While Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown have been hot on the development radar, Wellington has struggled with new supply, thanks to a lack of approved or planned projects leading right up to Rugby World Cup 2011.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Toga Hospitality’s 132-room Travelodge Wellington opened to much fanfare in June 2009, despite the ‘new’ property being a refurbishment and rebranding from an ageing Copthorne Plimmer Towers.

Toga Hospitality CEO Rachel Argaman said she was encouraged by bookings and occupancy at Travelodge Wellington over the last six months, given the substantial investment in time and money the company has injected into the property.
“We’ve seen occupancy increase steadily month-on-month and are already welcoming repeat customers,” she told HM. “Wellington is a very competitive market to be operating in, but we have seen some strengthening in the market in the past month or so.
“Whilst we are all challenged by current economic climate it brings like all challenges, opportunities to improve our business… so, we are focused on guest service, growing repeat business and paying close attention to our costs,” she said.
A strong finish to 2009, coupled with the company’s increased focus on the bottom line, has Argaman confident of a strong 2010.
“For the next 12-18 months we are aiming to continue the growth in occupancy and growth in room rate,” she said. “In 2010, we are expecting to see strong growth in the corporate and government markets and will continue to drive leisure bookings through our consumer marketing campaigns.
Alongside Toga’s direct campaigns, she said the company would also be working with Positively Wellington Tourism.
“We will all be working with Positively Wellington over the more leisure months of late-December and early-January and then look forward to seeing continued growth in the strength of the market in the New Year,” she said.
Argaman said there were a number of factors why the hotel had proven popular in recent months, including the extensive refurbishment and its prime position in the middle of the city.
“We have the newest hotel offering in Wellington and our corner rooms have amazing views over the city,” she said.
“The hotel was completely refurbished over an eight month period and the 132 rooms were revamped with new fixtures and fittings. The three conference rooms also have a fresh new look and the hotel’s foyer and restaurant have been transformed.
“Then, Travelodge Wellington is in a prime location in the centre of Wellington’s financial and shopping hub, yet close to key attractions such as Wellington Zoo, the Wellington Cable Car and Te Papa Museum of New Zealand.
“These factors make it ideal for both leisure and business travellers,” she said.
Argaman said those factors also meant Travelodge Wellington was perfectly suited to the MICE market (both domestically and internationally from Australia), a segment that has also been showing positive signs for the next twelve months.
“The MICE market looks to be very promising for 2010,” she said. “We have a number of pieces of business already locked in for 2010 and will be focusing on this market through the year.”
Thanks to the cheapest trans-Tasman airfares in the last ten years, conference and incentive planners are looking to New Zealand destinations such as Wellington for conferences under 100 people and the city’s ‘newest’ hotel is in the perfect position to capture a strong share of the ever-growing MICE market.