Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Movember - The Last Day!

That's right! Much to the relief of my wife it's the last day of the month formally known as November that has become "Movember."

My mo and soul patch has progressed from a mere smudge to something of manly-beauty with its own wild uncouth personality. The mo-style has been influenced by a cocktail of Merv Hughes, Chopper Read and a 70's porn star.

Movember has been a great fundraiser. It's about men having fun, taking the p*ss, celebrating manhood and raising much needed funds and awareness for men’s health – specifically prostate cancer and depression in men. This is important when you learn that close to 600 men die of prostate cancer each year in New Zealand and one in ten men will experience depression in their lifetime. 

This is your last chance to make a difference and support a worthy cause.

Dust-off your credit card, click HERE and follow the simple steps.

Indroducing Card Payment Fees?

Soon after championing transparent pricing with their memorable "Nothing To Hide" campaign, we see that Air New Zealand will be introducing card payment fees just in time for the holidays. 

From their website:
"Air New Zealand wishes to advise that in order to recover the costs associated with credit, debit and charge card transactions, Air New Zealand will be charging a Card Payment Fee (CPF) from 15 December 2010 for tickets paid for by credit, debit or charge card.
However no Card Payment Fee (CPF) will be charged when customers choose to pay by:
  • Internet banking (POLi)
  • Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars™*
  • Air New Zealand Travel Card
  • Cash or EFTPOS at an Air New Zealand Holidays store or travel agent
*Bookings made with a mix of Airpoints Dollars and Credit/Debit card are not charged a CPF.
The CPF applies on a per person per one-way journey basis, and will be applied to adult and child fares. Infants are exempt.
The applicable CPF is:
  • $2 for domestic New Zealand fares
  • $5 for short haul Tasman and Pacific Island fares
  • $10 for long haul fares..."
Just when we thought travel businesses were showing restraint by self-exempting themselves from charging card payment fees, Air New Zealand has now set a game-changing standard that we hope the accommodation industry will not follow.

We understand the philosophy of businesses recovering costs and charging more for consumers that use a method of payment that costs more to process. After all, shouldn't consumers that choose not to pay by a card be rewarded with lower prices?

This may be so in theory, however isn't more important for businesses to offer a clean and transparent price that is understood by all? In reality, added fees just p*ss people off.

Consumers have little understanding or concern for a business's financial costs. And nor should they. For many people the impost of a card fee is a barrier and makes the current ease of purchasing travel with a card just that little bit harder. Making a customer swallow a rat by charging them a card payment fee is not a good way to maintain a happy relationship.

From a marketing and customer relations prospective, Air New Zealand should drop their silly fee by simply raising their airfares where necessary and we suggest that the accommodation industry desist from the temptation of imposing cost recovery fees and lift their tariff.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Are Kiwis Contemplating a Holiday?

Will Kiwi families be travelling this holiday season?

As we are fast approaching December, most Kiwis are starting to think about what they may be doing over the Christmas/New Year and January holiday season.

For those that will be going away for a break, the elongated decision making process of where to go and where to stay has probably begun for most consumers. They will be open to stimuli on the television, radio, magazines, newspapers, brochures, directories, friends, family, social networks and using work time to randomly browse the the internet for inspiration.

Never before has there been so much information available across all sorts of media. Before booking a travel experience, a potential guest will often go on a journey filtering different media to plan their holiday-break well before they leave home. Unfortunately many will become distracted along the way and end up purchasing one of those incredibly good value large screen LCD TVs or outfit their family with Apple devices instead.

In spite of the increasing competition from gadget consumerism, those that will invest in a holiday experience will inevitably make a decision last-minute. More than likely, accommodation at their first (or second) choice holiday destination may not be available by the time they start to making qualified inquiries. It is often forgotten that 4 million Kiwis tend to go away on holiday together at the same time of year.

The table at the bottom of this post shows the most popular destination and accommodation websites in New Zealand for the week ending 20 November 2010 and gives us some insight of what potential holiday-makers are looking at on the web pre-holiday season.

What stands out for us is the emergence of a new accommodation sector: The private "holiday home" market. Websites such as the AA's Bookabach and TradeMe's Holidayhouses are taking advantage of a flood of privateer homeowners that are increasingly willing to expose themselves to the short term accommodation market. Those websites that resell private homes appear to be solidifying themselves into the top-10 websites where Kiwis go when planning travel.

While the stats are interesting, they frustratingly do not give the full picture. Some websites in the top-10 are just informational postcards, some are Online Travel Agents (OTAs) while others are a bit of both. It is unclear if lookers are converting onto bookers.

We suspect that Wotif.com and Booking.com are converting browsers into sales at a ratio well above all others. We also suspect that there are other sites not featured in the top-10 that are attracting solid bookings from Kiwis:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Irrelevant Advertising

There's a lot of noise in the advertising world at the moment and it is becoming harder for companies to make the public pause and consider their offer. As soon as media tries to blatantly sell a product or service we tend to switch off.

Apparently it is creativity and emotion that makes advertising successful, not portraying the key benefits about the product or service. 

Will the following three and a half minute epic video sell any more services for the telecommunication company that commissioned it?  This is hard to say.

However, we were more than happy to sit back and enjoy an advertising company's imagination gone wild within a fantasy metropolis world that defies reason and the laws of physics.

Student's Political Lesson

Hey it's Friday! A great excuse to go off topic.
We like the following brief political lesson sent to us this week by an honorary "motella:"
"A young woman was about to finish her first year of university. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be very left wing/labour minded, and she was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs – in other words, the redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch blue-ribbon liberal, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had attended, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harboured an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs.

The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth, and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing at university.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 90% average, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many university friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, “How is your friend Audrey doing?” She replied, “Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies and she barely has a 50% average. She is so popular on campus; university for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties, and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes because she's too hung over."

Her wise father asked his daughter, “Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct 20% off your average and give it to your friend who only has 50%. That way you will both have a 70% average, and certainly that would be fair and equal.”

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back, “That's a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I've worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!”

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, “Welcome to the Liberal side of the fence.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A New Dodgy Business Guide?

We have posted before about the dodgy activities of National Business Online (NBO) Here and and NZ Look HERE.

Until recently, both web-based directories were offering listings of dubious value and using questionable sales techniques.

Interestingly, we received an unsolicited phone call from a new business directory called UAskNow.com. The MO turned out to be surprisingly familiar...

