Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The RWC Theme Song Is:

In spite of a concerted slamming on social networks, Jesus Jones’ 1991 number ‘Right here, right now’ will be the Rugby World Cup 2011 theme song to be performed by New Zealand band, The Feelers.

Motel Urban Legend?

The following story appears all over the internet. It's a great yarn by following several recognisable themes. It seems plausible, but did the stoush between a motel and Leola Starling actually occur?
Leola Starling of Ribrock, Tennesse had a serious telephone problem. But unlike most people she did something about it.
The brand-new $10 million Ribrock Plaza Motel opened nearby and had acquired almost the same telephone number as Leola.

From the moment the motel opened, Leola was besieged by calls not for her. Since she had the same phone number for years, she felt that she had a case to persuade the motel management to change its number.

Naturally, the management refused claiming that it could not change its stationery.

The phone company was not helpful, either. A number was a number, and just because a customer was getting someone else's calls 24 hours a day didn't make it responsible. After her pleas fell on deaf ears, Leola decided to take matters into her own hands.

At 9 o'clock the phone rang. Someone from Memphis was calling the motel and asked for a room for the following Tuesday. Leola said, "No problem. How many nights?"

A few hours later Dallas checked in. A secretary wanted a suite with two bedrooms for a week. Emboldened, Leola said the Presidential Suite on the 10th floor was available for $600 a night. The secretary said that she would take it and asked if the hotel wanted a deposit. "No, that won't be necessary," Leola said. "We trust you."

The next day was a busy one for Leola. In the morning, she booked an electric appliance manufacturers' convention for Memorial Day weekend, a college prom and a reunion of the 82nd Airborne veterans from World War II.

She turned on her answering machine during lunch time so that she could watch the O.J. Simpson trial, but her biggest challenge came in the afternoon when a mother called to book the ballroom for her daughter's wedding in June.

Leola assured the woman that it would be no problem and asked if she would be providing the flowers or did she want the hotel to take care of it. The mother said that she would prefer the hotel to handle the floral arrangements. Then the question of valet parking came up. Once again Leola was helpful. "There's no charge for valet parking, but we always recommend that the client tips the drivers."

Within a few months, the Ribrock Plaza Motel was a disaster area. People kept showing up for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and Sweet Sixteen parties and were all told there were no such events.

Leola had her final revenge when she read in the local paper that the motel might go bankrupt. Her phone rang, and an executive from Marriott said, "We're prepared to offer you $200,000 for the motel."

Leola replied. "We'll take it, but only if you change the telephone number."
...So, did the events in this story really happen?

NO - This story has turned into an urban legend and is found all over the Internet as a factual rendition of how the little guy won against a large business that made the fatal mistake of not listening. This story apparently appeared in the Washington Post in 1986 by a correspondent Art Buchwald who was famous for his jokes.

Another clue to the story's dubious authenticity is that there is no town called Ribrock in Tennessee.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Earth Hour Saboteurs!

We are still recovering from the excesses of Human Achievement Hour that coincidentally took place at the same time as Earth Hour last Saturday night.

Still groggy from doing burnouts in our Hummer, killing whales, clubbing baby seals AND leaving the lights on, we were alerted by several emails and phone calls that our blog's exploits made the MSM.

In order to make the first page of the Sunday Star Times you apparently need to be caught urinating outside the North Shore City council chambers, so we had to make do with page two.

Under the dramatic headline "Earth Hour Saboteurs Switch On" it was breathlessly reported that:
"A group of eco-saboteurs has staged an assault on Earth Hour, flicking on all their lights in a tongue-in-cheek bid to derail the country's great power switch-off."
Cool! Makes us sound very windswept, edgy and radical.

The article continues:
"While thousands across the country turned off their lights for an hour last night as part of a worldwide effort to counter global warming, a small group was busy running round switching all their lights on for their own "Human Achievement Hour."

"Human Achievement Hour was founded last year by the United States free market think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute as a reaction to Earth Hour. The "movement" has now spread to New Zealand, where it is being promoted on blog sites, and Australia."
Sounds great! We are now part of a movement!
"We will not be joining hippies, enviro-activists and other associated loonies around the world that will sit naked in the darkness in order to highlight the confused ideals of man-made global warming" Kiwi supporters of the Human Achievement Hour said on the Motella blogsite last week.

Instead, we will celebrate Human Achievement by turning ON as many lights as we can.

We salute the people who keep the lights on and produce the energy that helps make human achievement possible."
 The article goes on to provide a bit of generic cut and paste background on Earth Hour:
"Last year 51% of all New Zealanders switched off their lights for Earth Hour, resulting in electricity savings of up to 10% in some cities and an overall power saving of 3.5% off normal power usage.

This year the lights on Kiwi landmarks suck as the Sky Tower, the Beehive and Christchurch Cathedral  were again switched off from Earth hour as local authorities and businesses pledged their support.

The result of last night's efforts were not known before going to print.
Today it is apparent that Earth Hour has failed to capture the imagination of Kiwis. Central and local government sleepwalked to a perceived obligatory decision to participate. A few businesses used the event for a cheap publicity stunt, while the majority of Kiwi households simply ignored the call to sit in darkness. It has been reported that estimated that total savings of electricity this year was less than 2%.

Meanwhile we note that the Sunday Star Times contacted and reported one "enlightened" motelier" in the same article:
"Gisborne motelier Stewart Haynes was among those kiwis shunning the concept of Earth Hour by switching on as many lights as he could.

He is skeptical about global warming and believes that switching off lights for one hour does "no good whatsoever" and that the Earth Hour concept is misguided.

"People certainly do harvest some eco-guilt and there are some people who believe that if they take part in (Earth Hour) then that scrubs their obligation and they can carry on".

"It's very much a feel-good  type of thing" said Haynes.

