Lay My Hat home page Lay My Hat Forum
The forum for holiday rental owners


 
  FAQFAQ    SearchSearch    MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups    RegisterRegister  
  ProfileProfile    Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages    Log inLog in 

AA taking over Visit England Quality Assessments
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Lay My Hat Forum Index -> UK & Ireland
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
newtimber



Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 1815
Location: Brighton

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 7:53 pm    Post subject: AA taking over Visit England Quality Assessments Reply with quote

I've just found out that since the AA have taken over the quality assessments for Visit England, the ratings, assessments, reviews have all disappeared from the Quality in Tourism website.
It now appears that guests cannot verify any star rating on any official Visit England site.
We can all claim to be 5 Star Gold now!
_________________
Newtimber Holiday Cottages Facebook Page
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
greenbarn



Joined: 30 May 2009
Posts: 6147
Location: The Westmorland Dales, Cumbria

PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for highlighting this newtimber.
It prompted me to contact the successor to QiT to raise the question; I emailed them last Thursday morning 4th May and today I received a fairly useless reply to which I have now responded.

Maybe it would be worth all of us who are members of Visit England contacting the new assessment service, or better still the head honcho at VE if someone could unearth a suitable email address.

This is the email trail to date, minus most of the standard pleasantries etc:

Quote:
To: VisitEnglandAssessmentServices <VisitEnglandAssessmentServices@TheAA.com>
Subject: Quality rating

We have 3 self-catering holiday cottages graded 5 Star by VE, one with Gold Award.
A key reason for having the rating and continuing membership is to enhance guest confidence that we have been inspected and therefore actually exist and are not one of the many scam operations. To this end we provide a link on our website to our entry, previously with QiT.
Itís been flagged up to me that the link to QiT no longer works and there is no redirect or message to reassure potential guests. Please can you advise where the information can now be accessed.

I appreciate that the AA have only recently taken over from QiT/G4S and it appears that the handover process has failed, so I also need to raise my concerns directly with Visit England. Iím still attempting to find a suitable contact email address and if you can provide one where Iíd get some response from VE Iíd be grateful.


Their reply:
Quote:
As you are aware, the Assessment Services have recently transferred from Quality in Tourism to The AA. Visit England will still oversee the schemes and they will be run as they were before with Visit England Assessors. This is the email address to use for any future correspondence about the Assessment Schemes.

At this stage we do not have a dedicated website to check ratings are current but you can contact this email address and I can confirm the details for you.

Please let me know if you require any further information.

Kate Qayyum
Customer Services Administrator
Office Tel: 01256 491111
Email: visitenglandassessmentservices@ theaa.com


....and my response:
Quote:
Membership of the Visit England Quality Scheme for self catering properties is evidence that the property has been independently visited and inspected within the last 12 months. At a time when we are all very aware of the number of frauds being perpetrated against self-catering holidaymakers, proof of an independent visit by an official body is invaluable in giving potential guests confidence in booking.

I network with a number of self-catering property owners throughout the UK; those with VE membership cite the ease with which a potential guest can verify membership as a key reason for continuing membership, and in a number of cases the only reason.

Hence the website to facilitate verification is of paramount importance to the holiday let owners who do support the VE scheme, and to potential guests looking to book who in the absence of a simple link click are not going to waste time in the hope of receiving an email response.

Could you therefore please let us know how soon the essential ability to check ratings will again be available on an easily accessible website.


Iíve also forwarded to Martin Sach at EASCO
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
newtimber



Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 1815
Location: Brighton

PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got a reply saying that "The website is currently being developed Ė I regret I do not as yet have a completion date"

Why would I renew with them rather than the AA as they at least have a website?
_________________
Newtimber Holiday Cottages Facebook Page
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
greenbarn



Joined: 30 May 2009
Posts: 6147
Location: The Westmorland Dales, Cumbria

PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reply to my email similar to yours newtimber, but this time I didnít have to wait a week.....

