Online accommodation may shimmer, but how can you avoid booking in the sticks by mistake?

When going on holiday, booking accommodation can be a daunting experience. Images of rooms and facilities may shimmer online, but in reality, you could be staying in the sticks. 

So what are the tools at your disposal?

For one, trusted recommendations from friends and family are always good. But what if you're heading to a spot that's off-the-beaten track or the not-so popular radar. What to expert travel agents for instance build their itineraries around?

The recent revamp of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa’s (TGCSA) star-grading system –  seen as the hospitality industry’s mark of quality - is a reputable point of reference.

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New grading criteria keeps up with trends

The grading criteria was recently augmented to keep up with the latest global tourism and technological trends. Three new categories have been added: apartment hotels, small hotels and boutique hotels. 

According to TGCSA’s Chief Quality Assurance Officer, the new criteria is to ensure South Africa remains internationally benchmarked and thus competitive as a destination.

“One of the key reasons behind the triennial review of our criteria, is the impact that technological enhancements are having on the hospitality sector and the overall guest experience.  For instance, the provision and access to Wi-Fi is fast becoming a very basic need and guest prerequisite at any category of accommodation.”

Guests will be guaranteed that higher graded establishments have technological capabilities to suit both business and leisure travellers. Tech developments in the hospitality industry allow guests to connect with the hotel service outlets using new platforms and applications as well as the ability to make outgoing calls using applications linked to Wi-Fi.

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Rewarding responsible establishments

With over 5 200 properties graded across the country, there are a variety of options with availability seldom an issue. In addition, TGCSA has introduced the Responsible Tourism accolade for establishments that abide by sustainable responsible tourism practices.

“We are of the opinion that limiting the impact of tourism on the environment is in the interest of all concerned and it was on this premise that the TCGSA undertook to include an accolade to recognise properties that have adopted and are practicing Responsible Tourism practices,” said Erasmus.

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Travel agents trust the grading system

When booking for clients, travel agents look for tried and trusted establishments that have TGCSA star grading.

Erasmus said the grading level awarded to properties annually are by far the most important for travel agents when recommending an establishment to a customer.

This indicates the type of product that will be encountered as well as the levels of product quality, variety of facilities and service standards to be expected by your guests. 

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