Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Memories of a motel ban

Photo courtesy of keepingstock.blogspot.co.nz

In a desperate bid to gain traction, Labour has appealed to bewildered fractions of Kiwi's that are burdened with entrenched xenophobia and entitlement.

Labour's recently announced policy to ban those nasty, foreigners from buying existing houses is a masterstroke and will appeal to the left with nostalgic memories of regulation, protectionism and high taxes.

Labour's Trever Mallard is enthusiastically bullish about his party's new policy of selectively banning folk that have the misfortune of being domiciled in certain locations.

Trever has even taken to Twitter using a nationalistic hashtag #itsourcountry in support:

So is this the same Trevor Mallard that rallied against selective preference by directing his wrath at an infamous Palmerston North motelier that chose to ban the good folk of Wainuiomata from staying at his motel?

Aussie Motel Receives Corporate Welfare

When it comes to operating tourism businesses, our feekless Aussie cousins seem to be unable to supply adequate services to met consumer demand without outside intervention.

Following on from media reports about an Australian Government initiative to provide a "FREE" online booking solution that is available to all tourism operators, I see that the South Australian Federal Government are redistributing national tourism funding to operators that are unable to cope with the rigors of the open market.

The following bizarre news story that demands to be parodied, features moteliers that were able to identify that there is more consumer demand for the few 4-star rooms available at their property. They will be gifted a "windfall" of $85,000 to upgrade their entire property to 4-star standard and apparently this will include a brand new communal outdoor kitchen!

The Australian Government should cut-out-the-middleman and simply purchase and run accommodation businesses themselves...
"A MOUNT Gambier motel has received an $85,000 windfall from the Federal Government in a bid to boost the quality of accommodation stock in the region.

The Tower Motor Inn grant follows other regional accommodation providers The Barn and Commodore on the Park also receiving similar funding packages in recent years.

This follows only 22pc of rooms in regional South Australia being rated as four-star, compared with 39pc across regional Australia.

The SA Tourism Commission has recommended 280 rooms across the Limestone Coast should be upgraded from three to four stars.

Tower Motor Inn owners Gary and Caroline Walters yesterday welcomed the funding boost, revealing it would help fast-track refurbishment plans at the Jubilee Highway West business.
Ms Walters said the motel had plans to upgrade eight rooms to a four-star rating following increased demand from patrons.

She said the motel had been making improvements to the 19-room facility since 2004 in a move to stay competitive and satisfy growing tourist standards.

Ms Walters said their own internal research showed there was currently a 17pc gap for four-star rooms for the motel.

“Our occupancy rates are 11pc higher for our four-star rooms,” she said.

“There is strong demand for four-star rooms and over the past 12 months there have been a lot of international tourists, particularly from the growing Chinese market, whose expectations are really high.”

She said patrons wanted frameless showers, quality fixtures, leather couches and Blu-ray technology.
“They want that bit extra,” Ms Walters said.

She said the motel also planned to build an outdoor kitchen for patrons who wanted to self-cater.
Ms Walters said major refurbishment works were expected to begin in February and were expected to take five months.

Meanwhile, South Australian Senator Anne McEwen welcomed the funding.

“The Tower Motor Inn will refurbish current 3.5 star rooms to create AAA four-star facilities, as well as build an outdoor kitchen - a great addition to any accommodation,” Senator McEwen said.

“This project will increase the availability of four-star rooms for the many interstate and international visitors to Mount Gambier.

“I congratulate the Tower Motor Inn for winning the funding by strongly demonstrating their commitment to improving the tourism experience throughout the South East.”

The initiative was among 89 projects nationally that shared in $8.5m in the funding round."
Source: Click HERE

Friday, July 26, 2013

Top 10 Incredibly Unique Accommodation

Thanks to Trip Advisor, we've plagiarised their list of unique accommodation options.

This is a great resource for those travellers looking for an alternative places to stay as a backdrop for those quirky Facebook holiday snaps:

Ecocamp PatagoniaTorres del Paine, Chile Eco-friendly domes in Patagonia
"Rugged luxury like you couldn't imagine... The domes were cozy and the perfect size. I loved listening to the rain..."
read more »
"This place was so beautiful inside... you would not believe it was a cave except for the walls - which made it so cool."
read more »
"Could not be more pleased with the magic of the experience. Located majestically like a small village above the sea…"
read more »
Brussels Welcome HotelBrussels, Belgium Choose from 17 country-themed rooms
"The rooms do not have numbers, they are distinguished by themes... Themes included Egypt, Congo, Cuba, etc."
read more »
Hotel Palacio de SalUyuni, Bolivia A hotel built from salt
"Of course to prove that everything was made of salt we, like probably hundreds of others, had to lick a few objects."
read more »

Source: Thanks to TripAdvisor

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The 2013 AA Supreme Host of the Year Award Winners are...

