One of our most significant projects of 2017 was the Perception Study on Grading in South Africa which assisted us better understand our tourism trade partners’ needs. As the only recognised and globally benched marked quality assurance body for tourism products in our country, it is vital for The Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) to determine the value and importance that the various service providers and professionals in the industry hold about star grading. A big part of our job is to promote the star grading of establishments to ensure that South Africa remains as a destination of choice that achieves the highest level of quality assurance, promotes optimal value for money and gives ‘customer expectation’ the focus it requires.
Data was gathered over 3 months by means of an online questionnaire and telephonic interviews to a sample of graded and non-graded accommodation establishments throughout the country representing 9 650 rooms, with 21 416 beds and a permanent staff complement of 6 611. A considerable number of tourism associations, travel management services, accredited TGCSA assessors as well as local and international travellers were also sampled.
The study found that 73% of graded establishments regard the TGCSA as an important contributor to the tourism industry in South Africa; 66% believe that their consumers regard star grading to be important; and 88% of graded establishments state that they would encourage other establishments to get graded. These results were very positive indeed. They indicate a strong support for grading by TGCSA in South Africa’s tourism sector. Interestingly the study also indicates that there is a perception that tourists prefer graded establishments even amongst those travel-related services that do not prioritise accommodation grading system in their offerings.
Our star grading system provides confidence to the visitor, resulting in the visitor’s satisfaction and creating an improvement cycle as it guides the owner and manager on where to upgrade their facilities. This will enable the destination to gain a stronger competitive edge. With 9% of interviewed tourists traveling for business and 69% traveling for leisure, the perception of these consumers is vital to the lively hood of the industry. 79% of all interviewed travellers say star grading is important in their choice of accommodation establishment. Furthermore, more than half of travellers said they chose TGCSA graded establishments because they know what to expect from them and they believe grading assures quality.
However, the study revealed that some of our trade partners are not satisfied with the benefits our star grading system offer as they do not meet their business goals. Although more than half of accommodation establishments are grateful for the guidance received from our knowledgeable assessors, 40% have experienced an improvement in the quality of guests while 32% appreciated the benefit of free advertising on SAT website; we want to do better so all our partners enjoy the benefit of grading and continue to renew their membership. We would like to assure you that we are working on refining our business and training offerings for the year ahead as well as great discounted offers on membership fees.
We would like to thank all those who participated in the Perception Study 2017. Should you wish to find out more about the study please do not hesitate to contact us or visit our website www.tourismgrading.co.za for more information.