Monday, January 31, 2011

Hosting Special-Needs Guests

I would love to have a few of these capsule rooms stacked at the back of our motel for those special guests that when inquiring to stay use phrases like: "Have you got anything cheaper" or the classic: "All I want is a basic room".

Innovative Motel Advertising

How Much is A Negative Accommodation Review Worth?

There is no doubt that negative online reviews can put a substantial dent in an accommodation provider's online-cred and this can translate over to reduced business.

The majority of consumers are now spend time online researching accommodation options via multiple websites before committing to a reservation. Many consumers as part of their online quest to find that perfect accommodation choice, value the opinions of those that went before them and read guest reviews. So if punters are looking and not booking a certain accommodation option because of crappy reviews, what is the potential loss for that accommodation provider?

According to the Rees Hotel and Luxury Apartments in Queenstown the cost of negative reviews is "almost $245,000 over two years."

 The story of negative reviews that were posted to the wrong hotel on the Travelocity website makes interesting reading. Maybe the hotel's back-of-the-envelope claim of $245K is somewhat overstated for effect, however this can serve as a heads-up to accommodation providers to be extra vigilant by regularly checking what guest review sites are saying about them.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dunedin Evicts Pearl Going

Accommodation providers have a hard time sorting out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to assessing the flow of unsubscribed "marketing opportunities" presented to them.

One opportunity that seems to be increasing in demand is the request to host media. As an example, we have hosted many travel writers over the years and have given them either heavily reduced or FOC accommodation along with an insight into our region in the optimistic hope that our fine product and services would be praised in whatever publication they represented. It is often difficult to account for value in advance and it is up to accommodation providers to go with gut instinct and a Google search to weigh up if the time and opportunity cost is worth it.

All travel writers that we have hosted have been legitimate, however if we are honest the overall benefits of subsidising these folk has been somewhat marginal.

...So it is with interest that we learn that the Whaleoil Blog is all over the bizarre story of Pearl Going (full name: Sian-Pearl Going) who's background and motivation to sample the high-end tourism delights of Dunedin has been questioned by two accommodation providers.

Better go and check it out HERE... 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Customer Is NOT Always Right

We’ve all heard the popular phrase, “The customer is always right,” but is it true? Can the customer always be right? We were sent a link to a website Not Always Right that allows readers in the customer service industry to tell the other side of the story by posting memorable and often hilarious tales from their experiences that prove, “The customer is not always right.”

Not Always Right is about leveling the playing field and providing some therapy for those of us who toil and sweat every day trying to juggle demanding customers and often unreasonable expectations. 

Here's one we liked: 

Me: “Good evening, guest services. This is ***, how my I assist you?”
Guest: “This is absolutely ridiculous! You need to get someone up here right now! This God d*** microwave in my room isn’t working! You had better fix this immediately!”
(Note: our motel does not have microwaves in our guest rooms)
Me: “I am so sorry, Mr. ***. I can certainly have someone come take a look at it right away. If I may ask, did housekeeping bring this microwave to your room?”
Guest: “No! It’s the microwave that is in the room! My nachos have been in this d*** thing for over 20 minutes and they’re not even hot yet!”
Me: “I see, sir. Can you tell me where it’s located in your room?”
Guest: “It’s the one that’s right under the television! I want my nachos and you better figure this out now!”
Me: “Sir, is this microwave an off-white color with a keypad on the right of it?”
Guest: “Yes!”
Me: “There’s not a little window like a normal microwave would have, is there? It’s just a little digital display screen, right?”
Guest: “That’s exactly it. It only displays how long I set the time for! I want my nachos 20 minutes ago. Can you get someone up here immediately?! This is absurd!”
Me: “Again, sir, I apologize that your nachos are not hot. However, I believe I’ve figured out what the problem is. The device you’re placing your nachos in is actually your safe.”
Guest: “Oh…oh my God. I’m so f***ing stupid!”

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hosting Pearl Going?

We are unsure exactly who Pearl Going (full name: Sian-Pearl Going) really is, however we can confidently confirm that she is a 20-something fit blond with piercing blue eyes...

Although we note that there is much written about Going and there are a few flattering pictures of her gracing posing with minor "celebrities" scattered around various media, we still have no idea what she does?

