Sunday, August 26, 2012

Master Of The Universe - RIP Neil Armstrong

"[The launch] began with a large patch of bright, yellow-orange flame shooting sideways from under the base of the rocket. It looked like a normal kind of flame and I felt an instant’s shock of anxiety, as if this were a building on fire. In the next instant the flame and the rocket were hidden by such a sweep of dark red fire that the anxiety vanished: this was not part of any normal experience and could not be integrated with anything. The dark red fire parted into two gigantic wings, as if a hydrant were shooting streams of fire outward and up, toward the zenith—and between the two wings, against a pitch-black sky, the rocket rose slowly, so slowly that it seemed to hang still in the air, a pale cylinder with a blinding oval of white light at the bottom, like an upturned candle with its flame directed at the earth. Then I became aware that this was happening in total silence, because I heard the cries of birds winging frantically away from the flames. The rocket was rising faster, slanting a little, its tense white flame leaving a long, thin spiral of bluish smoke behind it. It had risen into the open blue sky, and the dark red fire had turned into enormous billows of brown smoke, when the sound reached us: it was a long, violent crack, not a rolling sound, but specifically a cracking, grinding sound, as if space were breaking apart, but it seemed irrelevant and unimportant, because it was a sound from the past and the rocket was long since speeding safely out of its reach—though it was strange to realize that only a few seconds had passed. I found myself waving to the rocket involuntarily, I heard people applauding and joined them, grasping our common motive; it was impossible to watch passively, one had to express, by some physical action, a feeling that was not triumph, but more: the feeling that that white object’s unobstructed streak of motion was the only thing that mattered in the universe.

What we had seen, in naked essentials—but in reality, not in a work of art—was the concretized abstraction of man's greatness.

The fundamental significance of Apollo 11’s triumph is not political; it is philosophical; specifically, moral-epistemological.

The meaning of the sight lay in the fact that when those dark red wings of fire flared open, one knew that one was not looking at a normal occurrence, but at a cataclysm which, if unleashed by nature, would have wiped man out of existence—and one knew also that this cataclysm was planned, unleashed, and controlled by man, that this unimaginable power was ruled by his power and, obediently serving his purpose, was making way for a slender, rising craft. One knew that this spectacle was not the product of inanimate nature, like some aurora borealis, or of chance, or of luck, that it was unmistakably human—with “human,” for once, meaning grandeur—that a purpose and a long, sustained, disciplined effort had gone to achieve this series of moments, and that man was succeeding, succeeding, succeeding! For once, if only for seven minutes, the worst among those who saw it had to feel—not "How small is man by the side of the Grand Canyon!"—but “How great is man and how safe is nature when he conquers it!”

That we had seen a demonstration of man at his best, no one could doubt—this was the cause of the event’s attraction and of the stunned numbed state in which it left us. And no one could doubt that we had seen an achievement of man in his capacity as a rational being—an achievement of reason, of logic, of mathematics, of total dedication to the absolutism of reality.

Frustration is the leitmotif in the lives of most men, particularly today—the frustration of inarticulate desires, with no knowledge of the means to achieve them. In the sight and hearing of a crumbling world, Apollo 11 enacted the story of an audacious purpose, its execution, its triumph, and the means that achieved it—the story and the demonstration of man’s highest potential."

Ayn Rand - 1969

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tourism NZ Banks On Hobbit

I see that Tourism NZ have uploaded the new "100% Middle-earth" promo videos to its YouTube page this week (the extended version is below).

Tourism NZ has invested around $10 million on producing the new campaign to ride on the potential success of movie audiences admiring attractive landscapes that provide majestic backdrops to on-screen Hobbit-action. Some may be unnerved by Tourism NZ banking on an influx of visitors based upon the appeal of fictional middle-earth dwelling dwarfs.

I must admit that I've lacked the patience to sit through an entire Lord of the Rings movie, however I will be attempting to endure Peter Jackson's latest mystical fantasy movie when it is released in order to fully appreciate the gush of media commentary that will ensue. 

A good chunk of the Tourism NZ campaign would appear to be social media based and it will be interesting to see if environmental zealots will use the interactive platforms to hijack New Zealand's 100% Pure branding. I suspect that any attempt to knock the 100% Middle-earth campaign in order to elevate an alarmist environmental agenda will be quickly shouted down by Tolkien fan-boys and patriotic Kiwis. 

