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Classification Certificate of Hospitality Units

Classification Certification Process Swiss Approval and “HSTAR” Certificate

Duration of the Classification Certificate

The classification management systems of a hotel business have a significant impact on its operation (positive or negative) and should be systematically monitored to ensure compliance with the standards of the corresponding level of service quality.

The HSTAR certificate is valid for three (3) years, and provides for annual assessment audits to be conducted.

A key weakness of a large number of classification systems is the lack of systematic monitoring of compliance with the criteria or the absence of re-assessment. Given these weaknesses, the current assessment and compliance monitoring procedures are unstable, unprofessional, subjective, or even non-existent, and it is therefore considered necessary to adapt the existing systems and create a more advanced set of criteria which will be closely and systematically monitored.

Swiss Approval’s international ranking system, through its annual audit and monitoring procedures, provides objective proof of the reliability and effectiveness of the services of the hotel establishments evaluated.

Scope of the Audit Process

Evaluation of service quality

The main problem regarding the quality of services provided in the field of the tourism industry is the mismatch between the expected – in terms of quality – and the actual service provided to the customer.

The way in which service quality is perceived is basically related to various factors that influence human perception. A key, therefore, additional element of service evaluation required in addition to the existing technical and functional characteristics is the capture of ‘perceived’ quality in a measurable and objective way, in order to realistically reflect the overall level of service as provided by the Hotel Enterprise.

Staff training/status

From international experience to date, it is clear that the identified deficiencies in the hotel industry relate to the ‘real’ quality of service and infrastructure. The quality of service is directly related to the quality of the work output as well as to the level of employment in the sector. Employees who have, in most cases, lost the motivation for improved services and are asked to respond to a given context without challenges, prove unable to perform at a level that meets customer expectations. In many cases, ignorance regarding their duties and reluctance to effectively serve the Firm’s customers is found. Inadequate training of staff and their refusal to comply with the requirements of high standards and standardization of service delivery is the main cause of quality imbalance as described above.

Customer Safety – HSTAR I Certificate

Policies for implementing customer safety measures are often put on the back burner because of the day-to-day management issues in which most of the productive staff time is invested. Hygiene and safety standards in food processing are often not respected and the certification of the minimum required infrastructure, even when explicitly provided for by European or national legislation, is not common or common practice.

Planned fire drills or other relevant emergency management plans are not systematically implemented. The implementation of the company’s risk prevention strategy is often absent in important areas such as seismic risk, terrorist acts, etc. In general, there is a superficial approach to security issues in many cases, which also significantly increases the operational risk.

Swiss Approval, in order to enhance the sense of security in hospitality structures, has introduced the HSTAR 1 for Guests’ Safety certification system to ensure effective incident management in case of a health care emergency for guests and visitors of the hotel business.

Environmentally Friendly Hotel – The ECO Hotel Certificate from Swiss Approval

A key modern industry, which constitutes a strategic area of development according to international practice and experience, is the investment in Ecology and the Ecological Approach in all economic sectors.

The so-called “Green Tourism” dressed in the context of new standards, such as the adoption of energy-saving practices, bioclimatic design or water recycling, etc. in modern tourism infrastructure, is mobilising the tourism market which seems to have matured significantly in recent years in terms of environmental awareness and policy. The introduction of eco-labelling or other environmental schemes is an important parameter and an improvement and modernisation tool for any hospitality business.

Disabled persons/people with reduced mobility (PRM)

The creation of accessible hotels, in accordance with international standards in order to accommodate people with disabilities, is obviously not only a sign of culture, but also an important investment in the modern tourism market.

Certification – Swiss Approval Accredited Service

All non-mandatory management system certification programs, according to ISO 9000, 14000, 18000 etc.. standards, are also considered important to ensure the desired level of service provided due to their significant impact and influence in the standardization framework of each service. Standardisation seems to be the key to quality assurance and continuous improvement.

Monitoring/Evaluation tools

Because, the dimensions of “Service Delivery” cannot be condensed into a derivative, and “Service” is a good which is “consumed” at the same time as it is “produced”, the Quality of Service is strictly proportional to the ability of Hospitality staff to automatically respond as prescribed and required, according to the standards and rules approved and implemented by management. This means that staff must be fully informed, have knowledge of all relevant information and be appropriately trained. Hence the importance of the factor “Properly Trained Employee” becomes clear. In this way, it is obvious that in the various establishments with corresponding infrastructures, the ‘Employee’ factor creates the qualitative added value to the hospitality services provided.

Therefore, it is necessary to establish, the mandatory evaluation of the quality of services for hotels that wish to differentiate themselves qualitatively from the competition.

This objective is achieved through the use of methodologies such as that of the “Mystery Guest” – Mystery Guest – Mystery Shopping, using a robust Questionnaire that objectively captures metrics as well as the overall level of quality of services provided by the different departments of the tourist accommodation.

The practice of measuring quality and recording the level of service provided by the “Mystery Guest” method is widely used, and is considered as the most accepted way of classifying services, since international classification and certification organizations introduce the evaluation using Mystery Guest as a key means to objectively and effectively assess the quality of services provided to end users.

The Mystery Guest questionnaire by Swiss Approval International is a 750-point scoring tool which is assessed during a surprise visit by the Inspector, to the accommodation or hospitality structure.

There is therefore an objective need to reclassify hotels in order to bridge the gap between the quality of service provided and the quality of service actually received.  As can be seen from relevant surveys, hospitality establishments of the same category show significant quality variations, some providing a higher level of service than their category, others operating within the expected capacity and some meeting a lower level of quality than expected. The purpose of reclassification is none other than to restore the credibility of tourism and the ‘tourism product’ on the international market.

It is also clear that the existing 5/7 star classification levels are not sufficient to include the full range of deviations and trends that arise.

Swiss Approval International has the expertise and appropriate tools to assess hospitality businesses against their actual performance in terms of service quality and customer satisfaction.

The HSTAR Assessment Certificate is a seal of confidence, both for the Business itself and for the guests of the Hospitality Unit.