A Google search reveals that Going is a sometime model and socialite that enjoys the camera and apparently has something to do with the fashion industry. Continuing our interview with Google we learn that  Going has been described as "the most gorgeous IT girl and socialite in New Zealand." We are unable to dispute this as we have no idea how this bold claim to fame could be measured. 

We also see that Google points to several unfortunate references that describe Going as someone that tends to overstate the truth...

Which is interesting if you contemplate a recent tip-off that claims disgruntled accommodation providers and other tourism folk have ingratiated Going with freebies on the premise that she is a credible travel writer.

We are interested to learn of other accommodation providers (particularly in the South Island) that may have graciously hosted Pearl Going recently.

Michael Mcintyre on holidays and TripAdvisor

According to UK comedian Michael McIntyre, everything is reviewed on the internet these days from toasters to accommodation.

Before you even leave home there is the research on the internet to endure before deciding that perfect accommodation choice.

"Who in their right mind is writing these reviews...who comes home from holiday, unpacks and just goes..right! for the review..." So,  just how can you interpret those accommodation reviews on TripAdvisor? "

Michael McIntyre gives us an interesting out-of-industry perspective on the stresses of booking a holiday:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

60's - 70's Motel Urgently Required!

If you own an iconic motel in the Auckland region, he's an opportunity to hang-out with some hot leading Kiwi music-folk and broadcast the unique attributes of your property to an admiring audience: 
"We are doing a music video for Annabel Fay, who has Aussie idol singer Stan Walker guesting in the clip.

The shots we wish to do:

1 x exterior of Annabel walking out of a room, and getting into a car and driving off (Exterior shot) Stan Walker runs out pleading for her to return.

Time - 2 hrs max.

1 interior

We need a room to shoot Stan singing to camera - heartbroken. He will be sitting on the end of the bed.. and looking in the bathroom mirror.

Looking for a classic 60's 70's look motel, in the Auckland region. We do have a little bit of budget - so can pay a location fee, and will be low stress and professional. We would need to shoot the 3rd or 4th of Feb (end of next week)

Please call Marc on 0212985812 or email to'
Go to it!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Motel Promotion

One of the virtues we pride ourselves in is the ability to not expose those folk who contact us confidentially with items of interest.

A good example of this is a motel that sent us a new promotional activity that they have been trialling recently.

As an act of good faith we will not disclose the motel... 

Tourism NZ FAIL

Deborah Coddington's provocative weekend opinion piece probably motivated Tourism NZ to make an embarrassing u-turn and apoligise to Anna Faris for comparing her to a pothead stoner with "no credibility" after she criticised Kiwi men for being vulgar on a US talk show.  

Hopefully our government sponsored marketing department will think before they put their foot in their mouth in future...

'Modest' bump for minimum wage tipped

We see that John Key has indicated that it is likely that the minimum wage of $12.75 will be increased by 2 percent. 

Every year we go through the inane performance of debating what level the minimum wage should be set at. Business groups get sucked-in and advocate either the status quo or a small increase pegged to the rate of inflation while the usual pinko suspects howl that they are owed a substantial increase.

The question we should be asking is if the government should be setting a minimum wage all?

Purchasing labour is no different than buying any other product or service. If the product or service costs more - you will buy less. If it costs more to hire labour - fewer workers will be hired.

Ironically the low skilled workers that minimum wage legislation is supposed to protect are the ones that are adversely affected.

Government meddling in the trade of labour by imposing price fixing only distorts the market that can more efficiently set a price if left alone.

The numbers of relatively low skilled workforce working for motels can be severally affected by impositions on employment freedoms including minimum wage requirements. Employment legislation is an important advocacy cornerstone for any trade association and we trust our industry representatives will continue to roll-out a resemblance of opposition.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Jasons New Launch

While there are pockets of motels trading extremely profitably, the motel industry as a whole seems to be facing challenging times.

Here's a bit of a heads-up of an exciting new initiative from Jasons Travel Media that are planning to fill a void in the market by offering moteliers practical tools and advice on how to succeed in an increasingly digital world.

The following press release will probably appear in the MSM from tomorrow:
Jasons Travel Media today announced the first details of a comprehensive plan to help its 1600 motel accommodation providers compete in an increasingly digital and mobile market.