The imagery of New Zealand looks fantastic and there is a continuation of the 100% Pure You campaign that puts the focus on real people (young and good-looking) interacting with landscapes. 

It's difficult to completely capture a realistic tourism experience that New Zealand can offer in a 2-minute promo. While potential guests may enjoy imagining themselves in a New Zealand natural setting for a portion of their holiday, they may be left wondering what first-world hotel, shopping, restaurant and night-life experiences may also be on offer?

While accommodation providers may not be impressed with a leeching, graffiti emblazoned camper-van as the only accommodation option on display, the campaign is aspirational and may trigger potential quality visitors to investigate further what the real deal is about this quirky little remote country at the bottom of the Pacific.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Will Enable Increased Credit Card Fraud?

I note with interest that are planing to offer a default option to stop sending customer credit card CVC codes to their accommodation suppliers.

What is a CVC code?

The CVC (Card Validation Code) is also known as the CVV (Card Verification Value) and is the non-embossed 3-digit code usually found on the back of credit cards, on the signature panel.

The 3-digit security code lets merchants know that customers are physically holding the card when they make a purchase online or over the phone. The code can be validated automatically during authorisation by the merchant and is another layer of protection that confirms that the card is in the right hands. 

Merchants that insist on obtaining a CVC at the time of transaction can reduce fraud before it happens. If a person attempts to use a card number but cannot provide a 3-digit security code, or if the number is returned as invalid, the merchant will cancel the transaction. 

There is an emerging trend for merchants to request a CVC during a mail order or online sales process and this additional security measure has to be seen as positive. Any easy process that reduces the rapid rise of credit card fraud adds to the creditability and sustainability of mail order/online sales. The travel industry have a vested interest in keeping consumer's faith in feeling secure handing over credit card details and reducing instances of fraud.

An email sent by to accommodation suppliers on Friday announced plans to stop sending CVC codes with reservations as a default option. Suppliers can elect to continue receiving customers' CVC codes by updating the "payment preferences" in their online profile with

In their email to advertisers, explains:
"Why has implemented this change? Testing in the marketplace has proven that an increase in conversion (the number of bookings you get) was a direct result of streamlining the reservation process for potential guests". 
This statement is ambiguous and we assume that will be removing the requirement for customers to enter CVC numbers during the reservation process if the supplier applies this as a default option (ie does nothing).

Will removing the CVC field (below) really increase booking conversions? 

We intuitively know that the more easy and the less data a customer has to enter while making an online reservation - the more likely they will complete.

A quick Google search of a few online bulletin boards would suggest that there is an element of customer confusion/resistance in providing CVC numbers and this may translate to some customers feeling uneasy providing this detail during an online reservation process.

After some time, the CVC numbers that are usually printed (not embossed) on cards can become unreadable with wear, making it impossible for some cardholders to make an online reservation if the CVC is a compulsory field- is this another barrier against customers completing an online reservation?

While most merchants are tightening up on credit card security requirements (in particular with card not present transactions), will expose their suppliers to a possible increase in credit card fraudulent transactions (charge backs) by reducing the requirement of customer's providing CVC codes in the interest of increased conversions?

It is noted that leave it up to their suppliers to collect the accommodation cost from the customer, so the impost of possible credit card charge backs is not their immediate concern.

While I'm always open to making it easy for customers to book accommodation online - is's default supplier option of removing the compulsion of the CVC field going too far?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Small Town Motels

An interesting newspaper clipping was sent to me. It tells a sad story of an overenthusiastic clipboard carrying council bureaucrat in Wairoa that temporarily banned a local motel from serving meals.

It would appear that a fair chunk of the motel's unique client base willingly stayed at the property because of the meal service on offer. With a stroke of a pen, the council banned the provision of meals and the motel started bleeding business.

The council admitted that it got it wrong and the motel could have supplied meals after all. Unfortunately the damage has been done with many of the motel's guests long-gone. To rub salt in the wound, the Wairoa District Council's Chief Executive had a pithy response:
"I Can't fix that....I can only say I'm sorry."
This is disgusting treatment. A tame lawyer with a bit of time on his hands could have a bit of fun here ripping the council a new one, however with the motel's business heading through the floor, the services probably would have to be offered pro-bono...

