed in our directory right now," says NBO New Zealand owner Shallendra Singh.
Delaney Bertrand sold company listings at NBO's call centre. According to Bertrand, call centre staff called the businesses that were listed and told them they had 579 viewings on their listing last year.
But she says the viewing numbers are false.
"I was just told to say the same number over and over again, she said. "And they just said 'it's easier' to do 579 every time, it's easier."
But the NBO owner has a simple explanation. "Those are average figures," says Singh.
But his "average" explanation creates a big problem.
If you multiply Delaney's "average" number of viewings by NBO's 320,000 listings, the website would need 185 million hits a year.
So, how many viewings does it get?
"It could be possibly several hundred thousand every three months," reveals Singh.
Which means the "average" viewing per company listing should be less than 10, not 579.
When asked by ONE News, the owner denied that the statistics were false and misleading.
Businesses pay $96 for a two year listing, and, on a good day, Delaney says the call centre could make 200 sales.
Based on Delaney's sales figures, National Business Online could generate daily income of $20,000.
And that means the annual income could easily reach $5 million.
One website designer believes businesses are probably wasting their money.
"It's not very effective...if you do a search in Google for business directories, their site doesn't appear at all," says Henk Keyzer from 4Success.
There is now almost 100 complaints on Sarah King's blog, and she is sick of NBO.
"It's not the way people should be doing business, and it's not how they should be treating their customers," says King.
The NBO owner dismisses the complaints.
"Majority of our customers are very happy and they're getting a great response out of this," he says.
But most companies do not know they're listed according to Delaney.
"I don't think I called up one person that knew who we were," she revealed.
And after a fortnight of cold calling she left.
"I felt so horrible. I couldn't stand being there taking customers money - like, taking their money for no reason," she says.
NBO owner Singh has been convicted for receiving stolen computers, but says that has nothing to do with his directory business.
"This is a completely different issue, and it has got nothing to do with this," he says.
The Commerce Commission has looked into NBO and found nothing illegal, but warns businesses to check what they sign up for.

First-term MP bolts into Key's cabinet

A self-described "mechanic of organisations", Steven Joyce's appointment to Cabinet will allow him to get intimate with the nuts and bolts of government.

Mr Joyce was one of the bolters in Prime Minister-elect John Key's Cabinet, announced today.

He will take on the transport and communications portfolios and an associate infrastructure role.

But the first-term MP's rapid elevation into the ministerial ranks comes as little surprise.

A self-made millionaire in the cut-throat but hip world of commercial radio, the affable 45-year-old is a dream candidate for National.

He also has a seven-year pedigree of major behind the scenes party roles, firstly as one of the principal architects of National's restructuring following its record 2002 election loss and then as the mastermind behind its 2005 and 2008 campaigns.

But Mr Joyce started his climb up the business ladder at Massey University in Palmerston North in the early 1980s.

A failed veterinary sciences student he embarked on a zoology degree, but also found a hobby -- student radio -- that quickly grew into a full-time preoccupation.

After completing his degree, at just 21 he started his first radio station, Energy FM, on a part-time basis, in his home town of New Plymouth.

His roles included fronting the breakfast show as well as co-running the station.

After years of wrangling the station was granted a full-time licence and within six months it was Taranaki's top-rating station.

RadioWorks was formed and a clutch of acquisitions, start-ups and a merger with Radio Pacific saw it owning 22 local radio stations and four national networks -- including The Edge, Solid Gold FM and The Rock -- by the late 1990s.

When the company was "raided" by Canada's Canwest in 2001, he was left a multi-millionaire at the age of 38.

After getting some balance back -- in the form of a gym membership and a personal life -- he joined the National Party, chairing its strategic review, then becoming its general and campaign manager.

After its narrow election defeat in 2005, Mr Joyce married his partner Suzanne and moved to a lifestyle block near Hamilton.

Fifteen months ago the couple added a baby girl to their menagerie of animals.

In the period between the elections Mr Joyce became a director, then chief executive of Jasons Travel Media.

He said his return to politics was part of a realisation that he was not yet ready to step back from major roles.

"My intention after 2005 was to just kick back a little bit, invest in a couple of companies and just take a back seat," he said.

"But I've come to the conclusion that perhaps I'm not quite ready to take a complete back seat."

He said he thought about a tilt at politics in 2002, but flagged it away. However his respect for John Key and his desire to help him implement his agenda rekindled his desire to become an MP.

Mr Joyce dismisses suggestions from some quarters he is a "shadowy" figure and says his role as one of the "Hollow Men" in investigative researcher Nicky Hager's book has been over-egged.

