Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Motella Christmas!

This is my last post before I turn the lights out on this blog for a while... 

"Motella" has adopted a life of its own. It has become a third-person with his own identity that can say some things that we could never say ourselves.

We reckon that Motella deserves a rest and we would like to leave him in a warm friendly environment until we return.

We wish you all a productive and successful Merry Christmas!

What Is Social Media Now?

Just when you thought that this year has had enough mind-blowing social media presentations, you'll be pleased that they've managed to squeeze-in one more...

Below is an updated version that provides convincing reasons why 2011 is destined to be the year where social media will play a greater role in sharing ideas and influencing change. 

Social media is an evolving science and many tourism businesses will be trying to figure out how to effectively use this medium in order to successfully connect with punters.

Just how much time and resource should business operators be spending on social media?

Getting the moving target of social media etiquette wrong has its consequences and the public are quickly turned off with obvious ploys to sell.

Will 2011 will be the year where many tourism businesses add to the noise on social networks while trying to figure out how this medium can give measurable returns... or will the proven benefits of mainstream media shine through?

The Perfect Hotel For The Mother-in-Law

 Hat tip: Motivator Motel

Motella's Xmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let the insanity begin!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

More Pre-Christmas Web Browsing

How will the crucial Christmas and New Year period pan-out for Kiwi accommodation operators? Are potential guests being spooked with raising petrol prices or distracted with gadget purchases? Will Kiwis forget about an uncertain year and take a break in a motel or will they stay at home, sponge-off reletives or even resort to...going camping!

The following table gives us some insight into the websites potential holiday-makers are browsing on work computers just before they pull up stumps and take time off work. 

So what were the most popular destination and accommodation websites in New Zealand for the week ending 18 December 2010 according to Experian Hitwise?


Motella's Xmas Card Collection

Thought we would share some of our Christmas cards we received this year...

Christmas is all about giving, but sometimes receiving can be good too
A little of Santa's magic is uncovered
 Dam! I wish we saved some of those lights we strung up for Anti-Earth Hour
'Tis the season...for debt collection
 A little ashamed of this one (but I posted it anyway;-))

 Who's gonna tell the kids!
Spreading the joy can have its consequences

Ah, Christmas and coping with in-laws
 For some reason we appreciated this pic that a dear reader sent us:
 And finally, we ask the pertinent question: Are the expectations of Christmas season just getting worse?

Motel ACC

It was heartening to see that National will allow private insurers to compete in the workplace insurance market alongside ACC. True to form, Labour, the Greens and unions are bitterly opposed to private enterprise getting a peak-in.

It is unfortunate that the Nats do not have the stomach to allow ACC to be privatised (as it should be) however most business groups have positively welcomed the half-way rhetoric as a step in the right direction.

Interestingly we see that the Motel Association (MANZ) has taken a slightly different tack and in particular have attacked the government's statement that there will be no increase in workplace earner levies for 2011. 

We are pleased to see a bit of passion and stroppiness from MANZ ...
from Motel Association of New Zealand
22 December 2010

Disturbed and Disappointed by Hospitality and accommodation ACC levies 10% increase

The Motel Association is deeply disappointed and disturbed by the announced increase in ACC levies for the Accommodation sector, said Michael Baines Chief Executive of the Motel Association.

It would appear that the Moteliers are paying for the inability of the rest of the sector to manage their risks. New Zealand owned and operated motels will suffer a movement in rates from 99c to $1.09 over 10%!

It seems as if the “business friendly” government has struck again with a large hike in regulatory charges to an industry peopled exclusively with SMEs. Again the Government seems to find a way of cloaking deceit in good news. Motels that have over 40% of the workers in the sector owner operators are going to carry the burden of those others in the sectors that fail to recognise their responsibilities. Members were surveyed 12 months ago showing 83% had not and neither had their staff made any ACC claims in the previous 12 months. It is hard to see the justification for a 10% increase in levies

This is a slap in the face for a small but important part of the New Zealand tourism industry. Motels account for over 30% of all commercial accommodation. Moteliers host millions of overseas travellers in their properties, as well as New Zealanders. Moteliers earn millions in overseas revenue and yet they are again being punished because they are a collection of owner operators. It would appear that this government’s tourism friendly approach is as fragile as its business friendly approach.

The Motel Association is extremely frustrated that once again the opportunity to show some common sense and leadership has passed a government minister by. Suggesting that there would be no increases in levies was misleading; certainly the overall take may be the same but individual sectors are facing substantial changes.

We would urge the Minister to reassess the changes to the individual sectors and impose a blanket no change policy across all sectors.