One highlight of the Motel Association of New Zealand (MANZ) Conference is the announcement of the AA Supreme Host of the Year Award.

Moteliers are traditionally a reserved lot, so this award is an opportunity for them to gather, celebrate and pay homage to moteliers that a doing that little bit extra in providing excellent quality customer service.

This is the Academy Award for moteliers that exceed guests' expectations beyond the call of duty.

What we like about this award is that it unashamedly singles out high achievers above all others and recognises the motel industry's biggest point of difference - the hosts.

The award underlines that motels are part of the "hospitality industry" and the way they provide customer service and host their guests sets them apart from the scrum of other accommodation providers.

The AA Supreme Host of the Year promotes the importance of the human element in the motel experience.

It is a tremendous feel-good opportunity to record and recognise great deeds in hospitality - We like that.

The winners of the AA Supreme Host of the Year Award for 2013 are:
 Kerri and Steve James - Radfords Motel - Te Anau

Awkward Flight

Oh dear...one of those awkward travelling moments captured on tape:
"Here I was... Minding my own business on a flight home, when I ended up in an extremely awkward situation. This lady was totally out of it. As soon as she sat down, she started falling asleep, and it only got worse as the flight continued. I tried lifting her up, shaking her, and startling her, but it seemed like nothing was going to work. So, I thought it would be fun to get some of it on video to share with family and friends. Then she finally moved... Only to find someone else for the last part of the flight. Ha! (I did try a LOT to wake her and move her off of me, but it was not working until the end. I did not get it all on film, but even if I did, that would have been boring and way too long. Also, I promise that none of this is staged. We are all 3 random people who had never met before.) On a side note, people have been asking why I didn't notify a flight attendant. The flight attendants were not allowed to get up during this flight, due to turbulence. They told us not to use our call buttons unless it was a medical emergency. Also, I would like to speak with this lady, so if you have any leads, please let me know. I would like to ask for (albeit late) permission (and now forgiveness)."

Aussie Government Launches New Booking Widget

As a general guiding principle, governments should stay out of business ventures that can be adequately provided by the private sector.

That's why I'm somewhat queasy about gushy media releases announcing an Australian Government initiative to provide a "FREE" online booking solution that is available to all tourism operators.

The Australian Tourism Booking Widget (ATBW) is a widget that provides an online payment solution, a supplier portal, a Facebook booking app and customer support services.

So why would the Australian Government venture into this space?

A 2010 - Operators Online Capabilities Benchmark Survey commissioned by the Federal Department of Tourism revealed that while 84 per cent of Australia’s tourism operators are online, only a third have ‘real-time’ online booking and payment facilities.

A 2012 – Online Booking Capability, Understanding the Barriers Study was commissioned by the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) concluded that there was a need for a simple to identify, simple to use and simple to implement booking widget for operators and that such a tool would provide tourism operators with an opportunity to enter the online booking space.

While there would appear to me to be numerous existing suppliers that adequately provide online booking services to tourism businesses, the above studies were obviously taken at face-value and gave enough rationale for the Australian Govenment to release AUD$500,000 funding to the ATBW to kick-start the project.

It will be interesting to gauge how many businesses that are currently offline will be motivated enough to load and update live inventory? And how many online businesses will convert from existing commercial booking widget suppliers?

While some Aussie travel businesses may gain short-term benefit, I wonder if this initiative may stifle ongoing innovation in this space in the private sector.

Expect howls from Kiwi tourism groups for the New Zealand Government to duplicate this initiative. 
Tourism Minister Gary Gray today launched a new online booking tool to improve the capability of Australian tourism businesses to service customers online.
The Australian Tourism Booking Widget is a Government initiative for all sectors of the tourism industry to help them capitalise on visits to their websites by providing an easily accessible booking and payment facility.
The Widget will provide tourism operators with a basic system providing a real time booking and payment solution through the operators' own websites and Facebook pages, as well as helpdesk services.
Mr Gray launched the Widget while attending the Cradle Coast Regional Tourism Forum with the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Member for Braddon, Sid Sidebottom.
"The challenge for the Australian tourism sector is converting potential visitor interest into a booking," Mr Gray said.
"This Widget aims to fix this by getting more of our tourism operators online for bookings and payments - and help them grow their businesses, particularly in regional areas where online facilities may be the only channel for operators to directly engage with their customers.
"The Australian Government provided $500,000 to the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse to fund the project. The initiative is part of the Tourism 2020 strategy to increase tourism expenditure from $70 billion to $140 billion by the end of the decade."
Globally more than 50 per cent of consumers use digital channels to research, plan and book holidays and this is expected to grow in the next decade. While 84 per cent of Australia's tourism operators are online, only a third of these have 'real-time' online booking and payment facilities.
"This is a first step in helping tourism operators transition to online services by providing a basic framework that is easy to install and use."
Mr Gray said the initiative will set operators on the way to exploring more sophisticated booking and payment solutions for their businesses in the future.
Mr Sidebottom said initiatives such as the Widget will help an important industry for the North-West region and Tasmania grow.
"Anything that helps our tourist operators promote the region and attract visitors is to be welcomed," Mr Sidebottom said.
"I've travelled to many places and our region is the equal of the best that I've seen - if not better.
"We have much to offer and should use any means possible to promote it. The Widget will help us do this.
"Tourism is a significant part of our State's economy, is growing and can grow much more," Mr Sidebottom said.
- See more at: http://www.noodls.com/view/F91792C3E14A53390A6B26F511722BC097270B3D#sthash.rXVOz9Lk.dpuf

