Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Motella's Road Trip

The Motella and family are packing the car and will be doing our bit for the New Zealand economy by going on holiday!

The motel minders are in place and the v8 is tuned and ready to unashamedly burn fossil fuel to take us to a friendly motel that will be hosting us at the end of our journey.

We have been looking forward to this break away for some time with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Before we return in a weeks time, we will be dropping our son off at his new boarding school away from home.

Our trip home without him will be emotional, but we know that our son has a great attitude and potential to do well without us.

Our son has spent all his life growing up in a motel environment and has observed the noble art of running a business. He has seen the hard work that goes on behind the scenes and the commitment that is required. He has observed how we treat our motel guests and transact with them. Hopefully he has seen the big picture of where money comes from and has appreciated what other children take for granted.

It can sometimes be tough for a child to grow up in a motel, but we know that this experience may help him in some small way to succeed in his new environment and the challenges that lay before him...

Accommodation stats reflect tourism decline

The Southland Times
By Ben Heather
22 January 2009

There are more rooms in Queenstown Lakes but fewer people filling them, with accommodation arrivals plummeting 16.1 per cent in November.

Guest arrival numbers were down from 113,804 in November 2007 to 95,432 last November, reflecting a national 5 per cent decline.

Numbers were down from on the 2007 for every month since April last year, but capacity is up 5.2 per cent on last year.

Hotel Association's Queenstown representative Victoria Shaw, of Eichardts, said things were tough with hotels looking to staff levels to cut costs.

"Tourism New Zealand is talking 10 to 15 per cent (visitor arrival decline) but we're all realistically talking 15 to 20 per cent," she said.

"I'm sure everyone will be feeling it."

The increase in visitor accommodation during boom times 18 months ago had left some hotel managers in a tight spot, she said.

"It wasn't really a need, it was driven by developers and the real estate ... but when it gets tight the returns aren't there."

Many excess rooms were part of strata schemes where investors bought into individual hotel rooms, which were then managed for them for a return.

"You watch the real estate section of the paper. There are going to be a few mortgagee sales," Ms Shaw said.

Motel Association chief executive Michael Baines said motels had not been hit as hard as expected but tourist spots like Queenstown and Rotorua had been affected by a reduction in tour groups. Other areas such as Southland were holding up well, he said.

ROOM BY ROOM: Fewer people, more rooms Visitor numbers in November 2008 compared with the previous year: Queenstown Lakes Visitor arrivals: down 16.1 per cent Accommodation capacity: up 4.3 per cent Central Otago Visitor arrivals: down 1.2 per cent Accommodation capacity: up 1.4 per cent

Source: Click HERE

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Motels Hit The Mark This Summer

I have been watching, New Zealand Apartments since they launched their marketing group five years ago. They have grown to about 50 apartments.

I was interested when New Zealand Luxury Motels was formed by the same marketing company and launched in May 2008 with over 20 motel properties. The motel properties were selected to fill in the gaps where there were no apartments and were based on the higher end motels that were equivalent to 4.5 and 5 Qualmark star ratings.

Those that are not Qualmark rated have been self assessed by the group and have granted themselves equivalent star rating status on their website.

Anton and Jules Wilke head the two accommodation groups after being involved in commercial tourism marketing for 14 years.

Anton and Jules market their apartment and motel product to international travel agents at events such as TRENZ and sales missions to UK, Europe, US and Australia. The main marketing focus is on travel wholesalers offshore and inbound tour operators.

What I like about the group is that there does not appear to be any gimmicks such as tariff specials, customer loyalty points, free nights, free breakfasts or other inclusions. The offer is clean and simple. The focus is on consistent quality. Many frequent travelers have been burnt by inconsistent quality levels and this grouping of accommodation appears to appease those that are seeking a consistent quality accommodation experience. I really hope that this will work for them.

The website is also clean and simple with a booking engine that displays tariff and availability for member properties. A quick scan would suggest that less than half offer instant on-line reservations with the remainder choosing to offer rooms on-request.

The wholesale accommodation business is a hard market that the motel product has traditionally struggled in. Ideally, properties that are serious about participating the in wholesale market should be setting their published tariff at a level to sustain a 20-30% commission.

In the wholesale business, management costs and marketing are always much higher than operating in the domestic market. To add to insult, the accommodation provider needs to carry the cost of credit and is always the last to be paid. To depend on this market takes a lot of dedication, hard work and time...

Motels that joined New Zealand Luxury Motels six months ago should not hope for a quick fix, however many will be already assessing their ROI to date as they head into uncertain times.

Time will tell if New Zealand Luxury Motels can give continued value to their members and survive dependent on the volatile wholesale market. I hope they can.

21 January 2009

The New Zealand Luxury Motel collection is already proving to be a success with customers, even though it has been only six months since the 20 strong accommodation collection was launched.

In developing what they believe to be New Zealand premier motel collection, directors Anton and Jules Wilke selected only high quality, modern motels.

The majority of motels in the collection hold Qualmark® 4.5 or 5 star ratings. Of the few that don't hold a Qualmark, an internal New Zealand Luxury Motels grading has been applied. "We've visited all motels and certainly they are at least of the quality of the 4.5 to 5 star Qualmark properties, if not better", advised Anton.

New Zealand Luxury Motels cater for the traveller who is not wanting to compromise on quality and is seeking limited self-catering facilities. "Typically our customers staying in the luxury motel range are couples and they find the kitchenette style amenities suitable for their needs", says Anton.

International Marketing The creation of the New Zealand Luxury Motel collection emerged from the experiences the Wilkes gained as they developed their New Zealand Apartments collection over the last five years. "As we grew New Zealand Apartments we could see these quality motels being built around New Zealand but they weren't necessarily being well marketed to the international traveller", comments Anton.

Anton drives the marketing and sales activities which are aimed primarily at the international travel wholesaler.

"We launched New Zealand Luxury Motels at TRENZ in May 2008 and this allowed enough time for inclusion in agents brochures for this current summer season", he adds. Subsequent sales activities and training overseas helped to cement the collection with the travel trade.

New Sector: New Locations Anton identifies the emergence of a new sector in the motel product offering; that of well built, self-catering accommodation with high quality amenities and services.

The expanded geographic range also has the bonus of being able to provide quality accommodation in locations where no New Zealand Apartments were situated.

The New Zealand Luxury Motel collection opens up new geographical locations in destinations such as Whangarei, Hamilton, Wanganui, Blenheim, Hanmer Springs, Hokitika, and Te Anau. This has resonated well, especially with the European markets, advises Anton. Europeans often stay longer, are self-driving and highly independent. The style of the motels, and their locations in secondary or tertiary destinations, suit this type of traveller.

Together, both the motels and apartments collections offer a total of 70 accommodation choices in 35 locations nationwide. "We can offer a comprehensive, nationwide network of quality properties, both apartments and motels. Our customers really appreciate the convenience of being able to access the number of properties through our central reservations office", says Anton.

"Given the tough global economic conditions, especially in some of our key source markets, we're pleased with New Zealand Luxury Motel bookings over the summer", concludes Anton.

Source: Click HERE

Motels take a hit

Ooops! Not good news for the motel industry with November figures reflecting the month from Hell.