"We'll certainly take every effort to turn on as many lights as we possibly can and sit back and see who is not doing so and poke fun at them."
Inspiring stuff;-)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Acommodation Website Checklist

What makes a great motel website? 

We reckon that Colonial Lodge Motel in Taupo has got it just about right.
  • Is the website up to date and contains good quality photos? - Check.
  • Is the navigation well laid out and intuitive? - Check.
  • Can you easily view the property's facilities? - Check
  • Can you see room availability in real-time, view room types and book on-line? - Check.
  • Do you have the opportunity to package additional services when booking on-line? - Check. 
  • Are there samples of guest guest comments and feedback? - Check.
  • Is there a location map and comprehensive information on area attractions? - Check.
  • What about links to TripAdvisor reviews, Twitter and Facebook? - Check.
...AND most importantly, does the website include a FREE Motella Dynamic Widget? - Absolutely!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Celebrate Human Achievement Hour

We are aware that there will be a few motels and hotels taking part in the insidious, Earth Hour this weekend.

Some accommodation providers will see this as an opportunity to tick-off a required eco-activity for their their Qualmark Responsible Tourism checklist and as a feel-good marketing ploy. 

We will NOT be one of them. In our post HERE, we outlined what we will be coincidentally up-to during this year's Earth Hour;-)

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that we will not be joining the hippies, enviro-activists and other associated loonies around the world that will turn off their lights for one hour on Saturday 27 March 2010 to relieve eco-guilt and bow to the myth of man-made global warming. 

Our motel will be a beacon of reason and sanity bathed in an intense bright light while others sit in delusional darkness.

We have received a few emails from readers that have had their local council forward condescending propaganda imploring support for Earth Hour. We suggests that you remind your local elected leaders that they should drop the social feel-good nonsense by instead focusing their efforts on drains and footpaths.

We like the moniker, Human Achievement Hour and will be supporting this fine cause by turning ON as many lights as we can.

We salute the people who keep the lights on and produce the energy that helps make human achievement possible.

Motel Tariff Dispute?

I was talking to a fellow motelier the other day that was getting a few guests balking at his newly introduced tariff schedule. He considered that some guests were over-reacting and told me a story about a couple that recently checked-out of his motel.

After checking in late the night before, a husband and wife turned up at the motel reception early the next morning to settle their account for their brief overnight stay. 

The motelier  went through the usual pleasantries about the weather, asked how their stay went, where they were travelling to that day and hands them a bill for $350. 

The man explodes and demands to know why the charge is so high and tells the motelier although the motel was very pleasant, their brief stay was certainly not worth $350. 

The motelier calmly tells him that $350 is the standard rate and then explains that the motel has a lovely swimming pool and WiFi internet service that were available for the husband and wife to use.

"But we didn't use them", the man complains.

"Well, they are here, and you could have," explains the Motelier.

He goes on to explain they could have ordered a sumptuous cooked breakfast, enjoyed a drink from the mini-bar and stayed up all night watching the vast selection of Sky channels on their large screen LCD television. 

"But we didn't use those services," complains the man again.

"Well, we have them, and you could have", the motelier replies.

No matter what facility the motelier mentions, the man replies, "But we didn't use it!"

The motelier was unmoved, and eventually the man gives up and agrees to pay. He writes a cheque and gives it to the motelier. The motelier is surprised when he looks at the cheque."But sir," he says, "this check is only made out for $100."

"That's right," says the man. "I charged you $250 for sleeping with my wife."

"But I didn't!" exclaims the motelier.

"Well," the man replies, "she was here, and you could have!"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Emperor Has No Clothes

Burn baby burn

Under the headline, "Ferry company slows down for the environment" we see that Fullers have announced that they could "potentially" save save $250,000 on energy AND help save the planet by reducing carbon emissions.

Sounds great!

Fullers describe themselves as a "leading ferry operator in Auckland for over 20 years and offers a range of ferry trips, tours and charters around Auckland Harbour and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf". So, we assume that Fullers know a little bit about running a leisure and commuter ferry business...or do they?

Fullers enlisted the assistance of the Tourism Energy Efficiency Programme (TEEP), a venture run by the Tourism Industry Association (TIA) and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) that assists transport and accommodation tourism businesses reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

So what radical energy saving recommendations did TEEP come up with after auditing the Fullers operation?

Well, TEEP has come up with an apparent little known theory that the slower an engine is revved, the less fuel it burns! So after much contemplation TEEP came up with their main energy saving recommendation that the Fullers ferrys should simply go slower in order to reap the rewards of fuel savings. Brilliant!

The TIA are merely cheerleaders, so who who are the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA) that is driving this programme?

The EECA  is a Crown entity with a role to nanny and cajole "encourage, promote, and support energy efficiency, energy conservation, and the use of renewable sources of energy."

The EECA is best known for forcing appliance retailers to display those colorful energy rating labels and vehicle dealers to display those insidious fuel economy labels. 

So, how much does this all cost me?

EECA was is governed by a board of eight responsible for 100-odd staff and redistribution of approximately $54 million of taxpayer's money.

So what have we all learnt from this?

Businesses that specialise in offering transport services clearly don't know what they are doing and need to enlist a government sponsored authority to point out obvious and practical business practices.

What are the benefits?

A business that enlists a tax payer subsidised energy audit is then given license to grandstand their good corporate citizenship and environmental concerns.

The TIA and EECA can then chime in with self-qualifying press releases.

The projected savings look very impressive, however we believe Fullers already knew what the simplistic ideas an audit would reveal. To give them credit, we don't think Fullers are that stupid!

We wonder what the hapless ferry passengers might think about their service being reduced to a crawl? What is the benefit for them? Are their ticket prices going to be reduced? Not likely, as Fullers will now be carrying out a social service and saving the planet with all the supposed fuel savings.

At the risk of being cynical, we see this as another example of wasting taxpayers money to elevate a company's environmental and social credentials that will be used as a marketing and cost cutting ploy. 