Here's how the Aussie system works:

More Tweets LIVE from the MANZ Conference

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Keeping track of your stuff

The item that travellers most often forget when they venture forth...is their brain.

Away from their natural, familiar environment, travellers can act very differently and often irrationally.

One theme that is familiar to moteliers is the regular occurrence of guests losing things. Wallets and keys are the main culprits and we've spent countless hours with agonised guests retracing their steps and assisting them search for personal items that regually escape their possession.

And of course there's the growing mountain of lost property that gets absentmindedly left behind after departure - cell phone charges, clothing and an assortment of computer peripherals seem to be the most common...

Maybe an inconspicuous Tile that is a slim, attachable tracking device may save travellers (and accommodation providers) a lot of stress:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Check-in.com.au Burn-off Customers and Suppliers

We've previously posted about Australian accommodation booking website Check-in.com.au.

In 2011, we exposed Check-in's offhand treatment of a Christchurch motel" in their darkest hour" after the devastation and emotion of the earthquakes.

More recently, we posted about Check-in being placed in voluntary liquidation leaving thousands of Aussie and Kiwi accommodation operators along with hapless customers that prepaid accommodation exposed.

Check-in has a track record of performing well in terms of web-traffic with a 2010 media report claiming that the website attracted 450,000 unique visitors a month. Although these are impressive stats, it would appear that this popularity alone wasn't enough to sustain a profitable business model.

A quick search around the interwebs, reveals a lot of unhappiness about the demise of Check-in with questions being asked about why the previous owners, Accommodation Clearing House Pty Ltd were permitted to continue trading long after payments to operators ceased? Another common question is why didn't Check-in place funds received from customers in trust?

Last month, Allied Consolidated Ltd, that is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange purchased the failed Check-in business for a knock-down price of $35,000.

The sale price was reported as including, Check-in's e-commerce platform, a 350,000 customer database, supplier lists, domain names, logos, business names and other intellectual property.

Unfortionately, Allied Consolidated has not taken on any liabilities or obligations of Check-in's previous operating entity - In other words, suppliers and customers of Check-in (under previous ownership) have little or no chance of recovering outstanding funds.

After purchase, the new owners were quick to contact accommodation suppliers (many of whom still had outstanding accounts due from the previous owner) to sure-up continued support of the OTA that resumed trading after a brief pause. The "relaunch" of Check-in took place with little obvious change to the previous business operation:
From: suppliers@check-in.com.au [mailto:suppliers@check-in.com.au]
Subject: Check-in.com.au Relaunch

We are pleased to announce Check-in.com.au has been acquired by ASX listed Allied Consolidated Limited (ASX: ABQ); click here to view further details of the acquisition.

With a new experienced leadership team in place Check-in has re-opened and will soon be processing new reservations.

Please feel most welcome to allocate rates and availability for your Property through the Supplier Extranet or via your Channel Manager and update the Check-in Booking Channel as normal to resume sale of your room inventory. If rates and availability were loaded previously please be aware this will activate automatically and will be bookable on Check-in as of 17:00 AEST Tuesday the 18th of June 2013.

Amended terms and conditions are available via the Supplier Site; by selling through Check-in you expressly acknowledge and agree to these terms.

If you have any questions please feel most welcome to drop us a line on 1300 47 22 22 from within Australia or email: suppliers@check-in.com.au.

We look forward to your continued support and a prosperous future.

Supplier Support

P 1300 47 22 22 (within Australia) | E suppliers@check-in.com.au | W www.check-in.com.au

Level 1 | 74 Castlereagh Street | Sydney, 2000 | Australia
A fellow motelier sent us the following email from Check-in's new owners in reply to an outstanding account chaser:
From: suppliers@check-in.com.au [mailto:suppliers@check-in.com.au]

Thank you for your email.

Allied Consolidated Limited (ASX Code - ABQ) have taken on the Check-in assets only; any queries relating to prior debt for completed stays would need to be referred to the Liquidator for Accommodation Clearing House Holzman Associates: mholzman@holzmanassociates.com.

ABQ are focused on delivering revenue moving forward.

