I think I've Got The Inspector In

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Highlands John

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We have a single guy in tonight, and it wasn't until I'd showed him to his room and came back downstairs that it suddenly dawned on me that I think he's from the Scottish Tourist Board. He's just got that air about him. I'm sure we're still up to our prevous 4 star standard but there is always that worry that we've missed something and that thing could loose us a star.
I'll find out in the morning after he pays his bill but that got me thinking, in these days of online review sites do we really need star ratings??
We have a guest questionaire in our rooms which most people fill in. The first questions is "What were the most influential factors in choosing to stay with us?"
Almost 50% of respondants tick TA
Only 12% tick our 4 star rating
Why am I paying Visit Scotland £168 a year to rate me 4 star on a list of criteria which given that on TA we're rated 5 circles excellent seem to bare little relation to what guests really want? And few take any notice of our star rating anyway?
 

JBloggs

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You do what you have to do where you are. We USED TO be very into AAA here in the states, in the days of guidebooks. But most on this forum don't even do the inspections anymore, they are inspected and approved by other sources, such as a state professional B&B association. The guidebook for AAA now only brings guests who want a discount, and demand that discount.
But, when in Rome...you may drop it and find disasterous results, or none whatsoever. Your people (meaning UK travelers and those of the same commonwealth down under) are totally TA driven now. In fact you review us more than any other.
 

Arks

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My favorite Fawlty Towers of all time was when Basil knew a hotel inspector was coming, but didn't know which guest it was, so he went to pieces over every person who walked in the place, especially when bellboy Manuel's hamster ('twas really a rat) got loose in the dining room.
We don't have any star ratings around here, so I'm tempted to put 5 stars on my sign just for the fun of it (just kidding).
 

Joey Camb

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As a fellow UK person I will give you the low down on what we have done and doing in case that helps. in the year 2009/10 we were inspected by the AA as we had paid to be for that pervious 4 years she stained the carpet, sat using her blackberry till her breakfast was cold then put it in her report that it was not served at the appropriate temperature. She was also obliged to go through her report with us ie sit down for a good half an hour but was here 5 mins and promised to have the report to us promptly - report was not recieved till after much chasing where they complained there was a few weeds in the car park which if they had asked we were having resurfaced in 3 weeks. there were various other things we contested but mainly we wanted an apology we wrote no answer, emailed our contact alison (you are given a contact who was a very nice lady) we kept chasing and were basically told to sod off they wern't doing anything. However at that time you had to be rated to work with one of our biggest clients called the Harrogate International Center booking agency and to work with the TIC so we decided to move to Visit Britain which is sightly cheaper anyway when the AA rating ran out this was December 2010 so at that time I paid £550 to be rated by them and they came out in Jan and surprisingly he was alright his only point was his room was a little cold (I couldn't tell him I was going to put him in a room on the top floor but when he came I saw he was old and fat so moved him to a lower floor! so just had to bite my tounge!) However in Feb the Harrogate International Center decided to close its booking arm as it didn't make any money and when another bill came from Visit Britain in March it was the final straw. I emailed them back (with the AA its from when you pay to when you pay) said you have billed me incorrectly i paid in December. Oh no they said its another £600 for this year ie 2011=2012 told them to get stuffed. I can no longer work with the TIC or advertise with them but it was rare we did any business with them anyway. When we first pulled out of the AA I took all the signs and branding down and never got round to putting up the VB stuff so that was no loss. (figured I might sell it on ebay) but my main point is have seen no loss at all Laterooms don't care, Booking.com don't care, customers have no clue anyway, got a certificate of excellence from Trip adviser and have saved £600. We are looking into creating a local scheme similar to this http://www.industryvisitchichester.com/vcas-assessment-scheme.html but Welcome to Yorshire are trying to coral us into their scheme which is pants if you are less than 10 rooms it isn't bad £250 but if you are over 10 it is £400 plus VAT which is a big jump (we are 12 rooms) they don't inspect you just sign up to a charter (Ie I will try and have a nice place) and if you get complaints they may come out - sorry aint good enough for me. Its kind of funny cos I am in a trade association in which you used to have to be rated to be in where as we have changed it so you don't have to be but 2 committee members have to inspect you if you arn't as we have seen the writing on the wall - 8 more members are pulling out of rating schemes this year alone its the way its going. I am seen as a rebel as I was the first out and they were like gosh you are so brave! have noticed absolutely no difference at all. I have decided this year that I am not paying an idiot £600 to tell me rubbish and patronise me they can get stuffed.
 