We thought briefly about getting one of these energy audits done ourselves, however we think we'd rather have ours delivered to us as a tax cut ...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hotel's Green Sermon

For those of you that don't know, Qualmark NZ contract trained assessors to evaluate tourism businesses including accommodation properties every year using an exhaustive list of criteria. The star gradings allocated to accommodation businesses are generally a credible comparison between other accommodation options that choose to be assessed by Qualmark. 

At the height of the Nanny-State era under the previous government, Qualmark inserted a fashionable and politically correct environmental criteria into their quality assessment. This means that accommodation businesses are now assessed on their allegiance to environmental and social mantra as part of their assessment process. 

Surprisingly, this contributes towards the accommodation property's final quality star grading. 

Extra special properties that demonstrate their environmental and social concerns can be awarded a separate Qualmark Green enviro-rating. 

Whilst we take issue with Qualmark and its Dark Green Agenda, the accommodation industry needs to take responsibility and be aware of the consequences of elevating environmental and social concerns to the detriment of guest comfort and choice. We are aware that there are some accommodation providers losing perspective by taking an over-enthusiastic, evangelist approach to environmental and social issues. 

So what do guests' really think about staying in an accommodation property that has become a disciple of  Qualmark NZ's "Dark Green Agenda?

If asked for an instant response, most guests would smile and mock faint approval, however the blogging platform allows others to spend more time to articulate what they really think. 

Friend of the Motella Blog, Ele, from Homepaddock has kindly allowed us to reproduce her blog post  that shares her experience in staying at a hotel that seems to have taken green evangelism too far?
Making The Savings Without The Sermon 

The preaching of the earth worshipers is getting increasingly strident.

It’s rare to stay anywhere which doesn’t exhort you to save power and water and suggest you could re-use your towels to save your host money the world.

The James Cook in Wellington has gone a step further.

It doesn’t have phone books in its rooms. Most guests probably don’t need one and if you don’t have a computer to search for the number yourself reception will bring you a phone book or look up numbers for you.

But there’s more : a letter on the bed when you check in explains:
* Choosing not to have your room services saves approximately 20 litres of water just in cleaning your bathroom.
* Our laundry can save approximately 15 litres of water by simply not having your towels and linen changed.
* reduction in the use of chemicals such as toilet cleaner, multipurpose cleaner and air freshener used to clean your bathroom.
* Saves power used to operate vacuum cleaners, lights and heating while servicing your room.

Beside the letter is a card (green of course) which you can hang on your door by midnight if you don’t want your rooms serviced.

What do you do if sometime after midnight something happens which makes you change your mind? Go with head bowed in shame and beg for your room to be cleaned or put up with the mess?
Why can’t the cleaning staff just use their eyes and noses to decide if they need to sacrifice any water, cleaning materials, air freshener or power?

And if hotels, motels and other businesses want to save the world why can’t they do it without preaching at me?

I have no objection at all to businesses doing their best to minimise their impact on the earth  – it makes environmental and economic sense to save resources but I don’t like being preached at and  wish they’d make the savings without the sermon.

I’m not paying for a sermon and when I get one I suspect that it’s not so much about being green, it’s more about being seen to be green as a marketing ploy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Considering Pets By Arrangement?

Last year we did a post on Pets By Arrangement.

We commented on the difference in attitude between motels/hotels in the USA and New Zealand towards accepting guests with pets. 

According to a study by the (US) Travel Industry Association, nearly 65 percent of Americans reported traveling with their pets and a whooping 29 percent of them stayed in a hotel or motel. 

Meanwhile back in New Zealand, it is an accepted that the majority of commercial accommodation refuse to allow pets. We are one of them and don't intend to amend our policy anytime soon! 

Are we being a bit harsh in turning away potential guests that insist on having their favorite pooch bunk in with them? 

Sure there's the minor concerns over allergies, pet hair, hygiene, noise and misgivings from other guests. But maybe hosting pets isn't so bad after all?

As an accommodation provider, how would you respond to the following email:
Dear Sir

My wife and I are planning to visit your city and we would very much like to bring our dog with us to your motel. We wondered if you would be willing to allow him to stay with us in our room at night?"

Kind regards
Jim Taylor
Hmmm...how to reply?

After some consideration, why not try this response?:
Hi Mr Taylor
Thank you for your email

I've been operating this motel for many years and in all of that time I have never had a dog steal towels, bed clothes, cutlery or pictures off the wall. I've never had to evict a dog in the middle of the night for being drunk and disorderly and I've never had a dog leave without paying his bill. 

Your dog will be very welcome and, if he will vouch for the two of you, you both will be welcome also.
(Yeah, we have to admit this joke has been around for a while ... but we still like it ;-))

Saturday, March 20, 2010

South Park Takes On Tiger Woods

Going somewhat off topic here...because we can!

We like how "South Park" challenges PC "conventional wisdom." We particularly enjoyed how they took on egotistical, charlatan, Paul Watson: founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (See our post HERE).

Unfortunately the Tiger Woods scandal broke out between the series production of South Park.

But the wait is finally over. South Park kicked off its new season in the States a few nights ago, taking on Tiger and other celebrity sex addicts.

(Beware the F-bomb)

Accommodation Name Fail

You've put in the hard yards and built a new luxury accommodation complex.

It's in an amazing location, you offer award winning customer service and an all-round exceptional holiday experience.

So, obviously you need to choose a fitting name for your new development. Something classy, elegant, catchy and memorable:

We love the bi-line "Sandy Balls - for simple pleasures"

TIA Advocates More Tax For Home-based Businesses

We see that the Westland District Council are proposing to identify home-based businesses such as Bed and Breakfasts that are currently paying residential rates and charging commercial rates. 

Tim Cossar, head of Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) (pictured) has spoken out against the proposal on the basis that the identification of businesses operating from residential households will not capture all such enterprises. The TIA have suggested that the council seek further home-based businesses to broaden their commercial rate base.

