The Botswana Tourism Board (BTB) is working towards closing the gap between licensing and grading standards of hospitality establishments in order to bring standards in line with clients’ expectations. Keitumetse Setlang, the Board’s Public Relations and Communications manager, made that revelation.
“Every establishment is licensed using set licensing requirements by the Department of Tourism. These licensing requirements were done some time back. The grading standards were then set afterwards, when conditions had changed in as far as clients’ expectations are concerned meaning the requirements for grading came in a mark above the licensing standards thereby resulting in a gap between the licensing and grading standards,” Setlang says.
Lack of harmony between licensing and grading standards has resulted in a situation whereby some establishments fail to meet the standards but are licensed to operate. In terms of star rating, such facilities are classified as “ungraded.” Setlang says that the harmonization of the licensing and grading systems will assist in ensuring that we do not get ungraded facilities in future.
“When a facility is classified as ungraded it means it has not made one star. This does not mean the facility has not been assessed but that it did not score well in the assessment to attain a one star rating. At the completion of the first grading exercise it emerged that some facilities scored below the allowed mark to attain a one star rating, it is such facilities that are classified as ungraded,” Setlang explains.
In Gaborone, only one hotel falls in that category.
She says that through a mentoring and advisory service, the Board is currently working with facilities that are ungraded to assist them to work towards attaining at least one star.
She says that they have reasonable expectation that such facilities will have improved their standards before the next assessment term, which will be done in two years. However, facilities that would have executed improvement measures suggested during assessment are free to invite Botswana Tourism Board to carry out another assessment.
Setlang says that detailed feedback on how an establishment has performed is shared with such a facility bilaterally, and the overall rating is the one that is made public. The results are published on the Botswana Tourism Board website and printed copies of the results can be obtained from the Board’s offices.
According to the Board’s website, a rating decision is based on the conditions noted by the assessors at the time of the assessment; The overall evaluation of the facilities, based on a combined assessment of the quality of the physical product (hotel building, furniture etc); The quality of service as well as the extent to which services are performed and presented and customer feedback received by the Board.
During an assessment, the grading assessor assesses a number of areas in the accommodation establishment, including the exterior surroundings, public service areas, bedrooms, bathrooms and dinning/restaurant facilities. In each of these areas the following is evaluated: ambience and atmosphere, housekeeping, spaciousness and overall impression, accessories, equipment, furniture, fittings and fixtures, d├®cor and flooring, temperature control, lighting, linen, parking, grounds and gardens, appearance of buildings, service levels, presentation of food and drinks, variety and appearance of menus, efficiency of checking in/out, porterage, staff appearance and tourist information.