Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Is This The Best Airline Ad Ever?

We admire Air New Zealand's savvy use of non-PC advertising across all mediums, especially in the social media space. 

Who could forget the Grab a Seat Cougar viral video (picture above), the Nothing to Hide campaign or taking the p*ss out of troughing MPs that included the "Sprung in Paris specials"ad featuring Hone Harawira.

However Air New Zealand's edgy advertising crown is under threat as other international airline companies catch up fast with their own innovative and non-PC ad campaigns.

Spirit Airlines recently launched a bold and cheeky advertising campaign that poked fun at the BP oil spill disaster that featured oil drenched women in bikinis. Their previous campaigns in the US that caused a stir included "M.I.L.F. (Many Islands, Low Fares)" and "We're no Virgin: We've been cheap and easy for years." 

Of all the recent campaigns we have been the most impressed with a new ad by Russian airline, Avianova. They feature bikini-clad flight attendants stripping out of their stewardess uniforms and washing the company’s planes.

The ad is extremely sexist, tacky and ironically funny. Kinda makes you want to travel...

Traveller Review Snapshot

AA Tourism unleashed their "Been There" traveller review programme last week. 

We mentioned in a previous post that the introduction of new accommodation guest feedback platforms will cause intense debate and stir up the New Zealand motel industry over the next 12-months. We welcome this. 

AA Tourism have opted for a soft launch and have been busy behind the scenes collating 1646 reviews for 557 different properties from guests that have booked accommodation via their online reservation engine.

The results from a 3-month snapshot taken earlier this year were mostly from motel stays and make interesting reading.

The average scores out of 10 for each question were:

Cleanliness/maintenance 8.1
Reception/parking areas 8.3
Range/quality of facilities 7.8
Satisfaction price/value 7.9
Response from staff 8.3
Friendliness/welcome 8.5

The average guest gave an overall satisfaction score of 8.2 out of 10. Not too shabby!

Only 11% of reviews had a score under 5 and over 85% of respondents recommend the property they reviewed.

A snapshot of the types of travellers are also interesting to note:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hotel Warming

We are loving the continued saga of the world's greatest charlatan, Al Gore.

He has long leached upon the weak and gullible that have made him a multi-millionaire. His long suffering wife has finally seen through his staged facade and has left him after what must have been an excruciating 40 years of marriage.

"Al Bore" the hypocrite that has the carbon footprint the size of a small African country is having the blowtorch applied to his credibility by media that have also lost the love.

It would appear that even the high priest of global warming hysteria is unable to suppress primal urges in a hotel room. While taking some time out in an American hotel during a global warming lecture tour, Al Bore has been accused of behaving like a "crazed sex poodle" by massage therapist. 

Luckily for us, those nice folk at the Taiwanese news service have faithfully compiled a computer animation to re-create the hotel room allegations:

"Juicy" Hotel

What happens when a car rental company with existing standout, garish branding decides to enter the accommodation industry?

Jucy Rentals have launched the Jucy Hotel brand and have opened their first hotel in Auckland over the weekend. They have applied their corporate colour palette to their unique inner city accommodation complex and have checked-in the iconic Jucy Lucy.

Guests crawling back to their room after indulging in some late night bar-hopping activities may have wished that Jucy had toned down their striking in-room colour scheme, however we like the radical departure from the muted gray tones currently popular with motel/hotel decor.

We like the branding and their fresh new website HERE that uses an intuitive online reservation engine and uses social media links well. The brand will continue to target the younger, budget conscious demographic.

We think that rental cars and accommodation will be a successful synergy, particularly starting off in a popular gateway location. 

Will "Jucy" be the Kiwi equivalent to the "Virgin brand?" We wonder what other markets the Juicy brand will be applied to?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Marketing FAIL?

We like to keep abreast of travel marketing and for some reason we found ourselves attracted to an airline advertising campaign that poked fun at the BP oil spill disaster and featured oil drenched women in bikinis.

Is this a PR disaster or a cheeky innovative marketing idea? You be the judge...


Popular Kiwi Travel Websites

So what are the most popular travel websites in New Zealand?  

Experian Hitwise have provided a snapshot of the most popular travel websites that they have included in the "destinations and accommodation" category for the week ending 19 June 2010.

Predictably, TripAdvisor remains on top with Australian owned Wotif close behind.

It is interesting to see the rising prominence in the ski related sites at this time of year mirroring a promising start to the ski season.

TradeMe may still be struggling to raise profile of its Travelbug accommodation website, however their sister site holidayhouses.co.nz is a runaway success and is helping to promote an emerging new accommodation sector.

Rank Website Domain Percentage of Visits Previous Position
1 TripAdvisor www.tripadvisor.com 4.39% 1
2 Wotif.com www.wotif.com 3.87% 2
3 Mt Ruapehu www.mtruapehu.com 2.96% 6
4 HolidayHouses.co.nz www.holidayhouses.co.nz 2.92% 5
5 Stuff - Travel www.stuff.co.nz/travel 2.49% 3
6 NZSki.com www.nzski.com 2.37% 4
7 Jasons Travel Media www.jasons.co.nz 2.31% 8
8 AA New Zealand Travel Guide www.aatravel.co.nz 1.94% 7
9 Booking.com www.booking.com 1.86% 10
10 New Zealand Tourism Online www.tourism.net.nz 1.85% 9

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Slapping B & Bs

We note that last week while we were on holiday, there were several reports in the media about councils targeting Bed and Breakfast businesses. Selected B and Bs that up until now have been paying domestic rates are being slapped with a commercial rate reclassification that will substantially increase their rates bill.

