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Sunday , July 23 2017
star ratings

Star Ratings Aus closing down: flow on for NZ Qualmark?

 Star Ratings Australia is winding down. Internet has killed the hotel star in Australia? Is this the beginning of a trend, or will things be different for Qualmark in New Zealand?

In light of our recent exploration into Qualmark accreditation in New Zealand, not to mention many operators’ enthusiasm for the scheme, the news that Star Ratings Australia would close down seemed significant.

Accomnews has reached out to industry leaders and will keep updating this article with their comments. Do you have thoughts about how this will go? Let us know in the comments.

Rachael Shadbolt, General Manager, Accommodation, Partnerships and Communication, Hospitality NZ issued this statement:

“The announcement that the Australian star-rating system would cease from 1 July certainly grabbed people’s attention and a number of members have since asked what this might mean for New Zealand’s Qualmark.    

I would imagine its business as usual for Qualmark, however the announcement does ‘speak into existence’ the anecdotal discussions that have been going on for years around the ongoing relevance of star ratings systems in the age of online reviews.”

Kathryn Officer, Association President, Bed & Breakfast Association NZ provided the following comments via email:

When NZ Tourism took over 100 percent ownership of the Qualmark brand it could have meant the writing was on the wall then for our own Star Rating programme.

If Tourism New Zealand needs the Qualmark programme to continue to be financially self-sustaining in order to justify its continuing existence, then perhaps they too will need to look at closing down the programme. If this happened I think the industry in New Zealand would also be disappointed if our own star rating programme disappeared because, like Australia, it is a very reliable “quantified, objective and industry wide quality assessment of accommodation” available in New Zealand.

A positive flow on effect for the Bed & Breakfast sector will however mean that the Bed & Breakfast Association’s own assessment programme could become more widely accepted and sought after; both by potential B&B operators as well as by potential guests.

Cameron Lawrence, general manager, Qualmark New Zealand told accomnews via email that a different approach in New Zealand makes for a different conversation:

“There is no doubt the advent of online consumer reviews has challenged the traditional star rating systems. That is why New Zealand is taking a more holistic approach to what a quality sustainable operator looks like with more focus on what the consumer doesn’t see, like all those things behind the front desk that keep visitors safe and ensure the business is operating in a sustainable manner. Our trade partners value this assurance, and are unable to get this from a consumer review.

Qualmark no longer focusses just on the ‘bricks and mortar’ of a business to determine a star rating. We have broadened our criteria, invested in our Tourism Business Advisor relationship, and focused on providing great value to customers – particularly utilising the Tourism New Zealand relationship and sharing of knowledge and marketing benefits. We are also focused on providing a pathway for businesses to  improve.

In New Zealand the conversation has moved on from star ratings v consumer ratings, and is now how we as an industry can sustainably deliver exceptional experiences, by protecting what makes New Zealand unique and special. We have broadened our model to ensure that there remains value for operators, consumers, trade partners and our industry as a whole.

Also, Qualmark has had modest growth this year, which is in contrast to Star Ratings Australia.”

Meanwhile, in Australia

Star Ratings Australia will close down: game-changer for accom industry

By Rosie Clarke

The Star Ratings Australia scheme will completely cease to operate as of June 30 this year, in a startling indication of what the digital age means for Australia’s accom sector.

Michael Reed, CEO of the Australian Motoring Services said: “The Australian Auto Clubs are proud to have provided its members with a valuable and respected scheme that has enabled them to book their holiday or business accommodation with confidence.”

“At the height of Star Ratings Australia’s success there were 15,000 Star Rated properties across Australia. Being star rated meant that consumers would always know what to expect from the accommodation they booked. We were always true to our message – the accommodation you expect should be the accommodation you get.”

Mr Reed explained, “In a digital world, where consumers can provide online reviews, and with more accommodation providers choosing to self-rate, the Star Ratingsscheme has found its independent review model increasingly unsustainable.

The scheme, which is owned by the Australian Motoring Clubs, including NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, RAC, RACT and AANT, has proudly been in operation since the 1950s and holds a long and distinguished history as Australia’s only independent, accredited accommodation scheme.

Accomnews.com.au reached out to industry leaders and will keep updating this article with their comments.

Australia: Golden Chain general manager Michael Georgeson said:

“This is a disappointing outcome for the industry and I believe it is something which the industry as a whole will lament in the future.  While the scheme had its detractors, it was still the only quantified, objective and industry wide quality assessment of accommodation that we had.

“Even though many individual operators had, quite fairly, elected to stop supporting the scheme for their own purposes it still remained the single reflection of quality standards for the accommodation industry across most sectors and all standards from top to bottom.  Even self-rated properties have positioned themselves in comparison to those officially rated.”

Australia: Tourism Brokers director Michael Philpott said:

“This is a real shame and will create problems for leases and landlords potentially as a result. A flow on will be good news for chains, especially Choice and Best Western who have separate inspection and points system as part of the chains with inspectors attached. “In general, the leases requiring lessees to maintain the star rating are in limbo come June 30, 2017.”

About Suzy Barry

Suzy Barry
Suzy Barry is the editor of Accom Management Guide, New Zealand. She brings over a decade of editing and journalism to the title, and has experience in wellness tourism.

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