Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Final Post For 2012

 A candid pic from last night's Motella Xmas Party

After a rapturous Xmas party last night, Motella HQ's secret lair now has an eerie silence.

The small but perfectly formed Motella Team have departed. Chairs are stacked on desks, piles of paper, files, empty beer bottles, takeaway containers and chip packets have been cleared away.

We are about to lock-up and turn off the lights on this blog while we concentrate on the day-job that's about to get chaotic.

If you get bored or require some maternal guidance, there's over 1,600 historical posts to read in the "Blog Archive" section.

May you get what you wish for....have a profitable and joyous Christmas and New Year!

Celebrating Christmas

I see that many folk are adopting the default scornful stance on Christmas with many bemoaning the intensity and commercialisation. I on the other hand look forward to Christmas and enjoy the edge of this time of year and the opportunities it brings.

The quaint mystical significance is somewhat lost on me, however Christmas gives me a point in time when "stuff has to be completed by" and jolts sleepy consumers into action.

The insightful words of Ayn Rand capitulates Christmas for me:
"The best aspect of Christmas is that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift buying stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decorations put up by departments stores and other institutions—the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors—provide the city with a spectacular display, which only 'commercial greed' could afford to give us. One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle."
I welcome the free-spirited orgy of capitalism at this time of year and particularly appreciate anything that extracts people out of their usual mundane going on holiday...and staying at a motel or two along the way!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Motel Xmas

My hasn't the year flown by....As the start of the busy season is about to kick-off, the motel is looking spick-and-span. The gardens have been plucked and trimmed, the pool is sparkling, the cobblestone driveways are free of organic material and the schedule of deep-cleaning our guest rooms has just been completed. 

With all the work behind us we can take a brief breather and count-down to Christmas day.

On Christmas Day we will be spending time with a procession of family members and friends that will take some time out of their relaxing Christmas routine to come and visit us while we juggle guest demands at the motel.

It always interesting to observe what type of guests arrive to stay at our motel on Christmas Day. From previous experience we have catergorised them in to typical groupings.

We often have young or empty nest couples arrive that have purposely planned to avoid a "family Christmas." They arrive with smug smiles, their own catering and have a wonderful time together away from the obligations others would have thrust upon them.

One of the more high management groups of guests are the Asian gang of extended family members that usually depart from Pakuranga or Howick en masse. They will sweep into our driveway late afternoon in several European sedans and people movers. The gaggle is usually made up of at least three separate family groupings that will arrive bewildered and confused: "why are all the shops closed?"

The vehicles will come to an abrupt halt and left parked in all sorts of imaginative acute angles in our car park while the occupants scatter to all points of the motel.  There will be a self-appointed team leader that speaks a smattering of English that will engage in the obligatory negotiation process at reception. It will be difficult to establish exactly how many people will be staying, however the language barrier is often evaporated when communicating the numbers concerning tariff.

We usually commence the extended haggling session at double our usual tariff to ensure a mutually satisfactory "discount".

While most families will arrive after Christmas Day, we usually have at least one overenthusiastic family that have become bored with their Christmas ritual and have decided last moment to hit the road. They will arrive late in the day, mum and dad are usually not talking, at least one child is howling and another is sheepishly clutching a sick bag.

And last but not least we often attract at least one lonely soul that has had an argument with a family member and after been ejected needs some time alone to reflect. Some arrive bemused with a reasonably humorous yarn to tell while sadly others sadly arrive with bruises. 

In this crazy industry where every day is a Monday, we still regard Christmas Day as a special time.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tourism Priorities

After a brief absence enjoying the sunlight away from the Motella Lair, I've returned to familiar surroundings in preparation for the looming madness that is Xmas and New Year.

Tourism New Zealand's Chief Executive, Kevin Bowler has also been travelling around the country. Attendees to "stakeholder" sessions in the main centres were privy to Kevin's thoughts on what TNZ's priorities are likely to be over the next three years.

Most moteliers are too busy in their businesses to spend much time processing utterings from TNZ - so not many would have attended the presentations.

Luckily for busy moteliers, I'm able to give a brief overview of the presentation:
  • More Aussies and Chinese / Less of the rest
  • More Hobbits
  • More Social Media 
  • More Digital Channels - ie: is going mobile
  • More Maori Culture
  • Continued evolution of 100% Pure
For those that wish to view the long-winded version of the above points via a power-point presentation, Click HERE.

So what about Qualmark? 

Does anyone know why New Zealand's official quality assurance organisation has been conspicuously left off TNZ's vision for the future?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Signs you've chosen the wrong motel...continued

So you've checked-in to the motel, paid the unusual man at reception that insisted on cash and proceed to your allocated motel room.... where you discover a worrying handwritten sign.

Another subtle tell-tale sign that indicates that you may have chosen the wrong motel:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

AA Launch New Directory

An idiosyncrasy with the motel industry is that the majority of marketing spend is still allocated between two main travel media companies, Jasons Travel Media and AA Travel that are often affectionately referred to as the "The Ugly Sisters".

Jasons has well and truly spanked AA Travel this year in the race to hit the streets with their guides well before the busy season ahead.

The courier van dutifully delivered our brown boxes of Jasons Guides to our motel on the 24 October and we have only today received our boxes of the 2013 AA Accommodation Guide.

At 880 pages this year's AA edition is still a weighty door-stop, however not surprisingly it has slimmed down (by almost 10 percent) compared to the last year's edition.

Much like the Jasons Guide, AA have placed numerous calls-to-action for readers throughout the 2013 Guide to connect with their dynamic online content, in particular the AA iPhone App.