Although he was approached by Exclusive Brethren members who wanted to wage a campaign in support of National he said he pointed them in the direction of the Electoral Commission.

He said his skills are financial and organisational and he has a strong understanding of the pressures facing New Zealand businesses -- from his own ventures and the experience of having parents who were grocers.

"Right from when I was a kid and Mum and Dad had their own small business ... I've sort of probably been brought up in those small Kiwi companies where everyone does their bit and works hard.

" At the end of the day they do drive the economy and maybe I can help be a bit of a representative for that group."

Mr Joyce describes himself as "a bit of a mechanic of organisations" -- tweaking them to make them work better.

But he says he does not usually involve a radical approach.

"I'm not one of these people that comes in and says `lets just turn the whole thing upside down and see what happens'," he said.

"In a lot of ways it's just seeing what is the elephant sitting in the middle of the room -- what things you can do that will actually make the whole thing run a lot better."

Present and future challenges

Michael Baines
Chief Executive Motel Association of New Zealand Inc
AMG Sept/Oct 2008 Issue 1


When the bite is on the pocket then trips are deferred! This includes trips to see friends and family. The other determinant is weather and here it has been lousy!

Floods, landslides, snow etcetera have conspired in the wrong time of the year to convince people not to do the over-nighters. The increase in costs as well as a static housing market has stopped the general public from accessing their equity that has been funding their credit cards and consequently their little trips away.

It would be easy if the economy was uniform all over the country but no! We have distinctly different performance statistics from the provinces. Those regions with a strong agricultural base may have had a little psychological blip but their spending and travelling patterns have held up well. There are areas where too many beds have been developed and the number of visitors hasn’t grown so an oversupply has occurred.

There are areas where the distribution model that the accommodation was built to service is no longer valid and they are struggling.

The repeat commercial business, the bread and butter of the industry, has taken little hits but it still gives a solid base for accommodation operations. There has been some realignment of travel patterns among commercial travellers but not significantly.

Where there is an enlightened regional tourism organisation, a wellbalanced events programme has kept occupancy rates up over winter. Some areas have been very well served by small targeted events and holding the All Blacks versus Samoa rugby test in New Plymouth provided an excellent lift for the operators in the whole of the Taranaki.

Some industry thoughts

The one thing we know is that change is constant and consequently the models that have been set in stone and asking the travelling public to conform to their idea of Utopia are starting to lose ground.

We can’t save the dinosaurs and have to accept that commercial evolution will take place.When the communication channels are controlled then it is easy to push the public into what you have available.

Unfortunately, the Internet has given the public the ability to see the entire world through their eyes not through the windows of travel agents. They are making informed choices and are asking the question, why can’t I do it? We know from dealing with teenage children that this is a very compelling question! We need to be able to answer rationally or accept that they will go their own way. It means that some of the old travel distribution models won’t stack up to the demands of the public. The capital invested in these models will be lost and as they leave this world they will go kicking and screaming and discounting everything in sight to try and stay in the game.

A cynical view, I hear you say but the winners will be those who adapt to the new regime quickly and are agile enough to be able to reallocate resources adroitly. Tourism/accommodation is not the only industry to face these issues, we are just doing it later than some.

The rationalisation of the meat industry in the 70s and 80s left a whole range of unused and ultimately abandoned plants as newer more efficient types of abattoirs were built. I am not suggesting that we are as inefficient as the meat industry was but it is inevitable that there will be casualties.

We are seeing a huge increase in online accommodation bookings; this is, I believe, a reality that we are all seeing. We are seeing a plethora of companies that can solve problems that I didn’t even know I had. I am distribution channelled out. Interestingly, anecdotally we are seeing the public make the decision on who they use and it seems that if you have sufficient quality inventory then they will find you.

Vast distribution networks are irrelevant if there is insufficient inventory to support them. It certainly is a growing area and the figures for average sales values, sales number and overall turnover are of double or even triple digit proportions. As yet the quantum of all these sales don’t rate 5% of all rooms sold. It will grow, of that there is little doubt but the vast bulk of our customers are coming from traditional sources.

So why have I made such a song and dance in the comments above? It is the way of the future, the ability for the consumer to talk directly to the provider will inevitably lead to the lessening importance of the middle man (person!). The product that was provided to aggregate travellers will become less important. The assets and infrastructure that were developed to service that type of traveller will become less relevant if they are totally dependent on that trade.

