Friday, July 29, 2011

Gotcha! Youth Transition Services

Good to see that WhaleOil has exposed our rant published last year about the social engineering being inflicted by Youth Transition Services upon unwieldy teenagers that can't be arsed going to school.

WhaleOil writes:
"Motella back in Octo­ber last year did a post about what he thought was the “nice to have” Youth Tran­si­tion Ser­vice that in his opin­ion “are enabling and encour­ag­ing a swelling under­class believe that they are spe­cial by not being arsed to front up at school”.

It looks like this post has now been dis­cov­ered by a Youth Tran­si­tion Ser­vice staff mem­ber doing a Google van­ity search and a link to the post appears to have been emailed to other YTS offices through­out the country.
From the patsy com­ments made on the post this morn­ing, the YTS folk are earnestly qual­i­fy­ing their exis­tence by adding some of their hand-picked unique perspectives.

I have to won­der though if Youth Tran­si­tion Ser­vices isn’t just a fancy title for puberty?"
The self-serving, illiterate, coordinated patsy comments from publicly-funded  YTS staff are amusing to read and it is great to see that a few of the vast army of VRWC readers of WhaleOil's Blog have kindly added a few comments to our original post in order to give these stooges a reality check. 

Tall Poppies

Having a difficult time of it lately? Is the multi-media exposure to natural disasters, shocking news stories and the endless tales of economic woe getting you down? 

Take time out and consider that there are always folk worse off than you.

Set the scene - It's a wonderful Summer's day. A gorgeous young woman is cruising the streets of Monaco in a shinny new $470,000 Bentley, the sunlight is making the adornment of her jewellery glitter and her blonde locks are gracefully waving in the breeze. 

We can only contemplate that the driver of the Bentley may have been distracted from looking at her reflection as she effortlessly flashed past designer shop front windows. Whatever the reason for the moments lack of attention, it all suddenly ended in the most horrible fashion.

We can imagine the chilling metallic sound as the Bentley abruptly ended its journey as it scraped against a $140,000 Mercedes S class and proceeded to ram into a $260,000 black Ferrari F430, a Porsche 911 worth $150,000 and a $265,000 Aston Martin Rapide.

Oh the horror! 

Sorta puts life into perspective...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is Leisure Diving the Latest Holiday Fad?

One of the common traits of guests that moteliers soon become aware of is that many tend to leave their brains behind when away from their usual environment. Once arriving at a motel, apparent simple tasks such as car parking, unlocking doors, turning on a TV or using the telephone can challenge many intrepid travellers.

Along with increasing levels of stupidity, some guests will also lose their usual levels of inhibition and are more willing to throw caution to the wind. Restraints of acceptable behavior are tossed aside and a worrying trend of exhibitionism can take over.

One of the greatest achievements of this digital age is that holiday antics can be easily captured and shared. What goes on tour can be uploaded and viewed by millions within a nano-second.

We've already covered the trend of Bed Jumping where people snap aeriel photos of themselves jumping on motel/hotel beds. We have also covered Balcony diving that involves capturing video of guests jumping from multi-floor motel/hotel balconies into a swimming pool.

We are aware that planking is also a trend that takes place while on holiday and deserves a mention, however this is soooo last week.

We have discovered a new worldwide trend that is taking off at a phenomenal rate: “Leisure Diving.” Thanks to the website, travellers around the world can upload their most creative poolside leisure persona complete with props.

The authoritative website defines a Leisure Dive as:
“...a jump into a body of water (or at least something soft), striking a ‘leisure pose’ in mid-air. Ideally, a photographer captures the moment when the diver has reached peak height above water, when his or her hips are parallel to the waterline. If successful, the result is an airborne Corona commercial you can post to your preferred social networking platform, or mantle, if you’re old school." 
One of the necessities of a successful Leisure Dive photo is the "Leisure Face" that can be described as "a facial expressions that says, ‘I am just relaxing and enjoying this refreshing cocktail’. Not a smile, not blue steel. Just straight leisure."

OK, so it's appreciated that this latest trend could be somewhat restricted as New Zealand experiences the sting of winter, however I can see Leisure Diving becoming a fair-weather fad this summer in motel and hotel pools.