To further rub salt in the wound, it would appear that the Wairoa Council's latest rate increases are particularly harsh upon the town's motels, with one motelier claiming his rates would equate to over $1,100.00 per unit compared to the nation's average of $730.

I guess the last thing Wairoa needs at the moment are successful businesses...

"Rates hit for Wairoa moteliers"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Labour's Leadership - It's Game On!

It looks like David "Silent T" Cunliffe has returned home from overseas after a few weeks of contemplation.

Reporter, Patrick Gower tweets after Cunliffe turns up for work at the office this morning:

Heads up to any provincial motels that hold a reservation for David Shearer and his handlers as he roams throughout New Zealand looking for love on his "Heartland Tour." Expect a late cancellation!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cartoon of The Week

It's only Monday, but already Hodgson nails The Cartoon of The Week!

Mondayising Bill Doubts

It is disappointing that the Tourism Association of NZ (TIA) under "new" CEO, Martin Snedden are out of step with mainstream business groups by blindly supporting Labour's Mondayising bill with the woolly rationale that this impost on business may "boost the tourism economy."

Maybe Sneddon is starting to realise that managing a collective of private small business owners is a little different from his previous position of  organising and delivering the Rugby World Cup at a loss of millions of dollars to the cheers of an adoring rugby mad public:

Doubts over benefits to tourism from Mondayising

Celebrating Individualism

The Olympic Games is all but behind us.

It would seem that all commentators are hailing the games a success as London's one-trick wave of visitors rapidly exit en-masse.

The Left would have enjoyed the centralist planning aspect of the games that brought usual commerce to a standstill. They would have enjoyed seeing £9 billion of other people’s money gambled away on nationalistic ceremonial pride with the flimsy promise that the country will reap benefits for years to come.

The left would have particularly enjoyed the celebration of Britain's National Health Service during the open ceremony and the legacy of nice-to-have sporting facilities that the productive will need to some how pay for in years to come. 

While I started off being indifferent about the games, I soon became drawn-in to watching obscure sporting events that I would normally avoid. 

Who could not be impressed by the stunning bodies and skill on display that had taken years and personal commitment to hone.

One aspect that the Left would not have comprehended was the display and celebration of individual achievement. For New Zealand this was captivated for me by the final gold medal winning performance of Lisa Carrington. All 5'6", 53 kg of muscled individual focus and determination. 

For me, Blogger Liberty Scott succinctly sums up the most positive aspects of the games:
"People who to a man and woman, tried their hardest, spent months or years training and practicing and giving it their commitment to pursue their own goals.

They are not altruists. The medals were not won so that Britain could feel great. They were not won to boost the economy or to encourage others to take up the sport.

They were won by people who wanted to win as their individual achievement - including those in teams. It was a desire to be the best.

This in a world where the word "elite" is taken as a sneer that success comes only from privilege, this in a world where individual success in so many fields is taken as a chance to demand a pound of flesh for everyone else. A world where those who make things happens by applying their mind and energy to ideas are simply seen as obliged to carry everyone else along with themselves. A world where so many see those as succeed as hosts to suck the blood from.

Further to this has been the unashamed joy of those winning, with justified personal pride that their own effort and skill have paid off. However, also delightful has been the joy of many of those who did not get gold. Why? Because they gave it their all, they blamed nobody else for not getting gold, if they did blame someone it was themselves. Total responsibility for their actions and result. This one year after London was beset by riots from those expressing the antithesis of this. Nihilistic parasites destroying, invading, stealing, blaming it on the Police, blaming it on society, blaming it on the government, when their motivation was a combination of euphoria from destruction and personal gain directly at the expense of others.

Yet those celebrating and enjoying the Olympics have not just been those competing and their team mates, families and coaches, but the spectators both in person and on television. Much of that has been a patriotic joy at seeing British men and women succeed, particularly as the story of so many of them is one of coming from an average background, deciding to pick a sport, finding they do well and wanting to do better. However, it isn't just some blind nationalism. Usain Bolt's success has captured the imagination of millions, many of whom have no connection to Jamaica. Michael Phelps likewise. Indeed one of the great points noticed by many athletes have been the spectators, predominantly British, cheering on the winners, regardless of nationality.

This celebration of success, achievement, personal, is overwhelmingly positive."