We are part of a global economy; this isn’t limited to the transfer of goods it also lessens the fear of the exotic. What were exotic locations are now part of our television experience. The globalisation of English as the language of trade has made the fear of communication difficulties less of a challenge and thus opened up for the travellers their own personalised adventure organised over the Internet, paid for by credit card and done without a third party to guide them!

How do we take advantage of this phenomenon? Who will benefit and who will suffer?

It will be a reasonably quick evolution not a fully fledged revolution so the transition will be hard and traditional friends and enemies will change their relevant roles in our lives. Above all as we go through the change we need to make sure that we are making a decent return on investment otherwise it will all be irrelevant; no dough no reason to be involved!

Accommodation and Management Guide

A magazine specifically for the accommodation industry has been talked about for some time. Finally, someone has taken the plunge. The Accommodation and Management Guide (AMG) is a new bi-monthly publication for the accommodation industry.

AMG claims to be is the only single publication that involves everything the accommodation manager needs information on, from technology to training and finance to F&B.

The first issue makes absorbing reading and is free to download from their website

Monday, November 17, 2008

Please consider the environment before printing this email

Something has been annoying me for several months. There is a growing scurge out there that needs to be stopped in its tracks.

There is an increasing creep of enviro vanity messages that are appended to emails lately! You know the ones, they look like this:

Who are these self-appointed guardians of the environment that insist on digitally cluttering up in-boxes by adding this inane message at the end of every email they send?

I guess we should be grateful that those that use these naff enviro messages can be easily profiled. At the risk of generalising and being accused of pigeonholing, those that attach these insidious green messages are: smug, self-satisfied, self righteous, holier-than-thou, condescending, socialist pratts.

Do these enviro message users really think that a renewable resource such as pine trees need saving? Do they think that their email recipient is gullible and will suddenly have a change of heart and not press that print button? Do they think people they send emails to are so stupid that they need their guidance? Do they really think that they will be considered by others to be ground breaking eco-heros?

Frankly I don't need a message insinuating that I am some kind of inconsiderate abuser.

I hardly ever print out any email - but that's not the point. If I wanted to, then I would without any cause for guilt.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

White gold for moteliers

There has been several stories doing the rounds in the media revolving around Statistics New Zealand’s latest accommodation survey that showed total guest nights down 5 percent from September 2007.

It's not all doom and gloom, Ashburton appears to be bucking the trend!

The Asburton Guardian
15 November 2008
By Sue Newman

Ashburton has just come off the strongest September in seven years, for the number of bodies in beds, across the district.

The commercial accommodation monitor shows 23,707 guest nights registered, up 16.5% on September 2007.

Nationally there was a 5% decline in guest nights for the month, prompting industry watch dogs to suggest accommodation providers might be in for a tough few months, but over the past 10 years, only 1999 and 2001 saw more guests stop over in the district.

But that might be just a small hiatus before the chill winds of reality hit the district, Ashburton District Tourism head Michelle Bungard says.

Traditionally, snow has been Ashburton’s white gold in terms of its accommodation industry, and this year has seen the pattern retained, she said.

“That’s been our saviour, but once we get into October and November, we’ll be facing the reality of a falling market.”

Accumulative graphs of guest nights across the financial year, show a very strong start in July, but from that point, the worm burrows downwards.

Staff at the district’s two I-Sites in Methven and Ashburton, were this month noticing a slow down in numbers through the door. Over the winter, growth in business had been strong, but the general comment was that things were pretty quiet, Mrs Bungard said.

While people might be opting to stay home rather than spend discretionary money travelling, she believes Ashburton’s proximity to Christchurch could see it still receive a good slice of business from those who were still travelling.

“The Australian market is still strong for us also,” she said.

Accommodation commentators were preaching doom and gloom and that made it tough for people in the industry, Mrs Bungard said.

‘There’s no doubt if you’re a tourism operator you’d be nervous hearing this, but the Ashburton market is still strong, we’ve always been lucky to have something of a protected economy. There is always a lot going on for Ashburton’s motels, with a lot of long term, mid week workers satying in the district and that takes away the loss of the independent traveller,” she said.

It was also a sign of confidence that two new motels were under construction and that new owners had bought into Methven’s Resort Hotel.

The re-opening in about three weeks was coming at a good time in terms of making a pitch for business through over seas wholesalers, she said.

Nationally, every accommodation sector fell during the month, with motels and backpackers falling furthest and hotels holding up best.