We were rung by Tania and offered to "renew" our listing in an online business directory -  UAskNow.com. I know very well that we have never had a listing with them and when pushed Tania admitted that they had kindly given me a free listing that had come up for renewal.  Funnily enough, there is no listing for our business on their website, however as an "existing customer" I was offered to renew my listing for the knock-down price of $99.00 for a 2-year subscription. There was no time to waste and I was given until midday to sign-up. 

The high pressure sales pitch is performed by a pleasant lady that has a full grasp of the English language. This is a pleasant change from having to endure the exotic dialects commonly used by pro-forma sales staff.

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

U ASK Now Listing Form 2010                                                              
Much like NBO and NZ Look, the sales technique appears to be a well worn tactic that dupes and pressures business operators into believing that they, other staff members or previous owners have subscribed to a directory listing. The listing benefit is dubious and the long term objectives for the company appear to be questionable.

Needless to say that we will not be subscribing to the UAskNow.com directory.

We suggest that you head over to our good friends at the NZ Scams To Avoid Blog that have reason to believe that UAskNow.com are being operated by the same scamsters that were behind the dodgy (and now defunct) National Business Online (NBO) and NZ Look.

If you have signed-up and paid-up $99.00 for a directory listing, we would be interested to hear from you.

The market does actually work

We have been remiss in blogging lately as we have been somewhat sidetracked with our day-job...

We did find time to read an article in yesterday's New Zealand Herald about accommodation tariff hikes in Auckland during this week's U2 concerts.

The article follows the tried and true MO of gathering the worst examples of price differentials to try and create hysteria from alleged "rampant and unfair profiteering."

Hotels mentioned were the Hotel Grand Chancellor offering a two-bedroom apartment for $999 over the concert period - up from the usual rate of $309. Auckland's Crowne Plaza with an unspecified room type for $359 - up from the usual rate of $171 and the Duxton Hotel with a spa room for $269 - up from the usual rate of $189.

If you can be bothered you can read the article HERE, however the best response to this contrived phone-around puff-piece of journalism was from Hospitality Association chief executive Bruce Robertson that was quoted:
"Price rises at busy times were "entirely normal" and if rooms were over-priced, hotels would have empty rooms because people wouldn't pay.
The market does actually work" 
Couldn't of said it better ourselves - Nice one Brucie!

Motel Tall Tale?

Motels and their guests can be the unfortunate victims of pranks from time to time. Our post HERE  covered a popular prank that had been performed at several accommodation properties in the USA last year.

We were amused to read the following news report from South Carolina that gives us a possible new version of the prank that incites a guest to smash up their motel room.
"A motel guest in Spartanburg has told sheriff's deputies that someone called his room and told him to smash the room to free a small person trapped next door. Spartanburg County sheriff's deputies say they responded to a motel Sunday night after a guest nearly punched through to the next room with a wrench.

Multiple media outlets reported a motel worker called deputies after she discovered the man had damaged the television, mirrors, and the wall between rooms.

The man told deputies a man who called his room about 11 p.m. Sunday said he was a manager at the motel. The guest told deputies the caller told him there was a 4-foot, 3 inch man trapped in the next room.

No charges have been filed."
Source: Click HERE

Hotel SOS

Who is going to be New Zealand's version of Ruth Watson? We will require a well built, authoritative woman that looks good in brightly colored blazers and tends to say f*ck a lot.  

We see that New Zealand has produced its own TV version of The Hotel Inspector that will be called "Hotel SOS".

We particularly enjoyed the earlier English versions where the original hard-nosed host, Ruth Watson; a potty mouthed, hoity-toity busybody uncovered tacky and grotty hotel experiences. Watson, with the authority of a school mistress, hectored and shamed hapless Pommy accommodation owners into rethinking their hospitality lifestyles. We liked that!

Last year, Qualmark NZ sent an email to all accommodation license holders seeking expressions of interest from operators that wanted to become involved in an earlier Kiwi version of the show. 

Qualmark commented:
"This is an opportunity to showcase quality processes and best practice techniques on prime time TV, which is such a powerful medium."
The original Kiwi concept was to highlight the virtues of Qualmark and one of their inspectors was to give a quality star grading after the TV host had subdued the operators and magically transformed the struggling accommodation business. It is unclear if Qualmark will be involved in this latest television version, however we see that the main sponsor of the show is now Homebase that will be performing the staged makeovers.

If the Kiwi format is to emulate the successful English entertainment formula, the following necessary elements are required:

1) An accommodation business that is failing
2) Unusually quirky and difficult owners and
3) A straight-talking, self-professed expert hotelier that harasses and hectors the owners until they realise the error of their ways

The appeal of the show is the toxic relationship between the host and the eccentric accommodation providers, however, judging from the promos we are betting that the Kiwi version will be more restrained and politically correct.

Frankly we are not holding out too much hope that Hotel SOS will have any depth and are cringing in anticipation that this series will be just be another brain-dead formula makeover series. We could be wrong!

We can judge for ourselves when Hotel SOS travels to the Hicks Bay Motel Lodge on the East Coast. 

It's on at 7:30pm on TV One tonight - unfortunately, it's a time when we are always busy at the motel!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rating Backpackers

We were interested to learn that Australia's official accommodation star rating agency, STAR Ratings Australia (SRA) will cease grading backpacker accommodation.

In a recent strategic review, SRA proposed to drop the backpacker category due to "lack of demand" however "will consult with key operators to identify alternative arrangements." It is unclear what "alternative arrangements" may mean? Could it mean that a more appropriate and cost effective (ie dumbed-down and cheap) grading system will be considered or is the consultation process merely going through the motions with tangible outcomes unlikely?

Backpacker operators have always been fiercely independent, pragmatic and closely connected with their young market. It is clear that not enough Aussie backpacker operators could see the value in signing up for a centralised star grading scheme. It is also apparent that star ratings were well down on the list of what guests staying in backpackers were looking for. When seeking accommodation, backpackers tend to be influenced by other backpackers' recommendations, guide books, social networks and consumer rating websites. This is interesting if we consider that today's backpacker guests are tomorrow's consumers of hotels and motels.

By relinquishing an "official" star rating program,  the Australian Backpacker sector could use the opportunity to take charge of their own destiny and set their own standards. Quality standards are more effectively delivered through strong voluntary trade associations, accommodation marketing groups reacting to social media such as online guest reviews. In the online world the consumer is increasingly dictating quality standards with real-time feedback.