Occupancy statistics in late 2010 show a worrying trend for NZ moteliers. Whilst occupancy is up by 2% (November 2009-November 2010) the increase has been almost all in the hotel sector.

Jasons Travel Media is working hard to support the motel industry in getting up to speed. “This is the era of technology in travel,’’ says Jasons CEO, Matthew Mayne. “Travellers are more techno savvy, and they’re looking for information not only in print, but mobile and online as well. Aside from providing what travellers are looking for, you have to make yourself visible to them when and where they’re looking.”

In addition to new and improved online, mobile and print listing and booking tools – of which details will be released later in 2011 – Jasons will be sharing advice and inspiration with operators. The new Jasons E-cademy™ – a series of six webinars available to moteliers who list with Jasons – will include strategy as well as practical topics associated with managing a motel business such as ‘managing your online inventory’ or ‘setting up a Google Adwords account.’ Strategy will come from industry experts, blending market intelligence with strategic decisions for marketing an accommodation property. The company is currently working with moteliers to build a curriculum that will work best for them.

“There is a perception that motels are lagging behind other accommodation options,’’ says Stewart Haynes, ‘Motella’ blogger and proprietor of the Teal Motor Lodge in Gisborne. “There is a genuine need for moteliers to up spec their skills in the latest travel technology, and at the moment no one is delivering an easy one-stop solution. I am excited about Jasons filling this gap in the market and are looking forward to checking out what’s on offer.”

Whilst motels are unique, being NZ-owner operated with plenty of unbiased local information, the trick, says Matthew, is getting the customer through the door. “Digitised accommodation options are not just for the big hotel chains. We want to promote the unique aspects of motels that hotels simply can’t compete with.’’

Jasons is also opening online booking opportunities up for some of NZ's smaller accommodation providers. Payments will be processed and delivered to providers the next business day after checkout. Jasons will also be the first NZ-based accommodation-booking site to offer travellers the option to pay by internet banking. To increase coverage online, Jasons will also be rolling their Holiday Guide users into and vice versa.
 “We will ensure that moteliers have every aid at their fingertips,’’ says Matthew. ‘’We want to help transition our clients into the digital age, thereby maximising what is unique about these NZ-owned businesses’’.


Flowery Twats

I had an in-depth conversation with a fellow "motella" the other day and we ended up discussing one of the the accommodation industry's greatest real-life television documentaries: Fawlty Towers.

We agreed that Basil Fawlty may have had some customer service issues, however just once we would have loved to see him have a win over one of those pesky guests.

Sadly, we could only remember "Flowery Twats" as one of the rearrangements of the Fawlty towers sign that appeared at the beginning of every episode.

...So what were the others?

Thank goodness for Google and Wikipedia  - the oricles that know all were able to shed light on this frustrating dilemma:
The Paperboy, though rarely seen, is significant as he is revealed to be the prankster who rearranges the letters on the "Fawlty Towers" sign to read various (sometimes crude) phrases. This may have been because of Basil's sharp attitude towards him when he was late with a delivery. The shot of the sign (with the hotel exterior in the background) appears at the beginning of every episode but one, "The Germans", when a shot of a hospital is used, as this is the only episode which doesn't begin at the hotel. 

During the first series, the sign slowly deteriorated throughout the season until almost no letters were left in episode four. Episode five brings the first semi-anagram: "Warty Towels". In the second series, the first episode sign spells 'Fawlty Tower', with the letter "L" being noticeably askew, and changes in each subsequent episode, from the correct spelling to various semi-anagrams (only "Flowery Twats" from the 11th episode, "The Anniversary", is a proper anagram using all original letters.) The changes progress as follows:

Episode 1. Fawlty Towers
Episode 2. Fawlty Tower
Episode 3. Fawty Tower
Episode 4. Fawty Toer
Episode 5. Warty Towels
Episode 6. NO SIGN
Episode 7. Fawlty Tower
Episode 8. Watery Fowls
Episode 9. Flay Otters
Episode 10. Fatty Owls
Episode 11. Flowery Twats
Episode 12. Farty Towels

Monday, January 24, 2011

0800 Abuse

There are a few emotional trigger points for us moteliers.