It is frustrating that the accommodation stats are 6-weeks behind, as we can only guess how December has shaped up and how January is now fearing.

Anecdotal evidence suggests to me that the crucial months of December and January will be "softer" compared to previous years and this does not bode well for motel businesses fortifying themselves for the winter months ahead.

It's a good time for moteliers to start getting friendly with the bank manager...

21 January 2009

Motels have been particularly hard hit by a drop in international visitor numbers that is having a significant impact on the country's accommodation sector.

Statistics New Zealand said today that motels collectively had 80,000 less "guest nights", a drop of 9 per cent, in November compared with the same month a year earlier.

Across the whole accommodation sector, the number of bookings was down 4 per cent, led by an 8 per cent drop in bookings from international visitors. A total of 2.7 million "guest nights" were spent in accommodation in November.

The drop in the motel figures, which equates to 80,000 less nights, represented two-thirds of the overall fall for the whole accommodation industry.

The fall off in business for the accommodation sector is widespread, with nine of the 12 regions reporting falls. Worst hit was Bay of Plenty with a 13 per cent fall, while the Wellington region fared best with a 2 per cent rise.

The occupancy rate of accommodation generally in November was 52 per cent, down from 56 per cent in November 2007. Hotels, with 62 per cent, had the highest occupancy rate.

According to Statistics New Zealand, short term visitor numbers to the country were down by 9500, or 4 per cent in November compared with the same month a year earlier.

Source: Click HERE

Online guest reviews weed out Fawlty hotels

While a hotel may look great and have a five-star rating, it may also have grumpy staff and rowdy fellow guests, issues travel agents may be unaware of but recent visitors won’t hesitate to point out.

While review formats differ between sites, they tend to use an one-to-five-star rating system, which is averaged out across all reviewers and doesn’t always correlate with the ‘official’ star rating.

One site that offers this service is, which has just opened its New Zealand website as part of what Asia Pacific managing director Johan Svanstrom calls an “increased focus on the Asia Pacific region, which offers some of the best value for money hotels in the world”.

Another major player in the online hotel booking market is, which claims more than 15 million site visitors from 190 countries every week.

As well as an overall rating, hotels are also given ratings for each aspect of their service, as well as for their suitability for different types of travellers.

Particularly positive or scathing one-line comments can even make it on to the site’s home page.

One reviewer pans a hotel in Buenos Aires, saying, “My first clue should have been the sea of luggage in the lobby and the angry mob surrounding the front desk”.

Another says of a beach resort in Costa Rica: “It wants to be a luxury resort and it is no more than a tent with hard walls between jungle and beach”.

So what do hotel owners have to do to avoid getting the thumbs down in reviews?

The Pureprofile survey offers some clues: 45% chose a comfortable mattress and soft linen as the biggest factor in ‘waking up happy’ in a hotel, followed by a nice view from their room (27%), then a good breakfast and free in-room facilities (14 per cent each).

The biggest gripes most likely to put hotel guests in a bad mood include noise (31%), an uncomfortable bed (26%) and early check-out times (19%), all of which Mr Fawlty excelled in.

Source: Click HERE

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Otago tourist operators weathering storm

Motel Association of NZ (MANZ) Board member, Neville Butcher hangs-tough about Dunedin's visitor prospects as Queenstown operators feel the pain of recent over-speculation and decline in overseas visitor numbers.

20 Jan 2009
Otago Daily Times

Amid gloomy reports of falling international tourist numbers, industry redundancies and low occupancy rates, many of Otago's accommodation providers and tourist operators say they have fared well so far this summer.

While the slowdown in international visitors had started to bite in Queenstown, tourism operators in other parts of Otago said they could weather the storm if the domestic market remained strong and the Australian market picked up.

Tourism industry representatives around the region understood it had more or less been business as usual for accommodation providers in Dunedin and Central Otago so far this summer, while Wanaka's strategy of developing popular events had been successful in drawing large crowds to the area.

As Queenstown accommodation providers reported a drop of 10% to 15% in occupancy rates, Otago Motel Association chairman Neville Butcher said Dunedin motels were about as busy as normal over the Christmas-New Year period with the traditional domestic crowd in town for the holiday.

Things had been quieter on Otago Peninsula and in Mosgiel, but the period from February to April was traditionally Dunedin's busy period and so far bookings were looking "not too bad".

Reports this week indicated national coach tour company Johnstones Coachlines had made 11 employees redundant - including three in Queenstown - because falling tourist numbers were forcing the cancellation of tours.

Johnston's Coachlines managing director Philip Manning told The Press newspaper economic issues in Britain, the United States and Australia were affecting older travellers, the company's main market.

The number of tours run in the first half of this season were down about 20% and expected to fall about 40%, he said.

Real Journeys chief executive Dave Hawkey said there was a 5% to 10% decline in passengers this season, which mirrored the decline in overall visitors to New Zealand.

The company had not laid off staff, but had not hired as many seasonal workers this year.

Tourism New Zealand believes up to 45,000 fewer visitors will arrive this year from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In Dunedin, Taieri Gorge Railway chief executive Murray Bond said a significant drop in both the coach-tour market and cruise passengers booking shore excursions had been offset by a "very good" independent tourist, domestic tourist and rail trail market over the summer.

So far, the company had seen only a slight drop in passenger numbers compared with the corresponding time last year, but the next three months could be tough, he said.

In contrast to most providers, Malcolm Budd said his tour bus company Otago Explorer was having its best summer in 10 years.

He believed the company was doing well because it catered to the lower-end tourist market.
Bookings for the rest of the season were looking "OK", but he, too, was expecting a decline over the next few months.

Tourism Central Otago marketing manager Alison Mason said operators in Cromwell, Alexandra and Roxburgh had indicated that so far the season was on a par with previous summer seasons.

Some businesses were slightly less busy than usual, butnot unduly concerned.

Accommodation providers had a "comfortable" number of bookings for the next few months and were really just waiting to see how the season would turn out, she said.

Wanaka Chamber of Commerce president Leigh Stock said recent events the town organised drew people to Wanaka as a destination.

Often the visitors were domestic, which helped insulate tourism operators and businesses from any downturn from international tourists.

"We are under no illusions that we'll have a tough year."

Source: Click HERE

wotif to go to 3 months emailed suppliers yesterday to announce that on 27 January, they will be expanding their Supplier Extranet to allow suppliers to enter rates, allotment and inclusions for up to 3 months, instead of the current 28 days.

This change will affect the distribution of deals to all our their sites:

Wotif have set up a link to see samples of how the Edit Deals, All Deals and Stop Sell pages will change - Click HERE.

The Brisbane-based company has grown to dominate about 40 per cent of the internet-based business in Australia by providing customers with discounted room rates secured at the last minute. The three months expansion will lead to a 365-day reservation window by the end of this year. chief executive Robbie Cooke concedes that there has been "a lot of internal debate about the pros and cons" of previous changes to the forward booking period. The company started out with just a seven-day window but then quickly expanded that to 10 and then 14 days within in the first year. The jump to 28 days was not made until 2005.

Mr Cooke has said that there are two key reasons driving the change to 365 days.

