New hospitality data grading to raise the benchmark of SA's tourism offering

2016-05-11 08:37 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - The online age brings with it accommodation bookings made on the fly via various devices, employing the likes of geo-location and all manner of trends - quality assurance becomes vital.  

As a direct result, the The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa has launched a new online application that allows it to scrape and assess online reviews and ratings across 15 top online platforms of the various establishments it grades. As the council prepares to upgrade its criteria after what it describes as rigorous consultation with industry, it was last upgraded in 2012; Chief Quality Assurance Officer Darryl Erasmus says technology is undoubtedly the biggest influencer going forward.

The new application incorporates social media reviews via a custom built platform that assesses service delivery and performance as rated by actual customers via online portals such as Bookings.com, Agoda and TripAdvisor for example.

By aggregating the reviews via a custom built portal, it enables the grading council to maximise the data in order to raise the benchmark within the industry as it identifies actual areas of concern and that require attention and focus, says Erasmus.

"Employing the new data collation technology enables the council to monitor the service levels of South Africa's hospitality industry and ensure that it is in line with what the establishment's grading actually is."

According to Erasmus this solves an area of concern raised within the industry. “We are now able to rate and grade actual products physically and monitor the actual service delivery on those standards awarded."

Erasmus says the grading council is working on a mechanism to make this available to the actual properties directly. He also stressed that while the grading council is just the facilitator of the programme which is driven by the needs and requirements of the industry, SA's hospitality industry "needs to invest in the grading" and is something that "needs to be maintained".

Added to this, Erasmus says the system would go a long way in "ensuring the best of the best are nominated” for industry's Lilizela Awards.  

"South African Tourism is all about enabling the international traveller to come and have authentic experiences in South Africa and the grading council is supporting this by asking what does the international traveller need, what are the standards they are accustomed to."

"The grading program is internationally benchmarked and needs to be something that every property aspires to and it is certainly not be something that everybody can have. You need to claim you star, you don't just get one because you happen to be operating an establishment,” says Erasmus.  

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