Is it a coincidence that most operators in the New Zealand backpacker sector have also shunned their official accommodation star rating agency, Qualmark NZ ?

A popular rating scheme in New Zealand is the privately operated Budget Backpacker Hostels NZ Ltd (BBH) that have successfully cornered the local Backpacker sector to the detriment of Qualmark. Guests that stay at a BBH property can rate their overall experience by responding to a simple question: "On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you enjoy staying at each of the Backpacker Hostels you've used in New Zealand?" 

Every year the responses are collated into a percentage rating to enable future guests to determine the "quality" of the experience of BBH rated accommodation.

From what we can see this system is simple, cost effective AND it works.

Maybe other accommodation groupings could learn a lot from the backpacker sector?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Frivolous Friday!

Just to prove that we are young at heart, cutting edge and down with it (or is that up with it?), here's a bit of grime-techno-new wave music to blast those tacky 5-watt computer speakers - The video is pretty amazing too:

Air NZ's Rico - Social Media Fame

In an interesting marketing twist, we see that Air New Zealand's controversial social media ambassador and English-language abuser, Rico is appearing on overseas blogs.

Rico has been featured on the popular aviation advocate and geek blog, Airline Reporter by answering questions posed by the blog's creator, David Parker Brown.

Although it can't be underestimated the resource needed to create a one-off personalised video, this appears to be a simple and effective way to promote a brand via social networks.

What sort of questions would you put to Rico?

Overview of the B & B Sector

We note that the quirky folk over at Motivator Motel seem to have a healthy disrespect for the Bed & Breakfast sector;-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Japanese Whalers 1 Sea Shepherd -1

We see that the Maritime New Zealand investigation into the eco terrorist smackdown in Antarctic waters has spluttered to a draw. 

We are no fan of the egotistical, charlatan, Paul Watson the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and his flock of earnest eco-worryers. We question their selective morality of protesting against a country that is legitimately harvesting a natural resource.

We wonder how many Japanese tourists have been put off travelling to New Zealand because of these self-righteous clowns.

Now that we know that there is no one to blame, it seems to be a great opportunity to relive one of our favourite videos: Japanese Whaling vessel, Shonan Maru rips the bow off Sea Shepherd's fizz-boat.

US Airport Rage

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in America have copped some severe criticism on their newly introduced airport security measures that include "invasive" full body scanners and enhanced pat downs in private rooms.

It is difficult to predict the scale of the reported rage amongst US air travellers and if these new security measures will turn folk away from travel by air.  We hope it won't.

Passengers are planning a boycott of the scans on November 24 (the day before Thanksgiving Day) that is the busiest US travel day of the year. It will be interesting how well this will be supported on a day when most travellers wish to travel with the minimum of fuss to be with their families.

Lucky for us, those crazy Taiwanese folk at Next Media Animation have made it easy for us to understand the big issues of this developing story:

Cutting Edge Design?

Another irrelevant motivational poster from our partners at: Motivator Motel

Don't Touch My Junk

John Tyner when flying out of San Diego took exception to the idea of exposing himself to the new airport security full-body scanner for what he claimed were modesty and health reasons.

Those that refuse to be scanned are required to go through a manual inspection and Tyner initially seemed to take this in good faith, until he was informed that he would be subject to a "groin check" with the option of a public or private session.

Tyner replied that he was happy to remain in public view, but "if you touch my junk I am going to have you arrested."

This is when it turned nasty.

Tyner captured the whole process on his cell phone and has posted the obligatory video on YouTube.

Is travel becoming too invasive and too much of a rigmarole? Maybe Tyner's belligerence of questioning new airport security measures will start a conversation about freedoms vs safety, however it is probably naive to believe that new heightened airport security measures will be relaxed anytime soon.

Ideally, we reckon that the market should decide about security measures. Airlines should be given the option to accept passengers that have not been through a security check as long as this is disclosed to passengers when they make a booking.

If you were booking an American flight, would you pay extra to be safe in the knowledge that you and your fellow  passengers were flying with an airline that insisted that all its passengers go through a rigorous security process?

I think I would.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rampant Blogger

I wear many hats and one of my many guises is a "Blogger."

I belong to a special network of digitally connected self-opinionated folk that are intoxicated with the rush they get when they observe the visitor stats on their blog escalate, are mentioned in another blog, one of their tweets is retweeted or are repeated in the MSM.

...So understandably, I was chuffed when our YouTube video we uploaded this week went viral and was the 2nd most uploaded video in New Zealand today:

It doesn't take much to get me excited these days...

Dissed By Facebook

Thanks for the folks that have advised us that our Facebook site has suddenly disappeared.

Without warning, our site must have been taken down yesterday supposedly due to "Violation(s) of Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities."

This is a shame as we enjoyed this medium and had built up a great community. We would like to think that Facebook flicked the switch  because we are cool and radical renegades pushing the limits of social media, however we suspect that in reality we have been tripped up on some obscure technicality.

In spite of being unilaterally shut down without notice, we plan to return to Facebook in good time and will keep you informed of future developments... 

We have been contacted by a travel industry icon that has kindly suggested that our removal from Facebook may have been part of a wider glich on Tuesday that anecdotally has only affected female Facebook users... Sheesh, didn't Facebook detect my manly mustache.
Read more about the Facebook bug HERE.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Edgy Hotel Promotion

The Chambers in Minneapolis describes itself as a boutique, luxury "art hotel." It sounds all very cutting edge and windswept so when they do a promotion they do things a little differently.

Fledgling advertising agency Barrie D'Rozario Murphy must have thanked their lucky stars when they landed the Chambers Hotel account. Usual boundaries were removed and there was an opportunity to provoke, be controversial and take a risk.

What they produced was an award winning 30-minute budget video shot over a weekend that recreated hotel surveillance video scenes with a twist. 

As expected with a hotel surveillance video, most public areas of the hotel were featured, however  the interiors of guest rooms were also on show. Actors were used for voyeuristic scenes that included: embracing, making love, fighting, taking a bath, working out, wearing a clown outfit and interacting with a goat.

The video was then looped on the large monitors in the bar of the hotel.

This produced expected outrage, fascination and intrigue for the bemused bar patrons that were transfixed to see what would happen next.  The concept for the film was to boost bar traffic.

Mission accomplished.