We welcome the opportunities for privatisation, we believe that it would be far cheaper for Moteliers to go privately than the current regime that has them subsidising those sectors that have a high claim profile!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Motel Style Gardening

It may come as a surprise to our loyal readers that in spite of my tendency to mock rabid environmentalists,  I am a keen gardener. Unusually for a motel we have large park-like grounds to maintain and I take pride in keeping nature under strict control.

It was a fantastic day here today at Motella HQ so I frogmarched my son away from his electronic world and made a dash for the outdoors leaving Mrs Motella to look after the motel reception. There was a list of gardening jobs that have been accumulating around the motel and with Christmas looming today was the perfect opportunity. 

There is nothing like the smell and sound of a 2-stroke motor interacting with the great wilderness. First was the chainsaw, followed by the hedge trimmer with my son in tow collecting the defloration behind me. The final flourish of the leaf-blower ensured all that unsightly small organic matter was whisked away from sight. 

As the blue smoke cleared, copious weedkiller was liberally applied to finish off any remaining unsightly greenery appearing in unwanted places.

Order has now been restored and once again man has triumphed over nature.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Motel Movie Channel

Those sick perverted folk at Motivator Motel are at it again...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rico wants to feel you up with hope...

Rico, our favourite misunderstood furry travel ambassador is haranguing yet another hapless Air New Zealand passenger:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pre-Christmas Web Browsing

So what were the most popular destination and accommodation websites in New Zealand for the week ending 11 December 2010 according to Experian Hitwise?

The following table gives us some insight into the websites potential holiday-makers are browsing 2-weeks out from the important Christmas holiday period.

In-room Entertainment

New over at the Motivator Motel Blog:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hamilton Accommodation Rip-Off?

We note that a spokesman for Hamilton moteliers has added credence to a recent news story about alleged price gouging by accommodation providers over the Rugby World Cup period.

To demonstrate alleged price gouging, the Waikato Times story breathlessly reported examples of tariff over key rugby matches in Hamilton with the Novotel Tainui at $772 per night and the Ibis at $652 per night along with a minimum three-night stay policy.

A Hamilton motel spokesman has been reported as saying that the tariff charged is "a bloody rip-off" and has stated that "motel association members would not participate in price gouging."

It should be of no surprise that our view is that accommodation operators should employ "dynamic pricing" based on consumer demand. And yes this means unashamedly raising tariff over high demand periods. While there are a hard core of Kiwis that believe in the quaint socialist adage that businesses should be evenly rationing goods and services according to consumer need and not demand, we believe that the market should be left to decide value.  

We honestly don't know if Hamilton's Novotel and Ibis are offering value over the World Cup period, however we say "good on them" for sticking their neck out and allowing the market to be the judge by pricing accommodation over a significant world event.

In previous media beat-ups about alleged price gouging over the Rugby World Cup, we note that Hospitality Association chief Bruce Robertson has been quoted as saying:
"Price rises at busy times were "entirely normal" and if rooms were over-priced, hotels would have empty rooms because people wouldn't pay.
The market does actually work"
Hotel Council chairwoman Jennie Langley has commented on overseas tour operators that were inflating accommodation costs by saying: "the market will rule on the day".

Even the national body of the Motel Association of New Zealand has chipped-in with some common sense by commenting: "The market will decide." 

However, it would appear that Hamilton moteliers are sadly aligning themselves with another accommodation industry organisation that up until now has stood alone:

@home NEW ZEALAND is the national bed and breakfast association that is made up of lonely old moccasin slipper wearing, bed wetting, socialist wowsers that struggle to understand the fundamentals of running a business. To prove a point they recently ejaculated the following press release:
“However, as we could foresee this situation happening, we advised our members by general email on 20 April that apart from a slight adjustment to cover proposed increases in GST and other fixed charges, we felt their room rate should not be substantially different to what they would charge during a normal high season period.  I and my board feel that to hike prices excessively during RWC 2011 could cause future damage to the tourism industry both for accommodation providers and for other services reliant on tourism......"
 We reckon Hamilton moteliers are better than this;-)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Should You Friend Your Parents on Facebook?

Trying to be digitally aware is important not only as business owners, but as parents.

Both our children have Facebook pages and part of my generation's micro-management parenting technique is to ensure that they are well schooled in operating their online presence safely with the appropriate security settings.

We also happen to be our children's "friend" (for now;-))
Click to enlarge

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Year in Review According to Google

We are in the season where networks are busily rehashing highlights from the past year.

What better entity than Goggle to pick out some monumental global moments of 2010 through search, images, and video:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Behind Closed Doors...