These days it's a difficult task to sex-up a static paper-based directory, but there is still a place for printed guides as they remain a valid part of many customers multi-media decision making process.

A reasonable portion of these guides will still find their way into traveller's car glove boxes - particularly in the domestic leisure market. But, I've noticed over the years that these books are becoming more difficult to give away....with the advent of connected portable devices that can quickly display up-to-date content, the validity of these guides is waning...

It's interesting to contemplate just how much longer it will be before the cost of advertising in these slabs of dead-wood will cease to be cost effective for accommodation advertisers...

Signs you've chosen the wrong motel...continued

Here's another subtle tell-tale sign that indicates that you may have chosen the wrong motel:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Signs you've chosen the wrong motel

Choosing the right motel can make or break happy holiday travels.

As a public service, we've decided to start a series of posts highlighting those subtle tell-tale signs that indicate that you have chosen the wrong motel.

If you see a sign as you enter a motel reception similar to the one below, it may pay to slowly back out and continue looking for alternative digs...


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Motel Refund?

The school year is just about to end...I hope my fellow accommodation providers are gearing-up for the influx of speculative leisure guests about to hit the road.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Zip it, Sweetie

Is it so wrong to be strangely aroused by the experienced firm hand of Paula Bennett giving the earnest Jacinda Ardern a wee slapping?

The meme: "Zip it, Sweetie" is going to last a long time...

Judge orders motel vandal to pay $1,000 for $5,000 damage

Often when people travel away from their natural environment, they tend to forget to pack their brains.

Fine upstanding members of the public that hold responsible jobs and usually process reasonable intelligence can quickly become uncoordinated, incompetent imbeciles while travelling. 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 as restraints of acceptable behavior are willingly tossed aside.

Yesterday, the Northern Advocate reported:
"A Whangarei man who smashed up his Christchurch motel room after spending $300 on tequila shots, causing more than $5000 worth of damage, has been sentenced to community work and ordered to pay more than $1000 in reparation.

Benjamin Easterbrook, 33, appeared for sentencing in the Whangarei District Court on Monday after pleading guilty to a charge of wilful damage.

Judge Greg Davis said Easterbrook returned to his motel room on October 29, heavily intoxicated, to find he had lost his room key.

The judge said Easterbrook became abusive and aggressive towards the motel staff and when he got back into his room smashed the place up, including scrawling offensive words on the bedroom wall. "You said you did it because you had been locked out of your room."

The judge said the repairs cost more than $5000, but the insurance excess and cost of a replacement key left the motel owners out of pocket by $1086.

Defence lawyer Wiremu Puriri said Easterbrook had no recollection of the incident and was remorseful.

Mr Puriri said the first thing Easterbrook knew something was amiss was when he saw that he had spent $300 the previous night on tequila shots.

Judge Davis sentenced Easterbrook to 40 hours' community work and ordered him to pay $1086 reparation to the motel within 14 days."

Source: Click HERE
So while far away from home, a motel guest has a brain-fart and indulges in some reckless criminal activity that leaves a trial of destruction - so why does the motelier need to wear this damage via their insurance company?

And why has a judge determined that this criminal should only be accountable for a fraction of the mayhem he caused, just because the motelier had the foresight to take out insurance?

The pathetic 40 hours' community work aside, does the impost of a $1,000 court order for causing over $5,000 worth of damage almost make the adrenaline-rush of wanton vandalism seem worthwhile?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Will Labour's Kiwibuild Include A Pony?

The Labour conference brought together a perfect storm of diversity including rainbow, union, feminist. Maori, youth and academic factions. The common thread between these groups of non-producers is the belief that their blinkered self interests should be funded by the productivity of others.

To Labour's credit, they've managed to somehow blend these rabid factions into a relatively united front. Socialism has a habit of bonding earnest, self-righteous folk together.

One policy that had all Labourites across all factions wetting themselves with delight, was the fanciful Kiwibuild policy announcement - the grand State work scheme of building 100,000 subsidised homes and allocating them to the state-appointed "needy" by random lotto draws.

This was a magnificent coup for Labour that will help win back those disenfranchised voters that have bled to other left-wing parties (including National). After all, the swelling Kiwi underclass love lotto and of course they all deserve a house that has been subsidised by others. The only thing missing from Labour's housing policy is the promise of a pony tethered at the bottom of the garden of each new house.
So how will this new policy be implemented? Well, other than broad details of relying on the productive and further borrowing to pay for this new social program, Labour are a bit scant on detail, however we see that Kiwiblog has worked out what churning-out 100,000 government built houses over 10 years would equate to:
"10,000 houses a year is 192 houses a week. Now if you take the working week of 40 hours, that is 4.8 houses per hour. That is a new house every 13 minutes of the working week."
IF this was possible, the consequences of State involvement would be at the cost of wrecking the productive private building sector. Meddling in market forces will have serious consequences by inefficiently diverting valuable resource and ramping up prices even further across all commercial and residential housing stratas.

So what will these Kiwibuild houses look like? According to NZ Herald columnist and Labour cheerleader Brian Rudman:
"Despite scepticism from political opponents, industry sources confirm that even in Auckland, this $300,000 benchmark is achievable, able to produce a one or two bedroom, 90 sq metre, two-storey terrace house, all wired and piped and ready for occupation. That's based on a conservative costing of $1,000 a sq metre for 120 sq m of land, and a 90 sq m home, costing $2,000 a sq m to build."
Being in the motel game, we've got experience over many years of accommodating folk in modestly proportioned accommodation, so we've done our own extensive number crunching.

