An industry survey of more than 13,000 VisitEngland assessed serviced accommodation businesses has been distributed by the national tourism body as part of a wider review of the UK wide Common Standards star rating system.
The UK is one of few regions worldwide that operates a quality accommodation scheme which encompasses service and hospitality as well as facilities and includes a mystery guest overnight stay.
The Common Standards were introduced in 2005 in response to consumer and industry concerns about variations in accommodation standards. It brought together accommodation schemes from AA, VisitScotland, VisitWales and VisitBritain (England's National Quality Assessed Scheme for accommodation is now the responsibility of VisitEngland).
Now, almost five years since the Common Standards were agreed, this review will look at the importance and relevance of the criteria in assessing serviced accommodation in today's digital era.
Industry views on criteria currently required to achieve different levels of star ratings - such as bathroom facilities, telephone and internet access, 24 hour room service and type of breakfast offered will be examined.
Terminology used by accommodation providers will also be in question with businesses asked their thoughts on the use of terms such as ‘guest accommodation', ‘small hotel' and ‘B&B'.
Accessibility and environmental sustainability will also be factored in to the review.
The industry survey will be followed by consumer research, to be undertaken in the autumn, which will identify the most important considerations for consumers when booking their accommodation, and how these have changed since the standards were introduced.
These are currently identified as bedrooms, bathrooms, breakfast, cleanliness and hospitality for guest accommodation, and bedrooms, bathrooms, food, cleanliness and service for hotels.
Booking processes and information resources will also be a key feature of the consumer survey in light of the increasing reliance and popularity of internet technology.
James Berresford, Chief Executive of VisitEngland says that VisitEngland has one of the most reputable and robust accommodation schemes in the world.
"We are committed to the Common Standards, but as with all of our schemes and initiatives, we need to ensure we remain relevant and consumer-focused.
One of the key areas of the review will be the role of user generated content alongside other independent reviews and how VisitEngland can work closer with different types of media to provide a complete picture for consumers.
Gold and Silver awards were introduced to work alongside the star system in 1998 to recognise the top performing hotels and B&Bs.
There is a misconception we need to overcome that the star rating scheme is all about ticking boxes of facilities. We believe that the Gold and Silver awards are good way for us to recognise excellence at all levels of the accommodation scheme, but we recognise that we still have a job to do in educating consumers and managing expectations about the scheme." finished James.
Date added: Monday 27th July 2009
Latest updated: Friday 7th June 2013