Ricky Kapoor, commercial director of The Edinburgh Collection, looks at the value of industry awards.
Serviced Apartment News recently announced the launch of the Serviced Apartment Awards,
which aim to recognise all that is best in the world of serviced
apartments, extended stay and aparthotels. The hospitality industry
is already replete with awards and awards ceremonies: AA
Hospitality Awards, British Hospitality Association Awards,
European Hospitality Awards, Cateys, Silver Thistle Awards, The
International Hotel Awards, to name but a few.
So do we need another, and what is the value of this type of award, and how much significance should we attach to recognition from within our own industry and from our own peers? Do such accolades encourage operators to perform better, or should they only be listening to the customers' feedback to determine what they are doing right and doing wrong?
Also, we need to ask ourselves before commiting to an investment in obtaining an award - what importance do customers attach to them and can they influence purchasing behaviour? There is no doubt that a Michelin Star can raise a restaurant's profile, but it can be argued that this has as much to do with the successful marketing of the Michelin establishment itself as it does with the hard work and dedication of the restaurateur.
To best appreciate the benefit of any particular award it is necessary to understand the rationale behind the awards themselves, and the environment from which they originate.
When an award leads to an aspiration of excellence in service delivery and of an unparalleled product, then there is little in the way of downside - but this only comes from a position of integrity. The Caterer and Hotelkeeper "Acorn" awards recognise those under the age of 30 within the industry who have been identified as rising stars, which not only motivated the nominees, but encourages all the best and the brightest to perform in hope of gaining such recognition. The individuals benefit, the operations benefit, and ultimately, the industry benefits.
However, on the reverse side, there are awards that are an end in themselves, which have been originated to support themselves by membership subscriptions and in turn offer such a vast number of categories that come the night of the award ceremony almost every member comes away a winner. Such ceremonies, whist offering great PR opportunities, lack the fundamental integrity required to be taken seriously.
An industry award needs to exist for the right reason. To encourage and to recognise excellence. It needs to have sufficient profile to make it desirable and it needs to be selective in its consideration of criteria and candidates. Whilst industry led award bodies are best placed to establish a recognition scheme given the wealth of inside knowledge found within, a little external scrutiny can lend such schemes an unbiased eye and greater credibility. It is only fair that those operators that continue to invest in their product, and those that consistently deliver extraordinarily high levels of service receive recognition for their endeavours, but it is crucial that the awards in question originate from a position of respect, authority and integrity.
Which brings me onto the new Serviced Apartment Awards. Operating within this sector of the industry, I am thrilled that we have undertaken to embark on exactly the type of award scheme that really does improve our industry and helps raise the bar for all operators. Given the level of talent and experience behind the inception of the Serviced Apartment Awards, I am convinced that we are taking exactly the right approach to deliver a scheme that will encourage and motivate our peers - and rightly recognise the very best of us.
As an aparthotel operator, I am immensely proud of the investment we making in our products and I am anxious to share the good news with the wider community, whilst keen to learn from other premier operators how to continue to improve our offering, and believe firmly that these new awards offer the very best forum from which to accomplish this.