Customers say they want certainty for forward bookings beyond 28 days in order to solidify travel plans, especially over busy periods such as school holidays and Christmas.

For hoteliers, the attraction is that they can deal directly with a customer - albeit via Wotif. That cuts out a layer of wholesalers, travel agents and other middlemen in the distribution chain that can tack on up to 30 per cent in extra room costs.

Hotels will still offer discounted accommodation for bookings made just a few days in advance but they too can have added certainty for the months ahead.

Source: Click HERE

Survey: what makes NZers 'wake up happy' in hotels

Just what we all need...Yet another survey of 500 Kiwis to promote an on-line accommodation business.

Unfortunately, what makes me 'wake up happy' doesn't appear to be mentioned! survey reveals what makes New Zealanders ‘wake up happy’ in hotels. Kiwis love a comfy mattress, free breakfast and not having to make the bed. Researching online revealed as the most popular way to choose a hotel, the global hotels specialist, has revealed intriguing insights into New Zealanders’ preferences towards staying in hotels, as well as some of their pet gripes and hotel booking habits. The survey, conducted nationally earlier this month by independent online research company

Pureprofile, coincides with the launch of the new innovative website in New Zealand.

The results, based on the responses of over 500 New Zealanders on booking and staying in hotels, reveal that Kiwis are happiest when hotels do the basics really well: 45 per cent of respondents nominated a comfortable mattress and soft linen as the biggest factor contributing to ‘waking up happy’ in a hotel, followed by a nice view from their room (27 per cent). Others were equally swayed by a good breakfast and the free in-room facilities (14 per cent each).

The biggest gripes most likely to put hotel guests in a bad mood include noise (31 per cent), an uncomfortable bed (26 per cent) and early check-out times (19 per cent). Conversely, the biggest factors which would inspire them to return to a particular hotel include the friendliness and efficiency of the staff (26 per cent) followed closely by the price (23 per cent) and then the hotel’s amenities and facilities (21 per cent).

The poll also reveals the strong migration of New Zealanders toward researching and booking travel online, with 61 per cent of respondents saying that they mostly book their hotels online. Prior to booking, Kiwis turn to the internet for research, with 61 per cent of respondents also saying that online research, including user reviews, photos and virtual tours, influences their hotel booking choice most of all. This is far above receiving recommendations from traditional travel agents, with only five per cent of respondents relying on such advice.

The new New Zealand website provides New Zealand travellers with easy access to over 80,000 hotels around the world, has a local interface including pricing in New Zealand Dollars (or any other currency of choice), and is supported by a local customer service centre available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Travellers are able to search by facilities and hotel star ratings, as well as by specific geographic locations and neighbourhoods, with search results also visually represented on a map of the area considered. Proven to be increasingly important to modern travellers when researching online, customers will also be able to read and post extensive user reviews of hotels.

The new site functionality makes it even easier for both business and leisure travellers to select and book the hotel of their choice through their local site.

Johan Svanstrom, Managing Director Asia Pacific, says, “The newly launched website is part of a worldwide rollout of locally tailored websites and introduces the new ‘Wake up Happy™’ brand positioning.

"'Wake Up Happy' says everything about the service can offer customers and reflects our commitment to understanding what customers want.

“The launch of the New Zealand site marks another significant step for and supports the company’s increased focus on the Asia Pacific region, which offers some of the best value for money hotels in the world.

“Now is a great time for Kiwis to travel closer to home, but lower oil prices should start having a positive impact on airfares to the US and Europe, where excellent deals are also available – yet another reason for

Kiwi travellers to ‘Wake Up Happy’,” Mr Svanstrom concluded.

For great hotel deals and promotions, visit

Source: Click HERE

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Qualmark's "mindless and costly environmental doctrine"

Dr Muriel Newman is the founder and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research (NZCPR).

The NZCPR is a web-based think tank that takes a research-based approach to public policy matters and encourages the free and open debate of political issues.

Each week the NZCPR publishes a newsletter, which is sent out to a mailing list of over 16,000 readers.

This week's publication includes commentary on the government's previous involvement in a plethora of regulatory matters – often under the guise of health and safety or environmental concerns – that, to put it bluntly, are extraordinarily bureaucratic, largely pointless, and extremely costly:

"Over the last nine years, the state sector has become bloated with wasteful programmes that need to be subjected to a proper audit, asking whether there are cheaper options, whether responsibility for the task could be better carried out by the private sector, or in fact, whether the task needs to be carried out at all!"
One example given by Dr Muriel Newman will be of interest to moteliers. This was the unerlateral introduction by Qualmark NZ Ltd of the new environmental criteria embedded into its quality benchmarking criteria for motels:
"The first example provides a snapshot of the mindless but costly environmental doctrine that the previous government imposed on small business. In 2008, without any consultation with industry operators, Qualmark, the government agency that works in partnership with the private sector to assess and rank services provided by tourism operators, expanded their assessment criteria to include new environmental concerns. This means that in order to receive their quality star gradings, accommodation providers are now being assessed on environmental considerations that have no bearing on their core business - such as whether they run a worm farm or compost organic waste – alongside key criteria such as cleanliness, comfort, safety, security, and other guest services! Some $300,000 of taxpayers’ money was used to fund the first two years of this initiative with a further $840,000 pledged over the next three years."
We can't agree more with Dr Muriel Newman's sentiments.

The motel industry is on a collision course with Qualmark and we will be following closely how this will play out later this year.

The "Motella" is watching.

Source: Click HERE

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Accommodation Industry Trends in 2009

The following article is written from an American / hotel prospective.

It's over to you to decide what industry realities are hidden amongst the cynical humor and provocative tongue in cheek comments.

13 January 2009

By Daniel Edward Craig

Deep discounting and do-it-yourself are in, green programs and healthful food are out

The new year has begun and so far it’s not pretty. With the hotel industry facing the lowest occupancy rates since 1971, a number of alarming trends are emerging. In the midst of all the doom and gloom I thought I’d take a more lighthearted approach to my predictions for the hotel industry in 2009.

  1. Everything learned in revenue management training will go out the window. Hysteria will rule the day as hotels drop rates, get indignant when competitors lower rates in response, and then panic and drop rates even further. All inventory will be treated as distressed inventory, erasing years of brand-equity-building and training travelers to look for the best deals on third-party websites. It will take years to recover from these rate wars, and the only victor will be the traveler.

  2. Travelers will become more demanding and less forgiving. Smelling the hotel industry’s desperation to fill rooms, travelers will demand even deeper discounts and more value add-ons, while at the same time refusing to tolerate the cuts to services hotels will be forced to implement to stay afloat, posting nasty comments on TripAdvisor like “Save your money! This hotel has gone to hell!!”

  3. Service levels will nosedive. The labor shortage crisis of 2008, when hoteliers blamed poor service levels on the lack of employee resources, will give way to the job shortage crisis of 2009, when hoteliers will blame poor service levels on tight labor budgets. Managers will be forced to cover frontline shifts to save labor costs, thereby revealing they have no clue how their department operates, resulting in a deluge of missed wakeup calls, accounting errors and guests checked into occupied rooms.

