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TGCSA sets out to modernise grading

The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) has announced it is working on a new technology system that will integrate a variety of online travel reviews with the traditional grading system. The project will launch in the next couple of months.

The new technology will enable the TGCSA to search the web and access all online travel reviews of graded establishments from the various travel review platforms, including TripAdvisor and various social media platforms. The reviews will then be integrated into the TGCSA's grading system, and provide it with a comprehensive view of establishments’ quality experience offerings.

Thekiso Rakolojane, marketing and communications manager for the TGCSA, told TAM: “Whilst the TGCSA's grading criteria and minimum requirements of entry evaluates the tangible offerings of an establishment, the online reviews will provide access to their service related offerings.”  

Graham Wood, chairperson of the TGCSA, explained during Indaba that a lot has been said and written about the irrelevance of grading in a world that is all about online user reviews and instant gratification that comes with reporting a good or bad experience. He said: “The existing grading system is the objective assessment of whether establishments are providing the right quality physical experience. Nowhere does the grading system integrate what our guests actually say about the experience.”

Wood explains that in ‘real life’ a five-star graded hotel may well offer a substandard experience from a service delivery perspective.  Or a three-star graded hotel could be delivering an absolute 5-star service experience. He says: “The experience is also relevant to the quality the establishment delivers. That is why for the next 12 months, we’ll run a pilot that will look at how we are going to integrate the opportunity of online consumer reviews with our physical objective grading system.”

Also Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom recognised the importance of an innovated and modern grading system in a rapidly changing world. He said: “The value of a grading system is self-evident. We’re dealing with a very competitive environment, so quality assurance and service excellence, reliability, the integrity of a quality assurance system, are critically important. But, we are also in a world that is quite different from the world 10 years ago. Travellers expected something good and didn’t’ get it. Twenty years ago, they would go back home and talk to their friends and family about it. Now it’s communicated instantly to the whole world.”






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