Those special folk at Motivator Motel are at it again:


Westin Stripped of Stars

We see that Auckland's troubled Westin Hotel has been stripped of their stars by Qualmark NZ for not meeting minimum standards. The sticking point appears to be that the hotel no longer has a fully functioning restaurant available to guests, so the decision seems to be fair enough. 

In a New Zealand Herald article HERE, it has been surmised that "The decision to remove the licence could further jeopardise the hotel's chances of attracting Rugby World Cup bookings, given Qualmark is New Zealand tourism's official quality agency."

So, will loosing stars really affect bookings for Westin?

According to a tweet from Lawrence Smith of Cabbage Tree Creative: "Given the rave reviews on TA (TripAdvisor), unlikely."

We tend to agree:

Is The Motel Industry in Crisis Yet?

The latest accommodation survey results for October 2010 have been released today by Statistics New Zealand and further underlines worrying trends for the motel industry. 

Total guest nights in October 2010 have decreased by 1.7 percent compared with September 2009. 

In the battle of the two islands, the North Island recorded a 0.5 percent decrease in guest nights while the South Island achieved a 5 percent decrease in October 2010 compared to October 2009.

Eight out of the 12 regions recorded less guest nights in October 2010 than in October 2009. 

In September, Canterbury with the earthquake on 4 September and subsequent aftershocks were able achieve a small increase in guest nights. Sadly in October, Canterbury lead a downward trend in guest nights for the South Island as international guest nights fell significantly, by over 27,000 in October 2010 compared with October 2009. This was partly offset by an increase of 10,000 for domestic guest nights.

The regions showing the largest decreases were:  
  • Canterbury, down 4.2 percent
  • Wellington, down 4.2 percent
  • West Coast, down 9.9 percent.
The regions recording the largest increases were:  
  • Auckland, up 1.8 percent)
  • Bay of Plenty, up 2.3 percent) 
  • Northland, up 3.6 percent. 
International visitor guest nights across New Zealand in October 2010 decreased by 5.7 percent compared with October 2009 and this largely accounted for the overall fall in guest nights. 

Domestic guest nights recorded a modest rebound by increasing 0.9 percent in October 2010 compared with October 2009. 

In spite of another soft month, hotels have once again solidified their dominance by being the only sector to record an increase in guest nights for the fourth consecutive month. Hotels recorded an impressive 4.3 percent increase in guest nights in October 2010 compared to October 2009.

The three other accommodation types in the survey all recorded decreases in October 2010:
  • Motels, down 5.4 percent
  • Backpackers, down 5.7 percent
  • Holiday parks, down 3.8 percent.
Hotels achieved the highest occupancy rate (56.1 percent) of all the accommodation types in October 2010, followed by motels (45.9 percent), and backpackers (34.8 percent). 

While there are pockets of strong motel businesses, there is a worrying trend of the motel sector as a whole is rapidly loosing market share. Last month we asked the question "are we being too hysterical if we start calling this a crisis?"

In spite of the euphoria surrounding the Rugby World Cup, the motel industry still has the long tail of the recession to contend with next year.  We reckon that the motel industry needs to take positive action, accept accountability and investigate the reasons why they are bleeding market share...

Motella's Christmas

You may have noticed that we have added some token Christmas decoration to our blog to get into the festive spirit. 

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

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

AA's New App


This week AA Travel revealed some good news and some bad news.

Consumers were contacted advising that some of their online information held by AA may had been breached. An unauthorised user has accessed individual consumers' email address, first name and password used on when registering for the previous 101 Must Do’s for Kiwi’s and/or Great Kiwi Road Trips campaigns. While any breach of online information is serious, the consequences appear to be relatively minor, with some consumers receiving spam email.

The AA having to communicate a possible security breach is a shame, especially in the same week of releasing an innovative new iPhone App. This is a week when the AA shouldn't be spooking its advertisers about technology;-)

We downloaded AA's new XplrNZ app a few days ago and in spite of being busy at the motel we have been giving AA's significant investment a test drive.

iPhone users will be drawn to the app by the innovative use of location based service technology that makes functionality very personalised. The big sell for the app is the use of "augmented reality" that allows users to view real-time pictures through their camera that is overlaid with clickable icons.

As an example, app users on the go will be able to park-up and view a picture of their immediate surroundings through their iPhone's camera. Clickable icons will appear that will allow users to access further information about nearby attractions and accommodation options. If an accommodation option is selected, users will have access to the information available on the website including pictures, descriptions, directions and "Been There" travel reviews. 

What is somewhat disappointing is that the app doesn't interface with AA's online reservation system. Users that select the "book" option will be given the option to phone, email or connect to the accommodation provider's website. 

