Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why we should train kids to be entrepreneurs

Its not accommodation or hotel related but its about business and is well worth watching when you have a moment. I came across it thanks to Guy Kawasaki's Twitter account.

Its funny, I always tell people I'm not the sort of person who grew up wanting to own their own business but its funny how many of the things he mentions he did as a kid that I did too (collecting cans, caddying, mowing lawns, etc). I guess entrepreneurship was always there for me ... it just took longer to fully come to the surface.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Zero Star Hotel?

Interesting story I read this morning in one of the industry newsletters about a new no-frills hotel concept from Switzerland. Zero star? Not quite what we specialise in, but certainly a different spin on things.

Swiss zero star hotel makes big break to commercial world. - swissinfo

Switzerland may be the land of luxury, but one unique no-frills hotel concept plans to occupy the niche budget sector with eye-catching venues and a butler service.

The Zero Star Hotel started off life in a disused nuclear bunker as an art project making a statement against making a fast buck. But it enjoyed such success that it will soon relaunch as a commercial venture.

The original location in Teufen, canton Appenzell Outer Rhodes, closed down a year after opening but has transformed into a museum commemorating the original hotel. The new site is shrouded in secrecy but promises to be unusual and in a city.

The idea was born when twin brothers Frank and Patrik Riklin, both artists, were asked by the local council to convert the nuclear bunker into affordable accommodation. They claim they created the world’s first zero-star hotel under the caption: “The only star is you”.

But the 14-bed low-budget hotel, charging SFr10-30 ($8.75-$26) a night, proved such a big hit that the twins and their partner, hospitality expert Daniel Charbonnier, co-founded the concept as a commercial brand.

“We had to walk before we could run, so the first hotel acted as a prototype,” Charbonnier told “Our market research showed that 80 per cent of guests would come back, but they told us they would prefer it to be in a city.”

Butler service

Charbonnier, who runs hospitality consultancy Minds in Motion, would not reveal how many guests had stayed at the hotel, but said they came from 29 countries, from all walks of life and had an age range of seven to 77.

“Many of our guests told us they would normally stay in a three- or four-star hotel,” he said. “We managed to attract customers who wanted a good quality of service but who had recently tightened their budgets.”

The austere windowless surrounding and shared bathrooms were brightened by a butler who brought tea or coffee in the morning and acted as a concierge for guests. Aside from the unique location, the unique selling point will remain the personalised butler service for guests travelling on a shoestring.

A butler may seem at first glance to be at odds with an artistic statement against greed, but Charbonnier insisted that the concept works.

“A butler has many negative connotations with luxury, but a person who spends less on their accommodation also deserves first-class service,” he said. “Our message is that making money involves hard work and that there are no sustainable short cuts.”

Expensive image

The management group even turned down an offer of financial backing from a Russian investor because they felt he did not understand the concept and that the brand’s integrity would be lost.

Urs Eberhard, a vice-director at the Swiss tourist board, was enthusiastic about the hotel turning commercial.

“Anything that differentiates itself and provides a unique experience has a chance of success,” he told “Maybe this will change people’s perception that Switzerland is an expensive place to visit.”

“There is a current trend for people to downgrade hotels or even to go camping. People are now much more willing to experience different offerings, staying in a youth hostel while hiking and then spoiling themselves in a wellness centre by a lake.”

Much of the success of the Zero Star Hotel has been put down to wide media coverage providing free publicity. The hotel has not spent a single franc on advertising.

But Christian Laesser, a professor of tourism and service management at St Gallen University, has doubts about what would happen when the media coverage runs dry.

Location, location, location

“It would then have to seek unconventional means of getting noticed on the market or rely on word of mouth so it can continue to generate revenues,” he told

In fact, Zero Star Hotel has already taken great strides to getting noticed, having been listed in the Lonely Planet travel guide for a year.

Lukas Brunner from the research institute for leisure and tourism at Bern University believes the hotel is making the right move to an urban centre because cities, particularly Zurich and Geneva, are the current prime locations for attracting guests.

But he cautioned that the hotel would need to find a location as unique as the Appenzell nuclear bunker to keep its appeal.

“This will not be easy in a city such as Zurich because real estate prices are much higher,” he told “The location is very important, but I believe the concept could be profitable.”

Charbonnier said several sites were being investigated but could not give a time scale on when the new hotel would open. But he was optimistic that the brand could expand further to include other locations, even beyond Switzerland.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The return of Tiger Woods

The great news yesterday was the official announcement that Tiger Woods will return to Melbourne later this year to defend his Australian Masters title.

His visit to Melbourne last year coincided with corporate travel bouncing back after the economic slowdown. Thanks to Tiger (and a Britney Spears concert), it was a massive week for Melbourne hotels and great for business around here as well.

While looking for one of the news reports about the announcement, I came across the news article below that 2011 will be even better! Click on the title to read the full story. Great news for golf fans, great news for us and Melbourne hotels.

Woods also set for 2011
June 10, 2010
TIGER Woods' decision to defend his Australian Masters title has guaranteed another bumper edition of the tournament that was in danger of dying two years ago. But if 2009 was big and 2010 is just as big, then 2011 should be a monster.

That's because the Presidents Cup, the biennial teams event between the United States and an International team, is to be played at Royal Melbourne in the same month, November 14-20. By piggy-backing on to that tournament, the Masters should have not only Woods playing, but a host of other big-name golfers looking for some tournament play on the sandbelt.

The Masters is likely to be held at Kingston Heath from November 10-13, the week before the Presidents Cup. Possibly the Australian Open will jump on, too, by scheduling to play in Sydney the following week, for three weeks of top-level play. It is the kind of window of access that Australian tournament golf has craved since the halcyon days of Greg Norman's fame.