As a major initiative to kick start the events  industry in post pandemic recovery, HBAA, the trade association for the hotel booking agency, apartment and venue community, is collaborating with Quality in Tourism to promote its Safe, Clean and Legal Accreditation as a recognised industry standard of hygiene and cleanliness for venues and hotels, including COVID-19 protocols. This will drive customer confidence among delegates, guests, agencies, staff and employers.

This regulated accreditation is awarded to hotels and venues that meet or exceed minimum set standards across a wide range of factors, including compliance with hygiene and food safety regulations, which have become paramount following the COVID-19 outbreak. All properties submit their standards and are then audited to ensure that they maintain the rigorous levels of cleanliness and safety, providing greater reassurance to customers.

Quality in Tourism (QT) has been assessing properties and driving standards across the UK for more than 15 years, offering advice, support and benchmarking assessments for tourism and hospitality businesses. It covers hotels, venues, apartments and other accommodation providers throughout the UK. This accreditation is recognised by Environmental Health (EH).

Juliet Price (pictured), consultant executive director of HBAA, commented: “HBAA identified the urgent need to have such a uniformed and united standard across our sector. We are spearheading this standard enabling customers to feel assured that the accommodation and venues they’re using are compliant with the latest government guidance and agreed protocols. Working with such an accreditation from a recognised authority like QT drives confidence from its rigorous application and inspection process. It is an important initiative which we can all get behind.

“Whilst we continue to see more hotel chains and venues present their own cleaning standards, which we welcome, we do need to drive consistency on a level playing field.

 “HBAA continues to collaborate with industry associations, shoulder to shoulder and is requesting that this accreditation is communicated amongst their membership and features prominently in RFPs and part of hotel and venue selection criteria.

“This initiative is to create a unified approach that is recognised, certified and assured, regardless of which association they belong to, or who their customers are. We have actively engaged with many associations and requested that everyone gets behind this, for the good of our industry.

“With our industry potentially being one of the last to recover, we need to ensure we are increasing customer confidence continuously in our approaches and practices.

The QT badge which seals the assurance of protocols being met, is aligned to the set standards and is required to be an ongoing maintenance process.”

Deborah Heather, director at Quality in Tourism, said: “I am delighted that HBAA has decided to endorse and champion our accreditation across the industry by recommending the Safe, Clean and Legal accreditation which Quality in Tourism designed back in 2018. The scheme has evolved to include COVID-19 cleaning protocols, with the support of our Primary Authority partner Cornwall Council. We have worked with Environmental Health to develop protocols and standards for hotels and venues to protect their teams and their guests.” 

Price added: “This badge has to be clearly displayed across multiple distribution platforms, for accommodation providers and venues to proudly display their accreditation and for customers and agencies to search for them easily and/or book them. We are urging industry accessible tools and platforms to get behind and support this, clearly displaying this badge and to ensure it is part of search functionalities within.”

Hotels and venues have welcomed the initiative. Louisa Watson, director of marketing at Wyboston Lakes Resort, commented: “Getting this accreditation is hugely important for Wyboston Lakes Resort. Ensuring our accommodation, meetings and events are safe and protecting our guests and team members is our first priority. We know things will be different going forward but they can still be good and this accreditation ensures that it will be safe too.”

Details of how providers can apply for the accreditation can be found here.

Price concluded: “This is vital for our members to demonstrate that are mindful of their duty of care. This initiative forms part of the #HBAAfuturefit and 6+-step recovery plan, which will soon be unveiled. HBAA is committed to supporting the reopening of our industry and to these steps to aid recovery and create customer confidence in our sector, whilst showcasing that when the UK Government allows us too; “our industry is absolutely open for business and safely. HBAA is championing for Department of Culture Media and Sport to also endorse and recognise this initiative via the BVEP.”