How Qualmark Works

Sustainable Tourism Business Criteria

The following framework provides an indicative representation of the Qualmark Sustainable Tourism Business criteria.

The phrases are not literal statements or absolute requirements of what needs to be in place to achieve a Qualmark Sustainability Award. More so they represent a progression of what processes, products, and experiences a business can demonstrate.

We recognise that each business is unique.

Please use this framework as a guide to assist understanding of what a Qualmark Tourism Business Advisor will be looking for when conducting an evaluation and how this relates to the achievement of a Gold, Silver or Bronze Award.

There are four key areas we look at:

  • Economic

    Operations Manual/ Standard Operating Procedures are:

    IN PLACE
    A basic document that covers key aspects of the business                          
    ACTIVELY REFERENCED
    Available to and used by staff regularly, it is a critical document and the reference tool for all business practices. Documents are regularly updated.
    PROACTIVELY MANAGED
    A living and working document and reference point of the business. Sufficient detail allows an outsider to effectively run all aspects of the business.

    Marketing Plan includes:

    A BASIC PLAN
    Covering the key markets and initiatives and demonstrates a basic understanding of the business’s customer base                                     
    STRATEGIES & TARGETS
    A plan that identifies immediate and future markets; and incorporates strategies and performance milestones            
    RESEARCH & VISION
    Advertising, promotions, channel management, brand development and pricing strategies all form part of an integrated and complex marketing plan with a clear link
    to company vision

    Reservations and payments:

    ARE SAFE & SECURE
    A robust system is in place that ensure the confidentiality and security of customer information
    IN REAL TIME
    Expected functions such as real time confirmation and device recognition are in place; with utilisation of channel management options
    INCLUDES PERSONAL TOUCHES
    Additional customer delights are incorporated. Previous customers are acknowledged and preferences catered for.

    Business online presence is:

    ACCURATE
    An up to date online presence is retained
    ACROSS MULTIPLE CHANNELS & DEVICES
    The business profile is actively managed across multiple channels and devices
    MAXIMISING OPPORTUNITIES
    Maximum profile is maintained on www.newzealand.com; along with a strategic social/online/collateral programme

    Business planning includes:

    SHORT TERM ACTIONS
    Key aspects and thoughts can be referenced or articulated regarding the business direction
    MEDIUM TERM STRATEGIES
    Medium term targets and measures, with allocated responsibilities
    LONG TERM VISION
    Long term vision, goals, forecasting and strategic plans are in place, with regular reviews

    Asset Register/Maintenance Plan is:

    REACTIVE
    Main assets are recognised. Maintenance/repairs are reactive.
    MANAGED
    A plan of maintenance is in place with consideration given to how seasonality impacts the business
    PREVENTATIVE
    All assets are recognised with a preventative maintenance programme and obsolescence strategy
  • Social & People

    Job Management includes:

    LEGAL REQUIREMENTS

    All employment procedures and requirements are legal and current

    STAFF APPRAISAL

    Staff are actively appraised and recognised

    MEASUREMENT
    Business metrics and KPI’s are extensively used to assist and improve process, recruitment, and staff management

    Service Standards and Product Knowledge ensure staff:

    HAVE CLEAR EXPECTATIONS
    Clear expectations are in place for staff when dealing with customers                                                                                                                                      
    ARE EMPOWERED

    Service delivery staff are empowered and encouraged to put things right                                                                                                                                   

    FORM A CUSTOMER CULTURE
    The business can demonstrate how it shares customer feedback with staff, and how analysis leads to an improved customer experience and internal customer centric culture

    Staff Training:

    INCLUDES THE BASICS
    Relevant training is in place to a minimal standard

    IS ONGOING AND RECORDED
    On-going training and updates are provided

    INCLUDES QUALIFICATIONS
    Training and qualifications are actively promoted as a key aspect of the operating model. This is clearly demonstrated to all staff and customers.