Unfortunately, using the figures available to us, we've come up with a picture that doesn't quite look as rosy that some have been led to believe:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

NZ Hits The Front Page

New Zealand's fusion of film and government hits the front page of The New York Times. It's not a bad read:
"WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Standing by his desk in New Zealand’s distinctive round Parliament building, known locally as the Beehive, Prime Minister John Key proudly brandished an ornately engraved sword. It was used, he said, by Frodo Baggins, the protagonist of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and in the films it possesses magical powers that cause it to glow blue in the presence of goblins.

In Mr. Key’s spare blond-wood office — with no goblins in sight — the sword looked decidedly unmagical. But it served as a reminder that in New Zealand, the business of running a country goes hand in hand with the business of making movies.
For better or worse, Mr. Key’s government has taken extreme measures that have linked its fortunes to some of Hollywood’s biggest pictures, making this country of 4.4 million people, slightly more than the city of Los Angeles, a grand experiment in the fusion of film and government."
Read the full article by clicking: HERE

Air NZ's New Precious

In front of a throng of expectant media, retiring Air New Zealand Boss Rob Fyfe bravely unveils his flamboyant new suit.....and The Hobbit B777-300ER

Friday, November 23, 2012

Motel Merchant Services

With the internet making the world a smaller place, there is the possibility that it will soon become viable to consider a whole new range of companies that offer merchant services.

It is interesting to contemplate what sort of technology motels will be using in the near future to extract funds from guests.

The introduction of chip and PIN cards are now becoming standard with only a few magnetic stripe cards still in circulation. With security issues aside, the chip and PIN process doesn't seem to be anymore efficient or quicker than swiping a card's magnetic stripe and getting the customer to sign.

Tap and Go contactless cards that allow customers to wave their cards within a few centimeters of a scanner looks the next likely mainstream payment option that may graduate from being currently used for low purchase items such as bus fares and coffee purchases.

This method of payment is quick and easy as no PIN or signature is required. This system is not restricted to cards, as it is possible for card issuers to embed the same RFID antennas used on cards into stickers—enabling consumers to then turn any item into a contactless credit card by applying the sticker - ie: Key tags.

The real push for contactless payment technology will be via mobile devices that have NFC ability. If security protocols can be worked out, stepping out without a wallet full of cash or cards makes sense, as most folk already carry a mobile device and using these to make purchases should fit into most lifestyles.

So, the smart money will be on scanners becoming commonplace at motel receptions in the not so distant future...

But what if it were possible to step out for a night on the town without carrying a wallet or a mobile device? Maybe that form-fitting dress or those low riding slim-line pants are unable to contain any carry-on luggage....

If you are a cool, young hipster, maybe you will be attracted to a new payment system that allows your funds to be instantly extracted from your account by paying with your fingerprints.

Out of left-field, Paytouch make a compelling case for their new payment technology that they've showcased at a hotel in Ibiza.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Welcome Back To The Bates Motel

If you randomly ask anyone to name a well-known motelier, unfortunately the most common response would be "Norman Bates" from Alfred Hitchcock's classic film Psycho. I'm not too sure what this says about the motel industry.

Norman, an infamous longtime motelier with a unique customer service outlook and more than a few "Mother issues" probably hasn't done the image of motel industry any favours.

One of the highlights of my trip to LA a few years ago was visiting the Bates Motel at Paramont Studios. Unfortunately, the fast moving golf-cart trains that snake tourists through the studio tour didn't ponder for as long as I would have liked:

Psycho is an enduring gift that keeps on giving and I see that another chapter will soon be added to the franchise with a made-for-TV series, funnily enough called: Bates Motel.
"Bates Motel stars Freddie Highmore (August Rush) as a young Norman Bates — the part played in four films by Anthony Perkins — and Vera Farmiga (Safe House) as his mother Norma. The pair have a, shall we say, complicated relationship which will take center stage in the series. The image below (courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter) is the first we’ve seen of them in character.

The series is produced by Lost‘s Carlton Cuse and Friday Night Lights‘ Kerry Ehrin. A&E liked their take so much that the cable network passed over the usual pilot stage and ordered the show to series. Bates Motel will premiere sometime next year."
Source: Click HERE

To the delight of amatuer psychologists everywhere, we will soon learn how Norman became the dark and complicated character that ended up running a down-and-out motel bypassed years before.

Makes me wonder what events in my own childhood made me attracted to this crazy industry;-)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bella Vista Goes Green

I see that Bella Vista have become the first accommodation group to achieve Qualmark NZ's Enviro Award across its entire network.

In the motel-world, the Bella Vista Motel Group offers a unique proposition as the only New Zealand chain of motel properties to conform to a cookie-cutter model. Motels throughout the country continue to be built and added to the nationwide Bella Vista network with no apparent deviation from their original 90's inspired architecture.

The landscape of accommodation in New Zealand varies dramatically and can offer unwanted "surprises". With Bella Vista there are no surprises. When someone "just wants a bed for the night" for a little over $100 a Bella Vista Motel will fill the gap and provide a no-thrills franchise experience.

Besides the McDonalds-style uniformity, another reason for the success of Bella Vista Group is the consistency and relative professionalism of their operators. Many seem to be untainted first time moteliers that have been indoctrinated into the Bella Vista way and are happy to receive paternal direction. They are very positive, loyal to the brand and down-to-earth enthusiastic folk.

