Quality assurance in the hospitality industry

(GA 2012)

A  –   Part One :

General Principles for Quality Assurance and Culture in the Hospitality Industry (Hotels)

Quality assurance can only be implemented effectively in properties who have support from the top, have adequate resources, and have an effective Quality Committee and training department.

To be valid, quality must be able to be measured. To be measured, quality must have a valid working definition, defined standards and be monitored at all times for continuous consistency.

Quality is a function of conformance to defined standards. Standards and quality may be good or bad, the difference is a function of ethics and of discipline.

Organization programmes and standards are normally available but excellent quality implementation will really start only when the company leader and General Manager demand it. Management by dictate will produce results in the short run, but to achieve excellent quality is a long and continuous process.

Group decisions are always better than individual decisions, if the group has true consensus. Without a strong leader, groups are ineffective vehicles for achieving organizational objectives. Therefore, the appointment of an efficient Quality Assurance Director and Committee is of the outmost importance.

The role of the Quality Assurance Committee is to solve problems, but the true essence of quality is not only “solving” problems, but preventing them in the first place.

It is impossible to calculate the cost of errors, as this industry is too labour intensive. Hospitality is a very subjective process. So too is the process of costing hospitality errors.

Excellent quality occurs when guests/customers complete their interaction without any errors having occurred with the hotel and customers expectations are expected.

In the service industry, quality assurance is simply a matter of having employees take ownership on following the rules set in order to comply with the brand requirements. Forced adoption is the fastest way to compliance, however it is also the fastest route to discontinuance. There should be proper, clear process and measurable standards to follow at all times.

Recent Customer Survey Results (Hotels)

Repeated shortfalls in consumer perception:

  • Slow check-in and check-out process (i.e. Inquisition on mini bar consumption on check out)
  • No record of reservation, no recognition
  • Poor value – higher expectation
  • Confusing room rates posted on the web
  • Uncomfortable bedding & quality of linen
  • Complicated internet connection & technology and charges for service (WI-FI)
  • Poor acoustics, interior & exterior noises
  • Noisy and uncontrollable air conditioning/heating
  • Poor cleanliness of room & bathroom
  • Tired facilities – poor maintenance
  • Small gym, old exercising machines, inadequate pool
  • Limited in-room entertainment
  • Unfriendly employees
  • Poor shower pressure and drainage
  • Less than average food in the hotel restaurant(s) and room service
  • Poor lighting (working desk, bathroom, reading lights)
  • Control of curtains and total black-out

Key Customer expectations (Recent Survey):

  • A reliable brand/hotel with good facilities and services
  • A comfortable room with good acoustics and controllable temperature
  • A good quality sleep, bedding, linen, well-equipped bathroom and strong shower
  • WI-FI; smooth connectivity, superfast, uninterrupted access in all areas and FREE
  • Cutting-edge technology & entertainment
  • Recognition; remember me, give me what I need, when I need it
  • Good location with easy access
  • Cleanliness, efficiency, well-trained and knowledgeable staff
  • Safety & Security at all times
  • A good/quality breakfast
  • Value perception

The Quality Assurance Committee has to take all the above when planning their role /processes, with the objective of achieving measurable consistency of all standards, at all times.

Quality Assurance Committee Policy & Objective

Objective is always to be a customer-driven organization. All the operational standards,processes and measurements revolve around continuous improvements, total customer satisfaction, repeat business, customer retention and market position.

To facilitate this, a quality culture must be created within the entire management team of each hotel which must establish a Quality Assurance Committee to assure development and compliance with all set standards and good practices at all times.

The Quality Assurance Committee is to be headed by a strong/qualified leader, assisted by Committee members within the hotel which is fully supported by the company/owner and the General Manager.


  • Obtain the company/owner’s commitment and support
  • Appoint a qualified and committed Quality Assurance Director within the hotel
  • Appoint Quality Assurance Committee members
  • Set objectives and measurable standards
  • Allocate adequate funds and timing.
  1. Characteristics of a successful Quality Assurance Director:
  • Someone who wants the position and the responsibility
  • who is able to devote at least one day per week devoted to quality assurance
  • who has the respect of his/her peers
  • who is upwardly mobile
  • who is politically astute
  • who has administrative skills
  1. Characteristics of a successful Quality Assurance Committee member:
  • Should be a Division Head (minimum) or higher
  • Should be willing to devote the necessary time
  • Can accept constructive criticism and productive change
  • Has diverse skills
  1. Topics to be covered in an applicable quality assurance statement and process (by the company):
  • Complete measurable standards in writing at every level
  • Training for all in the implementation of standards
  • Total commitment to measuring performance
  • Commitment of time and money to the QA programme
  • Support for the Director and Committee

Quality assurance begins when meaningful and measurable standards have been created for all areas of the operation. Excellence is not achieved by writing standards, it is achieved by implementing them effectively at every level in line with company and brand needs and expectations.