A predictable knee-jerk reaction from the motel industry has been: "good job!" 
 "Motel Association chief executive Michael Baines said he had talked to councils around the country about `bed and breakfast' operators not having to pay commercial rates and other charges related to health and safety which his members faced. "We've talked about some of the things that surround those levels of inequities. I applaud Porirua City Council for doing this. It's a recognition that B and Bs operating in their city are commercial entities." 
We note that several self-righteous local motel association branches have been devoting their energies into witch-hunting hapless B and B businesses and dobbing them in to local councils, demanding that they pay commercial rates. We say this is poor sportsmanship.

We do not feel comfortable with the simplistic argument from fellow moteliers demanding that another accommodation sector pay the same flawed rating structure as the majority of motel properties. We say that the argument needs to start at the broader inequities of local government that are unable to restrict activities to core services, restrain expenditure and effectively identify actual use of public goods and services by property owners.

What should the motel industry be saying?

An underlying message that should be communicated to all councils is that a strong private business sector will underpin and sustain the general welfare of communities. In order to achieve this, councils should focus on minimising rates and regulatory burden. Cardigan wearing council employees should be consistently reminded that businesses are the wealth-creating institutions of society.

Councils should be making a concerted effort to reduce business/private household rate differentials. This would address the anomaly of accommodation businesses being charged differing differentials and subsidising private households. Rates should be based on actual use, not on the perceived ability to pay.

Councils should only fund genuine public goods and services and facilitate the efficient provision of necessary infrastructure. 

Councils should exit from all non-core activities. 

The case for councils subsidising events, tourism promotion, attractions, conference and sports facilities must be supported by rigorous economic analysis that clearly demonstrates net benefits for all ratepayers. This would eliminate the need for targeted rates.

There should be a concerted effort by councils to move funding of ‘club’ goods, such as swimming pools, recreation centres, libraries, museums, zoos etc to user charges. 

Over the years, motels throughout the country have endured general rate increases and the introduction of pan tax, capital rating, tourism tax, road user tax, CBD retail tax....the list goes on. Motels have been disproportionately targeted, seemingly based on a perceived ability to pay rather than actual use of goods and services. 

The motel industry has a vested interest in the efficiencies of local government and needs to identify and focus on more complex issues that have the greatest impact on its members. Dobbing in a few B and B owners may feel good, however this does not address the real issue of reducing the rating burden for motel businesses.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Been there, done that with AA Tourism

We note with interest that AA Tourism have today unleashed their "Been There" traveller review programme. 

We mentioned in a previous post that the introduction of new accommodation guest feedback platforms will cause intense debate and stir up the New Zealand motel industry over the next 12-months.

The opportunity for guests to provide instant online feedback about their accommodation stay at a motel is about to dramatically increase. We predict that the AA's new traveller review programme should become a significant player of many.

Jasons Travel Media should also provide a popular outlet for guest accommodation reviews with their imminent release of their new review platform, "Stayed, Paid and Raved."

We believe that on-line guest feedback will be a positive litmus test for moteliers. How how this concept is understood and received will provide a good indication of the maturity and acumen of the motel industry.

See AA Tourism's press release: HERE

Monday, June 21, 2010

Qualmark To Extract Enviro Criteria

We see that Qualmark NZ Ltd has sent an email to its licence holders and general media outlets detailing in corporate speak that they are about to "streamline some of its processes" (See the link below).

So what does this mean?

Quite simply it means that the money has run out and finally Qualmark have been forced to tailor their operations...to be more like a business.

On the face of it, the changes must be seen as necessary and positive.

The streamlining of Qualmark's operations started in April this year when CEO, Geoff Penrose was issued with a DCM (Don't come Monday). David Wilks, General Manager with Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) has taken over responsibilities for Qualmark's operations at arms length.

Geoff Penrose will probably be most remembered for being at the helm when Qualmark inserted a fashionable and politically correct environmental criteria into their quality assessment under the maternal eye of the previous government. This means that accommodation businesses were assessed on their allegiance to environmental and social mantra as part of their quality assessment process. 

This embedded criteria meant that an accommodation property had the opportunity to maintain or in some circumstances, increase their quality star rating due to their environmental and social efforts.

We understand that the environmental criteria is about to be extracted from the quality assessment and be offered as a stand alone assessment. Token minimum environmental standards will remain within the quality assessment.

This blog has long since rallied against embedding a compulsory, prescriptive environmental criteria into an accommodation quality benchmarking assessment system. We are pleased to see that Qualmark has at last heeded our advice and is about to tone down and separate its environmental evangelism as part of the streamlining process.