While other moteliers seem to be turning their back on Qualmark NZ's Enviro Award in droves, Bella Vista are embracing it as a group marketing initiative in the hope of attracting the mystical swarms of budget-conscious road warriors with an environmental conscious.

The Qualmark Enviro Award was a compulsive feel-good initiative that was originally embedded into Qualmark's accommodation quality star rating criteria under the Nanny-knows-best culture of the Clark government.

Controversially at the time, the overall quality star rating of accommodation businesses were partly assessed on an accommodation provider's allegiance to environmental and social mantra as part of the overall quality assessment process.

After much angst and hand-wringing, the embedded criteria was unceremoniously extracted from the quality assessment and is now offered as a stand alone accreditation scheme that attracts a separate fee.

While we respected those motel properties that quietly made enviro-choices without being boring, inflicting their views on others and insisting upon the compulsion of others, we were amused with hypocritical accommodation providers at the time that cynically paraded their environmental and social commitment in an attempt to maintain/boost star ratings.

The hard-core pockets of these blow-hards have since deserted Qualmark's Enviro-Award accreditation soon after the compulsion was removed, separate fees were levied and it became apparent that the travelling public simply didn't care.

It will be interesting to see how Bella Vista will market their new environmental credentials as a group proposition. And will this point of difference actually put more-bums-on-beds?
Bella Vista first to achieve across network Enviro Award

Tuesday, 20 November 2012, 10:44 am
Press Release: Tourism New Zealand

Bella Vista first to achieve Qualmark Enviro Award across entire network

Qualmark has this week named Bella Vista as the first accommodation network to achieve an Enviro Award across its entire group.

Bella Vista has 28 locations nationwide, consisting of 27 motels and a hotel, and has been a member of Qualmark since 1998.

Qualmark’s General Manager Tim Keeling says achieving Qualmark Enviro Awards across all members is a significant achievement.

“While all Qualmark accredited businesses meet environmental and social responsibility criteria – achieving an Enviro Award recognises their additional commitment to sustainable tourism practices.

“Bella Vista’s ability to meet the criteria across their network shows their commitment to achieving and maintaining its environmental performance across all areas of its operations.”

Commenting on the achievement, Bella Vista Chairman Tim Henderson says; “We are extremely proud that Bella Vista has been able to achieve an Enviro Award across our entire accommodation network throughout New Zealand.

“Ensuring we use our resources well, manage waste and minimise our impact on the environment not only helps us manage our business costs, but also benefits the communities we work in. We have a sustainability action plan in place which all of our motels and hotel follow to ensure we maintain this rating.”

Launched in 2008, the Qualmark Enviro Award assesses businesses in the areas of waste management, energy and water efficiency, environmental conservation and community support.

Operators that perform highly are able to apply to display Qualmark Enviro Award logos, with this achievement recognised through levels of Gold, Silver and Bronze.

“Sitting alongside the Qualmark quality assurance logo, these ratings help international visitors identify tourism businesses that have made a substantial commitment to responsible tourism practices – making it easier for travellers to select high quality and sustainable places to stay, things to do, and ways to get around,” says Mr Keeling.
Source: Click HERE

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

BBQ At Cunliffe's Place!

Oh dear....there is a certain smug satisfaction in witnessing the Labour Party implode.

In the latest chapter of the elongated Labour leadership clusterfuck, David "Silent T" Cunliffe after bottling a strike at the top job has been stripped of his portfolios.

Apparently we are to believe that the Labour caucus are still rigid after David Shearer's well-rehearsed one-off speech that closed the their weekend's conference and they have unanimously backed their Dear Leader...for now.

Will this really end the speculation that Cunliffe may have a crack at the leadership when the real votes are counted in February 2013?

All pressure will now fall on Shearer to do what he has yet to demonstrate - to act as a competent leader in waiting. Unfortunately one isolated speech does not maketh a leader.

The leadership is for Shearer to loose. Between now and the mandatory leadership vote in February next year, the Labour caucus are at risk of one-by-one skulking across to Camp Cunliffe following every awkward stuttering performance from Shearer.

Meanwhile, after being excused from the burden of arduous work, Cunliffe can relax. He now has more time on his hands to work on his beard that will give the appearance he has a chin and start counting numbers at a few Summer BBQs he'll be hosting at his modest mansion in Herne Bay.

Has Idiocy Hijacked 100% Pure?

When making claims of the effectiveness of a product or service in the advertising world, it's very rare to include the phrase: "100 percent". Companies need to give themselves a bit of wriggle-room - any "new" wonder cleaning product will only ever kill up to 99 percent of household germs.

In 1999, Tourism New Zealand launched 100% Pure New Zealand with much fan-fare. When it comes to a tag-line in advertising, this is very powerful. If someone in the marketplace makes a claim that something is "100%" then this boldly stands out and makes you pause.

The 100% Pure New Zealand tag-line was never meant to measure anything that is quantifiable or tangible. It relates to a mystical Kiwi state of mind. It's a feeling, an attitude, a set of values or an aspiration that is unique to this country. This may seem to be somewhat wishy-washy, however if you look at the campaign in context, you will see majestic landscapes, unique people and exciting experiences that play out to the back-beat of an iconic Kiwi soundtrack. The tears will start to swell and all of a sudden the 100% Pure New Zealand tagline starts to make sense.

Back in 1999 the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign resonated as a message that the public understood. The tag-line could be taken at face-value or could invite a simple thought process to uncover a deeper meaning. As time has moved on, the tag-line has accumulated some baggage. For many, the ability to think for themselves and understand the meaning behind 100% Pure New Zealand has been lost.

