Stay with Confidence in 2017

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One of the hardest decisions when organising your holiday or business trip is undoubtedly deciding where to stay. This is because while your accommodation might only be a place to rest your head at night, it is still important that you feel safe and comfortable in it to ensure that you make the most out of your trip. There are so many stresses associated with travelling and so booking the perfect accommodation can greatly alleviate some of those anxieties, particularly regarding security and even convenience of location. However, booking the perfect accommodation is a lot easier said than done because nowadays there is a whole deluge of possibilities covering everything from hotels to even now families renting out their private residences. Therefore, sometimes it can be very tiresome trying to work your way through all the possibilities to see which are legitimate options that really do deliver all that they say on the tin. Consequently, this often leads us to review websites like TripAdvisor as what better evidence could you acquire than the feedback of those who  have braved the path before us? However, while invaluable, reviews are very subjective and so what is one person’s cup of tea may not be another’s. Subsequently, this is where the benefits of Quality Accreditation schemes really come into play as they help to ensure that accommodation operators are meeting a certain benchmark in regards to performance and service standards.

When you think of accommodation and indicators of quality, often times you think of the ‘star’ rating system – with the ultimate travel dream being stays in luxurious and sumptuous five star resorts. However, did you know that aside from the ‘star’ rating system, the serviced apartment industry actually has its own trade body, The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (The ASAP) which plays a pivotal role in ensuring guest confidence when booking serviced apartments and in maintaining overall supplier standards? The call for this monitoring and control over and above the star rating system is that the serviced apartment sector is dynamic and rapidly growing. Therefore, as this sector is still developing and we are striving to inform consumers that serviced apartments are an alternative to traditional accommodation types which offer their own unique benefits, it is integral that there are measures and standards in place to ensure that guests are delivered the certain standard of quality that they are promised. Therefore, this is where The ASAP with their leading global Quality Accreditation Programme plays a critical role as not only do they provide accreditation for operators like The Spires, but they also assess agents, buildings and apartments to ensure that all parties are commited to  industry best practise and to ensure that quality can be measured and compared across the whole sector.

Therefore, while you may be nervous about booking a serviced apartment because you may have never stayed at one before, please be assured that The ASAP and its accredited operators such as The  Spires are out there to ensure that you receive the experience you are promised and that you can subsequently book, and stay with confidence. Wherever you see The ASAP Quality Accreditation Marque, you know that you are safe to proceed with booking as it means that the operator has passed The ASAP’s Quality Assessment which does not just cover the standards of the physical establishment you will stay in, but also the booking process and the health and safety credentials of the premises to ensure the ultimate in security, comfort and service experience.

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The ASAP stamp of quality approval on our website

If you are worried that the accreditation programme is just a tick-box scheme, we can assure you that the Accreditation Programme is more than that as the marque is only gained after a series of checks including an overnight stay so that an assessor can fully walk in the steps of an guest and understand the experience they will be delivered. Likewise, there are actually over 250 service quality and regulatory measures that need to be met so it is not something that can be gained through the completion of a form. Moreover, the accreditation criteria is updated annually to ensure that it remains relevant and in keeping with developments in customer experience offerings as well as with developments in the law and with health and safety regulations.

Therefore, with a new year comes a new year for change and so why not try staying somewhere different like a serviced apartment? It offers all the comfort, modernity and style of a hotel, while also being a convenient, spacious and cost-effective alternative. Likewise, due to their offering of modern equipped kitchens and stylish lounges, serviced apartments also  provide that priceless home away from home feel which you just cannot get in a hotel. We know that change can be scary, however when you choose to book with an quality accredited firm like The Spires, there is no need for fear as you know that a professional assessor has approved it and can attest to its service standards. Therefore, make 2017 the year you book and stay with confidence – you deserve it.