For inspiration, here's some of my favourites:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rough Rider Injured In Motel Sex

There is a burning question that many corporate travellers frequenting motel rooms have often asked themselves: Does a sex accident that occurs in a motel while on a business trip count as a work accident?"

Finally we may be able to answer that age old question.

Across the ditch in Australia (also aptly known as "The Lucky Country") the Federal Court will soon rule if a public servant that was injured during a night of passion in a motel while on a work trip will be eligible for "work place" compensation.
"The federal government employee, who cannot be identified, was injured when a glass light fitting came away from the wall above the bed as she was having sex with a man in 2007.
The light struck her in the face, leaving her with injuries to her nose, mouth and a tooth, as well as "a consequent psychiatric injury".
Regardless of the court's decision, as a health and safety measure I will be spending today ensuring that all over bed light fixtures within easy reach are firmly affixed to the walls of my motel rooms.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How's That Global Warming Working Out For Ya?

"Yesterday saw the most widespread snow since 1995, with snow driven by a cold southerly falling from the southern tip of the South Island to Waikato, including in unusual spots such as Nelson, Palmerston North and the Kaimai Ranges near Tauranga...."

JetBlue's Panty Raid

JetBlue seems to have set themselves up for another PR disaster by allegedly throwing a woman off a flight after accusing her of going commando.

We wonder if the accommodation industry should be following JetBlue's vigilance by imposing spot checks on guests that may not be wearing undergarments.

You can be assured that I will be following this developing story as it further exposes itself...

Monday, July 25, 2011

YouTube Assists in Travel Complaint

If you receive indifferent service in the travel industry, TripAdvisor is the most popular consumer go-to website to rant, however the production of a viral YouTube video appears to be hard to beat to get revenge and rapid resolution.

I've never heard of country music singer Dale Watson from Texas, however his Tiger Airways-has-done-me-wrong-song has proven a social media hit and has achieved getting resolution to his consumer complaint (and in the process has enhanced his professional profile).

Watson's hard-luck story was being stung a $500 excess baggage fee for a box of 120 CDs for a flight from Melbourne to Sydney that the airline lost and failed to pay him compensation. 

After investing four months trying to get a resolution, Watson created a music video mocking the budget airline as “We Don’t Careways” in a bid to get an apology and compensation.

And it worked...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Marketing WIN!

So a marketing team at Tui Breweries after a long boozy lunch came up with the idea of embedding a few pithy spiral grooves within the interior of the neck of bottles containing Tui Blond Larger.

What were they thinking? Surely a 40 something cutting edge accommodation provider wouldn't be silly enough to be drawn into the inane marketing and actually believe that the grooves somehow "invigorates" the beer as it flows through it?


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Motel Crimewave Crackdown

We have been recuperating from being victims of a one-man crime wave at our motel.

Under the cover of darkness a local scumbag was routinely entering our property and stealing pot plants belonging to my motel managers.

OK, so maybe flogging pot plants isn't the crime of the century, however it's a wee bit concerning having a low-life sneaky-thief lurking around in the middle of the night and I'm aware that petty pot plant crime can quickly escalate to something a little more sinister if left unchecked...

Anyway, this was an ongoing problem over several weeks and my managers were getting justifiably upset, especially as one of their nicked pot plants was reasonably sentimental - so they decided to try and catch him in the act. And they did!

After seeing a likely shadowy figure in the early hours fiddling amongst potted foliage, one of my managers discretely followed the sneaky-thief as he lugged one of their large pot plants from the motel to a house just a few doors away.

Having identified the sneaky-thief's lair, the police were called the next day and luckily it must have been a very slow crime-week as 3 cops turned up a few days later armed with a search warrant.

My manager enthusiastically accompanied the cops for the "raid" and was able to identify his 10 pot plants amongst an enormous collection that were probably amassed from late night trespassing other local haunts.

I wonder if the shock treatment of being awoken in the early afternoon and snaptured by 3 cops will really deter our illiterate sneaky-thief with a pot plant fetish from any future misdemeanours?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Foursquare Cracks 10,000,000

Anything that my wife is scathing of has to have at least a few redeeming features...

10,000,000 strong!

Air New Zealand's Social Media WIN

Great video of how Air New Zealand are pushing boundaries and riding the wave of social media:

Snapshot of the Tourism Sector

The Tourism Industry Association of NZ’s annual snapshot of the tourism sector was released at the recent Tourism Summit in Wellington. 