Unfortunately there seems to be an increasing amount of people that suffer from the inability to view things in context. These uncreative, bland folk seem to have varying degrees of Asperger's syndrome and tend to take things too literally. They just don't get the 100% Pure New Zealand tagline and assume it's an overreaching environmental catch-cry.

Inevitably, these same mean-spirited, hapless folk believe 100% in the headline grabbing hysteria created by University environmental science lecturers, Green Party activists and Greenpeace vandals that get a kick from knocking New Zealand as a tourism destination.

Has idiocy finally hijacked 100% Pure New Zealand?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Motel Economics

Straight-talking New Jersey Republican Governor, Chris Christie has provided some great sound-bites during his political career. And he's worth keeping an eye on - if the obese charismatic governor can sustain the pace, he may have a shot at the US Presidency.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it was disappointing that Christie joined emotive, shrill media by calling-out those businesses that raised prices as demand increased - including motels.

Professor of Economics Walter E. Williams gives us a lesson in economics 101, with the startling revelation that the free market can cope just fine with distributing goods and services during times of high demand, without the need for government intervention.

Another myth worth busting is the fallacy that mass destruction of property is beneficial to the economy...
"Here’s a which-is-better question for you. Suppose a New Jersey motel room rented for $125 a night prior to Hurricane Sandy’s devastation. When the hurricane hits, a husband, wife and their two youngsters might seek the comfort of renting two adjoining rooms. However, when they arrive at the motel, they find that rooms now rent for $250. At that price, they might decide to make do with one room. In my book, that would be wonderful. That decision would make a room available for another family who had to evacuate Sandy’s wrath.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and others condemn this as price gouging, but I ask you: Which is preferable for a family seeking shelter – a room available at $250 or a room unavailable at the pre-hurricane price of $125? It’s not the intention of the motel owner to make a room available for another family. He just sees an opportunity to earn more money. It was not the intention of the family of four who made do with just one room to make a room available for another evacuating family. They are just trying to save money. Even though it was no one’s intention to make that room available, the room was made available as if intended. That’s the unappreciated benefit of freely fluctuating prices. They get people to do voluntarily what’s in the social interest – conserve on goods and services that have become scarce.

Gov. Christie told merchants that price gouging during a state of emergency is illegal because “during emergencies, New Jerseyans should look out for each other – not seek to take advantage of each other.” Christie warned: “The state Division of Consumer Affairs will look closely at any and all complaints about alleged price gouging. Anyone found to have violated the law will face significant penalties.” It’s not just Christie who has threatened to prosecute sellers for raising prices. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched an investigation into post-storm price increases after receiving consumer complaints about higher prices for everything from gasoline to hotel rooms.

Christie, Schneiderman and public officials elsewhere know better or have access to economists who inform them. But they’re playing politics with people’s suffering, emotionalism and economic ignorance. By the way, politicians would serve us better by focusing their energies on tax gouging.

Disasters produce ignorance in another way. Peter Morici is a professor at the University of Maryland and a former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. He argues that Hurricane Sandy may prove to be an economic boon, writing: “Disasters can give the ailing construction sector a boost, and unleash smart reinvestment that actually improves stricken areas and the lives of those that survive intact. Ultimately, Americans, as they always seem to do, will emerge stronger in the wake of disaster and rebuild better – making a brighter future in the face of tragedy.”

Professor Morici is not alone in this vision. Nathan Gardels, editor of New Perspectives Quarterly, wrote an article titled “The Silver Lining of Japan’s Quake,” arguing the economic “benefits” of that disaster. Even Nobel laureates are not immune from this vision. After the 2001 terrorist attack, economist Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times column titled “Reckonings; After the Horror” that as “ghastly as it may seem to say this, the terror attack – like the original day of infamy, which brought an end to the Great Depression – could even do some economic good.” He explained that rebuilding the destruction would stimulate the economy through business investment and job creation.

Let’s set one thing straight: Destruction does not create wealth. The billions of dollars that will be earned by people in the building industry and their suppliers will surely create jobs and income for those people. But rebuilding diverts resources from other possible uses. Natural or man-made disasters always destroy wealth. Were that not the case, mankind could achieve unimaginable wealth through wars, arson, riots and other calamities."
Source: Click HERE

Friday, November 16, 2012

More Motel Scams

I had an earnest chap send an email to our motel earlier this week:
From: Jetstar Consultants Ltd []
Subject: Inquiry

Gooday Sir,Ma

I will need your Assistance for you to book an accomodation for some of my clients,We would be most appreciative if you would be willing to do so.

Mr & Mrs Peebles (Double Room)

james Peebles (Single Room)

Number of Guest: 3

Date of Arrival: February 05 2013

Date of Departure: February 15 2012

For prompt action, we would be very grateful, if you can send with the total cost for the accommodation to effect the whole night charges to effect the prepayment and the following details:


Awaiting your response so that we can forward Credit Card Details for charges.

Best Regard

Jeff Vaughan

Jetstar Consultants Ltd
The email was sprinkled with familiar signs that suggested that Jeff Vaughan was engaging in the popular sport of "phishing".

The "Hotel Scam" is alive and well - I guess these emails tend to arrive more frequently as we lead up to the busy season. Maybe these scammers think that their speculative Trojan Horse emails won't stand out as much and blend-in with the increased frequency of genuine emails from real prospective guests.

Luckily, the tell-tale signs in the email instantly ring alarm bells. The multiple nights for multiple people, spelling/formatting errors, the strained English and the enthusiasm to forward credit card details - even before availability/rates/room types are advised.