    Customer Feedback is:

    RECEIVED AND RESPONDED TO
    The business has the ability to collect feedback and respond
    MONITORED AND IMPROVEMENTS MADE
    Multiple sources of feedback are actively monitored
    USED TO CREATE A FEEDBACK CULTURE
    Feedback collection and analysis forms an integral part of the business strategy

    Team Culture is:

    RECOGNISED
    The business recognises the value of engaged staff                     
    ENCOURAGED
    Positive behaviour and company culture is actively fostered
    COHESIVE
    Strong and proactive leadership underpins a cohesive team culture

    Community Engagement / Social Licence is:

    ENGAGING
    A conscious effort is made to give back to the community  
    ENCOURAGING
    Staff are actively encouraged to become involved in community activities and initiatives                        
    ONE OF LEADERSHIP
    The business is recognised as of value to the community and wider industry peers

    Industry Engagement is:

    ONE OF AWARENESS
    The business is aware of local industry groups and associations  
    ACTIVE

    The business is actively engaged with industry groups and associations

    ONE OF LEADERSHIP
    The business is recognised by peers as taking a leadership role
  • Environment & Culture

    Energy and Resource, the business is:

    AWARE
    Aware of all resources used to operate, with some understanding of usage is demonstrated
    MONITORING
    Usage is actively monitored and initiatives are in place to reduce these
    FUTURE PROOFING
    A clear culture of reducing usage is evident. Alternate and more efficient ways of reducing energy in are being actively pursued.

    Discharge and waste, the business is:

    AWARE
    Aware of all discharge and waste streams caused through the operation of the business can be shown
    MONITORING
    Discharge and waste are being active monitored and measures are in place to mitigate/reduce                                             
    FUTURE PROOFING
    A clear culture of reducing discharge and waste is evident. Alternate and more efficient ways of reducing energy out are being actively pursued.

    Customer Engagement / Involvement:

    MAKE AWARE
    Through various channels a customer can gain an understanding of what the environmental stance and/or actions undertaken are
    PROMOTION
    The environmental stance/initiatives/culture is actively promoted to customers
    ACTIVELY ENGAGED
    The business actively encourages participation in its environmental stance/initiatives/culture to customers

    Staff Engagement / Involvement:

    MAKE AWARE
    All staff have an understanding of what the environmental stance and/or actions undertaken
    PROMOTION
    The environmental stance/initiatives/culture is actively promoted to staff
    ACTIVELY ENGAGED
    The business actively encourages participation in its environmental stance/initiatives/culture to staff

    Investment and Enhancement of Operating Environment:

    AWARENESS
    Awareness of the business’s impact on the environmental surroundings is evident
    EMBEDDED VALUES
    Actions for enhancing the surrounding environment can be demonstrated
    KAITIAKITANGA
    Kaitiakitanga is fully embraced as a business fundamental

    Hosting other Cultures:

    AWARENESS
    The business is aware of different cultural expectations within their target market
    ACTIONS
    Actions can be demonstrated, such as staff training and systems to cater for various cultures
    EXCEED EXPECTATIONS
    Cultural idiosyncrasies are fully appreciated. Pre-emptive actions can be demonstrated.

    Cultural Interpretations and Integration:

    CULTURAL EMPATHY
    The business is aware of and empathetic towards relevant historic and New Zealand cultural aspects
    CULTURAL INTERPRETATION
    Active steps to ensure authenticity in interpretation have been taken
    CULTURAL CONNECTIONS
    Cultural experiences and considerations are an integral part of the customer offering

    Embracing Manaakitanga:

    UNDERSTANDING
    An understanding of the concept of Manaakitanga can be demonstrated
    EMPOWERING
    The business can show key actions that it has taken to ensure that staff are empowered to deliver Manaakitanga
    EMBRACING
    The business can demonstrate a clear culture and value of Manaakitanga throughout their experiences
  • Health, Safety and Wellness

    Reporting and Recording ensures staff:

    ARE AWARE
    All staff are aware of the need for good Health & Safety practices                             
    ARE ACTIVE
    All staff play an active role in reporting and monitoring Health & Safety concerns/issues/events
    FORM A SAFETY CULTURE
    The business has a clear safety culture amongst the staff. Health & Safety is a key element to operational delivery.