  4. Eco-friendly initiatives will be tossed into the recycling bin. Faced with the realization that going green costs money, hotels will opt for programs that guilt the guest into making the sacrifices, such as the now-ubiquitous optional towel and sheet replacement program. Having discovered that guests will tolerate plastic recycling bins and off-white tissue paper, hotels will begin to phase out those adorable little bottles of shampoo, blackberry jam and Dijon mustard in favor of “eco-friendly” (cheap) bulk offerings.

  5. Automation and do-it-yourself options will replace costly employees. Hotel managers, faced with the horror of having to deal with guests themselves, will consider previously unthinkable initiatives like automated check-in kiosks. New labor-saving programs will include make-your-own-bed-and-breakfast packages, do-it-yourself luggage carts, and computers standing in for concierges. Meanwhile, all gratuitous positions created during the halcyon days, like “tanning concierge”, “dream butler” and “pillow consultant”, will be summarily retired.

  6. The trend toward offering more healthful food choices in restaurants, room service and mini-bars will be reversed as hotels realize that cheeseburgers, Coke and Kit Kats sell better and are more profitable.

  7. Lifestyle hotels will spring up as quickly as Starbucks outlets are closing. Customization will be taken a step further, with such options as the daily repainting of rooms to match the guest’s wardrobe, smart lighting that adjusts according to the guest’s mood, and hotels designed exclusively for germophobes, anarchists and narcissists. Meanwhile, lifestyle hotels will continue to confuse guests with cutesy names for traditional positions like “comfort consultant” for housekeeper, “personal nutritionist” for waitress and “ambassador to happiness” for front desk agent.

  8. Complimentary amenities will mysteriously vanish. “Amenity Creep”, the one-upmanship game hotels played during prosperous times by adding superfluous items like lip balm, wrinkle cream and nose-hair trimmers, will give way to “Amenity Retreat”, in which all but essential items will be removed and guests will be charged for non-essential items like blankets, soap and hot water. Meanwhile, dog-friendly hotels will be phased out as hotels realize that dogs are not hotel-friendly.

  9. The boutique-hotel-as-nightclub trend will spread to traditional hotels like Ritz Carlton, Fairmont and Four Seasons. Lobbies will morph into late-night clubs, with Bach concertos replaced by techno grooves from in-house DJs. Traditional doormen in Beefeater-style uniforms will be supplanted by lobby hostesses in booty shorts, and the mantra “It’s my pleasure, sir” will surrender to “Hey, no problem, man.”

  10. Standalone hotels will be a thing of the past. Mixed-use developments, in which hotels are housed in the same complex as condos, retail outlets and office space and condo owners shoulder the burden of costly hotel construction by paying for access to services they will never use, will expand to include hospitals, churches and crematoriums to ensure guests never check out.
Source: Click HERE

Proper Customer Service for Dead People

The most promising moment of Prime Minister John Key's Speech from the Throne came four sentences in:
"In pursuing this goal of economic growth my Government will be guided by the principle of individual freedom and a belief in the capacity and right of individuals to shape and improve their own lives."
Along with the principle of individual freedom comes the right to choose and personal responsibility.

We haven't heard these inspiring words from a Prime Minister in a very long time - That is why I was disappointed in John Key's response to business owner Edwin Chan's decision to charge rental car charges to the family that tragically lost two brothers on the Fox Glacier.

The following article was kindly sent to me by motel industry icon, John Gilbertson .

This gives a very good overview of this most unfortunate incident and requires no further commentary from us:

15 January 2009
By David Sims

I can't tell you how many times people come up to me and say "Dave, just because somebody's dead, is that a good reason to give them heartless customer service? Huh?"

Here in New Zealand there was a tragedy on the Fox Glacier last week. Ashish and Akshay Miranda, brothers in their early 20s from Melbourne, were on the glacier when they were buried under 100 tons of falling ice, chunks as big as cars, according to eyewitness accounts.

Their parents, Ronnie and Winnie Miranda, were in Christchurch preparing to return to Australia after the tragedy when car rental firm NZCRS informed them that they owed the company at least a thousand dollars, since the keys to the eight-seat van were in Akshay's pocket, and hence buried under 100 tons of ice as well. Authorities said it would be weeks before his body was recovered.

Rental car company director Edwin Chan told the New Zealand Herald the firm had to recoup about $800 for the van to be transported 418 kilometers from Fox Glacier to Christchurch, and hundreds of dollars more for a new transponder key to electronically unlock the van. Chan estimated the total cost at $1,600.

"Nobody will do it for free," Chan said, adding that it's an "unfortunate" situation: "We feel for them. If there are things that are going to cost the company, we have no choice but to recover the costs. They should ... travel with insurance. It's not up to us as a company to pay for the costs."

The firm declined to charge per day overdue fees on the van, even though it was due back Sunday the 11th and as of Thursday still had not been returned, at a loss of about $390 and counting to the company.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who also serves as Minister of Tourism, called the rental company "crass at best" for trying to recover the money from the dead boys' parents. He acknowledged that while the company may be legally right, it should show some compassion: Charging the family, he told the Herald, was "crass at best and at the very least, bad business practice."

Is it now. Interesting question.

Reader comments seem to support the idea that the rental company shouldn't have to eat the costs just because the customer is, uh, dead. "JT" from Auckland posted that yes it's a tragedy – "however tragedies occur to tourists all around the world. Thus travel insurance was invented. It's called personal responsibility."

And reader Cameron Wilkes asked "should funeral homes not charge for their services because a family member has died and the family is upset?"

Aussies professed themselves shocked, shocked not only over the rental company expecting the family to make good on its debt, but also that a motel owner refused to waive a $100 charge for the room the parents didn't use when they departed early.

The Melbourne Herald Sun weighed in unsubtly, blaring the headline "Heartless Kiwis demand parents pay for dead Melbourne brother's bills." One notices the supposedly heart-filled Herald Sun nowhere offers to help defray the family's expenses. Of course it's always easy to strike a posture when it's somebody else's wallet getting dented.

"Everyone is making us out to be the bad guys. We're running a business," the motel owner pointed out, adding that the family agreed to pay the bill.

Chan said he was upset the keys were buried under the ice with Akshay because he was not permitted to drive the car, according to the Herald Sun. "They have both been told not to drive the car," he said of the brothers. "The father and cousin were supposed to drive."

Chan also observed that the search and recovery efforts on behalf of the government for the boys cost thousands of dollars, and pointed out that they had entered an out-of-bounds area. "At the end of the day they have cost the New Zealand government a lot of money," he noted correctly.

"I do have compassion for them. But they obviously can't expect me to pick up the pieces," he said, again correctly.

He has at least one Aussie supporter – one Herald Sun reader wrote to ask "should Mr. Chan have to go home and say sorry kids, you can't have dinner tonight because someone died because they weren't smart enough to follow instructions?"

So what are the CRM issues here?

Quality of customer service. Did Chan's rental agency provide top quality service? Evidently so – there aren't any complaints about the van or the service provided.