Understanding Michael Laws

We see that Michael Laws has raised the hackles of some fellow bloggers with this comment on his radio show this week:
 "I could have started a blog, but that's the first sign of mental illness" - Michael Laws RadioLIVE opening editorial, 15th November 2010.
We don't know what he's getting at...

The Habits of Business Travellers

We see that Deloitte have released the findings of a recent survey of business travellers.

The online survey was conducted in the United States, however we suspect that the results could be easily transposed onto the New Zealand business travel market. 

Over 70 percent of motel guests in New Zealand are domestic based and the majority of those guests stay in motels for business purposes. It doesn't matter if a motel is situated in a provincial tourist region or an inner city location, the ripple effect of changes in business travel behavior is significant. 

Here's a few highlights we have plucked out from the Deloitte survey: 

Due to the recession, 72 percent of survey respondents had monitored their business travel expenses in various ways this past year. In particular, business travelers said they had cut back on overall travel costs (37 percent), reduced the duration of their trips (33 percent), or spent less on food/restaurants (32 percent).

More than one in five (21 percent) booked less expensive hotel rooms.

Additionally, nearly three out of five, 59 percent, of respondents whose companies had corporate travel policies felt the guidelines were now more strictly enforced. Among the top five guidelines noted by respondents, pre-trip approval for business travel (50 percent) was the top company guideline mentioned. Among guidelines related to hotels, 42 percent of business travelers said their company guidelines currently covered booking accommodations in advance, and 32 percent said the guidelines gave dollar spending limits for accommodations. 

The Deloitte survey found that the overall hotel experience is important to a majority of business travelers.

Roughly two-thirds of respondents said they often work in their room (68 percent) and they also expect a lot more from a hotel than just a clean room and comfortable bed (65 percent). Further, almost four out of five respondents felt that high-speed Internet (79 percent) and free parking (77 percent) were important amenities to them when staying at a hotel for business. A core group of business travelers (30 percent) felt their favorite hotel brand was so important to them that they would stay at that hotel brand even if it were not in the most convenient location. This loyalty was highest among those earning $150,000 or more.

“Consumers are more value-conscious than ever and have been conditioned to expect more for their money after a steady diet of recession-era deals. The tipping point for hotels to differentiate their brand offering and strengthen loyalty among the post-recessionary business traveler will be providing additional complementary services and amenities tailored to their guests’ specific needs,” said Weissenberg. “Beyond traditional incentives, hotels are realizing the importance of developing their online presence, particularly with mobile platforms, to capitalize on a crucial touch point for brand communication.”

Roughly half, 48 percent, of survey respondents owned a web-enabled smartphone.

Among smartphone owners, more than one-quarter (26 percent) have downloaded a hotel application and have used it primarily to book a room (54 percent).

Interestingly, general-purpose travel websites did not appear to be regularly used by business travelers for booking accommodations. Only 31 percent used such sites always/frequently, 31 percent used them occasionally, and a larger 38 percent stating they never use these sites for reserving a hotel room for business travel.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Have Sex With a Guy With a Mustache Day

A big week this week!

Today is hump-day for all those many-men that are growing a mo as part of Movember - it's November 15th and we are half way through.

Today is an admirable occasion that should be celebrated, however I'm personally counting down to November 18th that has been declared: "Have Sex With a Guy With a Mustache Day."

Women that are feeling left-out can now can support "Movember" by making love to a man with a glorious, woolly mustache (Please feel free to refer to my avatar above).

You guys that wimped-out this year must be feeling extremely disappointed with yourselves!

Of course you can also dust-off your credit card and head over to our official "Motella Movember Fund-Raising page HERE and follow the simple steps.

Hotel Built In 6-Days

In spite of advancements in building know-how and technology, it would appear that the time it takes to complete a commercial building project has not reduced dramatically over the years.

Incredibly, the 102-story landmark Empire State Building that only took 410 days to build in the early 1930s is still lauded as one of the best examples of a successful commercial building project (ignoring the 5 unfortunate workers that died during construction).

The Chinese have now set a new standard in the efficient building of a commercial building with workers in Changsha, China building a 15-story hotel in six days!
"The Ark Hotel, constructed with optimal energy, material and time savings, was reportedly not only more efficient but cheaper to make. Industry experts said there was only 1 percent construction waste.
The sustainable hotel already had its foundation so construction workers only took 46 hours to finish the building using pre-fabricated columns and modules as well as modern construction techniques. Once the main structural components were completed, only another 90 hours were required to finish the building enclosure."
A great achievement, however we would like to see the quality of the finish!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Viral Marketing Gets Interactive

Burger King's Subservient Chicken campaign is unique as it's been going since 2001. This broke new ground in viral web marketing and its conception was (and still is) very clever. The public can type in any command and a "live" man in a chicken suit performs most actions.

If you type-in any deviant behavior commands, the chicken wanders up to the camera a wags a stern finger at you (obviously I never did this!). Even though the campaign is showing it's age it is still addictive.

Meet its successor: the Tipp-Ex bear, that takes web viral marketing to the next level.

Play the following video and when prompted start getting interactive by determining the outcome. Try typing in "loves," "eats," "washes," "feeds," "tickles" AND "erases."

You can waste 20 minutes and join the millions that are captivated by these campaigns. Will you become more engaged with these brands and subconsciously start purchasing their products?

Social Media Noise

The Future of Best Western

We were interested to read about what came out of the Best Western convention held in Vancouver this week.

Best Western is the world's largest hotel chain with over 4,000 properties in 80 countries. They have been steadily reestablishing themselves in New Zealand after the local Best Western franchise company ceased trading several years ago. The New Zealand franchise is now managed from Sydney and we note that the initial flurry of property recruitment has plateaued with 13 motels and hotels now listed.

So, what will be the future focus for Best Western?

We see that Best Western will continue their initiative of self-monitoring the quality standards of their properties and will be segmenting its properties into three distinct branded-tiers:  "Best Western," "Best Western Plus" and "Best Western Premier."

The Best Western Rewards program has been described by Best Western President and CEO David Kong as “arguably our most important marketing program.” There will be improvements to streamline the Rewards card sign-up process and a push to add to the existing pool of 12 million card members that generated $770 million this year.

The global website, www.bestwestern.com has contributed $520 million in revenue in 2010 and the site will be given a complete revamp in 2011 with the aim to generate further online sales. Improvements will include redesigned navigation, streamlined booking, enhanced hotel and room descriptions, new photo and video galleries. A new compliant online payment process will also be implemented. 

