Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Next Labour Leader?

UPDATE: Is "Cunliffe" the next Labour Leader? Labour Party stooges will be aware that he didn't hold favour with the majority of the 7,500 respondents from TVNZ's Close Up text poll this week:

What would you trade for the story of a lifetime?

Interesting new campaign from Tourism NZ that asks a simple question: "What would you trade for the story of a lifetime?" 

Potential travelers from overseas markets are encouraged to find some stuff to trade to win an epic adventure to New Zealand by submitting either a photo or video. Those that can't be bothered to get off the couch can still participate and have the chance to win by voting on the entries.

This concept should showcase New Zealand as an innovative quirky destination to a younger audience and generate some imaginative consumer-made content via social networks.


Global Travel Trends Revealed

London-based World Travel Market (WTM) have reported what they believe are the hottest up and coming global trends in the travel and tourism industry.

If we set the scene, the global economy is on the verge of a double-dip recession, as the sovereign debt crisis engulfs Europe and the US battles with its rising debt, leading to financial

The IMF predicts modest global GDP growth from a baseline of 4% in 2011 (down from 5.1% in 2010).

Global arrivals are expected to slow to 4.3% in 2011, as rising fuel and commodity prices, taxation, austerity measures, political turmoil and social unrest take their toll.

By 2012, the world is expected to witness 1 billion arrivals, spending almost US$1 trillion, thanks to the burgeoning middle classes in emerging markets such as Asia. Travel operators remain cautious and highly acquisitive to ensure their long-term survival.

With 9 out of 10 consumers owning a mobile subscription by 2015, digital convergence, social media and smartphones are key to building brand loyalty.

(Click to enlarge)

One of the more bizarre predicted hot new trends in travel accommodation is Garden Camping that we fittingly covered in a separate post HERE. 

The IMF have made 7 other predictions:
  1. Americas: Mystery trips -- Travelers put their holiday in the hands of which uses a travel personality quiz. Then “specialists” discuss consumer preferences and budget and choose the vacation for you. Travelers don’t know their trip itinerary till the day they leave.
  2. Europe: Luxury without guilt -- Luxury tourism in Europe is turning more authentic and ethical with more eco-friendly attractions. For example, "Living Walls" use plants to create visual displays on walls.
  3. Gamification of travel -- By using online games as a social networking medium, tourism agencies are increasing brand awareness and loyalty.
  4. Rebranding the Middle East -- Arab Spring countries such as Tunisia and Egypt are presenting new campaigns for “positive change” to look less war-rampaged, and more like “countries of peaceful revolutions.”
  5. Africa: Mobile commerce boosts travel -- Due to a mobile phone boom, 60 percent of users in Africa purchase goods, including travel services, using their phone. For example, using mobile money-based transfer services allowing consumers without bank accounts to buy air tickets.
  6. Global village: Evolution of social media -- Hotel companies are focusing more on social media to market in a more “personalized and intimate way."
  7. Asia: China’s growing influence -- Hotels are customizing their brands in China to cater to the booming Chinese tourism market. For example, having more Mandarin-speaking staff, Chinese menu options and television programming.
What this all means for accommodation providers in New Zealand is immediately unclear - however we are living in a volatile world and The Times They Are a-Changin' 

Read the full report here:Global Travel Trends 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bring Back Motel Roadside Message Boards?

I like those old-school motel roadside message boards that seem to be more prevalent in America. It's a concept that has never really caught on in New Zealand (some may say that that this is a good thing), however I'd like to see the signs make an appearance here to add to the roadside architecture.

Moteliers could use the boards to share with the world their latest offer or quirky thought of the day. There is a risk, that the motel owner may not possess appropriate humour and a few may struggle with the English language.

Unfortunately moteliers may not have time to upkeep the signs and those mischievous neighborhood kids could easily offend by amending those tacky plastic letters;-)

Monday, November 28, 2011

AA Guides Start Hitting The Streets!