The report has some interesting perspectives and is worth a read...
State of the Tourism Sector 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tackling the Subject of Review Sites

I have been downloading a few webinars lately as I've discovered that the web is full of timely informative broadcasts in this medium that can be downloaded and listened to via computer or on-the-go via my iPhone.

Our friends at the Tourism Industry Blog are using webinars to connect with their followers and stimulate interest. I have unceremoniously lifted their latest effort that I think is worthwhile sharing and have pasted them below.

In an increasingly digital world where consumer reviews are easily broadcast and many accommodation decisions are being made after critiquing feedback, the thorny issue of online reviews needs to be openly discussed and understood by accommodation providers. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of accommodation providers that ignore the importance of review sites and believe that they can simply "opt out."

Genivieve Atkinson from the New Zealand based accommodation review site Fossick and host James Hacon from Kiwi Dreams do a great job of articulating what should be commonly held beliefs within the accommodation industry:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another Reason NOT to Vote Labour

Should we be worried that Kelvin "Little School" Davis is Labour's spokesman for Tourism?

As is customary with a Labour MP, Davis has yet to step outside the security blanket of state funding, has never produced anything and has no experience running is own business. 

With an election looming, it's good to see that Davis is capable to keep things in perspective and is more than happy to tackle the big issues...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Will Mike Hosking Check-in to a Wairoa Motel?

After Mike Hosking had the cheek to insinuate that Wairoa has a gang problem on his radio show, Wairoa's leading motelier, Peter Nash (P'Nash) has extended a friendly invitation to Hosking to stay at his motel. 

P'Nash has kindly offered to host Hosking at his iconic Vista Motor Lodge that is nestled on the  banks of the tranquil Wairoa River to "discover for himself what a caring, friendly place Wairoa is." 

I like the idea of Auckland's leading metrosexual experiencing for himself the wonders of small town provincial New Zealand and local motelier P'Nash is the perfect man to put Hosking's misgivings about Wairoa to rest. 

However, we respectfully suggest that Hosking make a forward booking in advance, as accommodation can get tight in Wairoa, particularly with outside police reinforcements that are required to stay over in commercial accommodation while assisting with the latest gang shooting investigation.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Time Out in Nelson

I see that those innovative folk from the Nelson Branch of the Motel Association of NZ have banded together and are offering accommodation deals to enable Christchurch residents to enjoy some much needed time-out.

Local web design company, Digital Promotions have produced a fresh and breezy website that gives prospective punters some easy to follow offers from participating Nelson moteliers.

I doubt if outspoken mayor, Wayne Brown that was awarded an esteemed "Motella Blog Plonker of the Week" will approve, however I reckon the promotion's rationale is upfront and self-evident.

I congratulate the Nelson moteliers for being proactive.

Check-out the Time-out in Nelson website HERE.

At a recent meeting of the Nelson Motel Association executive, the effects of the Christchurch Earthquakes on the residents was discussed.

The executive decided to canvas their members to ascertain what could be done to help.

The result was almost immediate with 28 member motels agreeing to offer special rates to enable residents to take time out in Nelson.

Other Local Tourism Operators have supported these accommodation offers with a range of special deals.

With sponsorship a website has been launched to outline these offers.
Any assistance you could provide in advising the people of Canterbury of these offers would be very much appreciated.
Rob Harris

President - MANZ - Nelson Branch

We have it on very good authority that the "Time Out" promotional offers by Nelson moteliers will be gladly extended to those folk domiciled outside of the Christchuch region and needing some "time out."

Giving Away Room Inventory?

I was interested to read that a renegade collective of moteliers from Rotorua Association of Motels (RAM), entered into a one-off agreement with a North American tour company Great Atlantic Travel and  New Zealand tour company Navigator Tours. The moteliers agreed to hold allocation of approximately 1000 motel beds over the Rugby World Cup in the hope that rugby fans would purchase package deals.

The deal fell over and with the benefit of hindsight, there appears to be a valuable lesson somewhere HERE. 

Large events such as the Rugby World Cup usually bring out Johnny-come-lately third party agents that attempt to cash-in by packaging deals that include accommodation. Accommodation providers are often approached and an allocation of rooms are requested to be held while the agents attempt to sell the packages to the public.