Best Western’s summer buy-two-nights-get-one-free promotion has been hailed as a success and it looks likely that this promotion will be repeated again and funded from an additional marketing fee impost on member properties in 2011.

Although it was reported that Best Western offers free high-speed guest Internet access at all properties, complaints about Internet access rank as the 6th most contentions issue for guests. It is interesting that Best Western are recognising that the guest internet experience is becoming extremely important and will be setting minimum requirements of bandwidth and signal strength for its properties in 2011.

Another added guest service item that Best Western have identified for improvement is the breakfast offer. There will be new guidelines introduced to differentiate breakfast offerings based on property quality levels.

One interesting difference between North American and Kiwi accommodation culture is the acceptance of pets at motels and hotels. The "travellers with pets" is a market that hasn't been hotly pursued by mainstream New Zealand accommodation businesses. Most accommodation owners here are comfortable with not having to endure the additional management, clean-up and stigma of accepting pets. It is also assumed that the majority of Kiwi motel and hotel guests are comfortable in the knowledge that their rooms have not been previously occupied by someone's beloved pet.

At their Vancouver convention, Best Western reinforced its commitment to travellers with pets by announcing a continued partnership with cable television’s Cesar Millan, known as the “dog whisperer.” 

We will be interested to see if Best Western operators in New Zealand will be opening their doors to the family pet this summer;-)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Keyless Hotel Entry

We see that the Holiday Inn Chain are trialing a new keyless application that is claimed to work on every cellphone on the market.

Guests at two Holiday Inn locations now have the option of bypassing the reception desk and opening their hotel doors with their phone.

The new app has been developed by OpenWays that works with more than 4 billion phones worldwide and can be integrated with all the major hotel e-lock brands.

So how does it work?
"The new app uses the speakers in your phone to emit a distinct sound (specific to your door) which is then picked up by the OpenWays technology in the lock. Because a sound can easily be recorded, the sound becomes obsolete the instant it is used. If recorded, and someone tries to use the recorded sound, the lock will reject the entry attempt. This is due to the latest in research in cryptography, where keycard data is wrapped in an "encrypted acoustic envelope," thus never compromising your safety. According to OpenWays, the sound is no louder than what you would normally hear over your phone, and the speaker is not necessary. And here's one added benefit: it doesn't waste any plastic on those pesky access cards, making this a greener technology.

Future capabilities of the app (possibly integrated with a hotel app) may include extending your nights at the hotel, ordering room service, and paying for it, too!"
Sounds like smart technology that regular travellers will appreciate AND apparently it saves the planet too!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Air New Zealand's Rico Uncovered

In response to an hysterical article in the NBR by precious reporter Hazel Phillips,  we see that, Rico - the potty-mouthed puppet that is the controversial new social media ambassador of Air New Zealand has released a new video. 

Our favourite furry intrepid traveller, Rico teams up with Polly Gillespie and chats about New Zealand, relationships and explains why he may be misinterpreted as being a little controversial:


Ordered a new TV today...


Sex Movie Hotel

A fellow motelier and special friend of "Motella" has sent us an article about Swedish porn mogul, Berth Milton. Quite rightly, he was most concerned about competing with a new cutting edge trend that is about to be indroduced to the accommodation industry...

I must admit that in my sheltered world I have never heard of Berth Milton, however I was instantly impressed with someone described as a "porn mogul" and a Swedish one at that! 

Apparently Milton took over the family business, Private Media from his father. Milton Snr had the distinction of publishing the first commercial full-colour hardcore pornographic magazine in 1965 and Milton Jr made his own unique mark by being one of the first to successfully peddle x-rated DVD movies.

Sadly the porn business is going through some tough times and Milton's business model is being somewhat compromised with a flood of freely available porn now available on the internet.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Milton has come up with the visionary idea of getting into the hotel business and giving away rooms for free - with an innovative twist.

Milton envisions opening up to 100 five-star hotels where couples can stay for free in exchange for allowing his company, Private Media to film their in-room indiscretions to broadcast over the internet. 

Milton has estimated that a single hotel could generate $43.8 million annually in subscriptions to spectators watching at home.

Sounds brilliant! However we are unsure if grappling couples will have to share facilities with a film crew or if static web cams will be used? Also unclear is what would happen if guests are unable to perform? Just imagine the indignity of fronting up at check-out, only to be told that your two and a half minute performance wasn't quite good enough to stay free!

Milton is emphatic that his hotels maintain an air of class and sophistication with all explicit acts to be performed behind closed doors - albeit in front of cameras broadcast to a paying voyeuristic audience of millions. 

I guess we can now be wary of accommodation complexes offering free rooms...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kelvin Davis - Giant Leap Backwards

Hasn't the world moved on from publicly funded "Don't Leave Home Until You've Seen the Country" domestic tourism campaigns? They may be fondly remembered, but they do not change consumer behavior and there is no evidence that they work

abour Party tourism spokesman, Kelvin "Little School" Davis is first cab off the rank with an earnest plea for further corporate welfare to boost the accommodation sector.

Following on from today's disappointing accommodation survey result announcement, Davis has burst forth with a press statement:

"The bad news that total guest nights have decreased is deeply worrying for those in the accommodation sector, says Labour’s Tourism spokesman Kelvin Davis.
“The good news though is that there is a solution right under our noses – that is to increase promotion of domestic tourism so that Kiwis holidaying at home can help those struggling in the accommodation sector.”
True to his hapless political party's mantra, Davis has a one-trick solution for the accommodation sector and that is to turn them into beneficiaries by subsidising them. 

Davis likes what AA Tourism are doing with their Great Kiwi Road Trips (we love the concept!), however we don't agree that public money should be gifted to a privately funded branding campaign:
“It would be good if the AA Tourism Great Kiwi Road Trips domestic tourism campaign, designed to encourage New Zealanders to holiday within the country, could be boosted further to help these sectors.”
The campaign has created 23 unique Kiwi road trips that encourage New Zealanders to holiday at home rather than abroad, said Kelvin Davis.
 But wait there's more:
...“Domestic tourism makes up just over half of New Zealand’s tourism spend, but is neglected when it comes to Government support. If holiday parks, backpackers and motels are to survive the recession, the Government must ensure domestic tourism is adequately funded.”
The hotel sector is not mentioned as they have apparently got their act together, however is it only the smaller, and supposedly struggling accommodation sectors that Davis wishes to help out? 