The TIA believes that using the capital value of bed and breakfast establishments to calculate rates is unfair due to commercial activity often occurring in only part of a building and the seasonality nature of the business.

The TIA have also given qualified support to targeted rates on tourism businesses. 

If our industry trade associations are to be taken seriously as representatives for small business, what should they 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 as businesses are the wealth-creating institutions of society.

The "level playing field" argument that trade associations use in submissions to councils always seems to default to finger pointing at other sectors outside their sphere that are supposedly not pulling their weight. This seems to follow the woolly premise that it is acceptable for a business sector to pay an inequitable tax as long as other sectors share the burden as well.   As a logical alternative, Trade Associations should be calling for councils to make a concerted effort to reduce business/private household rate differentials. This would address the anomaly of accommodation businesses charged differing differentials and businesses subsidising private households. 

Rates should be based on actual use, not on the perceived ability to pay. 

The elimination of the inequity between commercial and residential rates, would remove the need to witch-hunt those that use their residential homes for business.

So, what else should hey be saying?

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

Councils should exit from all non-core activities. 

And just to prove that our industry leaders are not self-serving and wish to ease the burden of rates for their members, they also need to advocate:

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

We're not holding our breath... 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Power Of Blogs

To completely understand the psychology of a blogger would probably be the subject for a life's work for a small team of psychologists.

One small aspect of a blogger's trait is a compulsive disorder of being fascinated with their blog's visitor numbers. Some bloggers will admit to this addiction, while others will pretend that they have no interest.

This morning while looking at the visitor stats for "Motella" I was surprised that the numbers of our unique viewers had spiked well over 100-fold what we would normally expect over a 24-hour period.

Why was that?

Well, it related to a post we did late last night on Body Found Under Hotel Mattress. Thousands of people have been captivated by this macabre story and have taken to Google to find out more.

Even thinking about how Google work out their search algorithms gives us a headache, however if you look at the screen-shot below you will see that our story was placed number 3 on Google for the search "body found in mattress." Our post has also been highly placed in other similar searches.
We see this happen time and time again with our posts on Motella and our motel blogs to a greater or lesser extent. What we know from our experience is that Google treats blog posts as vital and relevant information by accelerating their prominence up search rankings.

What amazes us is the speed that this happens. Once a post on a blog is published, it is possible to see a link to it sitting on top of search rankings very soon after.

With Twitter and Facebook posts now being included in search, the power of social networks is remarkable and we can reach a vast audience and share an idea or opinion very quickly.

Sort'a makes us think that we should be focusing more time on our blogs for our motel businesses...

Motel Drains

We receive a lot of emails from our dear readers and this one caught our eye this morning:

On your Contact page


you ask for any suggested content.

Do you have any stories about clogged drains? We couldn't find any on your blog.

We are a company starting to market a means to prevent clogged drains and would like some real-life stories, please. If you do not have any, perhaps you could ask for some on your blog? Should be entertaining / informative ! Thank you.

Our website is: www.fog-catcher.co.nz/scampers.shtml


Susan Wilson

Well, we are somewhat embarrassed that we haven't managed to cover clogged drains in our vast body of work...yet.

I must admit that I spent some time reading FOG-Catcher Limited's very informative website while contemplating the state of my drains.

Alas, we are unable to offer any real-life entertaining and informative drain-clogging stories.

Can anyone else help?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Body Found Under Hotel Mattress

Nestled in the middle of an industrial wasteland and within a few miles of the Memphis International Airport is the Budget Lodge of Memphis.

This stark 1970s development has 240 "clean rooms, dirt cheap!" They offer discounts for pre-payment, the longer you pay in advance, the better your rate. Pets are welcome and amenities include a pool, restaurant, and cable TV with Showtime.

Upon first inspection, you would think that this would be an ideal base to visit Graceland located nearby.

..Er maybe not. One unfortunate soul describes their stay:
This place is just awful! Dirty, smelly, in the flight path of FED-EX corporate runway. Located in a bad neighborhood with seedy clubs and industrial clutter!
So, what's so special about this unremarkable hotel.

Well, this hotel will now always be remembered as the place where a "Missing woman was found dead under a hotel mattress".

In room 222, the body of a female was located under the hotel mattress after a hotel employee was alerted to a bad odor. It was estimated that while the body was under the bed, the room had been rented approximately 5 times and cleaned by the hotel staff on numerous occasions.  


Motel Room Sharing

I heard a story the other day about a sales rep that drove late into a provincial NZ town after a long day, only to discover that every motel room was taken.

Desperate to find a bed, he pulled into a dimly illuminated motel on the edge of town.

"You've got to have a room somewhere." he pleaded to the motel manager, "Or just a bed. . . I don't really care where. I’m completely exhausted.”

"Well, I do have a double room with one occupant," admitted the manager, "and I’m sure he would be glad to split the cost. But to tell you the truth, he snores so loudly that people in adjoining rooms have complained all week. I'm not sure it'd be worth it to you."

"No problem," the tired sales rep assured him. "I'll take it."

The next morning the sales rep arrived at the motel reception to check-out, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

The motel manager asked him how he survived.

"Never better." the sales rep said.

The manager was impressed.

"No problem with the other guy snoring, then?"

"Nope. I shut him up in no time."

"How'd you manage that?"

"He was already in bed, snoring away. when I came in the room," the sales rep said. "So, I went over, gave him a kiss on the cheek, said, 'Good night, beautiful,' and he sat up all night watching me."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Communicating With Australians

There is no doubt that our Ozzie cuzzies continue to be the rock stars of our overseas visitor stats.

It is interesting to see the different techniques being used by NZ tourism organisations to lure the Australian market. 

Destination Northland have created an innovative marketing campaign by using an Ocker character called Baza to speak to Australians in their own language.