Probably the most useful feature is the map function that will locate users and give clickable options of the surrounding area. Other options that successfully integrate location based services include access to AA's Great Kiwi Road Trips and 101 Must Do's.

Overall we reckon that the app is reasonably impressive. We spent a lot of time playing with the gimmickry of the augmented reality feature.

We wonder if AA's advertisers will appreciate the significance of the development and understand the concept? More importantly, will end users find the app useful in real-time and add value to AA's advertisers?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Motella Returns to Facebook

It's been a long time coming, but we have finally reinstated our "Motella" Facebook page. 

Without warning, our Facebook page was unilaterally shut down last month due to "Violation(s) of Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities."

After much angst we found out that our Motella Facebook account was operating as a personal page and according to Facebook's terms of service this should have been in the name of a real person. We reckon that Motella has taken on a life of its own, however Facebook didn't agree;-)

We note that businesses using personal pages is a common occurrence, so this may serve as a heads-up to those folk that unwittingly using a personal page to connect their business with "friends." 

For those that wish to continue following our exploits via Facebook we have done the right thing and set up a brand new Facebook Fan Page. Please feel free to click on the Facebook graphic above to become our "fan."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Luxury Lodge Welfare

Prince William seems keen to visit down under

Over at The Oswald Bastable Ranting blog we see that our prickly, politically-incorrect friend is calling out a luxury lodge owner that wants fellow Kiwis to subsidise her for the privilege of accommodating Prince William and Kate Middleton on their honeymoon:
"The Government is being urged to offer Prince William and Kate Middleton an all-expenses paid honeymoon to New Zealand to create a "fairytale" tourism driver.

Diana Moore, who operates the $10,000-a-night Lake Okareka Lodge near Rotorua, has suggested the government provide a honeymoon as its official wedding present "instead of giving a wedding gift such as a piece of furniture".

"The potential value in exposure to New Zealand from being part of this real-life royal fairytale is beyond imagination – certainly right up there with worldwide exposure from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit."

Although she'd "love to host William and Kate" after their April wedding next year, there would be no freebies, said Moore..."
So the luxury lodge owner doesn't wish to burden herself with the opportunity cost of giving away a room to budding royalty AND endure the enormous free worldwide publicity for her lodge. The arrogance and hypocrisy of a businesswoman expecting welfare from fellow Kiwis is breathtaking.

We reckon that Oswald has it about right when he described the luxury lodge owner as "the very worst type of bludger!"

There is an opportunity for the the tourism industry to step up and coordinate a kick-ass honeymoon package with quality business owners that are able to stand on their own two feet and understand the opportunities to showcase their businesses and New Zealand to the world. Just don't expect others to pay for it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hotel SOS Hits Taupo!

New Zealand's own local television adaptation of the popular English series format, The Hotel Inspector is "Hotel SOS" that had its first airing on TV1 last Wednesday.

After just one episode we're going to stick our neck out and award the series a prestigious four star "Motella Mark." We love it!

As predicted the 7:30pm time slot only enabled us about 10-minutes of live viewing as the demands of the motel took precedent. Thank goodness for TVNZ OnDemand where we were able to view the entire episode.

The Hotel Inspector had the benefit of the colourful, school matronly, Ruth Watson as host and we were impressed with the Kiwi fill-ins that performed their role magnificently. Our very own Frankie and Simon took on the role of joint hosts and quintessential Auckland pratts very seriously (probably even more seriously than they took themselves).

We reckon that "Hotel SOS" was able to tick all of the boxes that were essential to emulate the successful Hotel Inspector format:

1) An accommodation business that is failing - Tick
2) Unusually quirky and difficult owners  - Tick
3) A straight-talking, self-professed expert hotelier that harasses and hectors the owners until they realise the error of their ways - Tick

The hosts' ability to tag-team one another as they hectored and shamed last week's hapless accommodation owners of Hicks Bay Motel Lodge on the East Coast was reality TV gold.

Frankie and Simon truly understand the appeal of the show's format that relies upon the toxic relationship between the host(s) and the eccentric accommodation providers.

This week we see that the show is heading off to a motel in Taupo and it would appear that the show's producers have managed to find another strong willed and eccentric motel owner to wind-up.

We see that the online reviews of the motel make entertaining reading with the motelier described as "Dumbledore meets The Grinch on Mount Doom" and as "Catweazle after he'd let himself go."

The motel owner has been accused of having a unique view of customer service, selling spartan rooms with heaters on a pre set timers, rationed hot-water and a spa that was "similar to a flat bottom concrete sheep dipping tank."

We can only wonder why Hotel SOS has been restricted to only 4-episodes;-)

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