The Motel Ratchet Clause

I see that the Motel Association of NZ (MANZ) have recently taken a swipe at unsympathetic motel landlords and the pesky (and appropriately named) “ratchet clause" that determines lease rentals can rise, but not fall.

A motel lease is an agreement that is unique in the business world. Splitting up a freehold going concern can satisfy two distinct parties - the long-term freehold investor and the leasehold owner of the motel business. Most motels in New Zealand are set up this way.

Generally a motel lease starts off at a 25-30 + year term. This long term agreement can be problematic as set terms and conditions apply over a longer period of time than most other types of business lease agreements and the parties can endure vast changes in economic conditions.

This arrangement generally works well assuming that the market steadily improves over the term of the lease, however economic road bumps along the way can cause heartache - and there is a perception that any angst will tend to fall upon the leaseholder.

Motel landlords that have the largest stake in the deal expect to receive a fair return on their investment and rightly so. Many motels only exist today because of the long term leases prevalent in the industry that have allowed a lower entry point into buying and running a motel business.

It is accepted that the costs of operating a motel have increased often well above general inflation. The old days of the 1/3 1/3 1/3 rule - 1/3rd revenue to rent, 1/3rd revenue to costs, and 1/3rd revenue to operators profit (before drawing, tax, depreciation etc) is under threat as freehold owners have often pushed hard at rent reviews to get a higher percentage. This has caused operating pressures for some motel lease holders.

The squeeze on the operating costs has been to the detriment of maintenance. Generally the landlord is only responsible for maintaining the buildings in watertight condition - although sometimes this isn't clear-cut if it can be determined that the leaseholder didn't undertake required maintenance that may have prevented moisture entering the building! 

While the ratchet clause may pose a barrier for some motel properties wishing to catch a break over hard economic times, probably the bigger problem with motel leases is how maintenance and refurbishment is prescribed over the term of the lease, well before a crisis point is reached.

Older leases generally don't have a maintenance fund for future R and M and those leases that do may only require 3%-5% of the annual rental. Over the course of a lease (in particular the later years), this reinvestment in buildings is often scarcely adequate to keep up-to-date.

Ongoing investment is also required in motel chattels that form part of the tangible assets of the lease. Most lease agreements generally leave the management of these over to the leaseholder and inactivity/mismanagement in required refurbishment can quickly leave a motel behind-the-times in offering the travelling public what they expect.

The motel stock in New Zealand is aging and some older leasehold motels have become past the best economic use of the land well before their time. This is frustrating for both the landlord and the leaseholder and can be predominately due to an inadequate schedule of repairs and maintenance and refurbishment undertaken by a revolving door of past leaseholders that have stripped value.

While the motel industry looks warily at the scrum of alternative accommodation sectors such as bed and breakfasts, apartments and private accommodation, the real competition has come from the hotel sector. In spite of hard economic times, the hotel sector have retained up-to-date skilled management, reinvested in their product, operate well in the online environment and have managed to effectively deliver and communicate to the public stratas of consistent quality brands. 

All is not doom and gloom as the motel industry is still a valid product that offers value to the travelling public. Large pockets of motels that are run by switched-on moteliers have managed to keep ahead of the game and operate profitably. They have been able to maintain or increase the value of their leasehold investment by keeping up maintenance, increasing tariff, growing occupancy and buying additional lease years at reasonable prices.

Rent rises strangling small business says Motel Association of NZ

The relentless rise of rents is acting as a handbrake on many small businesses and in turn restricting the country’s economic recovery, says the Motel Association of New Zealand (MANZ).

The prevalence of “ratchet clauses” within rental agreements does not reflect the economy or the sector in which the business operates, and assumes the tenant is able to absorb rising costs year in and year out, says MANZ Chief Executive Michael Baines.

“Rents are one of the many costs of doing business which are caught in an upward spiral. This is at a time when the country’s economic recovery is still tentative and global uncertainty threatens,” Mr Baines says.

“Obviously it is to no-one’s benefit to see businesses go to the wall under the pressure of rent rises. So we’d like to see landlords take more of a partnering approach and realise that a tenant paying a manageable rent is better than no tenant at all,” Mr Baines says.

More than 75 per cent of MANZ member motels are in premises that are not owned by the operator. Like many businesses at the smaller end of the scale, the pickup in the nationwide economy does not see the benefits flow evenly to everybody.