Joey Camb

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also my friend Tony who will be pulling out this year said when the AA came on their last inspection (1 year they do a secret visit then next year they book an appointment) it was an appointment visit the girl came looked round the car park, looked at one room then went said that was the final nail in the coffin for his £600. My friend Marie was inspected by VB and got 4 stars (max is 5) asked what she could do to get 5 so she would know what areas to work on (the whole point of these schemes is to help you improve so the literature sayes) and was told "he did all the inspections in Harrogate and would never give a 5 star and that she should walk before she tried to run" So she may be leaving next year. Trouble is these schemes have an over inflated idea of their own value and think we need them well I don't. (please be aware this is one of my hobby horses)!!!
 

Penelope

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also my friend Tony who will be pulling out this year said when the AA came on their last inspection (1 year they do a secret visit then next year they book an appointment) it was an appointment visit the girl came looked round the car park, looked at one room then went said that was the final nail in the coffin for his £600. My friend Marie was inspected by VB and got 4 stars (max is 5) asked what she could do to get 5 so she would know what areas to work on (the whole point of these schemes is to help you improve so the literature sayes) and was told "he did all the inspections in Harrogate and would never give a 5 star and that she should walk before she tried to run" So she may be leaving next year. Trouble is these schemes have an over inflated idea of their own value and think we need them well I don't. (please be aware this is one of my hobby horses)!!!.
Cambs- LOVE reading your posts! But, what in the world does "pants" mean in your previous post?
And--
Trouble is these schemes have an over inflated idea of their own value and think we need them well I don't.
This is SOOOO true. On so many different levels. For so many different reasons. For so many different people.
I could list some of the culprits--but I'll refrain!
 

Joey Camb

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also my friend Tony who will be pulling out this year said when the AA came on their last inspection (1 year they do a secret visit then next year they book an appointment) it was an appointment visit the girl came looked round the car park, looked at one room then went said that was the final nail in the coffin for his £600. My friend Marie was inspected by VB and got 4 stars (max is 5) asked what she could do to get 5 so she would know what areas to work on (the whole point of these schemes is to help you improve so the literature sayes) and was told "he did all the inspections in Harrogate and would never give a 5 star and that she should walk before she tried to run" So she may be leaving next year. Trouble is these schemes have an over inflated idea of their own value and think we need them well I don't. (please be aware this is one of my hobby horses)!!!.
Cambs- LOVE reading your posts! But, what in the world does "pants" mean in your previous post?
And--
Trouble is these schemes have an over inflated idea of their own value and think we need them well I don't.
This is SOOOO true. On so many different levels. For so many different reasons. For so many different people.
I could list some of the culprits--but I'll refrain!
.
Used in this context it means rubbish ie "what he said was a complete load of pants" you can also use it in context with something that is broken ie person one "my computer is broken" person 2 "well thats pants" I think one of the main problems with these schemes is the people they employ that basically get everyone's backs up where as they actually need people who realise they are providing a less and less important service and so need to cultvate the few that remain. I went to a tourism event in Skipton and nearly caused a riot about this issue as VB were saying they were trying to recruit more people to the schemes and the way they were talking was we will help people be better so they can qualify. I pointed out that where I am 50% of places are unrated and its not cos they arn't good enough its cos they are so good it doesn't matter. They have been functioning perfectly well for 10 years without they arn't suddenly going to join now. I said I was considering leaving (as I hadn't yet) and so were many others so they were going to have a hard sell. I said what are you going to sell me for my money I can't do for myself? They just stood there like they had never considered people might just not give a toss.
 

Penelope

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also my friend Tony who will be pulling out this year said when the AA came on their last inspection (1 year they do a secret visit then next year they book an appointment) it was an appointment visit the girl came looked round the car park, looked at one room then went said that was the final nail in the coffin for his £600. My friend Marie was inspected by VB and got 4 stars (max is 5) asked what she could do to get 5 so she would know what areas to work on (the whole point of these schemes is to help you improve so the literature sayes) and was told "he did all the inspections in Harrogate and would never give a 5 star and that she should walk before she tried to run" So she may be leaving next year. Trouble is these schemes have an over inflated idea of their own value and think we need them well I don't. (please be aware this is one of my hobby horses)!!!.
Cambs- LOVE reading your posts! But, what in the world does "pants" mean in your previous post?
And--
Trouble is these schemes have an over inflated idea of their own value and think we need them well I don't.
This is SOOOO true. On so many different levels. For so many different reasons. For so many different people.
I could list some of the culprits--but I'll refrain!
.
Used in this context it means rubbish ie "what he said was a complete load of pants" you can also use it in context with something that is broken ie person one "my computer is broken" person 2 "well thats pants" I think one of the main problems with these schemes is the people they employ that basically get everyone's backs up where as they actually need people who realise they are providing a less and less important service and so need to cultvate the few that remain. I went to a tourism event in Skipton and nearly caused a riot about this issue as VB were saying they were trying to recruit more people to the schemes and the way they were talking was we will help people be better so they can qualify. I pointed out that where I am 50% of places are unrated and its not cos they arn't good enough its cos they are so good it doesn't matter. They have been functioning perfectly well for 10 years without they arn't suddenly going to join now. I said I was considering leaving (as I hadn't yet) and so were many others so they were going to have a hard sell. I said what are you going to sell me for my money I can't do for myself? They just stood there like they had never considered people might just not give a toss.
.
I pointed out that where I am 50% of places are unrated and its not cos they arn't good enough its cos they are so good it doesn't matter.
I think you hit it right on the head. Do what you do and do it well and the rest doesn't matter.
 