The quality of the customer relationship. Leaving aside the issue of repeat business at this point, let's look at how the relationship was perceived by the customer, who broke the rental company's rules by allowing unauthorized drivers. Sure we all do it, but the agreement is the agreement – if we're discovered by the agency allowing an unauthorized driver to drive the car, well, we'd have pretty thin ice to stand on to complain as well.

Putting it on a relational level, if I find that my friend's been letting his no-good worthless brother-in-law drive my snowmobile when I told him not to let anybody else drive it, and the clumsy yahoo wrecked it and broke his leg, and the bill would be $1,600 to have it fixed - the snowmobile, not the leg - I would not be disposed to say "Oh don't worry about the costs" just because the clod has a broken leg.

Call me heartless, crass, whatever, but if it happens to you then you can be Mother Teresa and take the hit. Me, I'm going to collect.

The Mirandas showed how much they valued the relationship with Chan when they let Akshay drive the van. I for one do not criticize Chan for thinking okay, I can't rent my van out because the key's in the pocket of the kid I specifically told not to drive, who was in a restricted area where he shouldn't have been on the glacier, and the family didn't pay for the insurance that would have taken care of all this, call me crass if you want, Mr. Prime Minister, but I don't see why that skins my cat to the tune of $1,600 plus lost future rental fees.

So the bottom CRM line is that Chan's in the right. Some readers of the New Zealand Herald's story wrote to say it's a pennywise and pound-foolish approach for Chan to recover his costs, since it might deter others from visiting New Zealand if that's the sort of heartless, stingy bastards we are here.

There is a CRM principle, not invoked in print frequently, but everybody's aware of it, stating that some customers just aren't worth the trouble. And if this incident keeps people who break rental agreements and ignore restricted area signs in dangerous areas away from New Zealand, then maybe that's all to the good, and maybe they should go elsewhere instead.

Say, Melbourne.

Source: Click HERE

Friday, January 16, 2009

Accommodation Voucher Scams

Scam artists that prey upon the traveling public make me mad.

As an industry, we need the public to easily access our fine services without their confidence being eroded by shysters.

This blog receives many hits from Google web searches of scams. In particular, we have noticed a recent increase of web based searches for Australian based company "Holiday Fever" that land on our Holiday voucher scheme post that was published back in November 2008.

The media and consumer groups have previously 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 such as:

We suspect that there have been many of worthless accommodation vouchers sold last year that are only now coming to light as the traveling public try to use them over the peak holiday season.

We have recently talked to several "motellas" that have had guests arrive or have phoned trying to make a reservation with these vouchers.

The weekly eMANZ NewZ from the Motel Association of NZ (MANZ) featured a warning about unsuspecting members of the public that are being sold accommodation vouchers from internet travel sites based in Australia. Unfortunately MANZ did not suggest a clear call to action.

What can be done?

If an accommodation operator comes across a potential guest with these vouchers, then they need to become part of the solution and assist in shutting these shonky Ozzie operators down. We suggest getting as much information from the guest as possible in order to make a written complaint to the Commerce Commission. We suggest that the guest is advised to do the the same.

If enough complaints are received, the Commerce Commission will issue further warnings to the New Zealand public and pass information over to their counterpart in Australia that will be able to take action.

The Commerce Commission can be contacted by:
PO Box 2351
Wellington 6140
Phone 0800 943 600

Tourists stay away in droves

"One in five Australians were looking to New Zealand for a holiday in 2009"

Following on from John Key's headline making soundbite last year about tourism taking "a billion dollar hit", our top three international markets of Australia, Britain and the USA have been forecast to fall by 45,000 arrivals.

Our top three international markets are regular users of motel accommodation.

We have found that this subset of international motel dwellers often discover the value and convenience of motels from their 2nd and 3rd visit to New Zealand. Often they will have a connection with friends and family living in New Zealand. They are usualy in the "older" age bracket, have resonable finacial means and are happy to passively enjoy a self drive New Zealand experiance.

All is not doom and gloom.

We hope that the motel industry will not bear brunt of the forecast downturn in overseas visitor numbers. We believe that existing international regular visitors that have already experienced NZ motel hospitality will continue to travel.

Tourism is not all about overseas arrivals. 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 corporate guest nights away from perceived higher priced hotels.

The Dominion Post
16 January 2009

A worst-case scenario for the tourism sector could see 45,000 fewer visitors from the top three markets this year.

Ambitious projections of a jump in tourists from Australia have also been dumped.

The predictions of dropping numbers from New Zealand's key tourism markets Australia, Britain and the United States are "on the money", Tourism New Zealand chief executive George Hickton said.

The numbers come from an industry report by Goldman Sachs JBWere analyst Shamubeel Eaqub that picks a drop of 45,000 tourists from those top markets.

With Australians making up 37 per cent of inbound tourists and American and British visitors typically big spenders, Mr Eaqub's "worst-case" predictions equate to $113 million less tourism income in 2009. The figure includes only what the tourists would spend in New Zealand and does not count international airfares.

Tourism Ministry figures picking an almost 4 per cent increase in visitor numbers from across the Tasman this year have been scrapped.

Prime Minister John Key, also the tourism minister, got back to business yesterday after a family holiday in Hawaii by convening a meeting with ministers to discuss the economic crisis.

Ministry spokesman Martin Svehla said the economic crisis since the forecasts were calculated made them redundant. However, Mr Hickton hoped Australian visitor numbers could be maintained and some growth generated in the British market.

He said the US, New Zealand's third largest tourism market, was "drifting away on us".

Opportunities in Asian markets were extremely dependent on what happened to their economies. The only certainties seemed to be a reduction in airfares, and fewer tourists in the short term before a bounce-back.

Previous tourism scares such as the World Trade Centre terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 had created hugely negative forecasts that never came to pass. "Let's not back ourselves into a corner just yet, it's too early to tell," Mr Hickton said.

But he admitted time was running out as bookings for next summer would be critical for many operators. "That is when they make most of their money. It is more important than winter."

Operators had survived the Christmas and New Year period on bookings made before the economic crisis, but there were no guarantees for the end of this year.

The report picked trans-Tasman travel would be popular as long journeys fell out of favour, a theory backed by House of Travel retail director Brent Thomas.

He expected cuts to fares between New Zealand and Australia would help, as the number of available seats increased dramatically. "Airlines have been fairly aggressive at pricing to stimulate demand. A plane only earns money when it is in the air with people in it."

One-way trans-Tasman airfares were sinking to as much as $169 and could keep dropping throughout 2009. "That is very good value."

New Zealanders were reluctant to cut back on travel in tough times, he said. "They work hard and they feel they deserve a break. They might not replace that TV or replace their car, but they will travel."

Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks said in such an uncertain climate, PWT's planned $500,000 boost for Australian marketing was even more important. "Australia remains our key visitor market regardless of anything," he said.

A recent survey showed one in five Australians were looking to New Zealand for a holiday in 2009.
Mr Perks said the goal was to beat the market trends and keep visitor numbers to Wellington growing regardless of economic cycles. "If we want to have that impact in Australia, now is possibly the best time."

Source: Click HERE

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kiwis ease post-holiday blues by booking next one

Expedia's investment in surveying 500 Kiwi's holiday planning is of interest to the accommodation industry - It's also a great way for to gain profile!

