Home' Hotel Management : HM AUG 2015 Contents Conferences
he overwhelming sentiment at this year’s New Zealand Hotel
Industry Conference was one of optimism, despite the industry ’s
challenges following the Christchurch earthquakes, the
increasing cost of acquisition, construction and refurbishment,
the dip in dairy prices and the slowdown in the Chinese inbound market.
The good news comes from the luxury sector with the US market
returning to New Zealand in droves and an upswing in the emerging
markets of Brazil, Argentina and Indonesia.
The conference heard from Kevin Bowler, Chief Executive, Tourism
New Zealand, and Lesley Immink, Chief Executive, Tourism Export
Council New Zealand, among others, about the growth in this sector and
the best ways to attract and capitalise on these visitors once they are in
One surprising strategy was attracting super yachts into Auckland
Harbour for maintenance and then working to influence the crew to
bring the owners down from Russia.
In terms of investment and development, Chinese finance and
insurance companies such as Bright Ruby, Fu Wah International Group,
Sunshine Insurance Group and Anbang Insurance Group are the ones to
watch, while Host Group out of America looks to offload some assets in
the New Zealand market.
Challenges to investors are simply the lack of ‘investment grade stock’
in Auckland, with only eleven hotels with over 200 rooms in the city that
are held by inter-generational companies that don’t want to sell.
The conference heard that 1500 rooms will be added to the
New Zealand inventory in the next five years despite high land and
construction costs. The midscale sector is where most of this development
will take place due to the fact it is cheaper to build and has the highest
yield, despite much talk about the growth in the boutique and lifestyle
One critical issue that was discussed at length was staffing; namely, the
lack of available, skilled staff. Minister Bennett spoke to the government ’s
strategy to encourage tourism businesses to employ New Zealanders first
and then, as in the case of Queenstown recently when the city had its
busiest summer ever, invoke temporary changes to immigration visas to
address the staffing shortfall. She also spoke about how tourism operators
need to work together to address issues around transport to and from
work and suitable staff accommodation in remote and regional areas, as
well as guaranteeing set hours.
Bennett said, “ We need to think collectively about these issues. While
it may not be economical for one operator to run a bus to pick up staff for
the early shift, it could work if three or four hotels work together.”
One hot topic was whether to keep the manned reception area of
hotels or switch to a computerised check-in system, similar to Air New
Zealand’s kiosks at the airport. The crowd were firmly divided, with
some arguing for the ‘human touch’ and others arguing for the speed and
efficiency of self-managed systems.
As ever, OTAs copped a flogging for increasing their rates, with
IHG’s Karin Sheppard saying that they will look at removing certain
properties in busy centres from the inventory that is sold via these
The day finished on a high with networking drinks in the exhibition
area, followed by a gala dinner where the winners of the annual awards
were announced. Sam Swaffield from Crowne Plaza Auckland won the
Service IQ Outstanding Young Hotel Executive Award, Paul Columbus
from Novotel Auckland Airport won the Reserve Group Consulting
Hotel Industry Senior Executive of the Year, Langham Auckland won the
Greenfield Hotel Industry Environmental Initiative Award and the Hotel
Industry Achievement Award went to John Farrell, Area Director Sales
and Marketing for Accor New Zealand and South Pacific. ■
Positive outlook for
New Zealand hotels
The eighth annual New Zealand Hotel Industry Conference held at The Langham Auckland on June 4 attracted
record numbers of the country’s top executives, including Associate Minister for Tourism Paula Bennett.
By Emma Gardiner in Auckland
Host hotel: The Langham, Auckland
24 HM The Business of Accommodation
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