Please feel most welcome to contact us for any other queries you may have.

Kind Regards,

Supplier Support
P 1300 47 22 22 | E suppliers@check-in.com.au
Level 1| 74 Castlereagh St| Sydney, 2000 |Australia
So, if a company is willing to take-on the "goodwill" and business operation of the Check-in, what are the consequences if that established brand under previous ownership burnt-off suppliers and customers?

Will customers be aware (or really care) about the consequences of Check-in's business failure under previous ownership?

After sustaining losses, how many accommodation providers are game enough to risk providing inventory to Check-in under new ownership?

Would you play departure roulette?

The formula for creating social media marketing success is not an exact science.

Creating a compelling video that can be easily shared across social networks is a must-have.

What does it take for a video to attract viewers?

A large budget tends to help, but a video that goes viral tends to have a simple and unique idea, captures a real-life slice of human emotion and draws the viewer into the frame.

So would you play Departure Roulette?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tweeting LIVE from the MANZ Conference

Safely ensconced in our secret lair, we're looking forward to vicariously attending the Motel Association of NZ (MANZ) 40th AGM and Conference to be held in Nelson from Tuesday 23rd July.

One highlight we are particularly looking forward to is the sermon to be delivered by Green Taliban co-leader, Russel Norman.

Please note that the "official" hash-tag for Twitter is #MANZ40th

So far, it would appear that the Twittersphere is somewhat lacking expectant attendee contributions, however we soon expect a frenzy of activity.

Over the next week, we'll be keeping our live MANZ Conference Twitter Feed (below) within easy reach for the benefit of our dear readers:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sleep with a stranger?

The seems to be an increasing array of short-term accommodation options readily available to travellers.

Thanks to the internet, a scrum of budding providers can package and market imaginative alternative accommodation offers.

We've blogged about new alternative accommodation sectors that include Garden Camping, Taxi Cab Accommodation, Private Caravan Rental, Spare Bedroom Accommodation and the rising phenomenon of Holiday Rentals.

We've now discovered a new accommodation sub-sector that may take-off?
A new online hotel room-sharing program is either a why-didn't-somebody-think-of-this-sooner brainstorm, or completely nuts.

Easynest, which launched in May, capitalizes on the fact that most hotel rates are based on double occupancy, whether or not there are two occupants. By finding someone to share the room — and the cost — rates are cut in half.

It works like this: You create a profile with Easynest, list the locales you're headed for (or interested in going to) with your dates, and wait for a "host" (the hotel room booker) to contact you. Host and "guest" then agree on dates, costs and other particulars, and the guest pays the host directly.
For now, the service is free, though the site's founders say they'll eventually charge a commission for the service. Current membership is about 400.

A related (sort of) item: MeetAtTheAirport.com, a website whose members register where they'll be laying over in order to meet other travelers with similar timetables, queried its married women members on whether they've fantasized about having a one-night stand with a stranger while traveling solo.

Sixty-three percent said they have and 27% of respondents said they'd actually had a one-night stand while on the road. Thirty-eight percent said they prefer traveling solo to traveling with their significant other.

About 25% of the site's 80,000 members are women.

And considering the poll involved women who have gone to the trouble of joining a site so they can meet strangers in airports, maybe the results aren't all that surprising.

No word on why MeetAtTheAirport.com didn't query male members."
Source: Click HERE

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Customer Special Request

When making an online accommodation booking, customers follow a reasonably standard form that requires them to enter arrival/departure dates, room type, name, address etc...and a section for comments or special requests that can be entered free-form.

More often than not the special request section of the reservation process is ignored by the customer, however some use this to communicate dietary requirements, late arrival or a preference for a ground-floor room, away from the road, non-smoking etc...

These preferences are not guaranteed and it is generally understood that they are to be treated by the accommodation provider on a "best endeavors" basis.

The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center, Texas are committed to customer service. On their website, they boldly state:
"...to grant even the most challenging of requests" 
So when a mischievous customer booked online and completed the special request section on their website, this is what he asked for:

Was the hotel up to the task?

Yep, they nailed it!

Source: Click HERE

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Motelier Donates Paihia Motel

Built only a few years after motels in New Zealand first started to appear, the Top o' the Tide Motel is to be resigned to history.

A sad end to a classic 1960's property located on prime coastal land in Paihia.
"A retiring motelier is donating a $2 million waterfront property to the people of Paihia for use as a scenic reserve.

John Williams has owned the Top o' the Tide Motel, at the corner of Marsden Rd and Davis Cres in Paihia, for almost 50 years. While the building itself has seen better days the 0.4ha site occupies a prime location on the Paihia waterfront with sweeping views of Te Ti Bay. It is officially valued at $2 million.

Mr Williams said he was donating the land as a place for people to relax and enjoy the view of the Bay of Islands.

