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Is it worth getting a Tourist Board rating?

 
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Mazey



Joined: 08 Dec 2018
Posts: 6
Location: Cornwall

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:41 pm    Post subject: Is it worth getting a Tourist Board rating? Reply with quote

We have been letting our cottage through an agent for seven years but they were taken over by one of the big firms in 2017. We now have our own website and are listed on a couple of independent listing sites. Is it worth getting an official star rating from the English Tourist board?
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apexblue



Joined: 10 Sep 2008
Posts: 2244
Location: UK

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We were 5 star rated years ago with Visit Wales which resulted in one booking.
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zebedee



Joined: 12 Sep 2014
Posts: 1190
Location: yorkshire dales

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2018 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You wonít get many bookings from being on the
Visit England site itself, (or Wales) but what you will get is the very well recognised logo that you can attach to all your adverts and include in any advertising text.

It should help you stand out if your competitors are not star rated, and if they are, then it will bring you up to par with them. For people who will book direct from your website, it will make a huge difference to bookings as it offers a standard of assurance.
Itís only worth getting if you can achieve 4 or 5 stars, 3 may not make much impression.

We have always been 4 star and get around 50% booking from a search engine search. Not listed on any big listing or commission sites and it is hard work, but works well for us.

Weíve had several guests check out we are not a scam property using the VE website, which was down for about 2 years but has now been resurrected.

A lot may depend upon who your target market is.
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kendalcottages



Joined: 27 Nov 2009
Posts: 2480
Location: Kendal, between the Lake District and the Dales

PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zebedee wrote:
For people who will book direct from your website, it will make a huge difference to bookings as it offers a standard of assurance.


Will it though? There are other ways you can offer that assurance such as embedding reviews from another site...

Just my opinion, but I would seriously question whether it's worth it.
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Kendal Cottages, Kendal, Cumbria - between the Lake District & the Yorkshire Dales
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Cymraes



Joined: 07 Jul 2015
Posts: 489
Location: North Wales

PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the £110 it costs me for Visit Wales registration it is well worth it.

I can use the logo, emphasise that MY star rating is from a Govt agency and it does make a difference for those who care about such things. Certainly the older demographic seem to be reassured by it
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Joanna



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

PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We had the same dilemma and eventually tried out AA grading for our Devon cottage last year. We got 4 stars and then I changed all our listing titles to 'Chandler's Cottage 4 star holiday let in Sidmouth'. I added the AA 4 star banner to our photos on Facebook, TA, etc and quoted from the AA inspectors comments on our web site home page.

We didn't get any enquiries via the AA website but our general enquiries did go up and overall bookings were up last year. It might have been a coincidence, we'll never know for sure.

My theory is that 'expert' reviews carry more weight. The AA inspector has seen hundreds of holiday lets so he really does know what he's talking about. We're going to get the other house graded too but may use the Visit Britain scheme for that one.

BTW we went with the AA because, at that time, Visit Britain weren't showing graded properties online so enquirers couldn't verify our grading.
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Joint owner of Baker's Cottage in Chester & Chandler's Cottage in Sidmouth
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Stewart



Joined: 11 Jun 2011
Posts: 131
Location: Fife, Scotland

PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go for it. Lets face it ABB, TA, and the other listing sites have star systems that are easily manipulated and everyone scores highly on so I believe the inclusion of an objective assessment is a good thing. Maybe hard to quantify £ value but it is likely to swing ditherers and you may find yourself ahead of the curve when the public catch on that on-line rating sites in general (inc Trustpilot) are, by design, flawed and compromised.
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AndrewH



Joined: 12 Sep 2013
Posts: 1479
Location: Kefalonia, Greece

PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stewart wrote:
...when the public catch on that on-line rating sites in general (inc Trustpilot) are, by design, flawed and compromised.

Yes, I would say so. When it comes to providing paid services to companies which are also being reviewed on their website, as do Trustpilot, there is an obvious conflict of interest there. For example, the temptation to take down true but adverse reviews at their "customer's" request must play a part in this world of commerce.
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greenbarn



Joined: 30 May 2009
Posts: 6145
Location: The Westmorland Dales, Cumbria

PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apologies, this turned out to be a lengthy post!

As above, donít expect to get any bookings directly through the Visit England or AA websites; that means the financial value of an official grading is perhaps not particularly tangible.

What a grading does is say a lot about your property and how you run it. You and your property have been visited by an Assessor (and will be every year) so the first point is that your property does actually exist, which is quite reassuring for a lot of guests!

It shows that you have a fire risk assessment in place and meet the safety, insurance and legal requirements of operating, which most of the cowboy operators donít. Many (all?) local tourist boards offer a simple assessment service which checks the basics of legality, safety and other minimum standards - a bit like the minimum requirements for a VE/AA grading - and no more than that, so no quality rating. I think that in itself is well worth having as proof that youíve been checked out (as an aside, thereís the hope that an inspection of that nature will form the basis of a proposed licence to be required by all FHL operators).

An official star grading from Visit Britain or one of its approved assessors (the AA and some accredited agencies) then gives a good indication of the standard of accommodation a guest can expect; the assessment is intended to be as objective as possible, working from a documented Standard. Iíve always found the assessors to be approachable and happy to give any tips, which is particularly useful when youíre starting out.

A few years back there was a train of thought that said decent photos on websites would show the guest what to expect, and along with the reviews from TA et al the official star grading system didnít really serve a purpose (a useful view for the Government to cut funding). We now know that the review system is fatally flawed, the majority are meaningless and virtually no indication of the standard of accommodation - regardless of standard and quality, anything less than 5 blobs is seen by owners as almost a disaster - and for small businesses like ours the review system is a wonderful tool for blackmailers, both financial and emotional. Iíve lost count of the number of times Iíve seen an owner post saying ďthe guest caused xyz damage but I donít want to say anything in case they leave a bad reviewĒ, which pretty much sums it up.
Sorry, bit of a digression there!

In summary, reviews have fallen into disrepute and the official grading system remains the only way to demonstrate an expert and objective evaluation of standard. I agree with Zebedee that if you canít make 4*, or maybe 3* Gold, itís probably not worth having a grading; instead have a local Tourist Board approval to demonstrate the fire and general safety, insurance and legal aspects are observed. The system might well be undergoing a revival!
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