gillumhouse

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As a fellow UK person I will give you the low down on what we have done and doing in case that helps. in the year 2009/10 we were inspected by the AA as we had paid to be for that pervious 4 years she stained the carpet, sat using her blackberry till her breakfast was cold then put it in her report that it was not served at the appropriate temperature. She was also obliged to go through her report with us ie sit down for a good half an hour but was here 5 mins and promised to have the report to us promptly - report was not recieved till after much chasing where they complained there was a few weeds in the car park which if they had asked we were having resurfaced in 3 weeks. there were various other things we contested but mainly we wanted an apology we wrote no answer, emailed our contact alison (you are given a contact who was a very nice lady) we kept chasing and were basically told to sod off they wern't doing anything. However at that time you had to be rated to work with one of our biggest clients called the Harrogate International Center booking agency and to work with the TIC so we decided to move to Visit Britain which is sightly cheaper anyway when the AA rating ran out this was December 2010 so at that time I paid £550 to be rated by them and they came out in Jan and surprisingly he was alright his only point was his room was a little cold (I couldn't tell him I was going to put him in a room on the top floor but when he came I saw he was old and fat so moved him to a lower floor! so just had to bite my tounge!) However in Feb the Harrogate International Center decided to close its booking arm as it didn't make any money and when another bill came from Visit Britain in March it was the final straw. I emailed them back (with the AA its from when you pay to when you pay) said you have billed me incorrectly i paid in December. Oh no they said its another £600 for this year ie 2011=2012 told them to get stuffed. I can no longer work with the TIC or advertise with them but it was rare we did any business with them anyway. When we first pulled out of the AA I took all the signs and branding down and never got round to putting up the VB stuff so that was no loss. (figured I might sell it on ebay) but my main point is have seen no loss at all Laterooms don't care, Booking.com don't care, customers have no clue anyway, got a certificate of excellence from Trip adviser and have saved £600. We are looking into creating a local scheme similar to this http://www.industryvisitchichester.com/vcas-assessment-scheme.html but Welcome to Yorshire are trying to coral us into their scheme which is pants if you are less than 10 rooms it isn't bad £250 but if you are over 10 it is £400 plus VAT which is a big jump (we are 12 rooms) they don't inspect you just sign up to a charter (Ie I will try and have a nice place) and if you get complaints they may come out - sorry aint good enough for me. Its kind of funny cos I am in a trade association in which you used to have to be rated to be in where as we have changed it so you don't have to be but 2 committee members have to inspect you if you arn't as we have seen the writing on the wall - 8 more members are pulling out of rating schemes this year alone its the way its going. I am seen as a rebel as I was the first out and they were like gosh you are so brave! have noticed absolutely no difference at all. I have decided this year that I am not paying an idiot £600 to tell me rubbish and patronise me they can get stuffed..
I am seen as a rebel as I was the first out and they were like gosh you are so brave! have noticed absolutely no difference at all. I have decided this year that I am not paying an idiot £600 to tell me rubbish and patronise me they can get stuffed.
Exactly! That is what I discovered when I dropped bandbdotcom. People have morphed to new sources - the 1000 lb gorilla and social media, GPS, etc. I am now able to use that extra monty to upgrade my roms.
 

Highlands John

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My hunch was correct and he was from Visit Scotland. Dam, I'd have charged him full price for the room instead of just a single supplement had I known.
Very pleasant man, said lots of nice things about us. Pointed out that the metal bathroom light fitting in his room has spots of rust on it, fair doos, it does.
Not problem with us keeping our 4 stars.
I really think Visit Scotland is living the past though and needs to wake up. I think they have an important role to play in marketing Scotland and getting people to come here and that has to be funded somehow. Quality assurance schemes and acting as agent for activities and accommodation providers seems the best way to do this, but...
1) My previous point that do we really need quality assurance schemes when we have guest review sites?
2) The Tourist Information Centres have a terrible reputation of the staff passing the majority of bookings to their mates. For us, 8 miles from Inverness, the only time the TICs would call us was when Inverness is full and then we'd be fully booked anyway. We'd be lucky to get 2-3 bookings a year from them.
3) With the growth of Destination Management Organisations marketing individual areas, even that role is going for VS. Destination Loch Ness has done more projects on the ground to improve the visitor experience in 2 years that VS has acheieved in the last 10 (probably more).
 