We learn from our friends in Christchurch that the eagerly awaited AA Accommodation Guides are finally begining to hit the streets!
It would appear that Christchuch is one of the first regions to have the South Island edition distributed
We have yet to get our hands on one and look forward to analysing what advertising decisions moteliers have made this year!

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations can be a vexing and emotional issue in the accommodation industry and accommodation providers will often be at pains to disclose the terms of engagement and clearly explain the consequences if a guest happens to break a reservation agreement.

If an accommodation provider accepts a reservation for the exclusive occupation of a guest and that guest either "No Shows" or cancels at the last minute then that room is generally unable to be re-sold. A room night is a time sensitive commodity and an unoccupied room that has been held in good faith for exclusive occupation represents a loss for the accommodation provider.

A customer that makes a reservation will impose an opportunity cost to the accommodation provider if they are unable to carry out their side of the contract. This loss is recoverable by the accommodation provider from the customer. Likewise, if a guest turns up and the accommodation provider is unable to provide a room as agreed, then there are also consequences and the cost to put things right is the motel/hotel's responsibility.

It is important for any business to have clear and concise terms of trade, however smaller business owners that do not rely upon robotic front line staff can quickly think on their feet and make customer friendly amendments according to the situation. Compared to hotels, motels are generally very good at doing this as they realise that in some circumstances it may be appropriate to waive rigid terms and conditions to keep the peace and maintain relationships.  

A recent story was  reported in the media about the shabby way the Cliffs Hotel Blackpool treated an allegedly terminally-ill cancer inflicted customer that needed to cancel a reservation due to illness. The full story can be read HERE, however if we are to believe the story as it was reported by the media, then the hotel is at fault for blindly following procedure and losing sight of human empathy, the context of the situation and the harsh consequences of trial by media.

Without the customer's full health circumstances clearly revealed, it may have been acceptable for the hotel to initially withhold the room prepayment due to a late cancellation according to the terms and conditions of the reservation. However, after the media became involved and the customer's circumstances were fully explained, the hotel foolishly chose to stick to their guns and hang on to the customer's £218. Amusingly the hotel's spokesperson was described as a "Revenue Manager" to qualify their decision to the media with a comment: "We are just sticking to our policy with our terms and conditions."

The final insult to injury was when the hotel's final gesture was to offer their hapless terminally ill "customer" a £50 per room discount (for a maximum of two rooms) on a future booking.

Something that goes with the territory of being an accommodation provider is accepting that you will never win every battle. It is a hard to take it on the chin and take the odd loss every now and again when dealing with the frailties of human nature - even if you clearly disclose reasonable conditions of trade. If you make a mistake, front-up immediately and make it right - even if it was not your mistake.

In the immortal words of Kenny Rogers "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em". In would appear that the Cliffs Hotel Blackpool may have played it wrong on this occasion and are paying a harsh price by weathering a perfect media storm.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Zealand First After-party

This just in - An exclusive picture of rapturous scenes at last-night's New Zealand First after-party:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The New Trend In Travel Accommodation?

The sisterhood have moved out for the weekend in search of shopping opportunities afar, so I'm sole in-charge and having a lazy Saturday enjoying some quiet male fire-gazing time. Luckily my weekend motel guests seem to be reasonably self-sufficient and have not had the urge to ring any bells (so far!).

I've been doing the rounds of the latest blogs and the post of the day that got me thinking was from Kathie Shepherd - an ex-motelier and now a specialist motel broker extraordinaire. Between bouts of facilitating buying and selling the dream of a motel lifestyle,  Kathie has updated her blog with reference to an online article that has highlighted a possible hot new trend in travel accommodation: Garden Camping!

Buoyed by the media that are reporting short term commercial accommodation being hiked skyward in the UK during the forthcoming London Olympics, those quirky Poms are commoditizing and renting out tents pitched in the back yards of domestic dwellings. 

The practice of erecting camping equipment has been occurring in Kiwi backyards for many years to accommodate the hoards of rellies that regularly descend en masse and impose themselves while enjoying a free holiday retreat. Take a drive around any residential street during a long weekend, local event or Xmas/New break and you will see an eclectic array of canvas and caravans occupying many Kiwi back yards.

