Thursday, 13 October 2011

A Tale of Two Cities?

We have written before about how different parts of Christchurch have been affected in different ways by the earthquakes, and now it appears the Motel industry is no exception.

We always had the idea that here on Colombo St. just 2 blocks from the Red Zone and indeed cordoned and curfewed for 18 days after 22 Feb., things were a little different to, for example, the Riccarton area.  Now, an interesting news piece aired on TVNZ which indicates that Motels in Christchurch have most certainly experienced business at levels equal to the busiest it’s ever been, has confirmed our suspicions

We are worried about the way this news has been handled because our motel and others in our area have not been experiencing such occupancy levels and we believe it has sent the message to the rest of NZ that it’s no good coming to Christchurch because there’s no accommodation! 

Ourselves and other inner city MANZ motels have not experienced “business at levels equal to the busiest it’s ever been” and we would be absolutely devastated if kiwis and overseas travellers based their travel plans on messages like what is carried in the news piece.  It also worries us that the majority of this message was presented by top executives of the Motel Association of New Zealand.  Surely they could have been more aware of the reality of their individual members.

We must say that we do not know if the motel owners in this news piece had their views expressed in the way they wanted by TVNZ but what we are primarily worried about here is what the travelling public are lead to think by the overall presentation.  It is the impression that counts.  At least there could have been recognition that not all areas of Christchurch had enjoyed the good times!

We’d like to counter what was said and put our case forward.  We feel that this news piece has missed the point in 2 ways.  While it may be so in the Riccarton area, the inner city area has certainly not been “the busiest it’s ever been.”  We also feel that a great chance to promote weekend visits to Christchurch has been lost after this piece did not differentiate between the busy Monday – Thursday period and relatively not so busy weekend period.

We would love to have had 92% occupancy since Feb as the motelier at the start of the news piece claimed but for us the reality was that while we traded at slightly above past years’ levels the result has been considerably lower than 92%.

We are paid up members of both the Christchurch Motel Association and Motel Association of New Zealand and so we feel we have the right to say it's not 100% correct when our Association execs say that “members are experiencing unprecedented occupancy rates” and that it is most certainly, absolutely most certainly the busiest it’s ever been.

While it is great to see our industry being reflected in a good light by the mainstream media and reflecting the great job motels are doing in supporting the recovery, the message should have been that while there are plenty of “No Vacancy” signs to be seen, that there is still accommodation available in Christchurch if travellers plan ahead and that there are especially plenty of rooms available over the weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun) for people to visit Christchurch.

Surely this is the message that we should be presenting.

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