Davis will be treated like a folk-hero amongst those in the wider tourism industry that cling to centralised solutions, however we are happy to stand alone and reject Davis's welfare offer.

In order for an industry to survive it must have the desire, the hunger and the belief that they can be self-sufficient. Otherwise - why bother? The accommodation industry is full of bright and innovative folk that are passionate about their business. It would be a shame for public funding to dull that desire. 

We reckon that the injection of public money would only bloat the non-producers that are already prolific in the tourism industry - Haven't we already got enough government funded adjuncts, fringe hangers-on, associations and endless committees? 

The accommodation industry needs to take accountability by looking in the mirror and finding their own solutions by critiquing the acumen of their operators, service levels and quality of their product. Competition is tough, however most industries are competing on a world market and adapt accordingly. 

Davis has yet to understand that in order to create prosperity within a business sector the government should get out of the way!

We respectfully suggest that Davis would be better looking at other solutions to assist accommodation providers such as reducing bureaucracy, lowering tax, privatising ACC and freeing up labour laws - that would be a good start...

Domestic Tourism Hit

Thanks to Fourcorners.co.nz, we see that Apex Car Rentals have a hit with their new television commercial, "The Otherside" and are receiving numerous inquiries from the public about the catchy tune used - Read more HERE. 

At the risk of blowing my manly-mustached-persona, I like this haunting chick flick along with the soundtrack performed by New Zealand singer Taisha.

We appreciate the fact that a private company has initiated a great campaign that showcases domestic tourism. We wonder if Tourism NZ could have done as well?

The advert displays the simple joys of domestic tourism including sex and stunning Kiwi scenery. The hot-female lead sorta helps as well.

Bleeding Market Share...

The latest accommodation survey results for September have been released today by Statistics New Zealand.

For the motel industry, the stats do not make pretty reading and for some there are some worrying trends.

Total guest nights in September 2010 have decreased by 1.2 percent compared with September 2009.

 In the battle of the two islands, the North Island recorded a 1.5 percent decrease in guest nights while the South Island achieved a 0.8 percent decrease in September 2010 compared to September 2009.

Eight out of the 12 regions recorded less guest nights in September 2010 than in September 2009. The regions showing the largest decreases were: 
  • Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui, down 2.2 percent
  • Waikato, down 8.6 percent
  • West Coast, down 12.4 percent.
The regions recording increases were: 
  • Auckland, up 6.0 percent
  • Bay of Plenty, up 3.9 percent
  • Otago, up 2.3 percent.
Interestingly, Canterbury gets special mention by Statistics New Zealand as the earthquake on 4 September and subsequent aftershocks had a dramatic influence on the makeup of guest nights. In fact, Canterbury managed to achieve a small overall increase in guest nights of 0.2 percent in September compared to last year.

Not unexpectedly, international guest nights in Canterbury fell by 14,000, but this was counteracted by a rise of 15,000 in domestic guest nights. The dramatic domestic increase ties in with anecdotal evidence of many displaced locals and earthquake support personalle needing accommodation for various earthquake-related reasons.

International visitor guest nights across New Zealand in September 2010 decreased by 1.8 percent compared with September 2009.

Disappointingly domestic guest nights decreased by 0.9 percent in September 2010 compared with September 2009. 

Domestic tourism is the backbone of the New Zealand tourism industry and while it is pleasing to note that Kiwis are emerging from winter hibernation and travelling again, it is disappointing that they are deciding to venture overseas.

A telling statistic was that in September 2010, there were an average of 124.200 New Zealand residents out of the country per day compared with 99,400 overseas visitors in New Zealand.

For Kiwis it would appear that the lure of better weather on the Gold Coast is preferred to a weekend in a Masterton motel ;-) There is a challenge for New Zealand accommodation operators to sex up their offer if they are to capture a fair share of the lift in Kiwi travel. 

In spite of another soft month, hotels have again managed to solidify their market share by being the only sector to record an increase in guest nights compared with September 2009, up by an impressive 5.9 percent.

The three other accommodation types in the survey all recorded decreases in September 2010:
  • Motels, down 2.7 percent
  • Backpackers, down 7.2 percent
  • Holiday parks, down 10.3 percent.
Hotels achieved the highest occupancy rate (53.5 percent) of all the accommodation types in September 2010, followed by motels (44.3 percent), and backpackers (31.4 percent). 

The motel sector continues to rapidly lose market share...

...are we being too hysterical if we start calling this a crisis?

Classic Sporting Moment

Probably a couple of life lessons embedded here:

Jet-pack Tourism

Growing up in the 70s, I assumed like most other kids that adulthood would bring with it a Jetsons style hover-car and personal jet-pack. Alas like so many childhood assumptions I was wrong.

However, "Jetman" Yves Rossy has given me new hope. Last Friday, we see that the humble jet-pack that up until now seems to be making advancements at a snail's pace, is starting to get some real-time action by pulling off two loops:
The former fighter pilot and extreme sports enthusiast, 51, described himself as “very happy and satisfied” with the stunt and said he now hopes to fly his custom-made jet pack through the Grand Canyon. Rossy performed his aerial display at an altitude of 7,874ft (2,400m) after jumping from a replica of the Breitling Orbiter, the first hot air balloon to complete a continuous around-the-world flight. He said on his website: “The flight went well, despite a little problem when starting my engines. I was able to do my two loopings and I am very happy.” 
We reckon that motels, with their typical open plan cobblestone court areas would make perfect landing targets for jet-pack holiday makers touching down after a flight.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mo-tella Appeal

The month formally known as November has now become "Movember" and much to the disappointment of my wife it's only day 9!

My newly sprouted mo and soul patch has now progressed from a mere smudge to something of manly-beauty with its own personality. True to my revised Motella Aviator, I have managed to fashion my newly sprouted man-growth into a clash of styles influenced by Merv Hughes, Chopper Read and a 70's porn star. The reaction of our motel guests has been extremely supportive and positive. It's a beautiful man moment when a fellow Mo-bro gives a nod and a wry grin in salute.

Movember is a great fundraiser. It's about men having fun, taking the p*ss, celebrating manhood and raising much needed funds and awareness for men’s health – specifically prostate cancer and depression in men. This is important when you learn that close to 600 men die of prostate cancer each year in New Zealand and one in ten men will experience depression in their lifetime. 