Those special accommodation providers that still wish to grandstand their environmental and social concerns can still be awarded a separate Qualmark Green enviro-rating, however this will now be offered as an optional assessment and will be charged a new separate fee. We speculate that the quality assessment fee will also be increased.

This is a huge shift in attitude by Qualmark that will now allow the market to determine the true value of its controversial  environmental program. Now that Qualmark licence holders have to pay for an enviro-rating, it will be interesting to see if the landscape will start to be de-cluttered of the insidious enviro-green accreditation branding.

So what are the other changes?

As Qualmark will be run remotely from Tourism New Zealand, the vacant CEO position has been made redundant and will be replaced with a "General Manager" that will have little discretion and will perform the function of an office manager. There is no doubt other "back office" functions will also move over to TNZ and this will have an immediate positive effect on Qualmark's efficiencies and financial outgoings. 

We suspect that Qualmark will be moving out of their offices just off Queen Street in Auckland into a more modest abode, possibly camping within existing Tourism New Zealand office space.

As is usual with any major corporate shake-up there will be a customary change in branding and it is planed to give greater prominence to the stars. For motels, Qualmark will finally drop the contentious "Service and Self-contained" moniker and the sector will be branded as "Motels."

The assessment process is to be streamlined, however there is not too much detail has been released on how this will be achieved at this stage. We do know that properties that choose to be assessed for a Qualmark Green enviro rating will now be able to be assessed and graded on the spot.

We see that Qualmark's Shareholders, Tourism NZ and the Automobile Association have "renewed their support" so funding streams at least in the short term have been agreed.

It will be interesting to follow what savings and efficiencies Qualmark will achieve? How will the motel industry react to the changes? And what future public funding it will take to sustain Qualmark?

For Qualmark's press release: Click HERE

Moteliers Go Wild

OK we are almost back into the routine of motel life after a therapeutic break away mixing with some fellow motel industry folk.

Moteliers are genuinely mild mannered, however the following scene has captured what happens on the rare occasion when they are released from the security blanket of their respective motel properties and bond together. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Motel Holiday

Ok, we are outa here!

The motel minders are booked and we have packed our bags ready to go. Mrs Motella and I are taking a rare break away from the motel together to escape those pesky bell ringers.

Sadly, I won't bother taking any holiday snaps, however I have managed to sneak in my laptop so I may check-in from time to time to see if you are all behaving yourselves;-)

We may see you on the road!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Chris Carter fiasco

We have had a lot of fun with our company rep guests at the motel this week with their numerous tongue-in-cheek requests to put booze and pornographic movies on their motel accounts. 

Unlike the folk at the Beehive that run the country, the company reps that regularly stay with us seem to be capable of accounting for their company credit card expenses and paying for personal items by their own means. They know that if they slip up and are caught out fiddling expenses they would be out of a job - no question.

The ongoing ministerial credit cards saga is a gift that keeps on giving and we are loving the coverage of the Chris Carter fiasco.

Check out the prissy meltdown of a minister with an overinflated sense of entitlement that refuses to front-up and apoligise for inappropriate spending on his ministerial credit card. This is great coverage that speaks volumes about the character of the man and should prove to be a YouTube hit!

Jasons Results

For many years the motel industry has outsourced a substantial chunk of its advertising budget to Jasons Travel Media in print and latterly web media. So it is with a vested interest we see that Jasons have announced their 12-months financial results to 31 March 2010.

Although the headlines proclaim that Jasons took a profit hit with net profit falling by 31% to $553,000, we note that revenue has increased 4.2% to $14.6 million in a relatively competitive and tough market.

Interestingly the decrease in profitability has been blamed on reduced advertising by customers in the 2009/10 local guides and continued losses in Australia.

So what of the future? Jasons chairman Geoff Burns comments:
"The company is expecting stable performance in revenues, cash flow and profitability in 2010-11. An updated forecast will be presented at the annual meeting on July 28th. This will include considerably enhanced online plans for Jasons.com, restructure of the company’s business model in Australia and progress on the core print product sales."
Dead tree marketing is not sexy or trendy, however the Jasons Motels, Apartments and Motor Lodges Directory is still an important marketing tool for the motel industry. There seems to be no debate that marketing is moving more online, however there is still a substantial investment by the New Zealand travel industry in effective paper based marketing collateral. 

The internet is space where travel media companies will need to offer more innovative solutions and clip the ticket if they are to survive. We look forward to finding out what the "considerably enhanced online plans for Jasons.com" will be.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Enjoy Capitalism

I have had a few people comment on the advertising that has crept onto "Motella." 

We get the odd request from companies wishing to advertise on our blog - some we run with, others we don't.

More lofty blogs than ours have a clean, commercial free canvas, however we have a few click-able adds scattered about our blog that are mixture of paid adverts from companies we like dealing with and content from Google Adsense that earns us revenue per click.

Hey, we make no apologies for our rampant commercialism. We are unashamedly traders and still get an adrenalin rush whenever we make a sale - so we encourage you to randomly click away at our advert links after reading our words of wisdom!