Quote:
At the moment I do not have an exact timescale for when the website will be up and running but we will commiunicate to our customers once we know.


So Iím getting the feeling that itís not a high priority... I also get the feeling that when VE awarded the contract to the AA they didnít really think about continuity and a smooth handover from QiT...

Off to remove the links from my website - the ones that basically say click on this link to give you lots of reassurance that we actually exist, but which now returns a rather less reassuring message saying ďCouldn't connect to SQL serverĒ.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
charles cawley



Joined: 21 Sep 2010
Posts: 1205
Location: Herefordshire, Shropshire, Borders

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The days of the old star system are numbered- perhaps they will stay for Hotels and BnBs where short notice is far more prevalent.

But for self catering the advent of dozens of pictures and feedback has made the inspector largely redundant.

Nearly all our owners no longer use the legacy star system. Here is a slightly dated article on the subject: http://www.holidayletsforsale.com/advice-cottage-owners-info-pack/holiday-cottage-and-let-marketing/star-ratings/
_________________
No web-site for now.
Advice about holiday letting
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Joanna



Joined: 23 Aug 2007
Posts: 1007
Location: Chester, North West England & Sidmouth, East Devon

PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting article Charles, thanks. We had shied away from the expense and faff of getting graded, but, recently we've been looking into it again because the big listing sites aren't working so well for us any more.

Our main reason for considering grading was not to get the stars but to get listed on the local official tourist websites - visitchester and visitcheshire for example. We thought we might get better results from them than from the big international sites.

This thread prompted me to take another look at those sites and now it seems as though they aren't limited to just graded properties, so if that's the case there's another reason that getting graded is no longer so relevant.
_________________
Jo

Joint owner of Baker's Cottage in Chester & Chandler's Cottage in Sidmouth
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jenster



Joined: 08 Mar 2016
Posts: 454
Location: Cornwall

PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I listed with visitcornwall by signing up to their accommodation charter, rather than needing to be graded. However Sadly I have only had one booking (afaik) that came to my website via their site.
_________________
www.seashellsporthtowan.co.uk
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
newtimber



Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 1815
Location: Brighton

PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just had the renewal invoice (at last) for Visit England and on the back it has a list of conditions that I am required to adhere to.

One of which is "You give permission to VisitEngland or its representatives to enter your establishment AT ANY TIME to create and take photographs of your establishment.." and I have to "RETURN the Visit England signs that I BOUGHT to the signs manufacturer" and I have to "give 28 days notice if I don't wish to continue with the scheme before 1st April".

I've never seen these conditions before - has anyone else seen these terms and conditions when they originally signed up?
_________________
Newtimber Holiday Cottages Facebook Page
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
greenbarn



Joined: 30 May 2009
Posts: 6147
Location: The Westmorland Dales, Cumbria

PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The requirement to return signs has always been there AFAIK, although I canít imagine anyone ever bothers. Returning membership regalia on leaving a club or organisation isnít that unusual, even if itís been paid for, as the person/establishment is no longer entitled to display it.

I donít recall anything about giving permission to enter the establishment, and they could whistle for that; the assessor visits when we say itís okay. I assume it has more to do with hotels and similar rather than self-catering.

Notice period - fair enough, but what can they do about it? Come and collect your signs and save you the expense of sending them back to the manufacturer?

Iím still waiting for a worthwhile response to my question re when theyíre going to reintroduce the facility to check a rating directly from a website. The whole handover process to the AA seems to have suffered from a major communications breakdown. Can anyone suggest who to contact in the event of a breakdown.....?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
zebedee



Joined: 12 Sep 2014
Posts: 1195
Location: yorkshire dales

PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We had our assessment about 10 days ago, with a new (to us) inspector who has been with VE for a couple of decades.
I did press hard about the website and she was not able to give any confirmation of any timescale, but was emphatic a website would be established by the AA.

My concern is that the AA have the VE contract for a time limited period, but the AA members are now at a distinct advantage to us as they have their own entry on a permanent website.