...So, we urge Mo-teliers to join a worthy cause, "Team Motella" (It's not compulsory to be a motelier - by joining our team we will grant you "honorary-mo-telier" status). 

Dust-off your credit card, click HERE and follow the simple steps.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Motel Neon

What hides behind the faded glamour of motel neon?

Anger, heartache, guilt, despair, anticipation, desire, hope, joy...

The no-tell motel has many untold stories from those that stand in front and behind the motel office counter. The stories are worthy of preserving and some classic motels and their memorabilia are also worth saving.

One aspect of American culture that we like is that they tend to honour their business pop-culture - motels included.

We enjoyed reading about the recent resurrection of the Munger Moss Motel's old neon sign. The motel opened for business in 1946 and the neon sign was added in 1955.

Although motel owners Bob and Ramona Lehman received an $11,000 cost-share grant through the National Park Service to restore the classic sign, they would have invested a substantial amount of their own funds to complete the project. We are glad they did.

Enthusiasts of the Route 66 roadside culture came from as far away as Florida for the relighting ceremony and celebration. We reckon it would have been worth the journey.

In-laws Leave Today!

We think it is apt to crank up Madonna's Celebration!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

TripAdvisor Fatal Attraction

A bizarre story in the Herald on Sunday caught our eye today about a Rotorua motel and the fatal attraction that their guests have incurred after posting unflattering reviews on TripAdvisor.com.

In January this year, Karen Williams from Auckland booked into a Roturua motel with her extended family and complained about flea bites that she allegedly received during her stay. She claims that the motel owners were less than sympathetic, so she checked-out without paying the $160.00 accommodation bill.

Williams later wrote a scathing and extensive post on TripAdvisor covering her misfortunes:

Read the full TripAdvisor post including the motel owners 
response HERE.

It was reported that Williams offered to withdraw her review on TripAvisor (and other review sites) if the motel agreed to stop pursuing the unpaid accommodation bill. The motel complained to the police claiming harassment and initiated a Disputes Tribunal hearing that they ended up "winning." The review remains on TripAdvisor.

In October this year another guest, Donna Elsworth from Hawke's Bay posted the following review on TripAdvisor after her stay at the same Rotorua motel:
In a bizarre twist of fate, Elsworth has claimed to have received abusive emails from six different anonymous TripAdvisor users after posting the review. Comments included: "better watch your back" and others calling her a "dirty cow", "low life queen" and a "stupid woman". One of the emails also said: "What a horrible thing to say about this fine motel."

A rattled Elsworth has laid a complaint with police.

It is interesting to contemplate why six different TripAdvisor users would have gone out of their way to abuse the writer of a mildly unflattering review?

As an aside, we have been following  the exploits of the "Motelier Reviews" group on Facebook. The unknown disgruntled motelier behind the is group gives the following bio:
"This page is an open forum for property owners who are not allowed to freely express or raise serious concerns from the owners forum inside of Trip Advisor.
Trip Advisor do not give real true reviews as they claim.
Property owners are threatened and blackmailed and when Trip Advisor are given proof of this they will not co-operate.
Property owners are not permitted to express themselves inside the owners forum of Trip Advisor.
Trip Advisor have no management or customer service in place to address these serious issues and illegal practices regarding reviews
Time for rebellion I say Trip Advisor is illegal and their guidelines suc."
We can conclude that the person behind "Motelier Reviews" seems to have some issues with TripAdvisor along with other review sites. We are amused that they have suggested a cunning plan to counter negative reviews:
"At Check In when guests sign the register have a clause which states......

I/We take full responsibility for any damage to the unit incurred by us during our stay. Writing a Review on the internet of this hotel will incur a $250 charge to my/our credit.

....We wonder if there is some connection between the folk behind "Motelier Reviews" and the Herald on Sunday story ?

Saturday, November 6, 2010


The tragedy of owning a motel means that it is difficult to sell the notion that the in-laws should stay in alternative accommodation when they visit.

Something tells me that the next few days are going to drag by very slowly...

Airport Flash Mob

Regular readers will appreciate that we are avid fans of the "Flash Mob" phenomenon... 

...See HERE, HERE and HERE. 

We enjoyed watching the following video of bemused arriving passengers being given a spontaneous welcome home at Heathrow Terminal 5. 

Today we encourage fellow moteliers to treat their guest arrivals with a burst of song and share with us how this works out for you...

Whale Whores

Friday, November 5, 2010

Air NZ's Rico Accused of "Verbal Rape"

Thanks to Busted Blonde, we see that Hazel Phillips in her NBR article is crying foul over Rico - a potty-mouthed puppet that is the controversial new social media ambassador of our majority government owned national air carrier. 

As a stand alone effort, Rico could be seen as missing the mark or even lame, however we are titivated with the schoolboy humour and admire that Air New Zealand is willing to take a risk by shunning political correctness. Rico's risqué campaign has gained him a fan base of thousands on Facebook and YouTube. 

In her blistering article, Ms Phillips gets somewhat prissy, precious and hysterical: 
"The first time I saw the ads, I sort of half-laughed. Since then, I’ve felt vaguely uncomfortable about them, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. However, the terms “verbal rape” and “indecent communication” describe the filthy muppet to a tee.
Air New Zealand has kindly created a verbal rapist and let him loose upon the world."
Thanks to her article, Ms Phillips has provided a positive boost to the Rico promotion.

In the following candid interview with Jaquie Brown, the misunderstood intrepid traveller, Rico shows his more sensitive side as he promotes his new book "Beating off the track"

Social Media is BS!

Humourous, offensive, squeamish and thought provoking:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Is Hillary Staying At Your Motel?

We cringe as former first lady, Hillary Clinton is fawned over on her New Zealand visit. 

You remember Hillary? She was a former First Lady that was so intoxicated with the whiff of power that she happily dodged self-pride to stand behind her philandering embarrassment of a husband. 

Now as a presidential loser, she is happy to stand behind Obama holding his man-bag while the the "greatest country on earth" is reduced to its knees by the cult of collectivism. But we shouldn't be surprised, as Hillary's greatest gift to the world was flogging an insidious proverb that has become a socialist calling card: "It takes a village to raise a child."

As Obama suffers the worst election drubbing since 1938, maybe New Zealand is a great place for a high profile Democrat to hang-out at the moment.