We were interested to learn of a motel lease for sale that is being promoted via the web, including various social networks and an Adwords campaign. We have placed the following graphic on our blog's sidebar to assist with the on-line marketing efforts. We encourage you to click on it to check it out:

Disclaimer: Please do not be perturbed that the writer of this blog has a financial interest in the above property;-)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Shane Jones Collection

We are all having fun with the revelations of what we have always known - Politicians are swept up in their own self-importance and false sense of entitlement with the folk from red team being the most inflicted.

We always thought Labour MP Shane Jones was a bit of a tosser and although his indiscretions are by no means the worst of a bad bunch, his habit of watching pornographic movies while staying at hotels and booking them up on his ministerial credit card is providing the most entertainment.

He's a collection of some of the cartoons that have been rightly lampooning Shane "Tugger" Jones and his ilk:  

Motel Advertising

One good thing about recessionary times is that it gives businesses time to navel gaze and reassess. Hard fiscal times can bring about financial clarity with businesses spending more time meticulously analyzing all outgoings and considering all possible ways to increase efficiencies.

Advertising appears to be one expenditure that moteliers have applied the blowtorch to recently.

We have had a lot of feedback from fellow moteliers that are reducing print advertising and investing more into web-based marketing. Fair enough. However, many moteliers feel that the two main travel media companies are penalizing those that are reducing their ad size in the accommodation guides in favour of increasing their online investment.

There appears to be three main reoccurring gripes.
  • The “combo” print/internet deals offered by the travel media companies in their advertising pricing matrix are not flexible enough. ie: The level of print advertising is often directly tied in with the level of internet exposure.
  • The advertising pricing matrix is structured so that a reduction of print advertising size will yield minimal cost savings.
  • One travel media company insists on a template requirement for advertisers opting for the quarter page directory option.
Moteliers are usually shy and retiring folk that often struggle to articulate their emotions. Not so with one motelier that was so incensed with one particular travel media company that they invested time away from the rigors of motel-life to write and send us the following wee ditty:
That advertising company that rhymes with KK
Says you can only do your ads our way
When asked "can we change the format"
They say, No you can't do that!"
But of course we still want you to pay!

That advertising company that rhymes with KK
Its CEO very big on innovation and having a say
All that big talk falls down flat, When asked to change a format
"No, No they all say, we've always done it this way!"

In these times of high tech printing
When poor old moteliers are scrimping
"Spend up more they say
And then you can have it your way"
But our way or your way, we'll still make you pay.

When we want to change our ad size
But you'll change it our way they advise
First you'll have to pay
Then you'll do it our way
Now is that any surprise

Friday, June 11, 2010

Labour of Love

With Grab a Seat offering $19 flights you wouldn't mind picking up the tab by using your own personal credit card ;-)

Air New Zealand's marketing team has been producing some excellent collateral for some time now and appear to be making the best use of on-line media of any travel company in NZ.

Hat tip: Kiwi Blog

Hotels leap ahead in guest nights

The latest accommodation survey results for April have been released today by Statistics New Zealand.

Most motel operators dread entering the quieter winter months and it  looks like April's trade hasn't provided any positive signs to alleviate fears. 

Overall, total guest nights in April 2010 were up 1 percent compared with April 2009. In isolation, this is positive news with the first four months of the year all recording increases in guest nights.

The South Island continues to out perform the North Island by achieving a 4 percent gain in guest nights, compared to the North Island's 1 percent decrease. 

Four of the 12 regions recorded more guest nights in April 2010 than in April 2009. The regions showing the largest increases were:

  • Otago, up 8 percent
  • Auckland, up 6 percent
  • Canterbury, up 4 percent
  • Southland, 4 percent.

The regions showing decreases were:

  • Waikato, down 8 percent
  • Wellington, down 7 percent. 

International visitor guest nights in April 2010 increased by 2 percent compared with April 2009. 

Domestic guest nights increased by less than 1 percent in April 2010 compared with April 2009.

Probably the most telling of statistic in April's accommodation survey was the significant movement of guest night distribution with hotels scalping trade from all other sectors:

  • Hotels, up 7 percent 
  • Backpackers, down 5 percent
  • Holiday parks, down 2 percent
  • Motels, down 1 percent.

In April 2010, hotels had the largest share of total guest nights (34 percent), followed by motels (32 percent).

Excluding holiday parks, the occupancy rate in April 2010 was 50 percent, compared with 51 percent in April 2009. 

Motel operators need to console themselves with a long term optimistic view with the common catchphrase: "just one last tough winter."

While many motel operators will be focusing on getting through over the cooler months, there is a burning question that remains unaddressed. The hotel sector continues to take market share from the motel sector - Why is that? 

Source: Click HERE

Travel FAIL

Celebrating the dubious achievements of travel ;-)

More Motel Guest Feedback

We predict that the introduction of new accommodation guest feedback platforms will cause intense debate and stir up the New Zealand motel industry over the next 12-months.

The opportunity for guests to provide instant online feedback on their accommodation stay at a motel is about to dramatically increase. 