One reoccurring bugbear are telemarketers that insist on calling us on our toll-free 0800 number.

An earnest young woman called me this evening representing Combined Insurance Services...and yes it was on my 0800 number!

I attempted to portray a calm professionalism, however I am a dyed-in-the-wool motelier and 0800 abuse makes my blood boil! 

Moteliers will know what I am talking about, however for those uninitiated that don't - (including the folk from Combined Insurance Services) just spend a little time thinking about it:
You are a "business person" hawking your wares, ringing a motel and speaking to the owner of the business on their toll free number - making them pay for the pleasure of your call! Would you call your other potential clients "collect?" 

For telemarketers like Combined Insurance Services that don't think and insist on phoning me on my 0800 number, the credibility of the company you represent immediately goes through the floor.

And the telephone conversation is usually brief!

Holiday Snaps From The Motel

New from the Motivated Motel Blog:

Air New Zealand Paint It Black

Black never goes out of style and we reckon that Air New Zealand's one-off new promotional A320 painted with All Black livery looks stunning.

After the new aircraft's interior is fitted out it will join the domestic jet fleet in early February.

This loud mobile billboard will certainly stand out from the crowd and the aircraft's pimped design goes against Kiwi's usual understated persona - we like that.

We hope that it will look as equally good a day after the Rugby World Cup!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

WINNER of the Atlas Shrugged Video Contest

I've read Ayn Rand's epic 1957 novel, ATLAS SHRUGGED several times and every few years I start to read it again...some years I finish it and others I become distracted.

This year I've decided to try a new media experience and have downloaded the multi-gigged Atlas Shrugged tome onto my iPhone as a talking book. So far I have enjoyed reliving Rand's fascinating yarn that has changed lives and introduced millions of readers to a new way of thinking.

After many years of being shunned from left-wing Hollywood producers, Atlas is to be finally made into a movie with part one of a trilogy due for a cinema release on 15 April 2011 (American Tax day!). I have mixed emotions as no film will ever do Atlas justice, however this will be a significant event that will be widely discussed. Hopefully this budget independent production will grow wings and against all-odds become a cinematic mainstream success.

Better read the book for yourselves in anticipation...(Click HERE).

As an aside, I was inspired by a young fellow, Reggie Schickel that recently won the annual, Atlas Shrugged Video Contest run by the Ayn Rand Institute. The competition encourages young filmmakers to creatively and passionately express their perspective on Ayn Rand's pertinent work that has greater relevance today than when it was first published over 50 years ago.

For those that haven't been exposed to Atlas this may offer some encouragement:

2011 Travellers' Choice Awards

TripAdvisor's 2011 Travellers' Choice Awards were announced this week and we were pleased to see a smattering of motels that were highly ranked and value the benefits of social media.

TripAdvisor identifies its award winners by crunching data from its 20 million traveling members' reviews. We like these awards and believe that they are more meaningful and prestigious than others that are doled out by individual travel commentators or panels of tourism industry judges - as Tripadvisor's byline for the awards aptly state: "As awarded by millions of real travellers."

Not only will the motel properties get bragging rights, they will also benefit from their high ranking on TripAdvisor where most travellers end up when researching accommodation options on the net.

There were several categories that were awarded to the top 10 properties in different global regions.

So for us, what were the highlights?

Top 10 Bargain Hotels in South Pacific
4th City Centre Motel Christchurch
8th Palazzo Motor Lodge Nelson 
9th Century Park Motor Lodge Nelson
Top 10 Hotels for Service in South Pacific
4th City Centre Motel Christchurch
6th CentrePoint on Colombo Christchurch 
Is it a coincidence that all top rated motel properties are situated in the South Island?

Well done to those special motel folk that are high achievers and adding value to the motel industry!

Friday, January 21, 2011's Top Kiwi Destinations

It's a simple but effective concept - rank the top 20 locations in New Zealand according to guest nights booked by leisure and business domestic guests on their popular accommodation website.

The annual press release by has been an extremely successful branding exercise that gives several bites at free publicity as media in each geographical location put their own spin on the results. 

While the rankings are of interest, we look forward to the unqualified, indignant outbursts from tourism folk that have trouble discerning between blinkered self-belief of their locale's desirability and the actual nights that visitors choose to stay in their region.