Economic conditions around the world are affecting travellers plans and Tourism New Zealand chief executive George Hickton said the accommodation sector was harder hit than other areas of the tourism industry.
As tourist numbers dropped and started becoming more heavily weighted towards visiting Australians, accommodation requirements dropped as more nights with friends and family came into the mix.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Motel Video Content

Moteliers will be aware of the increasing use of video on accommodation websites.

Video content seems to be the latest buzz and value-added option for advertisers selling websites and on-line advertising to moteliers. The uptake seems to be fairly slow, however I am noticing more and more accommodation websites have some form of video content.

Moteliers may be slow to adapt, however guests seem to be taking to recording their travels via video and uploading snippits to the web with great gusto. It has never been easier for travelers to record and upload video onto social networking sites and websites such as: and

Videoing hotels and motels seem to be of great facination to am-cam armed travelers. You could discover that your motel may already feature in movie content loaded on the web!

Angus Kidman is an Australian freelance journalist, writing about technology, traveling the world and filming bits of it (mostly the motels and hotels) as he goes. He provides weird and unashamedly amateur footage of motel and hotel rooms on his (frequently funded by others) travel.

His footage has two distinct extremes of the business travel world: the excessively-priced corporate hotels that he stays in when someone else pays for them, and the cheaper and more basic ones chosen when it's his own credit card on the line.

Key asked to help prop up tourism

Air New Zealand have requested further corporate welfare from taxpayers.

Rob Fyfe appears not to be satisfied with 70% of his company being nationalised and a marketing budget subsidised by Tourism New Zealand.

The success of the New Zealand tourism industry has come from innovative small businesses that are required to stand on their own two feet and prudently manage their own businesses. It is ironic that our tourism industry leaders are often too quick to support welfarism as the way forward for the industry.

What is needed is a fresh new direction for tourism. Our tourism trade associations and industry leaders should be championing independent small tourism businesses and requesting that all government agencies operate prudently with the efficiencies that their represented members are already achieving.

The rhetoric of the incoming government is to tackle a bloated public sector by ensuring there is a strong focus on the provision of frontline services and by "reining in the growth of the back-room bureaucracy".

Tourism New Zealand should not be immune from a line by line cost benefit analysis of taxpayer expenditure and this approach should be supported by our tourism industry leaders before further taxpayer funds are demanded.

The Dominion Post
14 November 2008

Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe has called on incoming prime minister John Key to pump more money into tourism to stave off a potential sharp decline in visitor numbers.

Foreign tourist numbers had slowed because of the global economic downturn and reinvestment was needed, with government support, to ensure the economically critical sector did not contract, Mr Fyfe said.

Mr Key's decision to become tourism minister was appropriate, he said. "The prime minister should be the No1 marketer of New Zealand.

"We are a small nation trying to make our impact on the world stage. Tourism is our biggest export earner. I see a natural logic to it," Mr Fyfe said.

Air New Zealand is 75 per cent government owned.

Mr Key lives "around the corner" from Mr Fyfe, and their children go to the same school.

"So we bump into each other regularly, and it was a topic we discussed, but I'm sure many people are in John's ear about all sorts of things.

"I certainly wouldn't think I had any significant influence in that decision," Mr Fyfe said.

He also ruled out another attempt at a merger between Air New Zealand and Qantas, which he said would now be detrimental to New Zealand tourism rather than a benefit claimed during two earlier failed attempts to gain approval from competition regulators.

"The importance of New Zealand having an airline network centred on New Zealand is very critical to our economy, because a lot of the network we fly doesn't make sense to a network centred on Australia or a network centred on Singapore or wherever."

About a third of Air New Zealand's long-haul routes were unprofitable, but they were critical to ensuring the network was profitable.

If Air New Zealand and Qantas came together, the concern would be that those marginal routes would not be flown if the decisions were made out of Sydney, Mr Fyfe said.

Other countries were equally conscious of the need to have a national airline which focused on marketing their home base as a destination, and that pressure acted as a barrier to consolidation, he said.

Air New Zealand spends about $120 million a year on promoting New Zealand internationally, nearly double the amount spent by state agency Tourism New Zealand.

"Despite all the talk, I'm still a sceptic as to whether we are going to see wholesale cross-border consolidation, except across Europe within the European community."

The network advantages of consolidation were largely being achieved through alliances such as Star Alliance and Oneworld, Mr Fyfe said.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bed numbers tumbling

Waikato Times
13 November 2008

The region's moteliers are struggling with fewer guest nights during what is traditionally their busier months and are bracing themselves for an even tougher Christmas period.

Guest nights in the Waikato fell 9.8 per cent to 177,000 compared to a 5 per cent fall nationally, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand figures. Motels and backpackers across the country took the biggest hit by sector, down 9.2 per cent.