For more information about The Spires Quality Accreditation by The  ASAP, visit http://theasap.org.uk/memberships/quality-accreditation-programme/stay-with-confidence-quality-accreditation/

Travel with Confidence: Quality Assessment Programmes

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Recent years have seen the introduction of new online accommodation platforms such as Air B&B where individuals can put up any property they own and travellers can choose to rent it out as part of their holiday experience. The surge in popularity for Air B&B probably stems from how it helps to cut costs as well as offers a unique accommodation experience which cannot be found by going down traditional accommodation routes e.g. treehouses can be rented; you cannot get more unique than that. It is even starting to make waves into the business travel arena although the BridgeStreet IQ report: Business Travel Insights 2015 reflects how only approximately 30% of Business Travel policies allow it as an accommodation source. This could potentially link to the pertinent issue of Air B&B in that there is no guarantee of quality. As owners put up their local properties for rent, there is no inspection for them to make sure that the facilities and experience they will be offering will be of an acceptable standard. To surmise, there is no essence of quality assurance.

If you are travelling, either for leisure or corporate, undoubtedly you will have invested some money as well as stress and you will want your stay to go as smoothly as possible in order to have the optimum travel experience. In effect, you will want to travel with confidence and know that wherever you are staying has your welfare in mind as the priority. Quality Assurance plays a pivotal role in developing that confidence because it entails the inspection of accommodation properties to make sure they are meeting the defined standards and benchmarks of the industry.

If you happen to scroll down to the depths of the bottom of our rather beautiful web pages, you will find a logo that you will probably be unfamiliar with. This logo represents how The Spires is part of a Quality Assessment Programme which is implemented by the serviced apartment’s key industry body: The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP). So, what does this mean?

Quality Assurance ASAP

Under ASAP’s Quality Assessment Programme, we receive an internet review analysis, a mystery shopping initiative and an annual quality assessment visit. Most critically is the annual assessment which includes the assessor staying overnight so they can fully experience the service standards on offer and see just how comfy the beds are (in all seriousness, the comfort of the bed is genuinely graded!). When grading, assessors take into account core scheme requirements which covers essential legislative compliance, such as in regard to health and safety (electricity, fire risks, heating and lighting) and accessibility, as well as critical features which although may not deter bookings in their absence, are held highly in regards to guest expectations e.g. emergency contact details and an adequate ratio of bathrooms to guests. After the basics and essentials are covered, the Quality Scoring Mechanism is taken into account which considers the quality not just of the apartment offering itself, but also of the firm and its members. Therefore, grading begins to be generated based on everything from location to lighting to furnishing & fixtures to cleanliness. The whole guest experience from the booking and arrival processes are all taken into account and compared against ASAP’s high standards in regards to quality and security so no stone is left unturned; online guest satisfaction reviews are even considered.

Therefore, it is clear that the assessment is a rather rigorous process but it is one that is most definitely worthwhile because we can vouch to our guests that the experience we advertise, is the one they will receive. The only surprises they should get should be good ones! Service, integrity, efficiency and smiles are all part of The Spires’ values and consequently we wear our ASAP Quality Assessment badge with pride as testament that we abide by these values.

There is so much stress associated with holidays at it is, why make it worse by travelling with that niggling anxiety in the back of your mind that maybe that hotel or serviced apartment you booked might be a little bit sketchy? Trip Advisor is a great source for obtaining objective perspectives of a particular accommodation; however, nothing can quite determine the quality of a property like an official Quality Assessment Programme.

Moreover, Quality Assurance should be part of your purchasing decision-making process because it is only set to become increasingly pertinent with it being expanded globally (the US Corporate Housing  and Providers Association are interested in grading) and with the consideration of differentiating apartment firms by quality banding underneath the Quality Programme. Numerous reports discuss the rapid growth of the serviced apartment industry, particularly in recent years, and through quality assessment programmes such as ASAP’s, it is hoped that a benchmark of quality can be set for the industry so as to keep standards high and guests happy. As published in the March/April issue of Buying Business Travel, ASAP is really hoping this year to publicize the importance of accreditation to business and leisure tourists alike; something that we hope this blog will help with.

Sources

ASAP: http://theasap.site-ym.com/page/V2_qualityassess/? 

http://www.relocatemagazine.com/articles/fiona-murchie-03-d3-2015-shaking-it-up-changes-in-the-serviced-apartments-sector

http://buyingbusinesstravel.com/news/0523497-serviced-apartment-body-unveils-accreditation-logo