Some moteliers are still feeling the pinch after slow years in the tourism sector, while some parts of the country, such as the South Island outside of Christchurch, are continuing to struggle.

New Zealand is in danger of forgetting the boom and bust days of the 1980’s when tenants had to pay ever-increasing rents even as buildings stood empty.

“We’d like to see these ‘ratchet clauses’ phased out of rental agreements and replaced with something that more accurately reflects the businesses’ sector and it’s ability to cope with price increases.”

“By working together, we will build a better and healthier economy in the long run,” Mr Baines says.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Will The Razor Signal A Leadership Challenge?

Looks like the red team have some leadership issues? 

As David Shearer stutters his way around the country staying in provincial motels, watch out for David Cunliffe reaching for the razor. 

If the beard goes, Shearer is in trouble...

Moteliers Right To Refuse

It would appear that Australian moteliers have a hero in Queensland's attorney-general that has spoken out against the court decision that determined moteliers are no longer permitted to turn away sex workers intending to use motel rooms for prostitution.

The bizarre decision has struck at the heart of property rights by apparently removing a motelier's common law entitlement to refuse accommodation if it is believed that a guest’s presence would cause annoyance to other guests.
"Queensland's attorney-general will stop at nothing to revoke a sex worker's hard-won right to operate out of a motel.

...Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie says businesses have the right to be in control of their establishments.

He said if a conflict existed between the Anti-Discrimination Act and the Liquor Act, the government would change the laws to ensure the inconsistency was resolved.

"The government stands on the side of business owners and supports their ability to make decisions about what does or does not occur on their premises," he said in a statement.

...Mr Bleijie also said he would attempt to overturn a second recent QCAT ruling."
The Accommodation Association of Australia has also waded-in and it is pleasing that it may play a role in any appeal:
"The accommodation industry has applauded the Queensland Governments support for motels following a court ruling against motel owners in an anti discrimination case involving a sex worker.

The sex worker won her case against motel owners in the Queensland mining town of Moranbah who refused to rent her a room.

The Queensland Civil and Administration Tribunal ruled the owners of Moranbah's Drovers Rest Motel, southwest of Mackay, contravened the Anti-Discrimination Act.

The Accommodation Association of Australia said in a statement this evening that it welcomes the announcement from the Queensland Government that it is supportive of the ability of business owners to make decisions about what does or does not occur on their premises following the judgment.

“Operators of accommodation businesses can feel much more certain about their rights as a direct result of this announcement, which includes a pledge by the Government to explore legislative change and/or an appeal of this decision," said AAA chief executive officer Richard Munro.

“It is further confirmation that Premier Campbell Newman and his Government have a strong interest in tourism and that they are keen to ensure that the Queensland tourism experience is enriched by staying in accommodation establishments across the State.

“The Newman Government deserves credit for stating that it intends to play a leading role in addressing this important issue.

“The Accommodation Association is in the process of determining what part it will play in any appeal.

“It remains the industry’s position that the decision about who is able to stay in tourism accommodation businesses in Australia should lie with the owner, operator, licensee or manager of the business.”

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pete Blackwell To Join The Self-Employed

We recently posted on Peter Blackwell's immanent departure from the helm of AA Tourism.

Sadly, we are about to lose a trusted advocate for the the tourism industry that has walked-the-talk for the past 7-years. 

Pete's passion is addictive and he will be missed - you kinda feel sorry for the yet unnamed person that will be taking over his position;-)

It's fitting that we leave you with Pete's final words of farewell, lifted from today's AA Tourism Newsletter:
"The greatest part of my job has always been the relationships I have formed with our customers. I have always been filled with admiration knowing that while I have the security of a job, most of you own your own business. You have your own capital on the line, you know the value of good customer service, of improving your product and you understand how scary it is to look down the barrel of a changing market.

You’ve driven me to consider my own career, and after seven years at the helm of
AA Tourism, I am leaving for different pastures. I‘m jumping the fence and embarking on a career of self-employment – I’m moving into the retail game. 

It has been a fun seven years. I believe passionately in the importance of the domestic tourism market and I am sad that, as I leave, there is still scant regard paid to it. I truly believe that we must inspire people to travel, not just transact, and I am proud that over these past years the AA has invested in 101 Must-Do’s for Kiwis and that our guides now include large amounts of destination content.