Highlands John

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You do what you have to do where you are. We USED TO be very into AAA here in the states, in the days of guidebooks. But most on this forum don't even do the inspections anymore, they are inspected and approved by other sources, such as a state professional B&B association. The guidebook for AAA now only brings guests who want a discount, and demand that discount.
But, when in Rome...you may drop it and find disasterous results, or none whatsoever. Your people (meaning UK travelers and those of the same commonwealth down under) are totally TA driven now. In fact you review us more than any other..
Joey Bloggs said:
But, when in Rome...you may drop it and find disasterous results, or none whatsoever. Your people (meaning UK travelers and those of the same commonwealth down under) are totally TA driven now. In fact you review us more than any other.
That's interesting you should say that because 3-4 years ago TA was very much an American thing and few UK/Commonwealth and European travellers had heard of it.
 

Joey Camb

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My hunch was correct and he was from Visit Scotland. Dam, I'd have charged him full price for the room instead of just a single supplement had I known.
Very pleasant man, said lots of nice things about us. Pointed out that the metal bathroom light fitting in his room has spots of rust on it, fair doos, it does.
Not problem with us keeping our 4 stars.
I really think Visit Scotland is living the past though and needs to wake up. I think they have an important role to play in marketing Scotland and getting people to come here and that has to be funded somehow. Quality assurance schemes and acting as agent for activities and accommodation providers seems the best way to do this, but...
1) My previous point that do we really need quality assurance schemes when we have guest review sites?
2) The Tourist Information Centres have a terrible reputation of the staff passing the majority of bookings to their mates. For us, 8 miles from Inverness, the only time the TICs would call us was when Inverness is full and then we'd be fully booked anyway. We'd be lucky to get 2-3 bookings a year from them.
3) With the growth of Destination Management Organisations marketing individual areas, even that role is going for VS. Destination Loch Ness has done more projects on the ground to improve the visitor experience in 2 years that VS has acheieved in the last 10 (probably more)..
We are putting together a DMO right now and quite franlkly think that will do a heck of a lot more for me than VB ever has plus at £35 a year is a much better price. We are kind of weird here as we all are competition but work together to make money kind of like a huge disfunctional family made of really wierd parts lol. Wouldn't trust VB to find their own arse unsupervised but at least they are doing this at the moment
This is a sum up from a friend who attended this consultation meeting where they are trying to be more consultative.
The QIT meeting I attended on wed was worth going to - but a disappointment in many ways.

Firstly there were only 4 of us there - we were promised 8 - it was at a hotel who hadn't yet renewed its star ratings and didn't attend the meeting - which I though was poor. It lasted 2 and half hours - needed 4 I would say.

The QIT man was nice and very open and no one felt they had any reason to hold back -also someone there from the organisation with the inspection contract.

This is a first time they have done this exercise and they were finding it very useful -well yes they are playing catch up for 100 years of none 2 way communication!

The other people there had 60 beds, 12 beds and 5 beds and us at 20. They were all from the Manchester area - with good support from Marketing Manchester - which made me envious.


I think our input supported the removal of overnight visits with maybe 2 or more spot check visits a year so it became more relevent and dynamic - not a static system so it can help combat the reliance on TA. The publishing of sections of the report - possibly on a VB widget with link from our site - like TA - so "great bedrooms -comfy beds - " etc.

They are also looking at a new site with Guest reviews - not fed from TA. They floated the idea of also adding a booking platform this wasn't felt to be a good idea -- especially if Evivo was involved.

The value of the Assessment was felt to be very limited and the Assessors should be a fountain of knowledge -eg cheapest insurance companies - latest occupancy figures - industry trends - benchmarking etc. Also to offer more consultancy and more common sense.

They said all assessors now viewed both our TA scores and our website functionality before a visit. A recent hotel visit went very well - an overnight - great standards etc yet there were very very low TA scores - one past guest had posted 121 bad reviews following his stay -hope that idea doesn't catch on!!!Apparently also they will now sometimes book using our sites, LR etc though also follow it up with a call to the hotel.

The question how relevent was the review system to our Guests was felt not as dynamic or informative as say TA - for example it might be 3 years old info - TA 3 min and doesn't even cover all important areas to a Guest - eg Noise - Functionality of Web Site etc.

They said that they are also considering moving to monthly payments for VB - something I am in favour of as it might follow a monthly or just more regular communication - as it moves from a static once or twice a year direct debit. They are already considering introducing a number of member benefits - such as discounts from suppliers etc.
 
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