Will this social media campaign hit the mark or will simply be a study in cultural cringe?

We think that it's sooo bad, that it just might work:

Where's Nicquel?

We have been following the exploits of  Nicquel Rhoden on her Entirely World Famous NZ Tour. 

We are concerned that Nicquel has gone missing in action soon after she arrived in Invercargill and has not been updating her whereabouts?

This is the last photo that was taken of Nicquel that was accompanied with a grinning local that seemed to take more of a passing interest...
Continue to follow Nicquel on: myspace, facebook, twitter, blogspot and wordpress.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Down To The Doctors

After suffering from a recent bout of illness and receiving nagging encouragement from my wife, I finally decided to get the flu-jab.

It is something I have never done before. This probably due to my phobias of needles, pain and mingling with sick people, however it seems such an obvious and natural thing that a self-employed person should do. Once they get around to it...

After a quick phone call to a nearby medical centre I was urged to simply turn up and they would give me a jab on the spot. Too easy!

When I arrived, sure enough the waiting room was full of sick people, so I only breathed in when necessary and quickly made my way to the furthermost empty corner to inspect an ancient "Wheels" magazine.

After waiting less than 2-minutes, I was summoned to a side room and strode past the waiting sick masses that were glaring at me, wondering why I should be allowed to jump to queue.

I was surprised that I was asked several times if I was aware that this procedure would incur a charge. I asked the nurse afterward why was that? Well, apparently I was her first patient ever to pay for the flu-jab. All other folk are either paid for by their employer or get it for "free" because they are medically at risk (whatever that means?) or are aged over 65.

Only goes to prove that people are only too willing to take on self-responsibility as long as others are paying for it!

Cactus Reviews Auckland Hotels.

In our post HERE we highlighted Auckland languishing behind Manila and Warsaw as the destination for cheap hotels.

Not all Auckland hotels are created equal, so where can we find a handy one-stop source to determine where to stay?

Intrepid blogger, Cactus Kate has done all the hard work for us and has published "The Cactus Reviews" of Auckland hotels.

Disappointingly, Cactus has neglected to comment on the hotels' environmental, social and cultural policies. However we still think her Auckland hotel observations are worth a read HERE.

Barney's Motel

Barney's Motel is a nondescript 70's motel situated just off Highway 1, Brandon, Canada. Amenities include: Maid service, coffee/tea maker, telephone, television and air-con. Sounds great!

We would have loved to linked to their website www.barneysmotel.com, however it would appear that this is no longer operating. We can only assume that the property is still trading. The last time the Google Street View Car cruised past the motel it was a glorious day and the car park seemed to have a few guests' cars parked outside (see picture below).

In the motel industry you have to have a sense of humour and those that don't never seem to last too long.

Barney's Motel has been used in several marketing case studies to demonstrate the benefits of using humour in a business and how it can become a successful formula to overcome obvious shortcomings.

Barney's Motel has shortcomings. In fact, it would appear that the current management's business plan is to simply defer a visit from a wrecking ball. 

In a world where we can take ourselves too seriously, the story of Barney's Motel using extremes to ram home a simple philosophy makes interesting reading. Click HERE to read more.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Setting Future Tariff - 2

About this time last week we did a post on, Setting Future Tariff In Print. It has created a bit of a stir and we have been discussing this topic with moteliers quite a bit this week.

The nature of advertising in the main print accommodation guides, AA and Jasons dictate that moteliers need to fix tariff for the following season. Due to the layout and limited space available, it is impossible to give a snapshot of all specific applicable tariff  for a matrix of room types, guest number combinations and seasonality in a printed guide. So, accommodation listings in the guides and most other static print publications use a tariff range to give a simple, comparative tariff guideline to the travelling public. It's not perfect, but it seems to work and has become a standard industry practice.

At the Motella Blog, we maintain that ALL tariff published in the main guides should include GST and simply record the lowest and highest tariff for 2-persons over the usual 12-month life of the printed guide. Period.

We believe that the published tariff ranges must have credibility from a guest perspective and accommodation operators should have the business acumen to set and stick within a published tariff range. Insertion of tariff out-clauses, such as"tariff is subject to change" or "seasonal rates may apply" only creates unnecessary consumer angst and uncertainty.

This week it was pointed out to me that MANZ has given further unique tariff setting advice and has suggested how moteliers should now respond to future reservation enquiries.
"Make sure you have "wriggle room" around prices. In any forward booking note on the confirmation that "prices may be subject to change". This allows you to change the prices and then see if the booked party still wants to stay with you. It could also be handy if GST changes as well"
*Shakes head* Where do we start?....Part of running a professional and successful business is to convey to your market that you are capable of offering a defined product or service for a specific price and to be able to deliver this 100%. Quoting a tariff and then inserting a clause "prices may be subject to change" is madness. This is communicating to a potential guest that the motel is incapable (or can't be arsed) setting the future price of what they are supposedly experts in selling - their guest rooms! 

As a consumer I personally would find it difficult to deal with any business that was incapable of quoting for my future business and would quickly find someone else that could. 

Sure, it may be difficult for some accommodation operators to quote future tariff with pending GST increases and the Rugby World Cup running interference, however a call to pass the buck on tariff movements over to the consumer loses the motel sector credibility and frankly makes us look like a bunch of hicks.

We will be disappointed if the motel sector is fractionalized by some moteliers that will be blindly quoting tariff ex-GST, randomly inserting tariff escape clauses or even turning away business because of an inference that "setting future tariff is too hard".

We can be heartened however that  sanity will prevail with most moteliers ignoring questionable advice from their trade association and putting on a professional front.

Friday, March 12, 2010


We reckon that erecting a WELLYWOOD sign by Wellington Airport is sota naff, a wee bit "try-hard" and may prove to be more embarrassing with the passage of time.