Watch the trend of Garden Camping to rapidly descend upon New Zealand as Kiwis sniff the opportunity of sending their freeloading rellies packing in favour of fee paying guests!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Operating A Motel Has Its Privileges

Operating a motel business can have its privileges.

Only a small percentage of the public regularly stay in commercial accommodation and the majority of these guests are generally fantastic folk. They are  contributors to society - they are motivated, engaging people that have an interesting story and purpose. 

While moteliers can sometimes trip across the odd self-important, "special needs" guest that tests our patience, we should often remind themselves that we operate in a rarefied atmosphere and more commonly host people near the top of the food  chain.

Sadly, other customer service roles interact with a wider range of the public that includes the moochers, the losers and the heaving swelling underclass that are inflicted with an assumed entitlement:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Relaunch of XplrNZ

In a recent email to advertisers, AA Tourism announced the release of their own brand new iPhone mobile app and confirmed that they have relinquished their relationship with an app released last year called XplrNZ.
"Please note that AA Tourism is no longer involved in the development of the XplrNZ application and all AA content is being withdrawn. We no longer endorse its development and therefore any emails you receive from them should be considered unsolicited."
The XplrNZ app has recently been updated and stripped of its AA branding by developers i-Visit Limited. Many of the app's original features have been removed that included the use of "augmented reality" that allowed users to view real-time pictures through their camera that were overlaid with clickable icons that revealed location-based information from tourism advertisers.

It would appear that last year's listing data from AA Tourism advertisers have remained on the XplrNZ app and it's interesting to see that these tourism businesses are now being contacted directly by i-Visit and encouraged to "update and renew" their listing.

In order to breathe new life into XplrNZ that is offered to smart phone users for free, i-Visit are continuing to throw substantial money at development. An Android version has been launched and there is a new mobile site for Blackberry and Nokia phones. RTOs are being contacted to update regional and specific location based features and a joint promotion with Telecom NZ is planed with smartphones on offer as prizes to encourage use of the app by tourists over December and January. 

XplrNZ claim "Live booking via the App" and it is unclear what this may mean? Are the developers about to integrate real-time booking in an attempt to clip the ticket or does this simply mean that app users are able to hyper-link to advertiser's contact details - via phone, email and web?

While i-Visit are currently offering listings to operators for "free" it will be interesting to learn how the considerable investment in developing this app can be recovered?

After a yet to be determined time evaluating this stand-alone marketing initiative, I wonder what the uptake would be if operators were to receive a pro-forma invoice for a continued listing on the XplrNZ app?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Top-10 destination and accommodation websites

As Kiwis are starting to realise that Christmas is quickly looming, it is timely to analyse a snapshot of the top-10 rankings for destination and accommodation websites in New Zealand. 

TripAdvisor, the provocative website that can quickly divide a room of accommodation industry-folk, remains in the top-spot. Love 'em or loathe 'em, TripAdvisor is the travel website that the largest percentage of Kiwis visit while researching travel.

Of interest to accommodation providers is that is now the most popular bookable Online Travel Agency website having wrestled the top-spot away from is part of the Nasdaq listed heavyweight, and claims to be "the leading worldwide online hotel reservations agency by room nights sold, attracting over 30 million unique visitors each month." One of the main reasons that has muscled its way to the top is by outbidding all others with aggressive local marketing.

It is interesting to ponder if part of's surge in popularity is their policy of not taking payment upfront from customers at the time of reservation. A credit card is required to guarantee the reservation, however payment is deferred until processed by the accommodation provider at the guests' arrival (Agency commissions are direct debited from the accommodation provider monthly). 

Will be able to sustain their dominant position in New Zealand?

TradeMe's Holidayhouses and AA's Bookabach remain popular as a flood of privateer homeowners remain willing to expose themselves to the short term accommodation market. The web stats suggest that a vast number of Kiwis planning a trip seem to be at least willing to have a voyeuristic look at the emerging holiday home sector while considering accommodation options.