"I've been here nearly 50 years. If I sold the site, it might get turned into a pub or a backpackers. I believe it will be more valuable to the community of Paihia as a reserve," he said.

Asked why he didn't sell the land and pocket the proceeds, he said simply: "You can't take it with you".

Mr Williams, who is now in his 80s, built most of the motel in the mid-1960s when it was one of just two or three in Paihia. While he wouldn't miss the motel itself, he would miss what he was sure was the best spot on the waterfront. "When you've been in a place 50 years you do get attached to it."

The only conditions attached to the gift are that the Far North District Council pay for the motel's demolition, classify the site as a scenic reserve under the Reserves Act, and name it after his late mother, Lucy Elizabeth Williams.

Mr Williams said his mother had raised him and his siblings through the depression years. She was born in England, where she made munition boxes in World War I before emigrating to Canada, and from there to New Zealand. "You don't realise until later what your parents do for you, especially in those days. It was very tough," he said.

The new reserve will be grassed over until it is ready for planting. The public and Focus Paihia will have a say on the landscaping and management plan Mr Williams is working on.

Far North Mayor Wayne Brown said Mr Williams' extraordinary gesture would be greatly appreciated by the Paihia community. "Paihia is our main tourist town, but has very few neighbourhood reserves where people can relax and play. The Lucy Elizabeth Williams Reserve will add to all other good things that make Paihia a great place to visit and live in."

Focus Paihia chairman Grant Harnish thanked Mr Williams for his generous donation.

"It shows the community spirit that is developing in Paihia. People are really motivated to make the place better."
Source: Click HERE

Motels - Stop Making Excuses

Unfortunately the motel industry often needs to look outside its own for good grounded commentary.

If we ignore the mandatory opening tourism slang salutation, the latest Tourism Property Brokers newsletter offers moteliers some good advice:
Kia Ora,

This month’s newsletter is all about Quality Communication and how relevant and important this is to the success of a Tourism business. Whether it’s a new business, change in direction or moving into a market and more importantly the use of Social Media.

Moteliers are learning how to move with the times and to stop making excuses as to why not to use Trip Advisor:-
  • The reviews are false.
  • It's too time-consuming.
  • I do not know how to respond/I do not know how to use TripAdvisor.
  • I want to prevent new issues rather than deal with old ones.
  • I do not have the language skills.
A lot of Moteliers do not respond/communicate or even 'bury their heads in the sand' because they have heard horror stories from other Moteliers, and quite simply have a fear of the Trip Advisor site - either from lack of skill, fear of negative reviews or lack of awareness of the power of the reviews.

Communication is a powerful tool and a response says more about your customer care than all the great reviews people have written about your Motel!
It's refreshing to have a rest from the tiresome self-generating hysteria and conspiracy theories circulating within the motel industry about TripAdvisor.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dramatic 100 MPH Motel Crash

Security cameras used to be rare specialist kit and extremely expensive.

In these modern times, entire CCTV systems have become readily available consumer items with attractive pricing.

It is now possible for the average pragmatic motelier to head down to their local electronics store in the morning, make an off-the-shelf purchase and by the afternoon have a fully working CCTV system operating at their motel.

Besides the security aspect, an added bonus of cameras operating is the opportunity to capture on film moments of human stupidity.

We've posted before about a car that lost control and catapulted another car into a motel swimming pool.

And now a motel security camera has captured more dramatic footage:
 "A Toledo, Ohio, man said he feels like he "cheated death" after a van traveling 100 mph slammed into a motel room where he and his pregnant girlfriend were staying.

Adrian Smith and his girlfriend, Rochelle Watson, were asleep in their room at the Crown Inn Motel in Toledo Sunday around 11:30 a.m. when Smith got up to use the bathroom, he told ABCNews.com. But after leaving the bathroom, Smith said he heard "a big boom" that knocked him to the ground.

"I thought the motel room exploded," he said. "[The crash] threw me back. Everything pushed forward my way: the dressers, the tables, the air conditioner."

Smith said the SUV that crashed into the motel also knocked Watson to the floor. She is eight months pregnant.

The driver, 32-year-old Thomas Wallace of Temperance, Mich., was traveling more than 100 mph when he ran a red light and hit two other vehicles before losing control of his car, police told ABC News Toledo affiliate WTVG-TV

Wallace hit a light pole and then smashed into the motel.

Police do not believe alcohol was a factor in the crash, WTGV-TV reported.

"We were trapped in the room, we couldn't get out," Smith said. "They had to knock the wall down in the next room [so we could leave]."

Crown Inn Motel manager Arvind Patel told ABCNews.com, "I was worried about the pregnant woman, but no one was injured. It was a miracle."

Patel said three rooms were damaged from the crash, but Smith and Watson's room bore the brunt of the damage. He said he relocated all guests affected by the crash to other rooms in the motel.

Smith said he and Watson went to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo after the crash. He was discharged Sunday night, but said Watson was still receiving care.