I finish up in late September, but I want to express my thanks to you. Thank you for letting me be part of your world, your businesses and your communities. We work in a great sector with good people and an amazing product. Thanks for all you have done for me and my best wishes for the future."

Motel Skipper Pleads Guilty

We've been tracking the movements of former Kapiti mortgage broker Kerry Buddle for some time now.

You may remember this larger than life, plausible blonde (pictured above) that appears to have traits of overestimating reality. It is alleged that Buddle owes about $2.5 million after persuading clients to lend her money after encouraging them to mortgage their properties. Five people say they have had to sell their homes when Buddle did not repay their money.

While police continue investigating these serious accusations, we've been following Buddle's relatively minor charges of obtaining accommodation by deception (ie: skipping from motels). 
"A motel owner, skeptical that alleged loan scammer Kerry Buddle was ever going to pay for accommodation, learned through a television programme that she was wanted on fraud-related matters. 

Marie Ann Hickey, of Motel 22, Lower Hutt, said she had been pressing Buddle for a $722 payment in June last year. 

The transaction was declined when she tried to bill the credit card of which Buddle had given details when she booked the motel. 

In her court statement, Ms Hickey said Buddle booked a motel unit for June 4. On June 5 she asked to extend her stay. Buddle was asked to pay, but still had not done so by June 10, when she said she would pay the next day. Ms Hickey noticed a male visiting Buddle's unit each night.

That evening Ms Hickey watched a television news story and realised it was about Buddle who was wanted on "fraud-related matters". 
It would appear once the heat went on Buddle, she simply checked-in to another motel that was only 2km away, but this time used an alternative method of deferring payment.
"Angus Inn front office manager Arvin Singh said Buddle booked into the hotel on June 10 and stayed for 10 nights.

He became concerned that she would not pay and she gave him a credit card number in the name of Shane Storey, who she said was her business partner who had given her authority to use it.

Mr Singh charged $1289.44 to the card.

Shane Storey, a Palmerston North accountant, said he had previously had a business relationship with Buddle. In February 2011 he gave her his credit card number to sign up for an internet phone system she was selling.
In late June his credit card statement contained entries he had no idea about. After speaking to the manager of the Angus Inn, he texted Buddle to find out why she had been using his credit card.

She responded repeatedly by text, and eventually by email, saying she had made a mistake with her records and would sort it out.

She asked why she would do something like that "with all the media coverage I have at the moment".
Finally, Buddle appears to have had a reality check and has pleaded guilty to four charges of obtaining accommodation by deception at the Wellington District Court yesterday.

According to comments on this blog, Buddle is living with a farmer in Fielding (much to the amusement of his former wife) and has found time to distract herself from pending legal issues and frustrated creditors by giving birth to a wee baby girl in July this year.

Buddle has been remanded until October for sentencing...

Sex Workers Claim Rights To Occupy Motels

Remember GK, the sex worker from the Gold Coast that habitually uses motels to conduct her trade?
"GK, a sex worker from Gold Coast reckons she is being discriminated against by a motel in Australia’s Queensland state that refused her a room and has sought $30,000 in compensation.
In this case, GK alleged discrimination after being turned away from a motel claiming that under Queensland law she was permitted to engage in lawful sexual activity. 

The sex worker has also claimed that she was asked unnecessary questions about being a sex worker and that the motel charged over-the-odds because of her status as a sex worker."
 GK lost her case against the motel: 
"It was pleasing that the Anti-Discrimination Commission dismissed the case. It was ruled that the moteliers did not refuse future accommodation to a sex worker because of her occupation, but rather because they did not want prostitution undertaken in their motel.
It was concluded that an accommodation business owner can dictate some questionable activities that guests engage in from their guest rooms that includes conducting "business activities." 
GK, appealed the decision and at the conclusion of the hearing this week has won!
"Motel win for booming sex trade  

SEX workers were last night celebrating a stunning victory in their battle against motel owners in the booming mining towns, after the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled in favour of a prostitute who complained of discrimination after being told she could not rent a room.
The decision is likely to have ramifications for hotel and motel operators across Australia, who could now find themselves in breach of the anti-discrimination laws that exist in every state if they try to turn away prostitutes."
Although I can't yet find the full legal decision online - from media reports the latest decision is based upon the simple premise that sex workers using a motel bed to conduct trade should be treated no differently from other guests that may conduct business in a motel room by using the telephone or internet.

