Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Developing a Quality Assurance Scheme for the Tourist Industry: A Managerial Perspective

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Developing a Quality Assurance Scheme for the Tourist Industry: A Managerial Perspective

Article excerpt

This paper is a benchmarking exercise to establish, by comparison with established best practice, quality standards for 'home stay' accommodation provided to visitors in Taiwan. In-depth interviews were conducted with 11 owner-managers in Britain and Taiwan. The results suggest the possibility of using the quality assurance scheme practiced in the British bed-and-breakfast industry as a reference for the 'home stay' industry in Taiwan. From the findings, we argue that quality assurance grading schemes in this sector help to build trust among the public and improve the reputation of the industry. Suggestions for implementing such a scheme are discussed.

Introduction

Home stay is a 'booming' new trend in Taiwan's service industry. It provides alternative accommodation services to travelers. Home stay is rather similar to Britain's Bed & Breakfast (B&B) scheme mat has proved so successful and Japan's Misuku scheme, which offers "family style" accommodation and service. There are two main reasons to encourage such home stay operations. These include the demand for accommodation services in rural areas which do not have sufficient hotels and to provide a means for farmers to diversify into the recreational and tourist area (Huang et al, 2006). The media in Taiwan have helped to promote home stay as an alternative and desirable option for visitors to an extent that it is now a major topic of discussion in the travel industry.

Whilst home stay operations are thriving, they also present some critical problems. The government does not have an effective policy of managing home stay developments and lacks regulations and laws to control its expansion. It also has been unable to open die home stay sector to international travelers. Hence, the quality and standards of home stay operations are unpredictable for both operators and customers. Most owner-managers have their own special ways of doing things, and often make the mistake, in our opinion, of allowing guests to assume that a home stay should have the standards of service that are more often found in hotels. As a result, while home stays sometimes meet customers expectations, many customers fear that home stays are unpredictable, with them not knowing what standard and service they will receive (Chen 2006).

The B&B system is a well-known accommodation options in England, which provides stable quality and standards as measured by the England grading scheme. The quality assurance scheme has been in practice over the past 10 years. It has built the reputation and trust of the grading system (South East England Tourist Board). The B&B sector is a strength the British have to offer in terms of accommodation for visitors. According to the English Tourism Council [ETC] (2000) overseas visitors account for almost half of all B&B nights. The council argues that B&B has a strong appeal because it offers good value for money, provides contact with local people, and gives an insight into the British way of life.

It was for this reason that the grading scheme used in the British Bed and Breakfast scheme was used as a case study- and a benchmark- for Taiwan's home stay accommodation service. We argue that a suitable grading scheme will benefit home stay operators and their guests, the Taiwan's Ministry of Transportation and Communication, and will help to control and manage the quality of the home stay industry and to promote it to foreign visitors. In the present study we examine the grading scheme in the B&B system in Britain and investigate the importance of quality assurance in accommodation services from the perspectives of operators, tourist information centers, and regional tourist boards. This provides the basis of an inquiry into the appropriateness of the British quality assurance scheme, with suitable modifications, for the home stay industry in Taiwan.

Literature Review

Juran and Gryna (1993:565) argue that quality assurance provides the evidence needed to establish confidence that quality-related activities are being performed effectively. …

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