Paul Davis, that that was head of Nelson Tasman Tourism succinctly displayed his ignorance on the significance of measuring actual guest nights by a leading OTA and the validity of as an accommodation distribution channel on this blog last year. 

This year, it is Denis Callesen's turn to be somewhat sniffy at Wotif's latest regional league tables:
The Mount Cook Alpine Village Ltd general manager of tourism said the list appeared to be based on population.
"A lot of the wotif-based selling is cheapest common denominator, which is not what we are about. We're into quality, not bottom-feeding.
"There are statistics, statistics and damned lies," he said.
He did not want to say just how many tourists stayed in the park annually, but said 300,000 visited each year.
So what are the top 20 New Zealand destinations?
Palmerston North
Te Anau
New Plymouth
Hanmer Springs
Franz Josef Glacier

Tourism numbers surge in Bay

In our post HERE we again noted that widening gap between the motel and hotel sector. 

We see that the latest accommodation survey results for November 2010 recorded that guest nights in Bay of Plenty were up by an impressive 8.6 percent.  

You would think that accommodation providers across all sectors in the Bay of Plenty would be reasonably happy with this stellar result, however the local newspaper has managed to succinctly identify the winners and losers in their article HERE. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hosting The "Diamond Guest"

Accommodation providers don't necessarily need to offer guest loyalty programs as many guests seem to have adopted an overstated sense of entitlement anyway.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hotels Continue To Lead The Way

The latest accommodation survey results for November 2010 have been released today by Statistics New Zealand and further underlines a worrying trend for the motel industry. 

While it is pleasing that total guest nights in November 2010 have increased by 2 percent compared with November 2009, it is noted that the hotel sector has hogged almost all of this increase.

In the battle of the two islands, the North Island recorded a 5.1 percent increase in guest nights while the South Island achieved a 2.1 percent decrease in November 2010 compared to November 2009.

Five out of the 12 regions recorded more guest nights in November 2010 than in November 2009.

The regions showing the largest increases were:
  • Auckland, up 11.7 percent 
  • Bay of Plenty, up 8.6 percent.
The regions recording the largest decreases were:
  • Otago, down 3.5 percent
  • Southland, down 9.9 percent
  • Wellington, down 3.5 percent.
    International visitor guest nights across New Zealand in November 2010 decreased by 3.1 percent compared with November 2009. 

    It was good to see Kiwis hitting the road again with domestic guest nights recording an increase of 6.6 percent in November 2010 compared with November 2009. 

    The hotel sector's stellar performance continues by once again solidifying their dominance with an increase in guest nights for the fifth consecutive month. Hotels recorded an impressive 6.7 percent increase in guest nights in November 2010 compared to November 2009.

    Backpackers recorded a modest 0.4 percent increase with the two other accommodation types in the survey all recording decreases in November 2010:
    • Holiday parks, down 2.0 percent
    • Motels down 0.7 percent.
    Hotels achieved the highest occupancy rate (64.2 percent) of all the accommodation types in November 2010, followed by motels (50.8 percent), and backpackers (45.3 percent). 

    While there are pockets of strong motel businesses, there is a worrying trend that the motel sector as a whole appears to be rapidly loosing market share. 

    December accommodation survey results will allow us to reflect on trade for the entire year, however it is January's results that we are looking forward to. January is a critical month where the majority of accommodation operators fill their tanks and set themselves up for the year ahead. The 6-week time lag from the end of the survey month for results to be collated will be a frustrating wait.

    With over half of January's trade now behind us, we can make an educated guess as to what the results may be...we hope we will be proven wrong.

    Uses For Motel Rooms...

    Coincidentally, we note that those warped folk at Motivator Motel have returned from a short break:

    We're (almost) back!

    After returning from holiday we have now more-or-less back on top of things at the motel and are slowly stuttering back into a routine.

    So what's been happening over the past couple of weeks? Here's a selection of news that we have casually noted while the Motella Blog was enjoying a well deserved summer break:

    Just before heading off to the beach, Qualmark NZ announced: Major Changes in their Business.
    It will be interesting to see if Qualmark's striking new boss, Paula McCallum can make the impossible happen, by making her taxpayer hungry organisation self-sustaining before the next National lead government exits the business of benchmarking tourism operations towards the end of their second successive term.