TripAdvisor.com is the originator of on-line guest reviews and is already very popular being second only to airnz.co.nz as the most visited travel website in New Zealand. Kiwi-owned OTAs Ezibed.com and Travelbug have been quietly collecting a vast database of guest rating/reviews for some time. 

Local website, Fossick.com (see previous post) have lofty plans to raise their profile and challenge TripAdvisor. 

Of more imminent significance to the motel industry is that AA Tourism will soon introduce guest accommodation reviews that they have branded, "Been There Traveller Reviews" and Jasons Travel Media will closely follow with their own review platform, "Stayed, Paid and Raved." 

Both AA Travel and Jasons Travel Media's introduction of guest review platforms will be many moteliers first exposure to the concept of online guest feedback. There is no doubt that travellers are willing to participate in adding guest reviews and make accommodation decisions based on the reviews of others. It would seem to be an obvious pathway for AA and Jasons to follow.

We are sure that this will become a hit with travellers that use both AA and Jasons as a major gateway to research and book motel accommodation on-line. Acceptance and apparent demand for guest reviews from the end user is all very well, but how will the motel sector view the concept of guests posting instant online accommodation reviews? Will moteliers feel threatened and will they understand the rationale behind social networking?

We will be interested to witness how Jasons and AA will be selling the guest review concept to the motel sector. This will be a daunting challenge - along the same lines that it will be a challenge for the Nats to sway the New Zealand public to warm to public asset sales. Unfortunately opinion is not often based on what is good for you - maybe we are being too cynical;-)

In our humble opinion, we believe that  use of guest reviews in the motel sector is extremely positive and well overdue. Qualmark NZ have plateaued and have had little effect advancing quality and customer service within the motel sector for many years. We believe that the widespread use and acceptance of guest reviews will provide a new vibrant, dynamic edge. This will rattle the cage of the motel sector and force new thinking that will be driven by guest wants and demands. 

After all, the customer is always right!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hotel Porn - Top 10

We are all over the story that reveals Labour MP Shane Jones has a habit of watching pornographic movies while staying at hotels and booking them up on his ministerial credit card.

Shane "Tugger" Jones has told reporters that he was not a "sex fiend" but got in the habit while he was away.

As the media rifles through boxes of MP's expenses to try and find further titivating purchases, we have spent many hours trying to answer the question on everyone's lips - what actual movies did Shane "Tugger" Jones watch behind closed curtains in darkened hotel rooms?

Look no further dear readers! We have trawled through the depths of our contacts and we can now reveal the top 10 adult movies that are the most popular with hotel on-demand movie suppliers.

In the interests of investigative journalism we have downloaded and watched all of the following movies. Although weak with exhaustion, you will be delighted to note that we have also managed to provide a synopsis of each movie:
1. Prime Cuts

Massive gorgeous tits and ass attached to the sexiest nymphs around. Oral, anal and more! They’re primed and ready for sex.

2. Homegrown Video

Winner of 2007 Best Amateur Series Award. Real homemade video with lots of voyeuristic sex that is incredibly arousing.

3. MILF Maids

Plunging neckline gives you a peek. Tight skirts tells you she’s still a hottie. Suburbia sex was never like this. Horny moms show that once the kids are off to school mommie gets off too.

4. All My Horny Neighbors

What a lucky stiff I am. Every one of my sexy neighbors needs constant servicing. Sara across the way, Velicity down the street… They all love to get screwed.

5. Pirates of the Bahookey! Anal Fever

Captain Jack’s back and searching for ass. Jack loves big ass.

6. Slutty Older Women

If your fantasy is screwing an older woman, or if you just like to see women really enjoying sex, this is the video for you.

7. AC/DC Sex

Beyond Bi-sexual, it’s all sexual. Every scene has a threesome. Many with two guys and a girl doing it with all their partners. A mix of gay and hetero sex.

8. Ultimate Threesome

Every scene has one lucky guy on two hot and horny bodies.

9. Redbone Queens (Super Sexed!)

Here’s all the 411, hot, light skinned redbone beauties, doing the nasty, three ways, oral, lezzie, you name these redbones do it.

10. Hustler’s Soccer Moms
Only Hustler can bring you real soccer moms who like to get their fill of hot young men.
Phew! So there we have it...

Most major hotels seem to offer adult pay movies. Why do they do this? Simply, because their guests demand it AND it generates huge profits! It has been reported that up to 50% of the hotel guests purchase the material and it is estimated that between 70 -80% of the hotel's in-room profit come from adult movie viewing. 

The hotel industry's dirty little secret is that guest adult movie purchases easily outstrip profits from those pesky overpriced mini-bars... 

Hotel Porn

One way for accommodation providers to ride out recessionary times is to offer added value opportunities to guests like breakfasts, mini bar items AND porn. 

We say good on Labour MP Shane Jones for assisting the economic fortunes of the accommodation industry by "single-handedly" availing himself of hotel extras.

Air New Zealand** Best Blog Awards Announced

Air New Zealand** Best Blog Award
Media Statement
Thursday 10 June 2010 


Cactus Kate (http://asianinvasion2006.blogspot.com) has won the New Zealand Bloggers’ Union’s inaugural Air New Zealand** Best Blog Award.