You will be pleased that we have come up with a more fitting replacement:

January Accommodation Survey Stats

The latest accommodation survey results for January have been released today by Statistics New Zealand. For accommodation providers this is the big money month and sets the scene for the year.  

A record number of overseas visitor arrivals that was boosted by the continuing influx of our Ozzie cousins helped make January's guest night stats the highest recorded of any month since 1996.

Overall, total guest nights in in January 2010 were up 4 percent compared with January 2009. This is great news and will allow many operators to fill the tank and look to the future with some optimism.

The South Island continues to out perform the North Island by achieving a 5 percent gain in guest nights, compared to the North Island's 4 percent increase. 

Eleven of the 12 regions recorded more guest nights in January 2010 compared with January 2009.
  • Waikato, up 10 percent
  • Canterbury, up 5 percent
  • Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman, up 8 percent
  • Wellington, up 10 percent.
The only region with a decrease in guest nights was Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui, down 8 percent. 

International visitor guest nights in January 2010 contributed the most to the overall guest night improvement with an increase of 8 percent compared with January 2009. 

Domestic guest nights enjoyed a more modest increase of 2 percent from January 2009. 

It was pleasing that all four accommodation types had more guest nights than in January 2009:
  • hotels, up 80,000 (8 percent)
  • holiday parks, up 51,000 (3 percent)
  • motels, up 30,000 (3 percent)
  • backpackers, up 26,000 (5 percent).
In January 2010, holiday parks had the largest share of total guest nights (36 percent), followed by motels (27 percent), and hotels (24 percent). Holiday parks have always had the largest share of total guest nights in January months.

Excluding holiday parks, the occupancy rate in January 2010 was 57 percent, compared with 56 percent in January 2009. Accommodation capacity, excluding holiday parks, was 2 percent above the January 2009 level.

The motel sector can be reasonably pleased with gaining guest nights, however must seriously contemplate what could have been? There has been some subtle guest movement between sectors and we are left to wonder what percentage of the gains from both the holiday park and hotel sectors may have been lost from the motel sector?

Source: HERE

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Letterman Invite

John Dybvig is originally from San Fancisco and made New Zealand his home in 1982. He has profile as a sports commentator and pops up on television from time to time.

John Dybvig is loud and brash, so he sorta stands out in the land of the mono-tone.

We like his campaign to try and entice David Letterman to visit New Zealand for the RWC in 2011. There doesn't seem to be ulterior motive to do this (other than self-publicity) and we like to think that this is a genuine attempt to make something big happen via social networks. And besides, we like people with foreign accents saying nice things about us.

To be fair, it would appear that the campaign that has been running for at least 7-months with its series of on-line videos has had modest success. Hopefully, the spot on TVNZ's Close Up this evening will increase the pace of the campaign somewhat?

So how did John Key become involved? According to John Dybvig, he happened to met him unexpectedly at Starbucks. Go figure? Makes a great story though - Proving that anyone in quaint little old NZ can met the PM and he will take part in a wacky promotional video giving his best cheesy grin.

Do you really think that Letterman would like a repeat performance after hosting our "smile and wave" PM during the Top-10 segment of his show? If anyone can do it, we reckon John Dybvig just might have an outside chance...

Motel Sick Leave

I woke up yesterday and struggled to get out of bed. The early morning breakfast and paper run extracted the last remaining energy reserves that I had so after getting the nod of approval from my better half, I put myself to bed for the day.

I'm feeling a bit better today and are back on deck going through the motions of being a motelier.

The motel front office is a stage and you are required to flick a switch every time the bell rings. You must always smile, offer empathy, be positive and be hospitable. Behind the office door, out of sight from our audience is the only place where moteliers can feel unwell.

Flicking on the hospitality switch at each ring of the bell has just gotten a little bit more difficult. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Accommodation Chain Bylines

Accommodation marketing chains all have bylines that gives the traveling public a punchy insight into their point of difference.

Here's a selection from a few New Zealand chains:
  • Millennium Hotels - "Enjoy our world of hospitality"
  • Mainstay NZ Hotels - "As individual as you are"
  • Bella Vista Motels - "NZ's No.1 motel chain"
  • Scenic Circle Hotels - "100% NZ owned - Our country, our hotels"
  • Golden Chain - "The rest is easy"
  • Kiwi Holiday Parks - "The friendly place to stay"
  • Budget Motels - "Spend a night - not a fortune"
  • Top 10 Holiday Parks - "The great Kiwi stay"
Hmm...we think we can do better than that, so we've asked the Motella Marketing Department to come up with some inspiration.

The following 12 suggestions are the kind of byline that we would love to see used by an accommodation marketing chain - feel free to add some of your own: 

12. Because you deserve better than the back seat of some car.

11. With Monica Lewinsky as the spokeswoman: "Because some stains you want to keep"

10. If We'd Known You Were Staying All Night, We'd Have Changed the Sheets

9. You rented the room, now buy the video.

8. Sure, you could stay someplace nicer, but then you wouldn't have money left over for a hooker.

7. We'll leave the disinfectant for ya!

6. Hey, we're not the Ritz, but just try bringing your secretary there on *your* salary, pal!

5. As seen on "COPS"

4. Not just for nooners anymore.

3. Blurring the line between stains and avant garde sheet art since 1962!

2. Tiger Woods comes here... Why shouldn't you.

1. We put the "Ho" in "Hotel"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Entirely World Famous NZ Tour! Part 2

We have been following the exploits of  Nicquel Rhoden on her Entirely World Famous NZ Tour.

So far, she has made it to Dunedin after starting from Christchurch. So it's day-16 of an epic 90-day New Zealand tour.

The pace of the tour is hectic with the schedule allowing to showcase beautiful Kiwi scenery, tourism activities and accommodation in very quick succession.

The tour has made the Otago Daily Times and Nicquel's folks back home managed to catch up with her adventures in an article in the Australian, Gold Cost Mail. Social media is being used along the way for up to the minute news and views (see links below).