Is this a ploy to get us all to move to the AA instead of VE??? i don't know.

Right now, although I know the grading, I would just like to be given the report from my inspection and a new certificate - normally I have received the reports within 48 hours Sad
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
newtimber



Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 1815
Location: Brighton

PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well the AA actually have a website - and are much cheaper than VE. For our 3 cottages it would be £245.70; it has increased to £427.79 for VE (13% increase from last year) and we get absolutely nothing not even a website link!

How on earth can VE justify this?
_________________
Newtimber Holiday Cottages Facebook Page
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
zebedee



Joined: 12 Sep 2014
Posts: 1195
Location: yorkshire dales

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I had my assessment inspection on 13th June, but still no report or certificate.

Is this an AA thing?

I'm used to getting a report within a couple of days of an inspection
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
greenbarn



Joined: 30 May 2009
Posts: 6147
Location: The Westmorland Dales, Cumbria

PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

zebedee wrote:
So I had my assessment inspection on 13th June, but still no report or certificate.

Is this an AA thing?

I'm used to getting a report within a couple of days of an inspection


Amazing - the assessment service for VE was previously run by G4S, famed for prison escapes and other newsworthy failures. So far the AA seem to make G4S look highly efficient... (although I bet G4S arenít any good at leaving you waiting by the roadside for 2 hours, finally arriving, opening the bonnet, saying ďIíll have to send for a tow truckĒ and driving off again...)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
zebedee



Joined: 12 Sep 2014
Posts: 1195
Location: yorkshire dales

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I rang Visit England yesterday to ask about the website. I was told the same story that the website was in development and no one knew the date it was expected.
I told the person who answered the phone that people were starting to comment that it looked like the AA would be able to poach all the VE clients as the AA were less expensive, worked to the same standards of rating requirements, but more importantly had a website with their self catering properties on.
I was then told I was speaking to someone employed by VE who was working with an AA office Very Happy

So I asked who I could pick the conversation up with and was told to ring Vicky Howe, in Contracts and Enterprise and given her number (is it ok to include telephone numbers on this forum?).

Vicky wasn't due in the office until 10am so I rang back, left an ansa. phone message and when I got no return call rang again.

Vicky told me she had received several calls asking about the website. Apparently it is written in the contract for AA but no one thought to include a timeframe (my wording).
I explained as the commissioners of a service from the AA, that she had the upper hand and in my experience in commissioning services she needed to take some action, but I won't bore you with the detail of exactly what I said.
I reminder her that we have paid for a service that we were not getting, the AA contract started in April and here we are half way through July and we were not getting what we paid for.

She told me she intended contacting the AA that afternoon and would then be in touch with everyone who raised the concern previously. The matter of my outstanding report was then briefly mentioned including my concern that the report would be less favourable if the inspector got in trouble for the delay (the outcome grading is secure, as I already knew that, but that is not the point).

So at the end of yesterday, my report was emailed to me. No further contact. I rang Vicky again today and was told the website is expected to be live in September.
"Would that be the beginning or end of September?" Said I. "Probably near the end" said Vicky.... "it's a complex project".

So to all members of the VE scheme, can we please keep some pressure up on this. It really is unacceptable as has been stated previously, that members who pay a decent amount of money to be in a quality scheme have had there existence wiped off the VE websites and potential guests have no way of searching and verifying accommodation providers. I have actually received both bookings and enquiries from the VE website previously.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Joanna



Joined: 23 Aug 2007
Posts: 1007
Location: Chester, North West England & Sidmouth, East Devon

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that Zebedee. We were planning on getting assessed earlier this year and when I realised that I couldn't find the website I got cold feet. Hopefully it will be sorted in September and then we'll give it a go.
_________________
Jo

Joint owner of Baker's Cottage in Chester & Chandler's Cottage in Sidmouth
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Lay My Hat Forum Index -> UK & Ireland All times are GMT
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
Page 1 of 3

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group