When approached, accommodation providers have a vexing decision: Do they give away rooms to an agent (that they often have no prior relationship with), or do they go it alone and manage their own inventory?

There are advantages of dealing with a single agent as the accommodation provider can set tariff with one provider, have the luxury of blocking out future room nights and simply leave the marketing to someone else. There are risks however and the main issue appears to be that agents requesting room allocation over a major events often drastically overstate their requirements and leave accommodation operators in the lurch when public demand falls below what was expected.

I have no problem using agents or offering room allocation when it suits, however blindly handing over your business's lifeblood (room inventory) over an anticipated peak time seems to me to be foolhardy. Over high demand periods it is preferable for accommodation providers to individually manage their own yield and inventory in order to minimise risk by dealing with the customer direct. After all, they should be experts in doing so...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hotel Sector v Motel Sector

Museum Hotel owner Chris Parkin featured in The Dominion yesterday and while I was reading, I couldn't help to wonder how different the article would be if an operator from another accommodation sector was featured.

When discussing Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), Mr Parkin accepts the 5 to 30 per cent commission rates and the delay in receiving funds once a guest checks out. 

Mr Parkin willingly lists his hotel on all the OTAs and instead of wasting energy bagging them, he works with them and accepts that they are around to stay. The decision to be in this space is easy: "You can't afford not to be". He acknowledges the marketing costs that OTAs' invest and that they attract a different type of guest that rarely cancel.

There is mention of the thorny topic of rate parity (when OTAs have policies that prevent accommodation providers from offering lower prices direct to customers), which Mr Parkin respects, however to get around this trading restriction his hotel offers added-value packages on their own corporate website eg: offering breakfast or late checkouts for a token extra charge.

Interestingly, Mr Parkin claims that Museum Hotel currently source 25 to 30 per cent of bookings from OTAs and almost 20 per cent from online direct bookings. While apparently happy to work with OTAs, there is a strategy to drive customers to the hotel's website with the goal of increasing online sales to 50 per cent over the next few years by investing in the hotel's website and search engine optimization.

Is it surprising that there doesn't appear to be a focus on print advertising...?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rugby World Cup Accommodation Stuff-Up?

The modestly appointed Bond Street Motor Lodge in Kingsland has previously hit the headlines by an indignant MSM that breathlessly reported that the accommodation provider was raising tariff over the Rugby World Cup.

While we are quick to defend an accommodation provider's rights to allow market demand to dictate tariff levels, we do not support apparent sloppy and unethical customer service.

After an apparent comedy series of customer communication failures, the Bond Street Motor Lodge have landed themselves on the front page of the New Zealand Herald. 

It has been reported that in February this year, an English couple made a three-week booking at the Bond St Motor Lodge at $278 per week. It was reported that they were contacted a day later and told that the nightly room rate would be increased to $350 over the Rugby World Cup period. The English couple refused to pay and asked for their deposit back.

The English couple were contacted a week later by the manager of Bond St Motor Lodge and told that the tariff originally quoted was correct and an email was allegedly sent in March confirming the reservation.

Incredibly, it was claimed that the Bond St Motor Lodge again contacted the hapless English couple earlier this week, this time informing them that their reservation had been cancelled "because of a change in ownership and plans to refurbish rooms during their stay."

When asked to explain further, a representative from Bond St Motor Lodge reportedly said that "changes to office staff and management had caused confusion and refurbishments would be completed before the couple's stay, but they would need to pay a rate of $350 a night to keep their booking."

This is not a good look. The accommodation provider has apparently undersold one of its rooms and after a series of dyslexic communications has tried to embarrassingly back-out of the deal. Their qualification for doing so would appear to be somewhat flimsy and desperate.

As an accommodation provider, I can appreciate the anguish of stuffing-up and accepting a low yielding reservation, however the valuable lesson of the day is that you must swallow a rat and do what you say. In the accommodation business your word is your bond - even if a staff member gets it wrong.

The Bond St Motor Lodge appears to have paid a hefty price with their front page exposure, however it can not be underestimated the long term damage that could have occurred if this situation was played out in social media that includes the growing number of customer review sites. 

This story should be used as the basis of a training module for accommodation providers in "How NOT to deal with customers."

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