    Investigating and Improving ensures staff:

    ARE AWARE
    All staff are aware of the need for good Health & Safety practices                          
    ARE ACTIVE
    All staff play an active role in reviewing and improving Health & Safety concerns/issues/events
    FORM A SAFETY CULTURE
    The business is in constant review of Health & Safety practices using external audit, peer review and benchmarking

    Staff Engagement, Participation & Training ensures staff:

    ARE AWARE
    All staff are aware of the need for good Health & Safety practices and issues        
    ARE ACTIVE
    Staff are encouraged to play an active role in ensuring that they fully understand their roles and requirements regarding Health & Safety
    FORM A SAFETY CULTURE
    It can be demonstrated that all staff have a full understanding of their individual obligations and actions regarding Health & Safety. Staff take ownership and responsibility.

    Leadership:

    TAKES RESPONSIBILITY
    Business management take a lead role in ensuring that all staff understand their requirements regarding Health & Safety                                            
    TAKES ACTION
    Business management walk the talk regarding Health & Safety in the business. They demonstrate a positive attitude to ensuring everyone remains.
    CREATES A SAFETY CULTURE
    The business leaders reflect a strong safety culture. Health & Safety is a critical element of the business.

    Staff Wellness:

    IS ACKNOWLEDGED
    The business acknowledges that staff wellness is a factor of management
    IS ACTIONED
    Some actions are in place to support a staff wellness programme
    CREATES A WELLNESS CULTURE
    The business has a clear strategy and programme to fully support the staff

Sector Specific Criteria

Businesses will also be assessed against sector specific criteria.  Whether you are a hotel, backpacker, kayak, bike or bus operator, there will be additional criterion that is relevant to the type of business you operate.  

Sustainable Tourism Business Awards & Star Ratings

Following an evaluation, a Qualmark business will receive a Bronze, Silver or Gold award based on their performance under the Sustainable Tourism Business Criteria.

Accommodation businesses will also receive an official star rating that denotes the quality of the facilities on offer.   

Sustainable Tourism Business Criteria - what do the ratings mean?

Qualmark looks to recognise businesses that are delivering a holistically sustainable experience.  Businesses are awarded a Bronze, Silver or Gold award depending on their performance against the Sustainable Tourism Business criterion.


Bronze Sustainable Tourism Business Award

To achieve a Bronze Award a tourism business must meet all Qualmark’s minimum standards across 40 key components contained in the Sustainable Tourism criteria.  It identifies a business with a high level of professionalism, an awareness of the impact it has on the environment and a customer centric approach.


Silver Sustainable Tourism Business Award

A Silver Award is evidence of a sophisticated tourism business that consistently exceeds visitor expectations.  Proactive leadership and management ensure that a culture of high performance is evident throughout the entire business.  The business will have a real focus on continuously improving their economic, social and environmental performance to ensure the tourism product they deliver is a genuine, constantly improving sustainable experience.


Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award

A Gold Award recognises the best sustainable tourism businesses in New Zealand, with the delivery of exceptional customer experiences an integral part of everything they do.  A Gold Sustainable Tourism Award identifies those businesses leading the way in making the New Zealand tourism industry a world class sustainable visitor destination.


Star rating – used for accommodation only

1 Star Facilities and service meets customers minimum requirements
2 Stars Exceeds customers minimum requirements
3 Stars

Good to very good facilities and services

4 Stars Consistently high quality levels of facilities and service
5 Stars Facilities and services amongst the best on offer in New Zealand

About the quality mark

The Qualmark quality mark incorporates the official stylised fern - the brand of New Zealand.  It's the same fern worn with pride by many of our sports teams.  Within the tourism industry, you'll find this official fern associated with all of Tourism New Zealand's international promotional programmes, i-SITE visitor information centres and with quality assured tourism businesses that are part of the Qualmark licensing system.  So for tourism, it demonstrates the commitment to provide the best possible experiences for domestic and international travellers.

To help travellers understand the breadth and depth of what Qualmark stands for, we have highlighted the three key pillars of our story.


Light Footprint

An environmentally friendly and holistically sustainable experience


Safe & Sound

Where safe principles and practices are part of every experience


Warm Welcome

Where you will always find a genuine welcome and true New Zealand hospitality