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HOTELS & HOSPITALITY

HRAWI’s IHQS certification to reclassify hotels in line with global stds
Tuesday, 31 October, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
In a first of its kind initiative, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India’s (HRAWI) Indian Hospitality Quality Standards (IHQS) will reclassify hotels into six categories - Budget, Classic, Premium, Luxury, Deluxe Luxury and Primo Luxury - keeping in mind the international norms.

The association, a part of the Federation of the Hotels and Restaurants Associations of India (FHRAI), the national body, has certified 13 hotels in Maharashtra under the new norms, which are more contemporary and global in standards as compared to the existing ratings.

The Shalimar Hotel, The Fern Residency, Golden Swan Beach Resort, The Emerald, Peninsula Grand Hotel, Sun-N-Sand Hotel, Holiday Inn Mumbai international Airport, Waterstones Hotel, T24 Residency, Hotel Transit, Hotel Meluha, Renaissance Mumbai Hotel and Convention Centre and Hyatt Place are among the first hotels to have been audited as per the new classification standards and are officially certified as of October 25, 2017.

A first of its kind independent classification system in India, it will follow the global practice of trade bodies rating hotel properties and ensuring adherence to best practices and standards. As per the new norms, the new system will be uniform for both domestic and foreign tourists.

With this classification system, HRAWI hopes to remove any ambiguity for tourists checking into an IHQS-certified hotel.

The objective behind this initiative is to bring in standards of evaluation and parity that are in line with international standards, as well as making redundant some criteria in star ratings that have become irrelevant today.

“The objective behind developing the IHQS is to educate our members on modern quality standards as well as reduce the burden of the Ministry of Tourism (MoT),” said Dilip Datwani, president, HRAWI.

“Presently the MoT is responsible for conducting audits and rating hotels. So now the government can focus on improving and promoting tourism, while we from the industry do our bit to support the initiative,” he added.

HRAWI has engaged an external agency for the purpose of auditing hotels. It will independently verify and award each hotel a fair classification based on the product and service standards experienced.

Along with the awarded certificate, the agency will transparently share a detailed scorecard that will allow the hotel to make improvements if and where required.

“Simplification and transparency are the key objectives of IHQS certification, and so our published guidelines are available on our website that will ensure that hoteliers know exactly what entails one’s establishment to receive the certification,” said Kamlesh Barot, past president, FHRAI and HRAWI.

“The applicant can choose their facility-wise gradation, depending on the market they cater to, rather than it being an imposition from a novice official’s perspective, allowing the guest preference to overtake impractical implementation of some orthodox guidelines,” he added.

“For instance, the present norms require a star hotel to maintain a differently-abled room to get classified, even though not a single differently-abled room has ever been sold,” Barot said.

“Over the past many years, standards have suffered a terrible dilution of a simple goal of explaining to the consumers what they can expect from a hotel,” he added.
“Also in the interim, several hotel service companies such as online travel agencies (OTAs) and many self-appointed quality monitoring and advisory - review sites have mushroomed announcing and creating their own standards,” Barot said.

“These entities may not even be equipped to audit hotel establishments, but are defining the industry standards and misleading guests,” he added.

“With an apex industry association like HRAWI overlooking the process of classification, hotels can be assured that a fair, competent and capable body is doing the job,” Barot stated.

The practice of hotel classification has its roots in the early 1970s, when the hotel industry was in its nascent stage and the influx of international tourists had just begun to make a reasonable impact on India’s foreign exchange.

The then government through the DoT supported the industry by helping define standards for guests expecting world-class services by marketing them internationally.

However, since then, the scenario has changed drastically and the gap between customers’ expectations and hotels’ deliverables has widened.

“We want to bring about an uninfluenced semblance of classification norms created by the very own cross-section of the industry, that are up-to-date and contemporary so as to justify the needs of today’s guests and not a regulator,” Barot said.

“We hope that even as hotels continue to get classified as per government norms, although not a mandatory requirement, a hotel could get itself certified by its own association’s classification initiative, parallelly,” he added.

“The MoT has discussed the scheme with us and given their concurrence to IHQS, being on the lines of the associations in the United States and Singapore,” Barot said.

“The grapevine is ripe that the ministry is contemplating handing over the classification standards to Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS),” he added.

“Our aim is to become the first and only recognised standard in India, for the benefit of tourists, tourism and hospitality,” Barot said.
 
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