The Dim Post (http://dimpost.wordpress.com) was runner up and No Right Turn (http://norightturn.blogspot.com) and Whaleoil (http://whaleoil.gotcha.co.nz) were awarded joint third place.

Blogs to be shortlisted by at least one judge were: Hot Topic (http://hot-topic.co.nz); In A Strange Land (http://inastrangeland.wordpress.com); Kiwianarama (http://www.kiwianarama.co.nz); Liberation (http://liberation.typepad.com); and Not PC (http://pc.blogspot.com).

The union launched the awards after another media awards competition, sponsored by a foreign budget airline that uses decrepit Boeing 767s for its Trans-Tasman services and doesn’t even have proper lie-flat beds in Business Class, failed to follow its own criteria in selecting its short list.

More than 30 entries were received by the deadline while all other top 20 blogs in New Zealand, as measured on the authoritative Tumeke! blog ranking index (http://www.nzblogosphere.blogspot.com), were given wild card entries.

The judging panel consisted of:

Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, co-author of Tumeke! and a moderate-left media commentator and presenter; 
Regan Cunliffe, founder of Throng Media, a global network of television community websites and ffunnell, an advertising network for independent publishers; 
Matthew Hooton, managing director of Auckland lobbying firm Exceltium, and a moderate-right political commentator and columnist; 
Tim Selwyn, co-author of Tumeke! and creator of the Tumeke! blog ranking index, and a former political prisoner under the regime of New Zealand’s deposed leader Helen Clark; and 
Ricardo Simich, director of marketing and communications company One Agency and a prominent Auckland socialite.

As far as possible, the judges set aside their personal political views and interests and sought to reach their decisions by consensus.

In awarding the Supreme Award to Cactus Kate, the judges described the blog as: “Intelligent, persuasive and influential, with the sort of investigative journalism Metro should be publishing. This is a blog which has contributed to changes in the administration of some of New Zealand’s most important regulatory bodies, as well as providing a healthy degree of humour.”

In awarding the Runner Up Award to Dim Post, the judges described the blog as: “Genuinely world-class political satire on matters both weighty and absurd, delivered almost every day. While clearly demonstrating a centre-left perspective, the writer also has the ability to surprise with unpredictable ideas.”

The judges said they struggled most with the choice between No Right Turn and Whaleoil for third place.

Commenting on Whaleoil, the judges said: “While the writer’s vitriol can be distasteful and his spelling and grammar sometimes leaves much to be desired, Whaleoil is the ultimate right wing blogger, delivering scorching critiques of current issues every day, and undoubtedly influencing real political events.”

Commenting on No Right Turn, the judges said: “While there is some doubt about the degree to which the blog has influenced real events and the lack of a comments option could be seen as against the spirit of blogging, No Right Turn provides extremely well researched and well-written contributions – with a decent dose of hard-left anger – on a very wide range of political, social, constitutional and human rights issues.”

The judges recommended that Whaleoil consider investing in a more advanced spell and grammar check program and that No Right Turn consider opening up his site to community discussion.

The judges said it was noteworthy they had decided to offer no award or commendation to the Tumeke! index’s highest rating blog, Kiwiblog ( www.kiwiblog.co.nz) nor to two other high-ranking blogs, The Standard ( www.thestandard.org.nz) and Red Alert (http://blog.labour.org.nz)

The judges said: “Kiwiblog has regrettably become tame following the change of government in 2008 while The Standard and Red Alert can also be seen more as propaganda tools for political parties. They continue to have value in terms of offering insight into thinking in parliament and in the union movement but, to be considered for high recognition in future, Kiwiblog needs to again find its more independent voice while The Standard and Red Alert need to learn to surprise and challenge rather than merely offer predictable opinions.”

The judges and organisers thanked all those who participated in the awards and look forward to expanding the Air New Zealand** Best Blog Awards in 2011.

Full commentary from the judges on all the nominees will be posted at http://airnewzealandbestblogaward.blogspot.com and on tumeke.blogspot.com

** Yeah, yeah, Air New Zealand is not really sponsoring the award but the judges would like to honour it anyway having found that its Business Class is so much better than Qantas even in First Class. That’s except for Tim and Bomber, but even they can report that Air New Zealand’s Economy Class is much better than Qantas’s Economy Class too (but that’s kinda irrelevant – who cares what happens down the back of the plane anyway?)



We note that there is a local website that has been active for some time and would appear to be upping the ante after an initial soft-launch. 

Fossick.com is a new guest feedback platform that wants to be the Australasian version of Tripadvisor.

As we will note in a future post, the space for website platforms that offer guest reviews is about to get even more crowded.

Giving fossick.com a test drive, we like the clean intuitive layout. It will be interesting to follow if fossick.com can win the hearts and minds of the travelling public that are more than willing to share their experiences online.

Fossick founder, Genevieve Atkinson has sent us the following press release that makes interesting reading:
Yes, Trip Advisor has a rival in our local market.