New Zealand motels that operate under similar laws to Australia should be looking at this latest bizarre ruling with concern. The decision indicates that moteliers are no longer permitted to turn away
sex workers intending to use motel rooms for prostitution.

Before moteliers start changing their check-in procedures and erecting red neon, clearly this decision needs to be tested again - and quickly. 

If the hapless Aussie moteliers that endured financial and emotional turmoil going through a legal nightmare are unable to launch an appeal from their own resources, hopefully the Accommodation Association of Australia will step in to assist with support including improved legal representation.

If moteliers blindly accept the ruling that they no longer have the right to turn away sex workers that intend to ply trade from motel rooms, there are a few unanswered questions:

Is the motel owner exposed indirectly by participating in the provision of prostitution, by enabling a person to engage in prostitution through the provision of the room in which the prostitution occurs?

Is a motel owner obliged to rent rooms to as many sex workers that turn up?

Once rooms occupied by sex workers reaches a certain quota, is the motelier obliged to apply for a brothel licence to avoid being charged with having an interest in premises used for prostitution?

Motels are regularly used by families as part of the travelling public and children are likely to be present. Does the motelier have a duty of care to minimise exposure to  minors if prostitution is occurring at the motel?

Some motels hold liquor licenses that have been issued to premises that have a stated businesses use. Does the motelier by knowingly accepting sex workers to conduct business from motel rooms breach the Sale of Liquor Act?

And most importantly, how does this decision change the motelier's common law entitlement to refuse accommodation if it is believed that a guest’s presence would cause annoyance to other guests?

While the latest decision apparently strips away the rights of a motelier to refuse certain trade, there is an irony that under Australian and NZ law, a sex worker can refuse to service a client for any reason, even after a contract has been established and money changes hands.

Unlike the hapless motel owner, a sex worker is not required to qualify a reason for refusal of sexual service!

We await for the appeal with baited breath...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Keeping Up With Predicted Demand?

In an ever changing market it's difficult for a motelier to keep up.

According to the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand, operators must adapt quickly to take full advantage of the stamped of tourists predicted from China and India. In anticipation, I've learnt a few choice phrases in various Chinese and Indian dialects and have gone around the motel adding multilingual signage.

I've also got a pile of newly printed multilingual guest compendiums and breakfast forms are ready to be handed out at a moments notice. In my back shed I've got 40 rice cookers that are still in their original box after an impromptu trip to Briscoes. I've yet to purchase any Indian cooking utensils, but I may wait until they are on sale...

Now I learn that the imminent legalisation of same-sex marriage in New Zealand could release a wave of inbound same-sex couple tourism. Not being one to sit still, I headed straight back to Briscoes and filled my car will mirrors of various sizes and multi-coloured scatter cushions that I'll be using to tart up the decor of my units. On the way home called into The Warehouse to stock up my DVD library with popular show tunes movies.

Next I'll be getting on the phone to Sky and replacing all those pesky Sport channels with The Living Channel and E!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Olympians Tribute Moteliers

Humbling to read this morning that the hospitality of an Invercargill motel couple had such a profound effect on their appreciative regular guests.

For the last four years leading up to the London Olympics, BikeNZ based their track riders and staff at Admiral’s Court Motel owned by Mark and Shirley in Invercargill.

The motel became a second home for the bike team and Mark and Shirley treated the team like members of their family. The motel couple became part of the team, traveling to Melbourne to support the team at the world championships.

The riders and staff in the BikeNZ High Performance group were devastated with the news of the sudden passing of Mark Keen in May this year.

"The New Zealand Olympic men's pursuit cycling team has dedicated its bronze medal to a special friend.

For years, Bike New Zealand has based its track riders and staff at Invercargill's Admiral Court Motel, run by husband and wife team Mark and Shirley Keen.

But tragically, Mr Keen died suddenly in May this year - a death that has had a profound effect on the tight-knit unit.
Today rider Sam Bewley posted a message on Twitter dedicating his medal to his past friend.
 Ms Keen says it's an amazing gesture.
“He did know them more personally, especially Mark, he would just go and chat to the guys and spend time with them,” she says.

Ms Keen says her husband would have been proud to hear of the team's accomplishment."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Say Who You Are

When being constantly faced with the scrutiny of consumers, a simple rule for business owners to follow is: "Say who you are and be who you say."