Gardena Motel owner Tony Wood said the decline was taking its toll as there had been a noticeable drop in the number of guests in Hamilton across the board.

"It's the combination of the difficult times and the price of petrol. I think also the election didn't help - leading up to the election there's always a lull for businesses."

Mr Wood did not expect an increase in the number of visitors to Hamilton over the next few months and said December and January were usually slow due to the city not attracting tourists during summer.

Traditionally, Hamilton accommodation owners relied on a busy October and November period to help them through Christmas, he said.

Roger Buller, owner of Hamilton's Bella Vista Motel and vice president of the Waikato Motel Association, said the prospect of motels being quieter over Christmas than at the moment was daunting for moteliers experiencing the downturn.

But the Waikato, which includes Coromandel and Taupo, was not alone. Nationally, guest nights fell for the fourth month in a row, with the Bay of Plenty falling 17 per cent year-on-year and Auckland down 3 per cent. Wellington and Southland were the only regions to increase their numbers, up 1 per cent.

Economic conditions around the world are affecting travellers' plans and Tourism New Zealand chief executive George Hickton said the accommodation sector was harder hit than other areas of the tourism industry.

As tourist numbers dropped and became more heavily weighted towards Australians, accommodation requirements fell as more nights with friends and family came into the mix.

Hotel Council chairwoman Jennie Langley said the downturn was not too shocking for hoteliers, who had been through it before, but key markets the United States, Britain and Europe were unlikely to rebound soon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Being Green"

I enjoy watching the successful series "Bullshit!" by magician comedians, Penn and Teller.

Don't be put-off by their American crassness, humor and showmanship. These Las Vegas headliners have a serious message. They have strong Libertarian beliefs, are not afraid to tackle political correctness and debunk commonly held nonsense.

Penn and Teller have done several programmes on environmental issues and the episode "Being Green" is from their current series that is yet to show in New Zealand.

The duo also dedicate a very special tribute to global warming alarmist, Al Gore.

The following YouTube programme is in three-parts and I recommend that you view them all.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Kiwis told to holiday at home

Bruce Robertson is a great spokesman for the Hospitality Association of New Zealand (HANZ) and he raises some important issues on behalf of the accommodation industry.

He has issued a clarion call for operators not to flinch by reducing tariff during times of economic adversity and for Tourism NZ to consider a domestic marketing campaign.
We agree.

However, Mr Robinson has also suggested that John Key the incoming Minister for Tourism, "address spending on marketing". We agree that John Key should address spending by Tourism New Zealand, however this should not necessarily mean an increase in funding.

12 November 2008

In the face of falling numbers of tourists and an increase in empty hotel rooms, a senior hospitality industry figure is calling for more money for marketing and New Zealanders to be encouraged to travel within their own country.

Statistics New Zealand’s (SNZ) latest accommodation survey, released today, showed total guest nights at 2.2 million, down 5 percent from September 2007. The number was 1 percent lower than the figure for September 2006.

September was the fourth consecutive month in which total guest nights had decreased when compared with the same month the previous year, SNZ said.

Hospitality Association of New Zealand (HANZ) chief executive Bruce Robertson is urging accommodation operators to hold prices and avoid the temptation to cut them in an attempt to shore up flagging guest numbers.

He fears a price war would be to everyone’s detriment and probably wouldn’t work. “People aren’t coming to New Zealand because of price,” Mr Robertson told

Motels and backpackers took the brunt of the latest fall, SNZ said, with each seeing nine percent fewer stays than the same time last year. Motels recorded a fall of 77,000 guest nights and backpackers 28,000.

The trend in total guest nights had been falling for 13 months, SNZ added, and was now 3 percent lower than the recent peak. However, this was still 3 percent higher than the most recent low point in January 2006, SNZ added.

Separately, SNZ has said New Zealand received more than 11,000 fewer overseas visitors in September compared to last year.

Mr Robertson said the industry had been pretty good at holding its collective nerve to date, but HANZ was expecting things to get much worse, with the four to five percent drops seen now becoming ten percent by April.

Despite the gloom, he said it was at times like these that the best companies invested more – rather than less - in marketing.

Mr Robertson suggested it might be time for Tourism New Zealand to, at least temporarily, take on a domestic brief to encourage locals to holiday within New Zealand. He also expects incoming Prime Minister John Key, who plans to be Minister for Tourism, to address spending on marketing.

Click the "Get Widget" link below to place this widget on your website or blog!