Fossick.com is a new site pitched solely at New Zealanders and Australians that recognizes that it's the opinion of someone local that really counts for us rather than a German backpacker or an American tourist. Fossick's free search-able database enables users to share their experiences as locals traveling in their own country or across the ditch. Helping new customers filter through options of what like-minded travelers also loved. Fossick has pre-listed much of NZ accommodation and providers simply have to claim their listing or add one, then spend 10 minutes adding further details. Content is driven by guest reviews and content inputted by the hotels/motels themselves and unlike Tripadvisor these business listings are free.

For moteliers or hoteliers keen to receive reviews from all customers, especially happy ones, Fossick offers help. An email service is available from Fossick, which complements provider's own options. This should guarantee the reviews keep coming in good numbers, and that matters on this site, because it’s the reviews that will determine where providers feature on the hit list. On some sites, you can buy your position - on Fossick, it's purely down to the number and quality of the reviews. Fossick aims to be the most trusted site in Australia and New Zealand - working with all accommodation providers to get reviews from verified guests.

So what happens when there is a negative review? Accommodation owners often turn red at the sound of publicly available negative comments but research says managed well, this could be their greatest sales asset. Despite the industry worries, customers are crying out for independent non-sales or marketing influenced opinions. Recent Australian Nielsen research backs this up, showing 86% of Australian web users are looking to their fellow internet users for opinions and information about products, services and brands. They are particularly looking for reviews by people like them - oldies, those with children, those who want to be near to the attractions - not a generic catch all. Tripadvisor research reports that a hotel's response to a negative review changes 59% of customer’s perceptions about the hotel. It’s not that customers expect it should be perfect; it’s more important how you respond when it’s not.

Fossick.com is totally independent, unbiased, fair and free. "We see our role as a neutral space between customers and accommodation owners helping to marry up needs with options. We don't directly sell accommodation, instead referring customers to your own or other OTA sites. (Referral fees apply, although your website link is there for free).”

Every-time we go on holiday or book someone we acquire that little bit more knowledge and word of mouth marketing (social media) simply enables us to share that in a larger format to help other like mind locals (and eventually ourselves) to utilize that knowledge to get the best bang for our buck" says Fossick founder Genevieve Atkinson.

Besides customer reviews, the Fossick focus is on niche information not covered by traditional sites... like where's the nearest coffee shop or children 's playground, enabling accommodation providers to present quite different information to potential customers with filters for types, price and a whole host of smaller details. Like Tripadvisor there will be some winners and losers, but with motels, which form the bulk of NZ accommodation wanting to find themselves on an even keel with larger chains with bigger marketing budgets , Fossick can really help out. Fossick will naturally reward those places big or small who really go that extra mile with increased business and higher margins.

So go and claim or add your business today on Fossick.com. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Emissions Trading Scam

Before the impact of the rise of GST on 1 October, Tourism businesses will will first bracing themselves for the cold reality of the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) to be introduced on 1 July. 

Imposing an ETS based on inconclusive science that will raise electricity, petrol prices and force producers to account for greenhouse gas emissions at a time of economic volatility is madness.

Further redistribution of earnings taken away from the productive to prop up the unproductive will restrict economic recovery and ironically will achieve nothing for the environment.

So will the pain of the ETS be worthwhile? Will this window dressing piece of legislation save us from ourselves and force social and economic change that will "save the planet?"

There has been a few emails doing the rounds lately to coincide with NZ's pending ETS. We like the following that has obviously originated in America and has a unique perspective:
Should our Government even be bothering about Emissions Trading anymore???

For all of you out there in America and across the globe who have fought so hard to tackle the hideous enemy of our planet, namely carbon emissions, that bogus god you worship named "Climate Change" or "Global Warming", there is some really bad news that will be very painful for you to process. But it is my duty to pass it on to you anyway.

Are you sitting down?

Okay, here's the bombshell. The current volcanic eruption going on in Iceland, since it first started spewing volcanic ash some time ago, has, to this point, NEGATED EVERY SINGLE EFFORT you have made in the past five years to control CO2 emissions on our planet. Not only that, this single act of God has added emissions to the earth estimated to be 42 times more than can be corrected by the extreme human regulations proposed for annual reductions.

I know, I know.... (have a group hug)...it's very disheartening to realize that all of the carbon emission savings you have accomplished while suffering the inconvenience and expense of driving your Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up til midnight to finish your kid's "The Green Revolution" science project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling your SUV and speedboat, going on vacation to a city park instead of Yosemite, nearly getting hit every day on your bicycle, replacing all of your $1 light bulbs with $10 light bulbs ....well, all of those things you have done have all gone down the tube in just the past weeks.

The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth's atmosphere in the past weeks has totally erased every single effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon. And, those hundreds of thousands of American jobs you helped move to Asia with expensive emissions demands on businesses.. . you know, the ones that are creating even more emissions than when they were creating American jobs, well that must seem really worthwhile now.

I'm so sorry. And I do wish that there was some kind of a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud but the fact of the matter is that the brush fire season across the western U.S.A. will start in about two months and those fires will negate your efforts to reduce carbon emissions in our world for the next two years.

