ASSC Quality Assurance
On 5 February 2014 the ASSC adopted a new Charter, which extends the scope of our EmbraceScotland marketing. This move reflects changes in the domestic and international marketplaces for self-catering ownership and marketing. The aim is to include more of our members in our marketing, and to enable more businesses to join the ASSC, to support the trade association and enjoy the benefits.
ASSC Committed to Quality – CTQ
In order to take advantage of the ASSC’s EmbraceScotland marketing, members must be able to demonstrate that they are committed to providing quality accommodation. This can be done in one of the following ways:
- Be graded under a Quality Assurance (QA) scheme that is approved by the ASSC and complies with the Common Standard (current qualifying schemes are operated by VisitScotland or Cottages4You)
- Participate in the ASSC Committed to Quality (CTQ) initiative
The aims of CTQ
CTQ has two primary aims
- To ensure the quality of members’ properties and customer service
- To encourage members to continue to develop and improve their business practices
Benefits of QA and CTQ
A traditional QA grading provides guests with the reassurance that properties have been inspected by a trained QA advisor. Members also find the grading visit extremely useful, both to ensure that properties are maintained to a high standard as well as the valuable information that the QA advisor can offer. QA is a valuable business benchmark for members and still the ASSC’s preferred measure of quality.
CTQ aims to ensure ongoing quality of accommodation and service through assessment of the professional commitment of the owner/operator. As well as providing members with the opportunity and incentive to continually improve their businesses, CTQ reflects the growing diversity of methods used by visitors to assess quality.
The ASSC still highly recommends that members subscribe to a QA scheme. The TNS Scottish Self-catering Occupancy Survey demonstrates that graded properties show significantly higher occupancy levels than those which are not graded.
In order to achieve the CTQ status, members must comply with all of the following:
1. Participate in a recognised online review system providing independent guest feedback
- Review sites must be independent, and reviews must be submitted directly by guests. (In other words, not comments received by the owner/manager, added to their own website themselves.)
- Reviews must be publicly available and either linked to or embedded in the member’s EmbraceScotland property page. Examples of review sites include TripAdvisor.com, MyCottageHoliday.co.uk, UpFrontReviews.com, Feefo.com. Similar sites can be proposed at any time and are likely to be accepted if they meet the above criteria.
- All properties that are promoted via any EmbraceScotland marketing channel are available for reviews on the chosen review site(s)
- Properties must have at least 3 reviews placed in the previous 12 months
2. A commitment to engage in continuing professional development (CPD) and stay up-to-date with visitor trends by demonstrating participation in some or all of the following:
- Attending local, national or online tourism events, such as the ASSC Annual Conference.
A list of relevant events will be maintained in the members area of ASSC.co.uk
- Undertaking relevant training
The ASSC aims to provide several online training sessions throughout the year as well as listing other training opportunities
- Participating or networking with relevant local or national groups
For example local tourism groups, Chambers of Commerce
- Maintaining a log of CPD and being able to demonstrate at least 4 hours of such activities per year.
In some cases the property manager would be the relevant person to undergo CPD. Remote owners can also participate in online training or webinars quite easily.
3. Members are required to sign an annual declaration confirming their Commitment to Quality.
- The annual declaration will require members to provide details of the review sites that they participate in as well as the CPD they have undertaken in the past 12 months
The ASSC will be responsible for awarding and verifying CTQ status and will ensure annual declarations are received prior to renewal of membership.
It will carry out a programme to audit a randomised selection of members every year, including:
- Checks to ensure that reviews are current and available for all properties
- CPD submitted is valid and relevant to the sector
The ASSC will provide support to help members qualify for the criteria.
If a member is found not to have qualified, either at the time of the annual declaration or at any other time during the year, then they will have their CTQ status suspended or withdrawn and their properties will be suspended or removed from EmbraceScotland marketing.
We have decided to pilot the CTQ scheme in the 2014/15 subscription year at no additional cost to members, including new members who join this year.
During this year we will monitor and assess the ongoing costs of administering the CTQ scheme and we will report to the 2014 AGM on its progress. If appropriate, we will offer proposals to the Membership at the AGM for covering future costs. It will be for the full membership to decide on the way forward. As CTQ does not include property inspections, we anticipate that it will be possible to offer it sustainably at considerably lower cost than VisitScotland QA and other such schemes.