- ASAP James Foice
- ISAAP Stephen Martin
- ReviewPro RJ Friedlander
This introduction to the ISAAP Quality Accreditation Programme was aimed both at those already part of the scheme, and who were well-represented in the room, and those who knew less about how the process works or what to expect when applying to be accredited.
James Foice, ASAP CEO, confirmed that ASAP is moving towards representing only fully accredited members, across operators, agents and buildings. When he joined ASAP, bringing a background in measuring hotel standards, he was determined to be sure his members represented good, safe products and that consumers understood the standards around quality, duty of care and customer service that a serviced apartment offers – especially significant six years ago when the sector was less well-understood.
He says he thought he was going to be lynched when he suggested the accreditation scheme!
But as it rolls out across members worldwide, it is now understood that ASAP membership, and ISAAP Quality Accreditation, differentiate the sector from the competition – and especially the sharing economy platforms as they increase market share and move into the business travel sector as well as the leisure customer.
The original ASAP QA was launched in 2014 and within two years, 80% of members were accredited. In 2016 Building Accreditation was launched and partnership with the CHPA, the International Serviced Apartment Accreditation Process (ISAAP) was launched, and in 2017 accreditation was rolled out in the APAC region. All without any marketing or administrative budget!
There are a number of corporate organisations aware of, and some already preferring to use, ISAAP accredited properties, and James is determined to keep pushing the scheme until the travel buyers themselves are 100% committed.
This year ISAAP have been involved in 230 ISAAP Quality Assessment days, across 1,482 apartments.
He discussed the accreditation process flow including in-depth questions and visits, and when everything is to an agreed standard, accreditation is awarded. In Year 2 of the process, any operational or property changes will be considered and discussed, along with whether agreed previously actions have been performed; and, in some cases, re-accreditation can occur without the need for a physical QA visit, subject to certain criteria being met.
There is now a QA Steering Group with the objective of how to get ISAAP to the next level, without a budget. The three levels currently are; firstly to achieve 100% of ASAP Members receiving Quality Accreditation by the end of 2018; level 2 is to influence and gain support from partner associations, while the third level is to achieve general global growth – including among non-members in the sector.
Comments from accredited members in the room included Chris Benyon from Premier Suites saying accreditation helped with general motivation within the business; Seth Hanson of Oakwood Worldwide saw a definite return on investment, and Gavin Burns of Staying Cool mentioned accreditation cutting down on external paperwork. Gavin Bailey of Citysuites said he didn’t understand why everyone isn’t getting behind accreditation – and that he felt agents shouldn’t promote non-accredited properties.
RJ Friedlander from ReviewPro was the third speaker, and discussed setting up the company 8 years ago, with a hotel as the first client – showing the value of trusted real reviews for the hospitality sector. They now have 35k properties on their books worldwide.
The brief stats around guest intelligence are that 92% of travellers use reviews, visiting on average 38 websites before making a booking. 53% of guests say they wouldn’t consider booking without reading reviews, and 33% change their minds as a result of something they’ve read.
He compared offline and online media for influencing consumers, and how different regions and countries use different channels.
He described his Global Review Index (GRI) as high level in comparing different suppliers, with 200 sources in 45 languages across competitive quality, source, language and location indexes. A study by Cornell University and STR found that a 1% difference in score on the GRI has a direct influence on performance, of 0.89% on ADR, 0.54% on occupancy and 1.42% on RevPAR. The GRI system offers users a simple dashboard but allows a detailed and complex drill-down into specific within the reviews, enabling hospitality users to tailor their offerings directly in line with consumer response.
There was a series of questions from the floor, including whether ISAAP was getting to the corporates – to which James Foice replied that it was his prime mission this year to raise awareness of the ISAAP QA scheme among corporates, but that he also needed the 190 members to play their part; and were ASAP talking to the Institute of Travel Management (response: yes). Paula Cullen from Go Native backed the ASAP QA scheme as being the equivalent of IABTA or ATOL for flights, and said it was necessary to make it part of the industry and the consumer’s perception in the same way, and also mentioned the value of the ITM’s core partner project. Vivien Herrera-Lee of Properties Unique described the ISAAP QA process as simple and even enjoyable, and said that others shouldn’t hesitate to get involved.