The AA and VisitEngland have worked together modernise their assessment schemes and launch a new, free Visitor Ready scheme for the wider hospitality industry.
The new baseline accreditation will encompass businesses across the UK hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors, including self-catering and peer-to-peer lodging.
The pair said that they hoped the plans would "futureproof the hospitality industry with a modernisation plan which simplifies the current quality standards".
The Visitor Ready scheme enables businesses in the UK hospitality, leisure, and tourism sectors to seamlessly showcase their commitment to operating safely within current industry standards and legislation. It has been created to make compliance accessible for all. The baseline accreditation helps business to know the key safety and cleanliness requirements that today’s visitor expects. Businesses can check eligibility at VisitorReady.com, upload evidence, confirm key requirements and finish the application in just 20 minutes.
Approved businesses benefit from a secure wallet for key documents, automatic reminders when documents need to be renewed, and a digital badge for their marketing channels. Earning the Visitor Ready badge represents a commitment to compliance with core standards, to assure customers they have the necessary checks in place. It means consumers can now visit with confidence.
"As leaders in accreditation, inclusivity is key for us," said Simon Numphud FIH, Managing Director at AA Media. "The Visitor Ready scheme represents a shift in how we approach accreditation. It’s free to industry and extends the scheme's reach across the UK’s hospitality, leisure, and tourism sectors. This, together with an increased flexibility in the quality assessment schemes, is just the start of our pledge to modernise the way we work”.
The wider modernisation initiative, spanning 18 months and supported by a Quality Advisory Board of prominent industry experts, revealed the existing accreditation systems can pose confusion for consumers, but there remains a strong interest in the idea of ratings.
In response, the AA and VisitEngland streamlined their quality standards into three distinct categories: Visitor Ready, Quality Assessed, and Quality Star Rated (3 to 5 stars). This simplification aims to provide enhanced clarity and understanding for businesses when deciding to be assessed, and for consumers to make an informed decision when choosing their next place to stay.
Commenting on the modernisation, Peter Hancock Independent Chair of the Quality Advisory Board said, “When VisitEngland and the AA asked me to chair their new Quality Advisory Board in 2023, I was handed two huge advantages; a very clear brief and a board made up of leading experts from each accommodation sector.
“The process has encouraged the board to consider what is important to today’s guests when staying at hotels, B&Bs, self-catering properties and everything in between - a simple and straightforward promise of quality. We reached unanimous conclusions, which we all believe will help our customers understand exactly what standards to expect when they book.”
VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said: “This modernisation puts the consumer at the centre of the schemes and follows extensive research and consultation with the industry. And the result ensures tourism businesses are supported now and in the future as they grow and boost local economies.”
The AA and VisitEngland invite all enterprises in the hospitality, leisure, and tourism sectors to join this journey towards excellence into 2024 and beyond.