Usually we just trash these requests, however I was curious about the person at the other end so sent back an email offering the rooms for $5,000.00 and got this back in response in reasonably quick time.
From: Jeff Vaughan []
Subject: {Disarmed} Credit Card Information For Payment...

Good Day,

Thanks for the email. I am so glad to know that you are willing to assist me regarding the air flight tickets. See below my credit card information for the total payment.

I Jeff Vaughan hereby authorize you to charge my credit card for accommodation fee, air flight tickets fee and commission to complete booking. The exchange rate of Eur to New Zealand Dollar is 1.55NZ$ See break-down of total amount to be charged.......

Accommodation.... NZ$ 5000.00

Air Flight Tickets... NZ$ 9843.50
Commission..... NZ$ 775.00
Total Amount To Be Charged.... NZ$ 15,618.50

Credit Card details.....

Charge.... NZ$ 7809.25

Name on Card.... Jeff Vaughan
Credit Card Type... Master Card
Card Number...xxxx
Expiration Date...xxxx
CVV... xxx


Charge.... NZ$ 7809.25
Name on Card.... Jeff Vaughan

Credit Card Type... Master Card
Card Number...xxxx
Expiration Date... xxxx
CVV... xxx

After charging my credit cards, email me the total amount charged from each cards, scan the invoice/charging slip. I will then forward my travel agent's information to you for you to wire air flight tickets fee.

Thanks for your support,
Waiting for your reply.
Jeff Vaughan
Jetstar Consultants Ltd
And there it is! All I needed to do was to process Jeff Vaughan's two credit cards to secure a high-value reservation and as a bonus, I'll earn some generous commission!

OK, there's the small matter of transmitting funds back for the airline tickets, but going beyond the call of duty and providing good customer service is what we do. And besides, the pithy fee that we'll be charged after we remit the funds (I'm guessing via Western Union), pales in comparison to the commission we'll be pocketing.

I wanted to learn a bit more about Jeff Vaughan, so I asked a few more questions and got this response back:
From: Jeff Vaughan []
Subject: RE: {Disarmed} Credit Card Information For Payment...


Thanks for the response. See details needed below.....

Business Street Address....... Landywood Green Cheslyn Hay, Walsall WS6 7QX, United Kingdom
Contact Phone number.......... +44 703 5954 422
Business Website address.... Not Available
Name ad embossed on credit card.... Jeff Vaughan
Issuing Bank..... Barclay's Bank

I hope this is all you need?
Hope to read from you soon,
The address given is a charming residential/small industrial street in Walsall, UK. Sadly no street number is given so we were unable to check-out the state of Jeff's garden when the Google car last drove past.

The contact phone number, has a UK country code, but according to Google the 703 part of the number denotes a personal numbering system that is not area specific and is often used in cell phones around the world, especially by scammers.

After performing a BIN database search by entering the first 6-digits of the credit card numbers given, I was not suprised to find that the issuing bank was not Barclays UK, but a bank in the USA.

While proceeding with this request may momentarily swell an accommodation provider's bank account, the sting occurs when the real credit card holders realise their account has been hacked and instruct their bank to reverse the large debit extracted from their account. By the time this occurs, the scammers have received clear funds via telegraphic transfer from the helpful accommodation provider and are enjoying the high-life.

When you are unsure, Google is your friend. These scam-artists use various MO's, but there are several similarities in the information that they present.

As Google is very generous with flagging information in their search engines from this blog, if you are an accommodation provider and you land on this page after investigating an out-of-the-ordinary booking inquiry with some similarities as above......then we suggest you save your time by deleting the email and moving on ;-)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gareth Hughes Continues to Bash Penguins

Got this week's copy of The Truth yet?

We're enjoying following the continuing exposure of The Greens boy-child, Gareth Hughes's mean-spirited travel exploits. 

Here's last week's:

Motel Affair

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Anxiety Attack!

Thought I'd give the Labour Party some marketing exposure and promote their conference that kicks off tomorrow....

Motel Information

It's hard to fathom why councils continue to pour money into the loss making i-Site network that are scattered throughout New Zealand. Under the current Local Government Act 2002, one of the purposes of local government is to “…promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities, in the present and for the future”. By propping-up the operation of local i-Sites, councils can tick-off the "economic well-being of communities".

If we are to believe the rhetoric of the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Act that is slowly moving through parliament, councils will soon need to give greater scrutiny to non-core activities, including tourism expenditure. There is increasing public dissatisfaction of councils continually picking their pockets and an awareness that councils should be focusing on core services. So will this place the network of 90 odd i-Sites under threat?

i-Sites are "nice to have". The buildings are generally well maintained and they sit prominently on highly visual, valuable land. Only a couple are able to stand up on their own two feet, while the majority bleed money and are required to be subsidised by ratepayers. Taxpayers also get to chip-in by covering the operational costs of the i-Site's mother-ship, VIN inc.

The core function of i-Sites is to provide a holding pen for brochures to gather dust, give-out maps and provide a job creation scheme for earnest, well meaning folk that would love to run their own tourism business. i-Sites also act as a booking agency for tourism and attractions with a wide and varied conversion rate success between centres.

As many private businesses are aware, times are changing. Tourists are more savvy and prefer to connect directly with tourism based businesses.

International visitors are arriving into the country with a wealth of information that they have already gleaned from the internet. Any tourist trolling around New Zealand can easily trip across numerous WiFi sites to connect on-the-go and mobile data is becomming less eyewateringly expensive.

