In conjunction with Visit Britain and Quality in Tourism (QIT), the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP) has won its campaign for a separate quality grading system in the serviced apartment industry ” a first of its kind, not only in Europe but worldwide.
Previously, there were no regulated standards for serviced apartments, meaning companies could choose to call themselves five-star properties, based on similar standards set for hotels, without an official grading.
If a company wished to be approved by the tourist board, they had to be assessed under the self catering accommodation quality standard, which as City Apartments director and ASAP co-founder David Smith, noted, ”is largely inappropriate to most serviced apartments.”
The new regulations allow serviced apartment providers to sign up for assessment, although as Smith explained, not all are keen to do so: ”Some companies are scared they”ll come out with a two- or three-star rating, but in our view it”s better to have a three-star rating and guests that are impressed with what they see, rather than be deemed four-star and disappoint.”
All member companies of the ASAP have agreed to be assessed within the year, including BridgeStreet Worldwide, City Apartments, Oakwood Worldwide, Clarendon and Executive Roomspace, among others.
Smith estimates the members alone make up around 50% of the UK inventory for what he called ”proper serviced apartments,” adding: ”Since then [approval of the standard] we have received 10 to 15 enquiries from companies asking to join the gang.”
Aside from the minor grading criteria, such as equipment and furnishings, the system introduces important regulations for both the individual traveller and the travel booker, including the reservation and customer service package and legal issues such as compliance and corporate social responsibility.
As Clarendon Serviced Apartments head of marketing, Peter Morgan, said: ”Until now, the serviced apartment industry has been self regulating, with some providers choosing to use their own system of classification to rank their serviced apartments.
”The quality grading system increases transparency across the sector and facilitates guests, bookers and those responsible for managing or procuring the services of serviced apartment suppliers, by allowing more informed decisions to be made.”