We are unsure which motels Hillary has booked for her short Kiwi holiday, however we suggest that if moteliers are blessed with her presence, they should take a swipe of her credit card before they allow her to check-in.

She has an MO of expecting others to pay...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

TripAdvisor's New Top-10

TripAdvisor.com that proclaims that they are the world's largest travel site have manipulated their vast database to create many innovative self-promoting media releases.

The most eagerly anticipated is The Top 10 Dirtiest Hotels, that is widely covered by all media. The loud indignation by small pockets of the accommodation industry greatly assists TripAdvisor's branding promotion.

We see that that TripAdvisor have recently announced the Top 10 Infamous Hotels. This less controversial top 10 provides a titivating insight into the world of celebrity excess and most hotels making the grade are unlikely to mind the notoriety.

Not making the list was The Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. that is arguably one of the world's most infamous hotels as they are currently closed for renovation:
  1. Hotel Adlon Kempinski , Berlin, Germany – Average Nightly Rate: $313 - $692

    Hotel Adlon Kempinski enjoys a prestigious location in central Berlin, adjacent to the famous Brandenburg Gate. The hotel gained notoriety in November 2003, when pop legend Michael Jackson infamously dangled one of his children over the balcony to the screaming crowds below. The hotel still attracts many celebrities, politicians and even royalty (the Queen and the Prince of Wales have stayed here.) "One of the finest hotels we've experienced," noted one TripAdvisor traveler.

  2. The Mark , New York City, New York – Average Nightly Rate: $543 - $995

    Johnny Depp's destruction of a $1,200 suite is cited as a perfect example of how to trash a hotel room. The destruction took place on the morning of September 13, 1994, when Depp and his then-girlfriend, supermodel Kate Moss, had an argument and promptly trashed the hotel room. Depp was taken in handcuffs to the 19th Precinct and told to pay the hotel nearly $10,000 in damages. After the event, The Mark's owner thanked Depp's publicist for all the free publicity. A TripAdvisor traveler said, "The hotel is just beautiful – a great mix of art deco and modern design."

  3. The Mercer Hotel , New York City, New York – Average Nightly Rate: $410 - $560

    The Mercer became infamous after an incident in 2005 involving Russell Crowe, a cell phone and an unfortunate member of staff. The Gladiator star became annoyed after he couldn't call home to Australia, and got so frustrated that he threw his cell at one of the hotel employees. He was arrested early the next morning, given a $5,000 bail order and charged with second-degree assault. "Yet again, The Mercer is faultless," added a TripAdvisor traveler.

  4. Sunset Tower Hotel , West Hollywood, California – Average Nightly Rate: $251 - $352

    Located on Sunset Boulevard, the Sunset Tower Hotel opened its doors in 1931 and has been a favorite haunt for celebrities ever since. Frank Sinatra, Howard Hughes and John Wayne all lived in the hotel's penthouse at different times. John Wayne reportedly brought a cow up to the penthouse apartment, explaining to his guests that if they wanted cream with their coffees they wouldn't get it much fresher than this! As one TripAdvisor traveler said, "A whole string of celebrities have stayed in this hotel – we just had to visit."

  5. Hotel Ritz Paris , Paris, France – Average Nightly Rate: $1,677 - $2,730

    This was to be the venue for Princess Diana and boyfriend Dodi Al-Fayed's final evening. They dined in style at the majestic 5-Star Ritz Hotel in Paris, just hours before a tragic car accident claimed their lives. The hotel boasts a magnificent selection of prestigious rooms and suites which are tastefully decorated in classical French style. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, "The hotel itself is great, with stunning views. However, there are many tourists because of the Diana connection."

  6. Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth , Montreal, Quebec – Average Nightly Rate: $135 - $308

    The Fairmont is infamous for being the location where Beatle John Lennon and Yoko Ono had their 'Bed-in for Peace' in 1969, and where the song 'Give Peace a Chance' was recorded. The one-bedroom Executive suite features memorabilia composed of press articles, framed gold records and pictures of the famous couple. A TripAdvisor traveler said, "It's old world elegance."

  7. Chateau Marmont , Los Angeles, California – Average Nightly Rate: $480 - $520

    The Chateau Marmont has served as the backdrop for a number of infamous events in the lives of celebrated rock stars and actors. Led Zeppelin band members rode their motorcycles through the lobby to cheering guests, and Jim Morrison used what he called "the eighth of my nine lives" here, after hurting his back while dangling from a drain pipe. Britney Spears was reportedly banned from the hotel for appalling table manners in 2007, and the popular Eagles song, "Hotel California," is thought to be written about the hotel. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, "If you want to experience what it is like mingling with the stars, then stay here – we had a fantastic time."

  8. Chelsea Hotel , New York City, New York – Average Nightly Rate: $216 - $515

    This hotel has a colorful history, both as the birth place of creative modern art and the home of bad behavior. Bob Dylan composed songs while staying here and it is also known as the place where Dylan Thomas died of alcohol poisoning in 1953. Other famous guests include Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen and Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote "2001: A Space Odyssey" while in residence. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, "The Chelsea Hotel is unlike any other – decadent, delightful and of course, infamous... It is as social as you want it to be or as quiet as you need."

  9. Palace Station Hotel and Casino , Las Vegas, Nevada – Average Nightly Rate: $28 - $102

    The O. J. Simpson robbery case arose in 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A group of men led by Simpson entered a room in the Palace Station Hotel and took various objects of sporting memorabilia. Simpson was arrested soon after and held without bail. Simpson denied the allegation that he or anyone else was carrying weapons; however, in 2008 he was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to 33 years in prison. "Hostel price for hotel quality," noted a TripAdvisor traveler.

  10. Hilton Washington Embassy Row , Washington D.C., District of Columbia – Average Nightly Rate: $141 - $372

    Just 69 days into the presidency of Ronald Reagan, there was an attempt on his life by John Hinckley Jr. at the Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C. The President was shot and wounded along with three others, and suffered a punctured lung – but swift medical attention lead to a speedy recovery. More recently, the events of March 1981 have been portrayed in the 2001 film, "The Day Reagan was Shot." A TripAdvisor traveler added, "It is currently my favorite DC hotel."
"Most hotels would prefer to be known for their quality of service or amazing facilities, but sometimes their success and reputation stems from something completely out of their hands," said Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor.

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