"Someone was praying for us," Smith said. "We missed it by a second."

Source: Click HERE

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Star Trek Hotel

Film studios invest big dollars across all media marketing their latest block buster movie and I wonder if the idea of film studios partnering with hotels to create themed rooms as part of the promotional mix will catch on?

Paramount have teamed up with a hotel in Brazil, to create a Star Trek suite, which will be available for the next month or so.

The tariff is advertised for single occupation for just $USD 670 a night or $USD 715 for a couple - I'm guessing that most die-hard trekkie fanboys will be booking-in for the single rate;-)
"The Sheraton Hotel in Sao Paulo features decoration and furniture based on Star Trek, including graphics of the Enterprise, more Starfleet deltas than you can shake a phaser at, and walls covered in space imagery. Those starry walls include some seven thousand crystals, and an array of LED lights which can be commanded to do a variety of effects via remote control in the room. Architect Pedro Luis Scalise's intention was apparently to make those staying in the room feel immersed in outer space.

Visitors also get breakfast, access to the hotel's other facilities, and tickets to see Into Darkness thrown in too. Plus if they want a souvenir the hotel are offering some exclusive Star Trek merchandise: You can get a pair of, uh, expressive, Star Trek boots, which are offered for the bargain price of $1500. Or if you really want to show off, you can invest $10,000 in a white gold Federation/Starfleet ring, which features sapphires and diamonds in the starry face of the Federation emblem."

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What is your local council doing to help your business?

Lynne Lawson is an independent website, marketing consultant that works with and alongside businesses in the accommodation and hospitality industry.

In a guest post below, Lynne gives her unique insight into an online campaign her company has helped develop for Hospitality NZ.

Lynne poses a (tongue-in-cheek?) question that many moteliers may also wish to consider:

What is your local council doing to help your business?

Currently I am helping run a couple of Social Media campaigns for Hospitality NZ as they take on the Christchurch and Wellington City councils proposed alcohol selling changes. First of all I have to admit that I wondered what all the fuss was about. “So what if the bars close at 1am, does it matter that all of them will have to be closed by 3am.” Given that my days of bar hopping are limited to once in a blue moon I didn’t see the big deal. Then I started to hear the horror stories. The Nelson City Council is proposing bars close at midnight? Seriously are the Nelson council feeling a bit sleepy? Even I stay up later than 12!

I spoke to a young man whose hours would be cut and he would lose approx. $250.00 per week in wages. What does that mean for our hospitality workers? Do they start to head off overseas as well?

I read stories of businesses that would have to close, and bar owners not willing to invest in other ventures. The horror stories are endless.

Then I started to think about the wider impact it would all have on our tourism image. Imagine Queenstown during ski season – if the party lights went out, and everyone was expected to be home in bed at 1 or 2am. Imagine a Rugby international in Wellington and the bars wouldn’t let you in after 1am because of a 1 way door policy. New Zealand’s reputation as a vibrant country would die.

Some of us have heard stories about what Keith Richards said about Invercargill in 1965, and I personally would hate NZ to be described like that to the international tourism market.

The Government has put extra funding into creating new tourism opportunities. The Hobbit movies have given NZ tourism a real boost. The last thing we need are our local councils stuffing it up with draconian rules. Check out your councils Local Alcohol Policy (LAP) and if it is a nightmare kick and scream and help fight against it. We need our nightlife and bar’s to help our country stay young and vibrant!

See my latest Facebook campaign here:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Barney's Motel - 10 Reasons To Stay

Barney's Motel is a nondescript 70's motel situated just off Highway 1, Brandon, Canada. Amenities include: Maid service, coffee/tea maker, telephone, television and air-con.

Sounds great!

The last time the Google Street View Car cruised past the motel, it was a glorious day, the car park only had a couple of cars and a mattress was airing outside one of the guest rooms (see picture above).

So why, did an inconspicuous, random motel get featured in rock star marketing guru Seth Godin's book "99 Cows"?

Why were newspapers across Canada doing stories about Barney's Motel? And why do universities use Barney's Motel as a model for teaching marketing?

The answer is Barney's Motel is often used as an example of how a modest business can reach out to consumers by developing a personality and using workplace humour to connect and break down barriers.

Humour can be used in an authentic way as a unique selling proposition and to communicate obvious shortcomings of a business that can't be easily remedied.

In the motel industry you have to have a sense of humour and those that don't never seem to last too long.

In a world where business can appear disconnected by taking themselves too seriously, the story of Barney's Motel using a simple philosophy of workplace humour to supercharge their success (ie deffer the wrecking ball) makes interesting reading: Click HERE to read more.

We would have loved to linked to their website www.barneysmotel.com, however it would appear that this is no longer operating - maybe the market had the last laugh?