The AA and Jasons with their vast array of travel information that includes bookable accommodation still attract strong numbers of browsers. 

New Zealand Tourism Online still remains a popular site that has maintained its Google ranking to attract travel browsers to its eclectic database of listings.

The top-10 rankings for destination and accommodation websites for the week ending 12 November 2011 according to Experian Hitwise are:

(Click graphic for a larger view)

Shock Horror Poll

The prospect of Winston coming back from the grave is just too horrific to contemplate...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More Naff Taxpayer Subsidised Greenwash?

At The Charles Hotel in Massachusetts, parking fees for large cars is compulsory. Thankfully, wearing high-waist pants are optional.

Pride-dodging guests that turn up at The Charles Hotel in Massachusetts in small insidious battery-powered cars will be greeted with open arms. 

In a new enviro-initiative, The Charles Hotel will scan their hotel guests' choice of transport as they enter the hotel garage. If a vehicle is  judged eco-worthy (ie: smaller than 12 feet long) the hotel will graciously reward the driver with reduced parking fees.

Guests that have the audacity of  turning up at the hotel in a planet-wrecking vehicle as judged by the hotel (ie: over 12 feet long) will be singled out and charged full-whack.

Drivers of regular vehicles may feel somewhat aggrieved as they rub shoulders with smug Prius owners in the hotel's parking facility. While rewarding guests is a good thing, I can't help wondering if it is wise for a hotel to separate a selection of their guests and inflict them with higher fees and enviro-guilt. 

To add insult to injury, the hotel has consumed valuable parking space by installing taxpayer subsidised stations where car tyres can be pumped with energy saving air and nifty "juice bars" for taxpayer subsidised electric cars to recharge. 

Are some accommodation providers pushing the environmental envelope too far at the risk of pissing off their guests?

It is interesting to note the pithy observations uploaded on TripAdvisor from one guest that recently stayed at The Charles Hotel:
"The Charles seeks to cut their linen budget through the usual guilt-inducing signs about their passion for the environment and all the water wasted around the globe cleaning hotel towels and sheets. But they take it a step further than most. In order to receive fresh sheets, you must hang a sign on your door announcing to all the well-meaning people walking by that you are squandering the planet’s water supply. The sign may be green, but it felt more like a modern-day Scarlet Letter in the best tradition of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. There is another way to obtain fresh bedding without announcing your wishes to the world: (1) place bedding in shower stall; (2) turn on shower; and (3) depart for lunch."
The above review seems to be written with an uncanny style - Has Cactus Kate stayed at The Charles Hotel recently? 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Australian No-Tell Motel

I've been following the way prostitution in motels has been recently hitting the headlines in Australia.

Prostitution laws vary between New Zealand and the different states of Australia, however there are similarities in law, the issues with how moteliers deal with working girls and how these stories are reported in the media.

Much like New Zealand, many working girls in Australia will often tour away from their own environment and stay in motels to ply their trade. The more obvious hot-sheet locations in Australia are the mining towns in Queensland and Western Australia where it has been breathlessly reported that working girls are making more money in a day than miners do in a week. 

A recent story of interest occurred in Rockhampton, Queensland where a motelier was reported as incorrectly accusing a single woman guest of being a prostitute. The woman was apparently a nurse and had made a three-night reservation at a motel intending to stay-over to attend a training course. During the check-in process, the motelier allegedly inquired if the woman was a prostitute - feelings were hurt, the woman adopted the status of a victim and all of a sudden the hapless motelier attracted unwanted attention from the resulting media scrum. 

This week it was reported that some motels in North Queensland mining centres are requesting that single women sign statements at check-in promising they will not be "offering goods and services for sale" from their room. 

It is common for motels to have a general house rule that restricts guests from operating businesses from their rooms and this is fair enough. This rule is not only directed at prostitution, but from occupants disrupting the peaceful enjoyment of others by operating any business offering goods or services from guest rooms.

