Star grad­ing ben­e­fits busi­ness and tourists

The Star Early Edition - - LIFESTYLE VERVE -

THE first thing that most trav­ellers look for when mak­ing a book­ing is of­ten the of­fi­cial grad­ing of a fa­cil­ity. Stars In­signia in the colours of the South African flag have be­come syn­ony­mous with qual­ity and value.

But what does one, three or even five stars mean?

The Tourism Grad­ing Coun­cil of South Africa has been on a mis­sion to ed­u­cate busi­nesses in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try about the im­por­tance of get­ting graded. At the same time, they have been on a mis­sion to help ed­u­cate the trav­eller on the im­por­tance of the grad­ing sys­tem, the ex­pec­ta­tions star grad­ing cre­ates, as well as the re­course avail­able to all guests of graded es­tab­lish­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to Dar­ryl Eras­mus, chief qual­ity as­sur­ance Of­fi­cer at the Tourism Grad­ing Coun­cil of South Africa (TGCSA), there are sev­eral ben­e­fits to be­ing graded.

“In South Africa, we use the glob­ally renowned and im­ple­mented star grad­ing sys­tem to in­di­cate qual­ity lev­els in the tourism space. We con­duct as­sess­ments of prop­er­ties against set cri­te­ria that are in­ter­na­tion­ally bench­marked ev­ery three years,” said Eras­mus.

He added that the out­come of grad­ing was ben­e­fi­cial for the busi­ness and trav­ellers.

“The stars en­able graded prop­er­ties to po­si­tion them­selves in a par­tic­u­lar mar­ket both from a pric­ing and ex­pec­ta­tion per­spec­tive.

“For fu­ture clients or trav­ellers, the stars should give them com­fort that some­one from the TGCSA has vis­ited the es­tab­lish­ment in the last 12 months and has is­sued them with their stars based on the qual­ity of their of­fer­ing and their ser­vice lev­els.

“Trav­ellers are also able to use these star grad­ings to plan their ac­com­mo­da­tion es­tab­lish­ments ac­cord­ing to their level of af­ford­abil­ity or the stan­dards they wish to en­counter when they utilise the es­tab­lish­ment,” he added.

“It’s equally im­por­tant for trav­ellers to use the TGCSA web­site to con­firm the grad­ing sta­tus of es­tab­lish­ments as there are un­scrupu­lous op­er­a­tors who use stars il­le­gally.’

As­sess­ments of es­tab­lish­ments and star grad­ing awards are done ev­ery 12 months, in or­der to en­sure con­sis­tent qual­ity.

“We do this for a good rea­son; if a prop­erty owner doesn’t have a fo­cus on the main­te­nance of stan­dards and the over­all main­te­nance of the prop­erty, their stan­dards can slip very quickly. We fo­cus also on the qual­ity of fur­ni­ture, fit­tings, guest ameni­ties and the build­ing it­self.

“We also fo­cus greatly on ser­vice. Dur­ing the course of the year, we mon­i­tor ser­vice lev­els through on­line guest re­views to en­sure that Left: the ser­vice lev­els do not change.”

Eras­mus also high­lighted the added ben­e­fits to prop­er­ties that are graded, including a host of busi­ness sup­port ser­vices that com­pa­nies have ac­cess to.

“We have what is known as the Bas­ket of Ben­e­fits, which are busi­ness sup­port ser­vices. Eighty-five per­cent of our graded es­tab­lish­ments are small- and medium-en­ter­prises and we have man­aged to se­cure sup­port ser­vices which are ex­clu­sively avail­able to them, to en­sure that we as­sist to min­i­mize their costs of do­ing busi­ness and im­prove prof­itabil­ity and to ul­ti­mately make them more sus­tain­able,” he said.

The TGCSA re­cently hosted a num­ber of in­de­pen­dent five star-graded busi­nesses at their “Lap of Lux­ury Pav­il­ion” stand dur­ing the Tourism Ind­aba three weeks ago, ex­pos­ing them to op­por­tu­ni­ties of networking with other in­dus­try play­ers in the sec­tor but, more im­por­tantly, giv­ing them ac­cess to in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal buy­ers in or­der to gen­er­ate new busi­ness.

“Qual­ity as­sur­ance is a part­ner­ship and the aim is to grow the base of qual­ity as­sured prod­ucts across South Africa,” said Eras­mus.

“We also en­cour­age any­body who has had a chal­lenge or wishes to com­pli­ment a graded es­tab­lish­ment to go onto our web­site, www. tourism­rad­ing.co.za; or con­tact the team at feed­back@tur­is­m­grad­ing. co.za, ” he added.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the TGCSA and their Star Grad­ing sys­tem, visit: www.touris­m­grad­ing. co.za, www.touris­m­grad­ing.co.za

Above: Uni­ver­sal ac­cess grad­ing plaques of the TGCSA that state that an es­tab­lish­ment is friendly for per­sons with dis­ablilites.

New per­spex Tourism Grad­ing Coun­cil of South Africa (TGCSA) plaques, that came into ef­fect ear­lier this year, dis­play the es­tab­lish­ment’s star grad­ings in full colour.

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