Quality and excellence is a top-down, continuous process and thus standards will apply to every level of the organization.

Training is everybody’s responsibility. Even the newest employee who is nottrained will, by example, train others to perform improperly. The quality assurance programme demands continuous supervision and periodically raising the “BAR” in order to be ahead of the game.

Typical Reasons for Errors

  • Employees have not been trained to know what standards are expected of them.
  • Employees have been trained, but they have not been given the proper tools to meet the required standards.
  • Employees have been properly trained and equipped, but they are not dedicated and do not care, because no one else is dedicated or seems to care about them.

Tests for Ethics and Morality

  • Are the standards fair?
  • Are the standards legal?
  • Do the standards hurt anyone?
  • Have we been honest with those affected by the standards?
  • Are the standards set recognized?
  • Will the organization prosper with the standard set?
  • How it compares to the competitive set?

Ways to rationalise unethical behaviour and excuses

  • It is not really “very wrong”
  • We are in business to make profit and that’s the bottom line
  • It really does not hurt anyone
  • If I don’t do it, I will suffer or lose my job
  • Everybody else is doing it, so I will too
  • If I don’t do it, I’ll have far greater problems than if I do
  • Who will ever know?
  • I am leaving the organization soon and don’t care

All of the above are guides to the Quality Assurance Committee members and to the General Manager on setting a strong quality culture in the hotel.

B  –  Part Two :

Proposed Measurable criteria on establishing Quality Management

The core value and concepts can be embodied in seven criteria categories (HKMA) :

This specific measurement process is highly recommended for new hotels/organizations who are in process of opening for business and/or for operating hotels/organizations who plans to do a major evaluation/re-engineering of their operations with objective of achieving better superior performance and better financial results.

  1. Leadership

Leadership addresses how the senior leaders’ actions guide and sustain the organization, setting organizational vision, values, and performance expectations. Attention is given to how the senior leaders communicate with the workforce, enhance their leadership skills, participate in organizational learning an develop future leaders, create a focus on action, and establish an environment that encourages ethical behavior and high performance. The category also includes the organization’s governance system and how the organization fulfills its legal, ethical, and societal responsibilities and supports its key communities.

  1. Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning addresses strategic and action planning, implementation of plans, how adequate resources are ensured to accomplish the plans, how accomplishments are measured and sustained, and how plans are changed if circumstances require a change. The category stresses that long-term organizational sustainability and the competitive environment are key strategic issues that need to be integral parts of the organization’s overall planning. Decisions about the organizational core competencies are an integral part of organizational sustainability and therefore are key strategic decisions.

While many organizations are increasingly adept at strategic planning, plan execution is still a significant challenge. This is especially true given market demands to be agile and to be prepared for unexpected change, such as volatile economic conditions or disruptive/new technologies that can upset an otherwise fast-paced but more predictable marketplace. This category highlights the need to place a focus not only on developing the plans, but also on the capability to execute them and respond to any situations.

  1. Customer Focus

Customer Focus addresses how the organization seeks to engage the customers, with a focus on listening to and supporting customers, determining their satisfaction, offering the right products, and building relationships that result in loyalty through customers’ investment in the brand and product offerings. The category stresses customer engagement as an important outcome of an overall learning and performance excellence strategy. The customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction results provide vital information for understanding the customers, the marketplace and source of business. In many cases, the voice of the customer provides meaningful information not only on the customers’ views but also on their marketplace behaviors and how these views and behaviors may contribute to the sustain-ability of the organization in the marketplace.

  1. Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management

The Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management category is the main point within the Criteria for all key information about effectively measuring, analyzing, and improving performance and managing organizational knowledge to drive improvement and organizational competitiveness. In the simplest terms, category 4 is the “brain center” for the alignment of the organization’s operations with its strategic objectives. Central to such use of data and information are their quality and availability. Furthermore, since information, analysis, and knowledge management might themselves be primary sources of competitive advantage and productivity growth, this category also includes such strategic considerations.