Using the Wayback Machine that takes a snapshot and archives websites that have have long ceased to operate, we can bring Barney's Motel webpage back to life.

Here is how Barney's Motel communicated on their website the 10 Reasons to Stay:
Reason Number One

Say you have all your belongings in your car and you want to keep an eye on it. Say you only have 2 eyes and the other eye wants to watch a hockey game or some other game like soccer. Not that you're into soccer but the fights after a soccer game are way more exciting than the fights IN a hockey game.

How in the world would you be able to keep an eye on your car (with the entirety of your worldly possessions) if you were at a hotel? Easy - you can't. (and quite likely someone else is keeping an eye on your stuff, capice?)

Not so here at Barney's. It's easy to watch your vehicle because it's like 7 feet away from your head. And the cool thing is that everyone else is watching their vehicles as well so you can team up with strangers from another time and take turns watching the parking lot. (it might be a good thing to be on something when your doing this)

Reason Number Two

Dang - I went and used up my best reason right at the start! Now I'm gonna have to stretch to make up 10 things.

OK. Uhhh, the second reason to stay at a motel is that... you can sneak people into your room and no one would be the wiser. Yeah, like the number of people in our motel affects how smart we are. But this is still a good reason because the person you're sneaking in might not want to be seen by us. Maybe they're blind and they have an aversion to motels but you told them that you were staying at a big, fancy hotel. And you're a VIP so that explains the private entrance!

Hey, tell them that your room is really big and just take very small steps from the bed to the bathroom. And swerve around a fair bit so's to make the journey seem longer. Yes! You're in a suite at the Waldorf and this isn't Canada!

Whew! OK. That's reason number 2.

Reason Number Three why you should come to Barney's instead of somewhere else

You know how sometimes you fall asleep and when you wake up you're all kind of screwed up and wondering where you are? And then as consciousness is slowly creeping back into your body you feel like you have those wristbands that they put on you at the fair so they can get you and 4,000 other people to stand in lines instead of going on their rides?

But they're not wristbands from the fair. These are police handcuffs. Why? Because you stayed at a Hotel that has a bar and that idiot said something to your wife and NOW YOU'RE GOING TO JAIL.

And you're going to make some new, local friends tonight. Just because you didn't stay at Barney's. Well, don't say I didn't warn you.

Reason Number Four - this SHOULD have been number 3

You see the coolest things at a motel. Like this: (and this really happened - with just a slight embellishment ; )

I'm standing near my doorway which faces the rooms and I hear this muffled "Twenty Two!"

I'm thinking "what is that?" when I see our front desk clerk Shauna running out to a room with the master key ring. I follow a few steps behind her and when she gets to a room she inserts the keys and starts jiggling them. (the way the locksmith showed me and then I showed her - in the winter time you have to lift one leg while you're jiggling the keys)

There's a guy standing outside the room with a case in his hands and he said something to the people in the room as we were making our way to their location. He repeats his statement as we get closer, "This ain't gonna work you guys!"

Shauna is furiously jiggling the door lock keys (that's phase 2 of the unlocking solution) as the people trapped in the room all holler in unison "Twenty Three!"

The guy outside with the case yells "This ain't gonna work you guys, this doesn't count!"

Now I start fooling with the lock and the guy on the other side of the door says he's going to try to disassemble the door knob from the inside. (since the key jiggling thing didn't work)

"Twenty Four" the people (who are NOT helping with the lock) shout out.

"You guys, this ain't gonna work - it doesn't count!" says the guy with the case. I'm thinking - only at Barney's...

"What's going on?" I ask the my door taking apart cohort through the door. "We ordered pizza and then the door wouldn't open. Now my kids think we're going to get the pizza for free"

"Twenty Five!" they yell out.

Now the Domino's guy wants to help with the door handle. He's just as frustrated as me to learn that it's all up to my screwdriver / knife wielding compatriot on the money side of the door. Only HE has the power to see that this door opens in the next 4 minutes.

Anywho, the door did eventually open and the pizza guy delivered his product before it became free.

It was a wacky few minutes and all was saved but even if you do get trapped in one of our rooms - don't panic! Every room at Barney's has snacks, soup, canned stew, and drinks / juice just in case this happens. The way we have it figured - anyone could be locked in their room for 3 days and not suffer (unless you are allergic to Kraft Dinner - then you're in trouble).

Reason Number Five

We have a really small pool in every room. And uhhh, No Diving! And because we know that as soon as you get into your really small pool you have to go to the bathroom, we put a toilet right beside the pool. And pool towels.

Big Reason Number Six why you should stay with the Barnster

Pretend you're working your way through university. (Remember, this is just pretend) But man, you need a break! And some money. How about coming to Barney's Motel and earning money by killing flies. We hate them so much that we pay a ten cent bounty (in Canadian funds - about 4 cents American) for every fly sent to fly heaven without marking our walls.