I personally dislike having any disclosure clauses on motel registration forms. Including a disclosure that the undersigned will not be operating a "business" in the motel registration form as part of the check-in process would appear to be somewhat evasive, however if the motel is located in an area where demand from working girls is prevalent then I can understand that this could be seen as a necessary evil. It must be noted that a line would be crossed if the motelier is seen to discriminate by singling out particular guests to sign a specific declaration (ie single woman). 

Another story of interest is a $30,000 anti-discrimination case by a sex worker against the Drovers Rest Motel in Queensland. In this case, a sex worker has alleged discrimination after being turned away from a motel claiming that under Queensland law she was permitted to engage in lawful sexual activity. The sex worker has also claimed that she was asked unnecessary questions about being a sex worker and that the motel charged over-the-odds because of her status as a sex worker. 

The breakdown of the $30,000 award sought by the sex worker is interesting: $20,000 is to cover economic losses calculated on the basis that her average daily earnings is $2,000 from seeing four to eight clients, and that if she had been able stay at the Drover's Rest Motel, she would have booked 10 more trips (an admirable workrate!) 

While the moteliers at the Drovers Rest Motel acknowledged that they could not discriminate against the guest's profession, they claimed that they were unable to accommodate the working girl under the provisions of the Liquor Act. 

It was pleasing that the Anti-Discrimination Commission dismissed the case. It was ruled that the moteliers did not refuse future accommodation to a sex worker because of her occupation, but rather because they did not want prostitution undertaken in their motel. 

Apparently an accommodation business owner can dictate some questionable activities that guests engage in from their guest rooms that includes conducting "business activities." Fair enough.
"Accommodation Association of Australia chief executive Richard Munro said the ruling meant accommodation providers now had a clear parameters to refuse rooms to prostitutes. Mr Munro described the ruling as “very pleasing” as growing numbers of members in Queensland were concerned about an upswing in clients who were “not welcome”.
“This is different to short-term stays on business trips, this is people setting up their primary place of trade on premises,” he said.
“Members had been concerned about how to handle these situations without breaching anti-discrimination laws.
“Now owners and managers have a clear precedence for taking action against conduct they don't condone with the protection of the law.”

While New Zealand motels operate under a different jurisdiction, the Queensland case may set the scene if a similar discrimination case occurs here. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Moteliers - check those spare toilet rolls!

Here's a timely public service announcement to all moteliers - sometimes it's the really simple things that can upset guests:  
Man trashes motel rooms after toilet paper runs out

Sunday, November 13, 2011

State Asset Sales

FOR TENDER: 1 x Giant Rugby Ball, one careful owner, high mileage - now surplus to needs.

Instead of this quirky listing (below) languishing on the government's tender site, it's a pity Tourism NZ didn't have a bit of fun and expose the 100% Giant Rugby Ball to a wider audience on Trade Me "where Kiwis buy and sell"

 (Click for larger image)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Aircraft Porn

I love new model upgrades that promise technological enhancements - especially if they add to the sex and allure of travel.

I see that Boeing has finally started to roll out its much anticipated Dreamliner range with the base model of the 787 family, the 787-8 being delivered to airlines and making star guest appearances to raise excitement and anticipation levels.

The all new 787 series has carbon fibre skin that is strong but lightweight – meaning it uses about 20 percent less fuel than other planes of the same size. 

Air quality within the cabin has been improved using new technology and cabin pressure has been increased, so it resembles a plane flying at 6,000 feet, rather than 8,000 giving passengers more comfort. 

The cabin windows are larger and at higher eye level so passengers can maintain a view of the horizon. The windows use auto-dimming "smart glass" that reduces cabin glare while maintaining transparency. Cabin lighting uses LEDs in three colors instead of fluorescent tubes, allowing 128 mood colour combinations.

And with those sexy swept-back wings, it looks fantastic!

Air New Zealand will be the launch customer for the new blinged-out "stretched" 787-9 that has a lengthened fuselage, seating 250–290 in three classes with a range of up to 15,750 km.

In 2004 Air New Zealand ordered eight long-range Boeing 787-9 with an expected delivery date in late 2010.