The first videos have been released with the first covering Wilowbank, Fox II Sailing, Full On and Terrace Downs:

The second video covers Aoraki Balloon Safaris and Peel Forest:
Continue to follow Nicquel on: myspace, facebook, twitter, blogspot and wordpress.

Multitasking Sex And Travel

We saw this innovative sign from Air New Zealand some weeks ago, however we couldn't be bothered to blog about it ... until now.

This year, Air New Zealand announced a new seating arrangement they branded "Skycouch" where three economy seats can be turned into a narrow bed for two adults, for the price of about two-and-a-half seats.

We assume that membership to the "mile high club" is still taking on recruits and Air New Zealand felt that they needed to find a subtle way to pour cold water on under-blanket, overenthusiastic couples.

Ironically, we think that the above sign could be a bit like the traditional "Wet Paint - Don't Touch" sign and in fact could encourage the very activity it is supposed to discourage. Maybe that was the point?

Whatever the case, we would love to sign up to join Air New Zealand's marketing team that are producing some excellent collateral and  obviously enjoy taking the p*ss.

Uncle Phil's Hog-Dog

Poor old Uncle Phil that has been accused of hogging into taxpayers funds that are being used to sponsor the hapless "Axe The Tax" bus tour.

Obviously aware of the accusations of hypocrisy, we wonder if this tweet from @phil_goff on tour was a Freudian-slip? 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hotel Toilet Promotion

Maybe competitions that offer the chance of winning cash prizes, exotic cars or holidays just aren't as enticing as they used to be?

The Miyako Hybrid Hotel have decided to do something about it and are offering a prize that people really desire. As part of their opening promotion, the hotel is giving away one of their hotel toilets. This is just not any toilet - it's a Japanese made HI-3001 WT "Feel Fresh" Bidet n' Wash Hygiene System. The toilet, which retails for about $USD 299.95, features a push button control panel, warm water wash, twin spray nozzles, and comfortable heated seat.

Oh-Boy! Once you try one of these bad-boys how would you then cope with a more mundane model? 

To win your own ultimate throne, become a fan of the hotel on Facebook and you are automatically entered in the contest - we have!

Apparently entries are trickling in;-)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tourism Welfare

We are often embarrassed and amused about the ease that other people's hard earned money is redistributed to others in the name of tourism. While other business sectors seem to be able to amble along with self determination, the tourism industry seems to attract more than its fair share of emotive corporate welfare.

We don't believe the actual day to day tourism operators working at the coal-face spend much time contemplating why others should be supporting their industry as they are too busy working on their business. It is the multitude of non-producing individuals and organisations that work on the fringe of the tourism sector that appear to spend a lot of effort qualifying and extorting tourism welfare.

We have nothing personally against the five students that were described as "budding tourism leaders" that were recently dished out $75,000 in the government’s annual Tourism Research Scholarships. But we do ask the question: "If their studies were beneficial and economically viable, why can't private business(es) pick up the tab?"

So what are these budding tourism leaders going to be spending my money on?

Click HERE for full details, however the largest grant of $15,000 will be used to identify "the barriers to separating organic waste in large hotels." Obviously the billion dollar hotel sector is too stupid to work this one out for themselves?

We will be starting early on our own application for next year's Tourism Research Scholarships. We intend to research the question: "Can the government reduce taxation to tourism businesses by slashing silly public expenditure?" Our preliminary research suggests it can!

Hotel Wakeup

We have been following the media reports about the 2009 average room rate survey recently released by Hotels.com.

OTA's have a wealth of data that can be padded into interesting press releases that most journalists can easily cut and paste into newsworthy items after adding some localised observations and comments. This is a great publicity branding exercise by Hotels.com that were able to freely place their website address across worldwide MSM, websites and blogs (including this one!).

Overall, The survey recorded hotel rates around the world plunging by 14 per cent in the 2009 year.

Interestingly, Auckland was the only New Zealand city of the 77 destinations surveyed by Hotels.com. In the race for the world's cheapest hotel location, Auckland sadly took 75th place with only Manila and Warsaw achieving lower average tariff.

Embarrassingly, the average room rate in Auckland in 2009 was $130, down from $172 in 2008, a 24 per cent decrease.

Jennie Langley, chair of the New Zealand Hotel Council disputed the results and suggested that the survey did not take into account daily changing hotel sell rates and seasonality.

As a point of comparison, Ms Langley was reported in saying that hotels across New Zealand had experienced a 3 per cent fall in room rates. 

So how credible are the results from Hotels.com for Auckland?

From our casual observations, we have to give the survey some credence. The Hotels.com price index is not a one-off spot survey of hotel prices. In fact it is based on actual bookings made on Hotels.com using tariff paid by guests over the 2009 year. No survey is perfect, however there appears to us to be a reasonable sample of hotel properties using Hotels.com in Auckland to give a good indication of tariff comparison with other markets.

Instead of shooting the messenger, the accommodation industry has to acknowledge that accommodation tariff in New Zealand is artificially low compared to other world markets and  needs to investigate how this can be lifted.

I Want One!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Motel Lip Dub

With cost-cutting very much still on the agenda in the commercial accommodation sector, innovative social media is increasingly used as a cost effective promotional tool.

We came across the video below from the Prizeotel that is a hotel located in Bremen, Germany. They describes themselves as a "budget designer hotel" and judging by their cool website HERE they are no strangers to fresh innovation.

They have produced a simple 6-minute video that walks through the hotel while staff lip sync to Kool and the Gang's Celebrate Good Times. Sounds sorta silly, but believe it or not it is convincing by showcasing the hotel's quirkiness and connecting the viewer with some very passionate hotel staff!

This latest phenomenon (yeah we're using that word again) has even got a name: Lip Dub Video

We can see motels catching on to this new viral marketing technique and we encourage our fellow moteliers to gather friends, family, staff and a few bewildered guests to create their own Lip Dub Video. 