Expedia survey reveals Kiwis ease post-holiday blues by booking their next holiday as soon as they’re back to work

• 83 percent of New Zealanders feel more motivated at work when they have a booked holiday to look forward to
• Kiwi workers set to cost businesses over $70 million in work hours when researching and booking their next holiday

As New Zealanders return to work after the summer break, 83 percent have revealed that they feel more motivated at work if they have a holiday to look forward to - according to a recent survey conducted by, operated by Expedia, Inc., the world’s leading online travel company. So, while offices around New Zealand will be busy with work-related planning for the year ahead this month, many workers will be sure to be planning their 2009 getaways.

In fact, the survey revealed that over 46 percent of New Zealand workers admit to spending company time researching and booking their last holiday, with the average spending about three hours in total and almost six percent spending more than ten work hours. This means that New Zealand workers will spend an estimated total of just over three million hours* of company time planning their next holiday, costing New Zealand businesses over $70 million. The same study conducted concurrently in Australia, however, makes Kiwi workers look better by comparison as it revealed that 60 percent of Aussie workers have spent company time planning their holidays.

Also, 57 percent of workers surveyed at the beginning of January have already started planning their next getaway and 49 percent of people intend to take a holiday in the next six months. Interestingly, almost half of respondents also plan to take their next holiday within New Zealand rather than overseas. The next most popular holiday spot is Australia, with 22 percent of respondents nominating that destination, followed by nine percent nominating Asia.

The survey results, which monitored the responses of over 500 New Zealanders, reveal how many workers seek to lift their spirits by looking ahead to their next break as soon as they return to work after an enjoyable break.

Dr Ben Searle, Organisational Psychologist, said, “These survey results are not that surprising. A good summer holiday should help us recover from work-related stress, but evidence suggests that after returning to work many people quickly find themselves stressed again. Unfortunately, this reflects the modern reality that many people feel pressured or dissatisfied in their workplaces. Even for those who enjoy their jobs, the challenges of work can seem particularly demanding – or simply less motivating – after a long period of relaxation.

“This year, uncertainty in the economy is likely to increase the stress felt by businesses, employees and families. This means that we may need to pay closer attention to our health and wellbeing in 2009,” he said.
A previous poll, conducted late last year by, revealed that holidays are longed for in the year ahead above a new romance, a pay rise or promotion.

Louise Hurbert-Burns at Expedia New Zealand said, “New Zealanders work hard and spend a lot of time in the office, so any planned holiday is a great motivation to get through the daily grind.

“With the internet, it is now easier and quicker than ever to search for the best travel deals. On you can plan a holiday or short break, including flights, accommodation, car hire and activities, within the convenience of one easy site so there’s no need to take up costly work time organising holidays,” she said.

For excellent travel deals and a great travel experience, visit

* Estimated calculation of three million hours based on 2008 Statistics New Zealand figures for average weekly earnings and average hours worked and the Expedia survey responses which revealed an average of three hours of work time is spent by New Zealanders researching holidays (of those who said they used work time, 46.32 percent).

Source: Click HERE


Busted Blonde has graciously added us to her blog, Roarprawn.

"Roarprawn is about keeping a watch for any evidence of corruption in our political sphere and just so it doesn't get too boring, it's also about other news that takes our fancy or irks us.We also have more than a passing interest in eating and drinking - especially seafood and wine.And we will never forget that the Scampi scandal still needs to be sorted. BB."

To check out the Roarprawn blog:
click HERE

Mixed feelings on bail-out for capital

In the story below, individual moteliers have been sought out to comment on the prospect of higher rates bills to pay for facilities based in central Wellington and the introduction of user charges at the door for non-Wellington City residents.

This commentary is interesting and significant as debating funding options for local government will be repeated in a similar vein in other areas throughout New Zealand.

Local councils are full of ex-school teachers, career administrators and socialist do-gooders that have little understanding of running a business. Unfortunately they mistakenly view accommodation businesses as major beneficiaries of ratepayer subsidised events, attractions and sports facilities based on on flawed economic multiplier assumptions. Accordingly motels are often grouped together with other "tourism" businesses that attract targeted rates.

The motel industry has a vested interest in the efficient operations of local government and needs to have a voice.

What should the motel industry be saying?

An underlying message that should be communicated to all councils is that a strong private business sector will underpin and sustain the general welfare of communities. In order to achieve this, councils should focus on minimising rates and regulatory burden.

Councils should only fund genuine public goods and services, facilitating the efficient provision of necessary infrastructure.

Councils should exit from all non-core activities.

Councils should be making a concerted effort to reduce business rate differentials.

The case for councils subsidising events, attractions and sports facilities must be supported by rigorous economic analysis that clearly demonstrates net benefits for ratepayers.

There should be a concerted effort by councils to move funding of ‘club’ goods, such as swimming pools, recreation centres, libraries, museums, zoos etc to user charges.

Hutt News
13 January 2009

The prospect of higher rates bills to pay for facilities based in the capital, or extra charges at the door for non-Wellington City residents, is not a prospect that Hutt locals are likely to greet with any enthusiasm.

It might be supposed that Hutt City accommodation providers would be more open to the idea that we could shoulder a bigger share of costs of the International Festival of the Arts, Te Papa, the zoo, etc., if those entities are cash-strapped (or WCC threatens a funding cut). But calls by the Hutt News last week indicate any move to initiate extra charges faces as much of a battle with motel/hotel operators as can be expected from any other resident or ratepayer.

Camellia Court Motel operator John McLaughlan, a former president of the Motel Association, says Wellington's bed capacity has more than doubled in the last decade. The days when Hutt accommodation providers gained good "overflow" from visitor numbers the capital couldn't handle have gone. "It's minimal (now); nowhere near what it used to be."

The people staying at Hutt motels and hotels are mostly here for business or family reasons. Sure, they might tack on day trips to visit Te Papa, the zoo and the like in Wellington but the capital's attractions are of "little benefit" in terms of gaining local motels/hotels more business.

Nevertheless, Mr McLaughlan was somewhat scathing of the Hutt Valley mayors' "huffing and puffing" over the idea of a levy or door charges even being raised. The threat to cut off water supply reminded him of the "old England versus Scotland stuff".

The stadium is being paid off via regional rates. Mr McLaughlan could see nothing wrong with charges of a dollar or two to get into the likes of Te Papa if there is a genuine funding shortfall. "After all, even when you pick up someone from the airport, you pay."

A duty manager at The Angus Inn said the hotel gets a lot of people staying there who visit Te Papa and other Wellington attractions, including Japanese students and tourist groups. But she declined to venture an opinion on whether the Hutt and outlying cities should pay more.

Dave Sorenson, at Green Gables, agrees Te Papa is a popular destination for people staying at his motel. He wasn't so sure many went to listen to the orchestra though. He too noted all of the region pays a substantial amount towards the stadium.

What he resents about Wellington seeking more money for such facilities is that the city "wastes" so much money already. "Some of their ideas are just loopy; the (Basin Reserve) flyover is just one of them." Mr Sorenson said it's one of the reasons he's dead-set against talk of amalgamation.

