VisitBritain, the national tourism agency is launching its National Spa Accreditation Scheme at the Professional Spa Show in London. The scheme marks a landmark for the English spa industry as, for the first time, a benchmark will be set for standards in customer satisfaction. The scheme provides consumers with reassurance and confidence that participating spas have met minimum standards for health and safety, cleanliness and service and that they are committed to improving quality.
The scheme, supported by the Spa Business Association and the British International Spa Association, follows extensive qualitative consumer research with focus groups of spa clients across the country and in depth interviews with clients in spas. The findings showed that going to a spa was seen as a ‘luxury experience’ and therefore a star-rating scheme would not be appropriate. Consumers welcomed the idea of an accreditation scheme.
Since March 2006, 17 spas across the country have been participating in a pilot of the scheme. Praising the scheme, they cited value for money, constructive and helpful feedback, detailed reports and the mystery shopper service as particular highlights.
Alison Barham, Quality Manager at VisitBritain said:
“I am delighted that we are launching the VisitBritain Spa Accreditation Scheme following extensive and productive consultation with both industry and consumers. Defining and maintaining standards is crucial to the future development of English ‘health and wellness’ tourism. We will continue to work closely with the spa industry, the British International Spa Association and the Spa Business Association to encourage properties to participate in the scheme.”
Designators have been developed to help consumers understand the different types of spa available and operators can choose which type they apply for and are measured against. The designators are Day Spa, Hotel Spa, Salon Spa, Sport and Fitness Spa, Natural Spa, Destination Spa, Resort Spa and Medi-Spa. Spas who outperform will be awarded Gold accolades at the end of the year to set them ahead of competitors.
Benefits to participants include full assessment with verbal and written feedback, entry on VisitBritain.com and Enjoyengland.com, unlimited use of the accreditation rating in all promotional activity, signage and promotion via VisitBritain marketing and PR campaigns.
Center Parcs is the first group to sign up to the Spa Accreditation Scheme. Don Camilleri Director of Development and Engineering, Center Parcs said:
“Center Parcs is one of the founder members of the Spa Accreditation scheme and is proud to have been involved since its inception. We have always recognised the importance of the scheme for the UK spa industry and we are convinced it will help to drive up spa standards in the UK”.