This philosophy can be difficult some some folk to understand - especially when they have never had to rely upon producing goods and services that are willingly purchased.

Oh looks like our former Dear Leader has been at the airbrush kit again...

Excited Train Guy

Love the Excited Train Guy meme at the moment.

A train spotter apparently gets off on ....well...spotting trains and shares his train'gasm on YouTube.

The Excited Train Guy has become a viral hit, attracted MSM coverage and is chock-full of ironic catch-phrases that cool connected kids are dropping into conversation.

YouTube is being rapidly populated with the obligatory remix parodies - But was it real?

...a great lesson in successful viral marketing a tourist attraction.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Yet Another Olympic Games Update

Another Olympic Games Update

No need to waste your time trawling through an orgy of mult-media Olympic Games coverage. We've got all the important bits locked-in right here...

Sadly, Michelle Jenneke will not be participating at this year's games, however look out for inspirational Bulgarian sprinter, Ivet Lalova.

Is Rate Parity Price Fixing?

It is a widely accepted online marketing strategy by accommodation providers to offer "rate parity" across all online websites that are accessible by the public.

Rate parity applies to a particular room type on a particular night. Although these rates may constantly change according to demand, applying rate parity dictates that no matter where customer chooses to shop for a particular accommodation choice online, they should find a consistent price at any one time. It is believed that consistency of tariff is gives an accommodation property's rates transparency, integrity and supports online reputation.

Accommodation providers can (and often do) fudge rate parity by offering package deals and offline direct marketing offers.

Although widely accepted by accommodation providers, using a rate parity strategy may work for some accommodation providers better than others. The trouble with rate parity is that it makes less sense if accommodation providers want to favour a particular channel (for example their own web site) and train guests to go there for the lowest price.

While many accommodation providers accept that a rate parity strategy is best for their business, others do so under sufferance as most OTA agreements dictate that rate parity must be applied. In order to list inventory on most mainstream OTAs to gain the benefit of targeted marketing initiatives and consumer brand loyalty, accommodation providers must undertake not to undercut elsewhere online. Is this fair enough?

Should online travel agencies restrict an accommodation provider offering a better online deal elsewhere if they use their services?

Should an accommodation provider offering wholesale rates to an online travel agency, be permitted to dictate a minimum tariff that is offered in the retail market?

After a two year investigation, Britain's Office of Fair Trading has provisionally ruled that the accommodation industry practice of rate parity and dictating minimum tariff to resellers is outside consumer law should be considered "price fixing."

The final decision will be worth looking out for as this may be ground breaking by changing how accommodation providers price and distribute inventory across sales channels. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympic Games Update

*YAWN* I've managed to drag myself from the compelling Olympic coverage to post the highlights so far...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Racism At Motel 6?

We all have access to some form of electronic media that we can use to publish to the world our inner-most thoughts. Because the delivery mediums are so easy to use and inexpensive, we can instantly blast out our up-to-the-minute earnest opinions.

The trouble with this accessibility to broadcast is that most people have regular bouts of insanity and can instantly blurt out stupid comments to a wide audience that they will soon regret. Trying to convey a witty or ironic observation verbally within a small group of friends can be easily taken in context, however as a few Olympians have found out, pithy comments in less than 160 characters can look awfully silly after an initial blood-rush to the head.

I see that the Motel 6 brand in America is currently getting another bashing, as a consequence of a motel manager allegedly posting an unsavoury greeting to a guest via the in-room television network. 

It's difficult to fathom, why a motel manager would contemplate typing the greeting "Hello Nigger" into a guest's in-room television greeting screen. What were they thinking?!

The guest cried foul and a storm of mainstream media generated indignation has followed.

Ironically, the televised news report video below gives the impression that at least one of the managers at Motel 6 was black. So was the electronic salutation some kind of misguided "friendly" slang banter by a motel employee or was it ignorant and senseless racism?

Unfortunately this doesn't mater - Mainstream media crave sensationalism and not overburdening their viewers with detail gives good ratings.

The consequence of less than a dozen characters mindlessly entered into an electronic medium is huge - Motel 6's reputation has taken a massive hit. While mainstream media moves on to the next story, social networks will rage against the brand for several more weeks and the story will remain embedded in consumers' minds (and Google) for many years.

Click the "Get Widget" link below to place this widget on your website or blog!