Unsurprisingly, use of new forms of technology by visitors continues to increase, particularly WiFi, Smart Phones and mobile phones.

Tourism businesses themselves have also changed by providing interactive websites and booking systems that are easily accessible. And if tourists wish to interact with a human, there a plenty of options available to them; especially when they arrive at a location outside an i-Site's limited retail hours. Motels are a good example of a network of businesses that are open 7-days a week, 365-days of the year that can offer local advice, make reciprocal bookings and offer directions.

With the demand for i-Sites dwindling, is the writing is on the wall? Are i-Sites fast becoming an costly, quaint relic of a bygone era?

And is it time for councils to exit i-Sites and allow these "businesses" to fold into the private sector?

ATEED in Auckland are no strangers to questionable tourism investment, but can at least be congratulated in identifying dodgy ROI with some of their i-Site network...
Five visitor information centres in Auckland are to shut with the loss of 20 full and part-time jobs. The centres are to close in Takapuna, Orewa, Pukekohe, Kumeu and Bombay.

Last month Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development announced plans to restructure its i-Site visitor centres after reviewing the 12 it inherited from former legacy councils two years ago.

They signalled five centres were likely to close as a result. If the centres remained open, ATEED said they would lose about $2.7 million over the next four years and so will close on December 14.
ATEED chief executive Brett O'Riley said the affected staff would be given "redeployment priority" for suitable and current roles within his organisation and it would work with other council linked groups to help find them work.

The remaining seven visitor centres at Auckland airport's international and domestic terminals, SkyCity, Princes Wharf, Waiheke Island, Warkworth and Devonport will remain, with ATEED looking to improve their performance.

O'Riley said ATEED would work with Local Boards and tourism operators to help fill the void caused by the closures.

"We intend developing a new commercial model for these areas possibly involving local Auckland Council assets such as service centres and libraries and greater use of technology, along with possible partnering with the private sector," he said.

According to the latest Tourism New Zealand visitor experience survey, tourists were accessing key tourism information and making bookings on their own devices, with smartphone use up 65 per cent in the last year and iPad use up 19 per cent.

The same survey showed i-Site use had dropped 27 per cent in the past two years.
Source: Click HERE

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

MANZ Claims: Wairoa District Council robbing its ratepayers

Should a Chief Executive employed by a Wairoa District Council owned subsidiary business be permitted to offer visitors to Wairoa accommodation?

A Wairoa motelier that also happens to be a Motel Association of New Zealand (MANZ) Board member reckons he shouldn't.
Wairoa District Council robbing its ratepayers 
Tuesday, 13 November 2012, 11:52 am
Press Release: Motel Association


13 November 2012

Wairoa District Council robbing its ratepayers says Motel Association of NZ

Appallingly unethical behaviour by the Wairoa District Council shows some local authorities are out of control and government needs to make sure its crackdown on councils has real teeth, says the Motel Association of New Zealand (MANZ).

“For years we’ve put up with councils monopolistic behaviour through excessive rates and unnecessary fees and charges. But we’ve seen Wairoa District Council take this one step further, by allowing one of their executives to poach guests from a local motel,” says MANZ Chief Executive Michael Baines.

The Vista Motor Lodge in Wairoa has twice in last six months had the chief executive of a council subsidiary company offer discounted short-term accommodation to motel guests at a private residence he owns.

When the motel-owner complained of this behaviour to the council, no action was taken.

“This is shockingly unethical and unprofessional behaviour, and raises serious questions about the culture within this council”, Mr Baines says.

“To add insult to injury, this comes soon after the Wairoa District council imposed a rates increase of 14 per cent on the motel,” Mr Baines says.

The Vista Motor Lodge now has an annual rates bill of $36,450, on a per unit basis this is about twice the national average. There’s no way it can try and compete with someone offering a residential house with a fraction of the rates cost, Mr Baines says.

“The fact that the person doing this is a chief executive of a subsidiary company indicates Wairoa District Council does not give a damn about businesses in its area beyond how much in the form of rates it can bleed out of them.”

“The sooner central government can crack down on councils like this who abuse their power, the better,” Mr Baines concluded.
Source: Click HERE

Monday, November 12, 2012

Motel Cooking

A point of difference with motels compared with other accommodation sectors is the proliferation of self-catering facilities available in motel guest rooms.

More often than not, the kettle and coffee plunger will be the only self-catering items used in a motel unit, however a hard core of guests insist on whipping up culinary delights in microwaves, cooktops and ovens while away from home.

One of the last things a motelier wishes to experience is the whiff of a cook-up wafting from one of his guest rooms at night. It's a clarion call - to get more staff on the next day. When it comes to servicing the room afterwards it doesn't take a CSI team to work out what went on before, with the tell-tale trial of food ingredients that are liberally splattered and exotic cooking smells that are left behind.

Keeping a guest room clean and fresh takes a lot of time, effort and money, so the perennial self-catering guests are encouraged.... not to use the facilities in the room.

That's why many motels have an extensive compendium of local restaurants, offer meal chargeback/delevery services and even a guest BBQ to minimise self-catering clean-up.

Why anyone would be so mean-spirited to cook in a motel room is beyond me.

It is good to see that the pioneering human spirit for guests to go out of their way to self-cater to save a couple of bucks seems to be alive and well within the hotel sector as well ;-)

Warning: Accommodation operators will cringe while watching this:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Motel Recycling

Unfortunately at our motel we have a large double garage. From memory, I don't think a car has ever been parked in it.

