HRAWI undertakes classification system to certify hotels
In a first of its kind initiative, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has certified 13 hotels in Maharashtra under new norms that it claims are more contemporary and global in standards as compared to existing ratings. This independent classification system in India will follow the global practice of trade bodies rating hotels and ensuring adherence to best practices and standards.
As per the new norms, hotel properties will be classified, rated or graded under six categories listed as Budget, Classic, Premium, Luxury, Deluxe Luxury and Primo Luxury, and will be uniform for both domestic and foreign tourists. The Shalimar Hotel, The Fern Residency, Golden Swan Beach Resort, The Emerald, Peninsula Grand Hotel, Sun-N-Sand Hotel, Holiday Inn Mumbai international Airport, Waterstones Hotel, T24 Residency, Hotel Transit, Hotel Meluha, Renaissance Mumbai Hotel and Convention Centre and Hyatt Place are among the first hotels to have been audited as per the new classification standards and are officially certified as of 25th October, 2017.
Â In an exclusive interview to Hotelier India Dilip Datwani, president, HRAWI tells Vinita Bhatia why this classification was created and how it will benefit hoteliers.
Why was the need for this classification felt? Was this based on feedback given by HRAWI members?
One of the principal reasons for introducing Indian Hospitality Quality Standards (IHQS) is to bring in uniformity, higher standards and efficiency in the process of classification of hotels. It is the classification system that is in sync with the global classification standards and which will make it convenient for guests to identify with their choice of hotels. Almost 70% of countries have their hotels classified by their respective apex hotel bodies. The IHQS like many of the global rating standards is reliable, simple, comprehensive, and an ergonomic assessment system with key focus on transparency. Presently from approximately 1, 50,000 hotels in India only around 700 hotels get their classification done from the Ministry of Tourism (MoT).
This is because the MoTâ€™s system is very difficult to handle and typically the government procedures tend to get delayed, without any accountability. It takes over 12 months for the MoT to classify a hotel and for hotels that have heavily invested in a project cannot afford to wait that long to receive their classification and become operational. In many states, the local government charges hotels additional amounts on property tax, water charges, and excise license fees among others if they are certified by the MoT. Besides this, recently many independent OTAs have begun creating and following their own systems, which are flawed because those are commercially influenced and biased. This creates confusion for the guest and especially makes a poor impression on the foreign tourists who rely on a deceptive or misplaced classification of a hotel.
The IHQS will support, enhance, develop, enrich and guide hotels in maintaining world-class standards that resonate with guests. HRAWI is the voice of the hospitality industry and understands the needs of hoteliers and its guests better than any other industry body would. Therefore IHQS is designed by the hoteliers for the hoteliers across India.
What is the periodicity at which the audits will be conducted?
Currently the IHQS accreditation will be valid for three years.
Which agency has HRAWI employed for the audit and certification of the hotels?
There are three different agencies involved for the purpose. These agencies and its auditors are randomly selected and the association has no role in the process of audit.
Is there a general consensus to this decision? What about the star rating that is prevalent?
There is an overwhelming response to our initiative. Hoteliers are fed up with not having an aligned system for classification that is easy and transparent and are confused with the multiple and misleading standards of the OTA. IHQS provides hoteliers with a reliable rating system that is simple and comprehensive and most importantly which works in the favour of the guests.
Presently the MoTâ€™s classification system, which is mainly adopted by 5-star hotels, takes over 12 months to get a date for inspection and dealing with the red tape in getting the paper work is a challenge. Anticipating these problems, hoteliers prefer to not get classified by government. Numbers bring in accountability and shows the reality. In 2008, there were 1593 MoT classified hotels and as of today there are only 687 classified hotels.
Wonâ€™t having the star rating as well as this new classification create more confusion in the mind of a traveller?
Presently, there are more than 12 different rating agencies, which is more confusing and misleading to the customer. Our objective is to become the sole rating agency for all hotels in India that travellers will eventually identify with and realise its authenticity and credibility. We are positive that this will curb the infiltration of the independent agencies that arenâ€™t even from the hotel industry and emerge as the only legitimate classification system in the country.