When we asked for your views about our first year operating using the refreshed criteria, there were some consistent themes in the feedback about how we could improve things. We have taken that feedback on board and we are making some changes so that we continue to refine our processes, stay relevant and add value to your business.
These are the key areas we are addressing:
A visible pathway on how to progress through the Qualmark Awards
Customers told us they want greater visibility of what they are being evaluated against, and how they can progress through the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards.
In response, we are producing a Sustainable Tourism Business Summary, which will shortly be available on the Qualmark website. The purpose of the document is twofold.
- For businesses to use the framework as a guide to understanding what a Qualmark Tourism Business Advisor will be looking for when conducting an evaluation
- To understand how this relates to a Gold, Silver or Bronze Award and how individual businesses can progress through each stage
Qualmark understands that every business is different, and the guide is not intended as the absolute requirements of what needs to be in place to achieve a Qualmark Sustainability Award. It represents a progression through each award and each business will have varying ways to demonstrate where they are on this continuum through their business processes, product delivery, and customer experience.
Accommodation - Stars and Sustainability
There has been continued feedback around whether the star rating and sustainability rating should be combined.
Our accommodation customers are telling us they want the flexibility to participate in either a star or a sustainability rating, or both, and feel the one logo has created some confusion about what the awards actually mean.
Qualmark will begin reviewing the option of separating stars and sustainability to ensure our customers can choose the programme they want, while maintaining Qualmark’s commitment to sustainable tourism. We will be looking to have two badges - one to demonstrate the Star criteria achievement, and one to demonstrate Gold, Silver or Bronze sustainability awards.
We would love to see our accommodation customers continue to recognise the value of both achievements, but will work with all operators to understand what works best in meeting their business needs.
After 12 months of assessing against the new Sustainable Tourism Business criteria, Qualmark has also taken the opportunity to review how this criteria was applied to each business. We received a lot of feedback from our customers and our Tourism Business Advisors which was taken into consideration during the review.
Overall the substantive content of the criteria has not changed, but you may notice a few small adjustments in your next report. Some areas (payment and reservations systems for example) have been combined, a couple of the headings have also changed to make it clearer what is being evaluated, and some standard health and safety documentation will now no longer be scored on a scale, but will just be expected to be in place.
The team has also taken the opportunity to build on the knowledge base that Tourism Business Advisors use to guide them during their evaluation. This means that the team has more in-depth insights to share with Qualmark customers.