Our garage is where old motel chattels that "may have a use one-day" go to die. The trouble is that once these items go in, they never tend to come out again for any useful purpose.

Lurking in darkened corners of our garage are old carpet remnants, toasters, kettles, beds, clock radios, TVs, coffeee tables, headboards and piles of other unloved motel chattels past their use-by date.

In a moment of inspiration, I wondered what would happen if I extracted a token motel treasure from our garage and left it on the side of the road?

I started with an old computer desk that was within easy reach (a recent addition a few years ago), rolled it out to the side of the road and waited to see what would happen:

Inspired, we've wheeled out several other items this afternoon and have provocatively placed them on the side of the road with that emotive come-hither "FREE" sign. This has given us wonderful entertainment as enthusiastic Sunday drivers screech to a stop to hoover up the piles of discarded chattels, faster than we could get them out for display.

Now I've got a small but perfectly formed gaping space in my garage.....ready for the next influx of discarded motel chattels that "may have a use one-day".

Friday, November 9, 2012

Social Media Slappa

The pinnacle of social media is demonstrated in the following video.

While enjoying the pageantry of the Melbourne Cup, a robust Aussie sheila gets a wee bit tipsy, starts mouthing off and ends up swinging. All very amusing for assembled onlookers.

For many in the immediate crowd, the knee jerk response was to grab their smartphone and start filming the unfolding spectacle. Within moments, several versions of the incident were uploaded on YouTube and are currently going viral.

Oh dear...with social media, it's becoming very difficult to hide;-)

Motel Check-out

The 10am checkout at a motel seems to suit most guests and we are happy to extend this when asked.

Sometimes it's difficult to evacuate some guests that tend to linger. I guess I should be grateful that they enjoy my hospitality so much, but they always seem to be occupying the very room that is urgently needed for an incoming guest.

Why is it that the stereotypical unarranged late checkout occurs with a single male sales rep that checks-in early morning the day before? The morning check-in process is highlighted by the sales rep whinging how busy he is - after escorting him to his room he spends most of the day lounging around watching TV, raiding the vending machine and sucking the motel's WiFi.

Unfortunately the next morning, the same sales rep never seems to have any pressing appointments to attend and after consuming a large cooked breakfast that contains everything on the menu, he becomes wedged in his room with the curtains drawn.

While I generally leave these folk to wallow amongst their takeway wrappers from the night before, sometimes when I really need the room I have to engage in some polite suggestive conversation.....when in reality I'd prefer to use the following motel room evacuation technique:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Media Goes Back To Old-School

It was a rare morning at the motel this morning with no breakfasts to prepare, so after delivering copies of The Dom and NZ Herald to my guests, I went for a brisk walk around the neighborhood in search of today's edition of The Truth.

You would have read recently that Cameron Slater, the man behind NZ's number 1 blog, Whaleoil has crossed to the other side and is Truth's new editor. After years of slagging off the MSM, Slater has decided to join them in a big way and distribute news and views via an iconic old-school weekly newsprint publication.

Today was the day for The Truth's first publication with Cameron Slater at the helm.

My journey to get my hands on a copy was an interesting experience. The first dairy only held copies of last week's edition. The second dairy had two current copies....but the titles had been cut off the front pages (obviously a mischievous rouse to sell mutilated copies AND gain a refund from the distributor). After questioning the dodgy dairy-owner about her scissor handywork, she offered me a discount - thanks!

Finally I managed to get a copy of The Truth from a service station that was on my walking circuit. I must admit my Presbyterian upbringing kicked in momentarily and I felt a tinge of self-consciousness buying this titillating rag  - I'm sure the lady behind the counter looked at me a bit funny when I handed over the $2.80....

Up until recently, I hadn't realised that The Truth was still being published and after getting the publication home it would appear that nothing has changed much over the years.

The easy-read blokey publication appears to have three equally proportioned sections: "news," sport and tits 'n bums (ie: a handy adult feature lift-out).

Truth's fortunes will be fascinating to watch as opinionated blog-style "reporting" meets newsprint.   It will be a challenge to connect to readers via newsprint and reach out to them for opinion and even the source of news.

As the public is increasingly reading news digitally, it will be interesting to see how this market can be attracted and interact. And how is the online portion of the newspaper business going to be transformed into a profit centre?

This week's edition will hopefully be the base from where Truth goes onwards and upwards. Using The Truth as a vehicle to venture into a new era of media is going to be a difficult task.

The incremental changes that have been promised in print (and online) over the next few months will be an interesting experiment in media content, style and distribution.

Down and out in the Romney Motel

Sitting on an iconic American pathway, Route 66, the lonely, once-proud Romney Motel sits as a shadow of its former self. The once proud thriving business that promised so much is now passed by motorists without a second glance on their way to Sin City- a faded echo of a bygone era.

The Romney Motel features, warm, inviting staff and free wireless internet. Rates start from a modest $39.50 and small pets are welcome. In-room amenities include: color TV (Free 105 Channels), air conditioning and alarm clock.

Don't bother to book...there appears to be plenty of vacancies.
"What more fitting metaphor to that billion-dollar campaign? In and out; all things to all people; preferably cash (so the profits may be shipped to the Cayman islands); a sleepover and then on to other things, from the "5-point plan" to Binders Full of Women, from "Corporations are people" to the 47%, from the US$10,000 bet to a trade/currency war with China on day one.

The Romney motel has plenty of vacancies, pets OK (even the strapped-to-the roof kind); as for the 47% on the move, be it the U-Haul or the trucker kind, better park in rear. The motel is as vacant as the Romney campaign...."

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