The project has been ravaged with development delays and expected delivery is now tentatively scheduled for late 2013. With the world's economy tanking, this has probably played into Air New Zealand's hands as they have been able to negotiate with Boeing compensation that includes generous lease terms and discounts on other aircraft.

There has been much media about the delays with the blame often pointed at Boeing's adoption of a radical fractionised global supply chain where components, build and design teams are scattered across the globe. The coordination of a huge web of suppliers and having to cope with differing jurisdictions have turned the Dreamliner project into an unwieldy logistical nightmare.

The production and design envelope is obviously being pushed to the extreme as Boeing attempts to out muscle their main rival Airbus that are also developing their own cutting edge new aircraft. This competition can only drive the demand for travel skyward and it is pleasing to see the media scrum and excitable interest from the public that is comparable to earlier glory days of aviation with every new aircraft release.

Aircraft voyeurs will enjoy today's coverage of a spanking-brand-new Boeing 787-8 'Dreamliner' touching down at Auckland Airport.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Robyn Malcolm - Cornflake Choker

Anyone else find their breakfast a little difficult to digest this morning as Greens poster-celeb and former state-funded soap star, Robyn Malcolm shared her naive political views?

Motel robbery foiled by martial arts experts

Probably the ultimate nightmare for a motelier would be experiencing an armed hold-up. In New Zealand, a desperate low-life attracted to the glow of a motel reception's neon lights late at night would be disappointed with the loot on offer. Unfortunately with most motel guests increasingly paying by credit cards or EFTPOS there is little cash kept on site and I suspect our local criminal fraternally are instinctively aware of this.

The worst crime endured in the New Zealand motel industry is the fashion-crime of the bathing attire some guests insist on squeezing themselves into before lounging around motel swimming pools. Other criminal activity is thankfully restricted to petty theft from rooms and careless damage.

If  you are looking for more serious motel-crime will need to venture overseas and in particular, America where motels seem to be regularly targeted. I suspect that the seedy reputation of motels in America go hand-in-hand with guests that are more likely to pay by cash.

A recent story in the LA Times of an attempted robbery foiled by martial arts experts caught my eye and luckily for voyeurs of motel crime, good quality security cameras are becoming more prevalent and footage can be easily distributed via social networks:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It was looking like a perfect weekend...

Nek Minnit...the parents-in-law arrive to stay!

Jasons Online Update

Work in progress

An email sent to all Motel Association branches by the Nelson Motel Association Branch last week proclaimed that Jasons Travel Media would be returning to the future by allowing accommodation providers to process payments for online reservations.

While this option may have been in discussion, it would appear that the Nelson email was prematurely ejaculated and unfortunately this has caused motel operators using Jasons online products some confusion.

Jasons CEO, Kevin Francis has given some surety and has announced amendments to their online offer in an email to booking-enabled operators yesterday afternoon.

It is important to note that Jasons will continue to process payments at this stage.

With the exception of purely commission operators, all propertys' contact details will be published on online listings. It is stressed that this will give customers the choice of either paying (Jasons) upfront or contacting the accommodation operator direct if they wish to make other arrangements.

Jasons have made processing payments for accommodation operators easier by thankfully repealing the silly guest check-in code requirement.

Properties with 25 or more rooms that were exclusively offered a commission model will now be given the option of a flat-fee advertising model that was previously only offered to properties with 24 or less rooms.

Further amendments are not discounted but will only occur after consultation with advertisers.

I am reasonably comfortable with the latest Jasons offer and hope that they will demonstrate success over the next 12-months by attracting an increasing swell of travellers across all of their media. This is by no means assured, however in these times, the motel industry needs to have a few strategic partners on their side... 

Jasons CEO, Kevin Francis summerises the latest updates:

"As we have been saying on our visits around NZ, Jasons role is to provide the travelling consumer with the information they want, where they want it, how they want it and at the time they want it. If Jasons do that well, the consumer will engage with our tourism operators and if Jasons handle that engagement well, then business will flow.