And of course send us a copy so that we can have a laugh assist with the viral marketing distribution process...

Motel Balcony Dive

Last year we were one of the first to expose a phenomenon occurring behind closed hotel and motel doors - Bed Jumping. That's right, the crazy antics of guests taking photos of one another mid-flight as they jump on motel/hotel beds and sharing these images on the internet!

This year we have discovered a new phenomenon that we are sure will grow in popularity - Balcony Diving!

Many multi-floor motel/hotel buildings tend to conveniently nestle close to a pool and this mixed with an exhibitionist guest accompanied with a camera wielding accomplice can produce great web viral video - much like this one:

Of course, as we are socially responsible we do not condone these activities;-)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

TripAdvisor v Motelier Faceoff

While we are intoxicated with the open market freedoms that allow the public to post bouquets and brickbats on the Tripadvisor.com platform, we understand the emotion and frustrations of fellow accommodation providers that feel that their reputation has been sullied by alleged rouge reviews.

A dear reader sent us an email exchange that occurred between him and Tripadvisor that exposes some of the emotion involved.

The motelier was so incensed after making no headway in disputing a negative review that he took matters into his own hands by posting a review of his own property and signing this off as the motel owner.

The self-review was flagged by TripAdvisor with the motelier receiving the following email: 
From: contentintegrity@tripadvisor.com
To: xxxx@xtra.co.nz
Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2010 8:47 AM
Subject: Official Notification from TripAdvisor

To whom it may concern:

We are writing in regards to a number of reviews submitted to our site from a source that we believe to be affiliated with either your staff or the hotel itself. Please note that it is a severe violation of TripAdvisor’s guidelines to attempt to submit reviews written by the ownership or management of a hotel, posing as guests. Beyond this, we do not accept comment cards or guestbook entries forwarded by hoteliers.

Please visit the following page to familiarize yourself with TripAdvisor’s guidelines. There are many things you can do to market your property, but even the appearance of impropriety in doing so can put your property listing at risk of penalty.


Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns that you may have about our service.

Best regards,
TripAdvisor Support Team 
Fair enough...however the motelier had an axe to grind and leaves us in no-doubt what he thinks of Tripadvisor with his following response:  
From: xxxx Motel [mailto:xxxx@xtra.co.nz]
Sent: Tuesday, 2 March 2010
To: contentintegrity@tripadvisor.com
Subject: Re: Official Notification from TripAdvisor

To whom it may concern, (xxxx???)


I sent your sham of a site a review of my property and signed it myself as I'm so frustrated with attempting to deal with the faceless entity that is trip advisor, which in spite of all your false  promise to the traveling public and businesses, is in reality almost impossible to contact, as well you know.

I do not care for the threats contained in the below e-mail, or your attitude, which I find arrogant in the extreme. As my property is permanently last in our town on your site I fail to see what you can do to me or my business, apart from write fake reviews about it, as the "top rated" ones in our town (which aren't even in our town...) do when they're visiting the local internet cafe. At  least they do if they've got time while they're writing favourable reviews about themselves.

So, will you de-list my place from your site? Oh, yes please! At least we wouldn't be getting slandered and lied about with little or no recourse to do anything about it, as is the case at present.

You sent me this under the heading "contentintegrity". Is this some sort of joke? Trip advisor doesn't know the meaning of the word integrity.

How can trip advisor's "content" have any sort of "integrity" when it allows anybody who registers with it to say anything they like about any business, with no checks whatever as to whether these people are telling the truth or not. "trip advisor the name you can trust"??? Oh sure.................................   
Hmmm...no further comments required really;-)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Battle Of The Ugly Sisters

The reps for the main travel guides have hit the road on their annual pilgrimage to win the hearts, minds and advertising budget of moteliers.

The "ugly sisters" of travel media, Jasons and AA have formed the basis of motel marketing for many years.

Their core product is to sell print advertising, however their future relies on solidifying their web offer and encouraging advertisers to tick as many web-add-on boxes as possible.

So, we are interested to observe the battle between Jasons and AA trying to outperform one another in cyberspace stats.

In their latest newsletter to advertisers, Jasons announced that their January's web stats were their best ever. Jasons even produced the following graph that revealed that Tourism.net.nz were outperforming them just to prove a point that their website, Jasons.com is being viewed by more unique browsers than their main rival, AA Travel.

Source: Jasons Travel

In their latest newsletter, AA Travel also had a record month. They preferred to focus on domestic browsers that were attracted to their site, aatravel.co.nz more than all others in Nielsen's Travel category:

Domestic Unique Browsers - Jan 2009 - Jan 2010

Source: AA Travel

So, what have we learnt from all of this?

Well, aatravel.com appears to attract more
Kiwi unique browsers and jasons.com attracts more unique browsers overall.

The AA make the most of their dominance of Kiwi unique browsers by saying:

"Our site was visited almost 2,400 times more than the Jasons website site every day from Kiwi visitors – and, of course, our visitors were looking at your business, not your competitors in Australia or Fiji!"
Hey that's impressive!

Jasons hit back by asking: "Why is 'Total Unique Browsers' an important measure?"

"With a 10% growth in Australian visitors numbers to New Zealand (January 2010) we believe it is vital that we show you all the visitors that come to our site, and therefore have access to your listing."
Hmm...that make sense too...

Lookers are all very well, but surely it's the bookers that count the most to motel advertisers?

In January this year, AA claim to have had over 5,000 live accommodation bookings and in the same period, Jasons claim to have generated bookings valued at over $1.8 million.

By our reckoning this puts Jasons well ahead here, however it is unclear what proportion of bookings are being generated from Jasons.com and individual websites using the Jasons/Holidayguide "commission free" booking engine.

So it begs the question for moteliers: "After deciding what size advert to place in the accommodation guides, how many web add-on boxes will you be ticking this year?"

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