Star grading benefits business and tourists
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.