One of the points I was making was about choice. The consumer is the key here, not Jasons or the tourism operator. Jasons is not aiming to stand between the consumer and the tourism operator, however, Jasons needs to provide the consumer with the services that they expect. A growing segment of this base expects to transact up front on site. Another segment, myself included, prefers still to book now, pay later. Jasons needs to cater for all the consumers in the best way that we are able. As you mentioned, part of that comes in providing a consistent experience, while allowing for choice.

By implementing some of the changes on October 1, specifically for operators contracted on the commission model, Jasons removed some of this choice by omitting their direct contact information on their listings. This policy forced the consumer offsite to search for the operator to either compare pricing or to transact in a book now, pay later manner. This policy also had the effect of alienating our operators, and reducing one of the key measures of advertising success, referrals. In addition, Jasons process for handling transfer of payment to operators complicated operators' work by demanding a guest-supplied code for release of funds.

We appreciate the feedback we have received from the industry and we actively use this valuable information as we develop Jasons' products in relation to consumer demands. The best result for all is when a product works to benefit everyone involved, and that is Jasons' primary business objective.

Jasons have now made the following changes to restore consumer choice in how they book and simplify transfer of payment to our operators:


On a positive note, other changes made on October 1 have resulted in increased consumer and operator engagement on the Jasons site:


Complete information about these changes was sent to our booking-enabled operators by email this afternoon.

There is a balancing act when working with both consumers and tourism operators. As discussed in an article published by eGlobal Travel Media last week, the challenges and tensions that commonly exist between operators and their media or booking partners are not unique to Jasons or New Zealand.

Jasons depend on our operators, and Jasons understand they depend on us. It is Jasons mission to do our best for them by supplying information consumers want, when, where and how they want it, and at the same time to do it in a way that works for the success of operators' business.

As I was saying to John Gilbertson this evening, this is the first step in putting things right between Jasons and those operators that it has taken offside, there will be further changes, but these will only happen after consultation. I do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mobile Motels

Everything that is being published about guest accommodation booking behavior clearly points to mobile devices as a rapidly growing method for consumers to access travel information.

Ideally motel websites should be built to work on mobile devices and the common use of flash (that isn't compatible with Apple devices) is definitely a no-no. The booking widget used on motel websites should also be engineered to operate on mobile devices to ensure that the consumer reservation and payment process is easy and intuitive. Sadly, many motels are unable to offer an effective website that will hook the swell of potential mobile guests.

The scale of most motel businesses dictate that it is simply uneconomic to develop individual mobile device applications.

While their own websites lag behind changes in buying behavior, most moteliers rely upon third party web and app solutions to ensure that their product remains visible to mobile consumers.

Last year AA Tourism released their new app XplrNZ with much fanfare. XplrNZ used innovative  location based technology that made functionality very personalised. The killer-sell for the app was the use of "augmented reality" that allowed users on the go to park-up and view a picture of their immediate surroundings through their smartphone's camera. Clickable icons overlaid the picture that allowed users to access further information about nearby attractions and accommodation options. If an accommodation option was selected, users had access to accommodation advertisers' information on the website including pictures, descriptions, directions along with "Been There" travel reviews. 

It was disappointing was that the app didn't interface with AA's online reservation system and it was keenly anticipated that  future versions would include a bookable feature...  

After burning many tens of thousands of dollars, I see that XplrNZ has been unceremoniously dumped and stripped of its AA branding along with many of its original features. 

The future of XplrNZ would appear uncertain, however AA Tourism looks like they have moved-on and have released a "replacement" app imaginatively called AA Tourism

The new "no-thrills" AA Tourism app released yesterday includes location based technology and lists its  accommodation and activity advertisers with interactive maps and access to Been There Traveller Reviews. There is no augmented reality functionality and more tellingly users are still unable to interface with AA's live online reservation system - ie: the app still not bookable.

Mobile users that wish to book a New Zealand motel using a mobile application seem to be restricted to only a few overseas based OTA apps. Moteliers will be looking forward to Jasons Travel Media's app scheduled for release later this month that will hopefully set a new benchmark by allowing more mobile users to book a motel on the go...

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