Then again, you might be the kind of person who abhors the mindless slaughter of flies.

Of course, That would also mean that you've never endured a night at the Barnmeister's with 15 eye licking flies in your room - infecting you with sleep deprivation. Kill them, Kill them - if you stay. Kill them, Kill them - we will pay!

It's a great way to pay for your room - if you can find 590 flies!

Reason Number Seven why you should never stay anywhere but Barney's

Have a big gut? Laugh it off here. We have funny signs and a joke book in every room. (it's a thick joke book and in some rooms it takes the place of a bed) Actually, laughing is very good for you, except for when you laugh AT people. Heck, we've even been nominated by the Canadian Therapeutic Humor Association for our use of humor.

So we do try and laugh allot around here in preparation for payday. In fact, I'd say a sense of humor is imperative to living a full, non murderous life.

Reason Number Eight to avoid hotels like the Plague

You will save $ 39,600 by carrying your own suitcases into your room at Barney's (the proof will AMAZE you). Let's say you stay at hotels 360 days a year and you've been doing this for, ohh - 20 years. You're homeless but not because you don't have money. It's because you were a candidate for the Rhino party in 1983 and as a result your community asked you to leave. OK - the townsfolk torched your house and your family didn't feel safe with you around anymore. So now you do the hotel thing.

Anyway, back to our story... 360 days times 20 years equals 7200 nights in a hotel. Let's say that half the time a bellhop (another reason why you should shy away from hotels) carries your bags into the room and he wants one dollar per grip. And you have 11 bags. (you're homeless, remember?) Alright. 7200 divided by 2 equals 3600. Times that by 11 dollars per trip and you come up with and astounding $39,600 that you spend JUST on getting your bags into your room.

And that's not including the cost of the room! Man, I wish I would have figured this our sooner!

Number Nine Reason that you should spend some of your life at Barney's

Sure there are places you can go to get the bejesus scared out of you. And I'm not talking about thrill parks, I'm talking about hotels and motels where you wonder if the clerk knows that you're still there. What do you want NOW?! - they usually say with their faces. Of course, their lips say: Hello, how may I help you?...

At the world famous Barney's Motel, you'll get treated like we've known you forever and you owe us money. You'll think that we remember you even if this is your first visit. We KNOW who the boss is around here. (and it ain't me, I can tell you that!)

So dagnabbit, if you're looking for a place where folks do what they say they're gonna do, then look no further. If we say we're friendly, we're friendly. If we say we trust you - hey, we trust you. And if we tell you that someplace is this far and it turns out to be further, they moved it.

Fine - al - ly! - Reason Number Ten why every person in the world should stay at least ONCE at Barney's

Can you imagine yourself on your deathbed and the person holding your hand pops the last real, meaningful question about life to you? They lean close to your ear and whisper... remember Barney's Motel? A smile creeps through your lips and hangs there for a moment. Ahh yes, Barney's Motel. Ain't nothing like the real thing, the actual meaning of life to recall as your moving onto phase 2 (or 200).

The Barnster has set things up so's a person reflects on the important stuff in life during your visit. And it ain't stuff. It's you, your family and being happy just to be alive. And we are happy here in Friendly Manitoba. But we'd be happier if you came to see us - and now you have ten more reasons to do exactly that!

Wow! I did it! I found ten more reasons why I want to hang around here too. Hey - that wasn't as hard as I though it would be! Yahoo! See you at Barney's!!

Me out.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pimping motel sleaze

I find the differences in the evolution of the motel industry between America and New Zealand fascinating. The motel industries in both countries have gone down very different pathways.

I unashamedly enjoy the dark side of motelling and to get my fix, I need to voyeuristically seek out news stories offshore. In America it is not uncommon for motels to be perceived as establishments of ill repute, teaming with crack cocaine and prostitution. The image of a classic American motel will often provide a suitable backdrop for tacky B-grade movie.

In God-zone the perception is wildly different - Thankfully the majority of savvy travellers in New Zealand can appreciate that Kiwi motels offer quality, convenience and value for money.

The motel industry in America hasn't seemed to have moved-on from the 1940's when FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover waged war against motels that he labeled "a new home of crime in America, a new home of disease, bribery, corruption, crookedness, rape, white slavery, thievery, and murder."

The Red Carpet Inn in Houston Texas seems to nicely fit the MO of what J. Edgar Hoover was so inflamed about all those years ago.

Recent TripAdvisor reviews probably give a good overview of what you can expect if you happen to be in the unfortunate position of checking-in to Houston's Red Carpet Inn:

A recent "shock,horror, probe" Fox news story claims that the blighted Red Carpet Inn attracted an incredible 1,000 + police call-outs over a 2-year period!

The city has had enough and has filed a nuisance abatement suit against the motel calling for it to clean up it's act - like doing away with hourly rates, condom machines and XXX video links...

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