CAP Worldwide calls for consistent approach to accommodation accreditation

George Sell George Sell Uploaded 15 November 2019

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UK: Corporate accommodation booking agency CAP Worldwide has expressed its support for accreditors and assessors globally and stressed the need for "a new consistent global approach to accreditation for serviced apartments and corporate accommodation alternatives".

Jo Layton, director of CAP Worldwide, was one of the creators of the first Serviced Apartment Accreditation Scheme with Quality in Tourism (QT) - the assessment arm of Visit Britain.

Layton said: "As professionals in the extended stay market, agents are expected to provide access to ‘safe and secure, clean and legal’ accommodation every day, some of which have been externally accredited and some personally accredited by the internal supply management teams of the agents. At CAP, we’ve turned ‘being concerned’ about health, safety, security and environmental matters into ‘a commitment’ to ask the industry to come together and agnostically drive forward global external accreditation processes, whether through associations, independent companies, tourist boards or government ministries. This will ensure the best outcome for the corporate buyers and end-users."

Deborah Heather, director at Quality in Tourism (which assesses properties under SCL, quality star rating schemes designed to recognise innovation and agency accreditation) said: “Over the last few years, industry standards have eroded for a number of reasons including the pure speed of innovation and industry growth alongside accreditation processes based on standards that are prescriptive and way out of date, a system that at best isn’t transparent and at worst represent a conflict of interest; unfortunately the guest is the one to suffer."

“Quality in Tourism (QT), is now an independent hospitality accreditation body, and the Primary Authority in the UK for Tourism, (a BEIS initiative approved by the Secretary of State). Primary Authority covers Environmental Health, Fire Safety and Trading Standards underpinning the Safe, Clean and Legal (SCL) QT scheme. QT have also recently launched a White Paper examining why accreditation is so important from the consumer perspective," she added.

Andrew Hopgood, fellow director of CAP Worldwide said: "Our goal is to enable our clients to confidently book high quality, fairly priced and accredited accommodation, and we wholeheartedly believe in making assessments affordable and accessible to operators of all sizes to continuously raise standards across our industry."

Layton added: "The current apartment and accommodation landscape is full of booking agents (both online and offline) who are trying to personally accredit products that may have already been accredited by an independent assessor – there is a huge amount of demystification that needs to happen in our industry with regards to clarity around this subject.
We believe there needs to be a coming together of the major (and minor) assessment companies, under an accepted assessment umbrella to agree a ‘global minimum standard of entry’ for providing serviced apartments, corporate housing or alternative accommodation to the global buying communities. This minimum standard should be shared openly with all stakeholders - including the operators, buyers and agents - to ensure that the minimum benchmark for entry is fully known, understood and accessible to all. If this is not achievable by the assessment companies working together, then we would suggest that the local, regional and global industry accommodation associations create a central agnostic database or panel of recognised assessment and accreditation providers with trusted and trained assessors that they are confident to refer the operators to. I am happy to personally host or chair a meeting of the core assessors to start this process."

Layton added that CAP Worldwide had considered its own accreditations scheme but decided against it: "We had considered creating a CAPSafe programme but we and our advisors believe that it should be the experts in the field completing this activity. We therefore took the decision that we will continue to commit to ensuring the products we book into, if not independently assessed, are CAPVerified. This ensures we remain agnostic and also ensures no conflict of interest in this arena. CAPTURE (our digital eco-system) will also record independently accredited properties in our CAPStore."

She added that "choosing just one assessment provider for the whole industry restricts the industry’s growth in this incredibly important area of providing safe accommodation to all stakeholders" and called for operators that have been successfully assessed by a recognised body, "wear their assessment badge openly to help to create increased confidence in the industry".

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