So, grab a Coke, give the world a hug, and have a nice day!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Air New Zealand Best Blog Awards

There has been a few disparaging comments in the blogosphere about the the Best Blog category for the 2010 Qantas Media Awards. Hardcore bloggers are turning up their noses at the awards en masse. The three Best Blog category finalists consist of two lifestyle blogs written by professional journos and a blog that features weekly posts about techno gadgets.

Is this just sour grapes? Well no, we think they have a point.

So, what blogs should have been nominated?

There seems to be agreement that finalists should have been given some credence for their readership popularity and this would have largely eliminated blogs written by MSM hacks. After all, blogs by their nature should not be formulated extensions of the MSM, but rather independent, edgy and blatantly politically one-eyed without apology or censor.

It would also appear that the three "Best Blog" finalists did not strictly fit the Qantas Media Awards' own worthy criteria of "primarily dedicated to reporting news or views on news."

Not content with merely whinging, a group of leading bloggers have created their own best blog award to restore natural order in the blogging world. By using a little bit of creative license and brash tongue in cheek humour they have stood toe-to-toe with the Qantas Media Awards by trading-off on our government sponsored airline's name and have created:

The Air New Zealand Best Blog Award 
We like the concept! 

Air New Zealand must like it too, as they haven't set their lawyers on to the cheeky creators of the alternative blog award ;-)

We suggest that you visit the The Air New Zealand Best Blog Award to view the 32 entries - some of them you may wish to add to your regular reading list. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Queen's Birthday?

Queen's Birthday Weekend is upon us!

In talking to a few accommodation providers around the country, a common theme is that forward bookings seem to be somewhat soft.

So it's a perfect opportunity for punters to celebrate the monarch's milestone by indulging themselves with a road trip to explore a whole different world within 2-3 hours drive from their front doorstep.

We naturally suggest that they book into a motel for the weekend (there's plenty to choose from!) and spend some of those anticipated savings from the tax-cuts...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hotel Fail

We love reading about customer complaints and customer relation fails in the accommodation industry.

The following slideshow is one of our favorites that is an actual complaint sent to the general manager of a hotel after two company directors received less than satisfactory service. This is brilliantly done!

Slideshow not working? Click HERE

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

There's Nothing Like 100% Pure?

I guess as Kiwis we can feel somewhat proud of Tourism New Zealand's enduring destination marketing campaign, 100% Pure - as long as you ignore the funding issues, the questionable ROI and the fact that the 100% Pure slogan has been undermined by rabid environmentalists...

At least we can appreciate the stirring and emotive marketing collateral that the campaign has produced.

It is unclear how many overseas tourists have been spurred into travelling to our shores after watching a Tourism New Zealand 100% Pure commercial, however this qualification seems to pale into insignificance when discussing publicly funded generic tourism campaigns. 

The campaign has taken on a mystical life of its own within the NZ tourism industry and is therefore regarded as a success. Kiwis feel sentimental about the 100% Pure branding and the campaign is revered by the marketing fraternity.

So Kiwis can rightfully feel smug while watching the train wreck that is Tourism Australia’s destination marketing efforts with the latest campaign using the line “There’s Nothing Like Australia”.

As part of the campaign, Tourism Australia’s new television commercial has been released and on first impression it looks like an unimaginative cringe-worthy, daggy sing-a-long that has been cobbled together by a committee from a by-gone era. When I first saw it, I honestly thought someone was taking the p*ss.

It is interesting to see the savaging being dished out by many Australians via the Mumberella website. 

The Tourism Industry Blog invites the Kiwi tourism community an opportunity to make comment and critique the ad.

We suggest that you first check-it out for yourself:

In comparison, we reckon that the following Tasmania tourism destination ad is much better ;-)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Motella Top-20

We note that the eagerly anticipated monthly Halfdone New Zealand Blog stats have been recently published.

Due to a mysterious glitch in the algorithms of the interweb, the Motella Blog has been elevated into the top 20 blogs in New Zealand.

We sincerely thank the 3 folk that tirelessly read our blog and suggest that you checkout a few other blogs in the current top 20:

1 Kiwiblog

2 The Standard 2.02

3 Gotcha!

4 No Minister

5 MandM

6 New Zealand Conservative

7 Keeping Stock

8 The Dim-Post

9 Say Hello to my Little Friend

10 Cactus Kate

11 No Right Turn

12 Open Parachute

13 Not PC

14 frogblog

15 Something should go here, maybe later

16 Homepaddock

17 Motella – News views and Politics of NZ’s Motel Industry

18 Crusader Rabbit

19 roarprawn


Motel housekeeping by iPhone

Got a messy guest room that requires some special attention? No problem - Moteliers can now reach for their iPhone to assist with the clean-up.

We recently had the privilege of visiting the offices of Stimulus to bench-test a new app that they have released today. This application is suitable for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad and we are sure that it will prove to be a hit with moteliers.

The Complete Stain Removal app will provide a solution for those pesky stains left behind by accident prone guests. 
"A complete guide to stain removal at your finger tips. Over one hundred and twenty stain removal solutions. The must-have stain removal fact guide."
 Sounds Great!

We suggest that you head over to check it out HERE. (You must download iTunes first).

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