As well as owning Lowry Bay Homestay, Pam and Forde Clarke run a nationwide booking service for bed & breakfast accommodation. Pam says tourists who stay with them at Lowry Bay (perhaps 70% of their clientele) do visit the attractions in Wellington City. Others are here for weddings or family reasons and may also get into town.

She sees nothing wrong with charges to get into the likes of Te Papa if funding is tight. A $5 or $10 charge would still be significantly less than what it costs to visit such facilities in the UK.

Forde says rather than knee-jerk reactions, the region's authorities should sit around a table for a reasoned discussion on the issues. Wellington City has invested massively in the tourism/visitor/events industry and outlying districts piggyback "a bit unfairly" on the "fantastic reputation" that has been built up. But extra charges at the door for taxpayer facilities like Te Papa, or charges that vary according to local ratepayer status, "could be an administrative nightmare," Mr Clarke says.

"All this needs to be debated. It's a good topic for public discussion."

Source: Click HERE

Calls to keep hotel prices from falling

Hospitality Association chief executive Bruce Robertson issued a clarion call back in November for operators not to flinch by reducing tariff during times of economic adversity (see our post HERE).

The New Zealand Hotel Council and Tourism Queenstown chime in with a simalar message in the article below.

All accommodation operators in Queenstown are feeling the pain as hotels and apartments dump distressed stock on dwindling visitor numbers.

Otago Daily Times

By James Beech
14 Jan 2009

Destination Queenstown and Lakes District members of the New Zealand Hotel Council have backed the Hospitality Association of New Zealand's calls for operators not to slash prices in the wake of a decline in room occupancies.

Destination Queenstown said occupancy levels were down 10% to 15% from last year, based on unofficial feedback from DQ members.

Levels varied between types of product and accommodation provider.

However, occupancy after the traditional summer peak season was of equal, if not more, concern to operators, acting chief executive Graham Budd said.

He said Destination Queenstown would agree with Hospitality Association chief executive Bruce Robertson when he urged the industry "not to panic, to keep calm, and to resist the urge to discount prices".

Mr Budd said price wars were good for holidaymakers but not for operators' yields.

"Undercutting would lower price points and drag the industry down to a new lower benchmark in the mind of the consumer.

"It would be extremely hard to increase prices once economic times improve."

There is six-week lag on official data from commercial accommodation monitor surveys, via the Ministry of Tourism.

In the meantime, Mr Budd said DQ relied on anecdotal evidence but feedback had been minimal so far, "because even if it's quiet, it's the busy time of year".

Hotel Council regional chairwoman Victoria Shaw said its 17 members in Queenstown and Wanaka would meet again in February after the festive peak.

Christmas and New Year bookings were on par with last year and were "nothing to panic about", she said.

"I think there's been a lot of last-minute bookings that have filled in the gaps from all of our usual markets.

"At this stage, forward bookings aren't as strong as what they usually would be, but the whole booking pattern has changed over the past few months [and] I don't think we can predict what will happen."

Ms Shaw said visitors had held off booking holidays until they could see what effect the economic downturn would have on them, but people were at that stage now and holidays were still wanted.

Airlines were offering good deals and the Internet enabled tourists to shop around and make instant decisions.

"When the economy recovers and you want to put your room rates up, it's going to be harder because people will have a perception of the value of the rooms.

"We definitely need to hold our rates and if people are considering cutting costs, they need to be careful how they do that. We need to maintain the standards of service in Queenstown.

"That's what we've built our reputation on."

Mr Robertson said declines in occupancy rates meant many in the sector were increasingly concerned about managing the quieter April-to-winter period and beyond.

Encouraging domestic tourists to explore the country was one way to alleviate pressure on the tourism industry, he said.

However, while international flights and visitor figures were up, Queenstown Airport Corporation reported domestic passenger numbers were down slightly to 312,733, a 2.7% decrease despite a 3.7% increase in flights, over the last six months of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007.

Source: Click HERE

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Staying home for summer proving popular with kiwis

In our post HERE, we asked the question: Where are the NZ traditional families spending their holidays? Anecdotal evidence suggests to us that not as many family groups are staying in motel accommodation this holiday season compared to previous years.

Holiday Parks Association chief executive Fergus Brown, has inferred that families have purchased a cheap tent from the Warehouse and have gone camping. We think Fergus may be on to something here...

We look forward to comparing the commercial accommodation guest night stats when they are released!

09 January 2009
Newstalk ZB

Holiday makers seem to be staying close to home this summer.

Holiday Parks Association chief executive Fergus Brown says people appear to be enjoying domestic breaks with their families instead of heading overseas. He says parks have been really busy this season, which may ion part be due to the great weather and cheaper petrol.

Mr Brown says these days it is also cheaper to buy a tent and camping equipment, but parks also offer cabins and motel units if people want a bit more comfort.

Mr Brown says January is the biggest month for domestic holiday makers. He says those visitor numbers will fall off over the next two months, but they will be replaced by tourists from overseas.

Fergus Brown says visitor numbers from Australia are still high, while numbers from the UK and US have dropped off.

Source: Click HERE

Injunction allows police to watch cameras in ‘hot sheet motel’

Just to clarify - Houston is in America NOT in Russia.

Gotta love that term "Hot sheet motel"

January 12 2009
11 News
By Lee McGuire

HOUSTON -- The City of Houston has won an injunction against a "hot sheet motel." A spokesman for Mayor Bill White says he expects this is the first of many.

After an injunction issued Friday, the owner of the El Rondo Lodge in Sunnyside has agreed to stop renting rooms by the hour.

Police say young women living nearby complained they had routinely been propositioned for sex. City of Houston attorneys were able to take legal action against the hotel’s operator under the city’s nuisance laws.
To comply with the injunction, the motel will also have to install surveillance cameras in the lobby and in parking lot -- so police can see who is checking in, in real-time.

In addition, guests will have to present government-issued photo ID before entering the building.

Source: Click HERE

Check out the El Rondo Lodge in Google Street View
- nice!!

View Larger Map

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Travel Web Stats

From the AA's January Advertiser Newsletter, the following graph plots monthly domestic web traffic sessions for travel competitors to December 2008:

Click for a larger version

Source: Click HERE

Tosser of the week

All Black Sione Lauaki and his girlfriend went out on New Years, got trashed and decided to check into the Greenlane Motor Inn Auckland on their way home at 5.50am.

A wise old Auckland motelier once told me that they never turned their "No Vacancy" sign off before 10am in order to defer intoxicated reavellers from checking in after a night out. I guess this is necessary when there are idiots like Lauaki lurking about in the early hours.

It will be interesting to find out what the consequences for Lauaki will be. The judicial system will be moistening a wet bus ticket in preparation...

January 11 2009
All Black trashed motel room, court told

All Black Sione Lauaki is in trouble again - this time for property damage.

Lauaki appeared in court charged with trashing property at an Auckland motel early on New Year's Day, the Herald reported on Sunday.

He appeared at the Auckland District Court on New Year's Day, charged with intentionally damaging three windows and a television at the Greenlane Motor Inn, opposite Auckland's Ellerslie Racecourse.