    We were dismayed at a puff-piece in the New Zealand Herald: Vacancies disaster' for motels that was timed to coincide with the beginning of the holiday season. Using unrelated statistics from October's commercial accommodation monitor, the article wrote-off the pending Christmas/New Year holiday period for the motel sector with selected quotes from moteliers "describing this holiday season as "disastrous" and "the worst yet."

    It was interesting to compare a contrasting New Zealand Herald article a few days later: Northern campsites chock a block that put a positive spin on the Holiday Parks sector.

    It was unfortunate that there was a perception that the motel sector in the doldrums, while the Holiday Parks sector were happily hosting an increasing demand of guests looking bask in the sunshine of the quintessential Kiwi holiday. The commercial accommodation monitor for January may in fact end up reflecting this, however this is not the point. In spite of the media's intoxication with reporting scenes of happy Kiwis camping over the Christmas/New Year holiday season, the motel sector should be seriously countering this with their own positive spin...or if this is too taxing, then simply STFU!

    We see that Tourism New Zealand has caved-in to environmental zealots  by unveiling their new moniker, "100% Pure You." Do tourists really care about these publicly funded self-masturbatory campaigns anymore and will adding "you" to 100% Pure shut-up environmental hand-wringers?

    We note that the Motel Association have started back to work early by raising the perennial issue of residential rated accommodation properties that are not being under-taxed with the confusing newspaper headline: Motels accused of ratepayer ripoff.

    We were amused but not surprised to learn that Labour Tourism Spokesperson, Kelvin "Little School" Davis has a concern over conservation camping ground plan.

    So that's it so far...Later this year the nation will be distracted with the the Rugby World Cup and a general election. We reckon that 2011 will be a colourful and challenging year. There will be plenty of spin and blogs will again provide the best down-to-earth commentary as events unfold. 

    We suggest that you come back often and feel free to browse some of our favourite insightful blogs from links on our sidebar... 

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    The Holiday Continues...

    Sometimes in a motel the best time to get away is when guest demand is at its peak. The motel seems to operate on auto-pilot when it is full, so we've packed up the family and taken off for central Auckland to remind us why we live in the provinces.

    As an added bonus, Auckland is devoid of its usual inhabitants as they sun themselves in their Paunui batches.

    We have decided to leave the blog for another week while we explore the urban jungle, however we will update you of our movements from time-to-time on other social networks.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Travellers Cheque Scam

    We are still focusing on the day-job and fending off constant "bell ringers," however we were made aware of an interesting take on the good old "Hotel Refund Scam."

    We were unable to find much around the interwebs on this particular version of the scam, so hopefully Google will elevate this post for others to find.

    The following email that uses the apparent legitimacy of the Tourism New Zealand website was emailed to various accommodation providers yesterday:
    From: Tourism New Zealand []
    Sent: Friday, 31 December 2010 10:03 p.m.
    To: xxxx
    Subject: Contact from - Motels - xxxx

    This message was sent to you from a visitor using the website site.

    Message: Hello ,
    please i would like to know accommodation is availability for 2 adult the date are from April 24th - April 28th, 2011. Secure the booking for me with my following information.


    Please kindly get back with the following information written below ....
    Totals Cost Price for Duration of Stay :

    Name On Travelers Check :
    Contact Address To Post The Check To :
    Mobile Phone Number :

    Reply :

    I look forward to hearing
    If the accommodation provider plays along, they are likely to receive fake or stolen travellers cheques for the amount of the accommodation AND any other added value items that the scammer can make the accommodation provider agree to.

    The accommodation provider deposits the travellers cheques and feels the satisfying rush as their account swells by the amount banked.

    And now for the sting.  The scammer requires a portion of the surplus funds to be wired to them or another third party via Western Union.

    The accommodation provider wants to do the right thing and naively complies. It is often weeks later when they get a sharp shock of reality when their bank reverses the travellers cheque deposit from their account after discovering that they are worthless. Meanwhile the scammers are enjoying the flow of overseas currency while continuing to bait other hapless businesses...

    ...Happy New Year;-)

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