Lauaki and a female companion believed to be his girlfriend arrived at the motel at 5.50am (03.30 AEDT) and paid for a ground-floor unit. Soon after staff heard raised voices and windows being smashed.
After the pair had been in the room for just five minutes, the motel owner called police and the couple was taken away in separate vehicles to the police station.

It is believed Lauaki lost his temper when his girlfriend said she wanted to leave him.

Lauaki last week paid the $NZ700 ($A585) repair bill.

His lawyer had applied for diversion, but it was unlikely to be granted if he admitted a second offence. In February 2006, Lauaki was offered police diversion after admitting assaulting a security officer in the North Island city of Hamilton.

The 27-year-old Chiefs loose forward, who made his international debut in 2005, is at least the 11th All Black to appear in criminal court in the past five years.

Source: Click HERE

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Motella's Predictions for 2009

There is no doubt that this year is going to be challenging. You know a condition is serious when it is given an acronym - in this case: GFC - the Global Financial Crisis!

We have seen this cycle happen before and we predict that it will be a difficult winter; however as New Zealand exits the depths of the winter-blues, we believe that the economy will improve in time for the 2009 summer season.

Motels that are well located, have reinvested, offer a good quality product and friendly, professional service will always do well. Others will struggle, but it will not be as bad as the naysayers' predict.

Here are our 16 predictions for 2009:
  1. Some Travel Agencies will go bust. New Zealand high street travel agencies have had a period of upheaval and consolidation over the last few years. Overseas travel has always been the most lucrative for travel agencies, however there are signs that this source of revenue will decline as Kiwis defer overseas holidays. The Internet will continue to bypass traditional travel agencies and will be used with greater gusto by consumers to sniff out deals. There has been some recent growth in domestic corporate business, however clipping the ticket on domestic travel has always been high maintenance with low returns. It will be difficult for travel agencies to sustain profitability with the decline of higher yielding overseas travel and their increasing reliance on domestic corporate travel. Moteliers should be vigilant in managing credit control with travel agencies and only deal with those that are bonded with TAANZ.
  2. Some airlines will go bust. The profitability of many airlines has always been questionable. Expect to see more casualties of offshore based airline companies with consequences that may ripple over to New Zealand.
  3. Some motels will go bust. Sadly there will be a few casualties in the motel industry in 2009. The lack of re-investment and focus on quality will finally catch up with some leased motel businesses.
  4. Environmentalism. The Tourism Industry and environmentalism appear to have been on a collision course for some time. 2009 will be the year that Tourism Trade Associations will need to make a stand and choose between environmental rhetoric or the economic sustainability of the small businesses they represent. The threat of an imposition of green taxation and compliance for all businesses will continue in 2009.
  5. 100% Pure NZ. Expect to see a "freshening and reinvigorating" of the brand. There will be a subtle move away from reliance on solely marketing natural landscapes.
  6. Qualmark NZ Ltd. Expect some fireworks as Qualmark attempts to re-qualify its compulsive environmental conditions embedded into its quality benchmarking system in the Serviced and Self Contained sector. Qualmark will allow the Motel Association of NZ (MANZ) token lip service; however will proceed as planned with their predetermined Dark Green Agenda.
  7. Ministry of Tourism. A review of services will identify duplication in services provided by Tourism NZ, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. Expect these entities to be tweaked and some services amalgamated.
  8. Tourism NZ will need to qualify its expenditure line by line alongside other government entities. Individual marketing campaigns, staffing levels and overseas offices will need to demonstrate an acceptable ROI to the New Zealand taxpayer. Expect some reshuffling of roles and budgets. Also expect a nil or at best a token increase in the tourism budget.
  9. Domestic travel growth. People will still travel in 2009. There is an opportunity to build on the AA's domestic tourism campaign as consumers seek domestic deals and shorter trips to enable them to enjoy the travel and breaks without the long-haul price tag. Commercial travel will be static in 2009, as most companies realise that they must continue putting reps on the road to maintain sales. Motels may become more favourable to corporate travellers as they are perceived to offer more value than hotels.
  10. Local Government. Moteliers that have faced the brunt of local rate increases will be following closely further reviews on the performance of local government. These findings will qualify rationalisation of council operations and the introduction of private enterprise.
  11. Bed Tax. This bogey will not die and will be raised from "left field" again this year.
  12. Consolidation in the online travel industry will continue. Smaller under performing players in the market place will be swallowed up at never to be repeated bargain prices.
  13. 2009 will not be the year of mobile for the travel industry: The hype will not live up to expectation. The introduction of mobile travel sites will be delayed due to opportunity costs. For the consumer it takes too many clicks for browsing and making an on-line purchase. Maybe we will have to wait to at least 2010 for any significant movement here.
  14. The return of the last minute model. The last minute model of selling inventory online seemed to plateau in 2008. This methodology will make a comeback in 2009 lead by demand from hotels and apartments that will be dumping distressed inventory.
  15. The rise of online reservations. In spite of guest nights remaining largely static over 2009, online reservations will continue to rise.
  16. The rise of Social Media Social Media will slowly evolve into a more mainstream method of marketing for the accommodation industry.
Have we missed anything out?

Friday, January 9, 2009

How's trade?

Where are the traditional NZ family spending their holidays?

In talking to a few "Motellas" around the traps it would appear that demand isn't as intense as it has been in previous years.

There seems to be a definite change in the mix of people traveling at the moment. We have been hosting an increase of comfortable retirees, Gen Y couples, overseas family and couples visiting, newly immigrated families and couples, and a few one-off stays from couples and families that are not so well off - but are treating themselves.

We have found that the traditional middle class family group of Mum, Dad and 2-kids have been conspicuous by their absence. New Zealand's new beneficiaries, the middle-class "Working for Families" subsidised honky family appear to be doing some navel gazing at the moment and are not confident to load up the credit card with motel accommodation at the beginning of an uncertain year.

Disappointingly, we have also found a decrease in quality longer stay bookings. More holiday makers appear to be less willing to commit and are more likely to chance their arm by turning up unannounced, stay for one night and moving on.

Many "Motellas" will be consoling themselves with the return of a few sales reps from the 5 January. Business trade is the backbone of the motel industry and hopefully rep trade will be able to be sustained through 2009 as businesses try to maintain sales.

A quick scan at reveals that many commercial accommodation providers are already cutting rates to unsustainable levels. To start this strategy at the peak of the holiday season is madness.

A key focus for the motel industry in 2009 will need to be sustainable yield management and quality.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

We're back live!

Motella is back!

I love this time of year. High occupancies, hot temperatures and happy guests that are delighted to pay rack rates!

2009 is going to be a blast. We will continue to be an independent lone voice against the non-producers that regulate and influence the motel and tourism industry - often in the name of "the common good".

We will continue to ridicule the creep of political correctness, mysticism, global warming alarmists and corporate welfare.

We will continue the fight against socialist idealism that has slowly become part of business culture. We will rally against the concept of "quadruple bottom line accounting" that champions corporate social responsibility, environmental sustainability and prescribed culture above the financial bottom line.

We believe in capitalism, individualism, the free market and the virtues of the noble businessman - the producer, the creator, the originator.

We will continue to discuss all things "motel" and have a lot of fun along the way...

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