  1. Workforce Focus

Workforce Focus addresses key workforce practices – those directed toward creating and maintaining a high-performance work environment and toward engaging the workforce to enable it and the organization to adapt to change and to succeed. The category covers the capability and capacity needs and the workforce support climate. The workforce focus includes workforce engagement, development, and management, which should be addressed in an integrated, way (i.e., aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives and action plans).

To reinforce the basic alignment of workforce management with overall strategy, the Criteria also cover human resource or workforce planning as part of overall planning in the Strategic Planning category (category 2).

  1. Operations Focus

Operations Focus addresses how the work of the organization is accomplished. It examines how the organization designs, manages, and improves its key work processes and the work systems of which they are a part. It stresses the importance of the core competencies and how to protect and capitalize on them for success and organizational sustainability. It calls specific attention to the need to prepare for potential emergencies and to ensure continuity of operations.

Efficient and effective work systems require effective design; a prevention orientation; and linkage to customers, suppliers, partners, and collaborations, as well as a focus on value creation for all key stakeholders; operational performance improvement; cycle time reduction; emergency readiness; and evaluation, continuous improvement, innovation, and organizational learning.

Work systems must also be designed in a way that allows the organization to be agile. In the simplest terms, “agility” refers to the ability to adapt quickly, flexibly, and effectively to changing requirements & trends. Depending on the nature of the organization’s strategy and markets, agility might mean rapid change from one product to another, rapid response to changing demands or market conditions, or the ability to produce a wide range of customized products & services. Agility also increasingly involves decisions to outsource, agreements with key suppliers, and novel partnering arrangements (win-win situations).

Cost and cycle time reduction may be achieved through Lean process management strategies. Defect reduction and improved product yield require strict compliance with company’s standards. It is crucial to utilize key measures for tracking all aspects of the operations management (revenue-quality-cost).

  1. Results

The Results category provides a results focus that encompasses the objective evaluation and the customers’ evaluation of the organization’s product offerings, as well as the evaluation of key processes and process improvement activities; the customer-focused results; the workforce results; the governance, leadership system, and societal responsibility results; and the overall financial and market performance. Through this focus, the Criteria’s purposes – superior value of offerings as viewed by the customers and the marketplace; superior organizational performance as reflected in the operational, workforce, legal, ethical, societal, and financial indicators; and organizational and personal learning – are maintained. Category 7 thus provides “real-time” information (measures of progress) for evaluation and improvement of processes and products, in alignment with the overall organizational strategy. And for analysis and review of results data and information to determine the overall organizational performance and to set priorities for improvement.

Evaluation of the Quality Assurance Director & Committee and Scoring

1.Does the Quality Assurance Director & Committee ensure that activities are based on real business and individual need?15  …………………
2.Can the Quality Assurance Director & Committee design activities that work well with all stakeholders to deliver real results back in the workplace?15  …………………
3.Is the Quality Assurance Director & Committee actively engaged in the business in personally designing and delivering quality?15  …………………
4.Is the Quality Assurance Director & Committee flexible enough to balance the needs of different functions and the overall objectives set?20  …………………
5.Can the Quality Assurance Director & Committee determine the success of the programme at the individual, job and business impact levels?15  …………………
6.Overall, can the Quality Assurance Director & Committee impact individual performance to meet business challenges, and go beyond the classroom to develop organizational capabilities, and even beyond the company to contribute to the development of people and company’s results?20  …………………
Total:100          …………………

Evaluation of the Quality Assurance Programme and Scoring

1 –Programme Objectives :15  ………………
 1.1The programme addresses all key business/ organizational challenges related to quality.    
 1.2The programme considered the people performance and development required to enhance the overall product and business results.  
2 –Design and Implementation :20  ………………
 2.1Effectiveness of the approach. The design of the programme was cost-effective and relevant to the achievement of the quality objectives.  
 2.2The programme addresses all services provided to the customers and it involves all functions.   ………………
3 –Stakeholder Engagement :20  ………………
 3.1Relevant stakeholders (i.e. top management, line manager and all supporting people) are involved and appropriately engaged in the delivery and post intervention stages.  
 3.2All stakeholders properly trained on the importance of quality and of delivery.   ………………
4 –Degree of Innovation :15  ………………
  The programme is innovative in its concept, design, implementation, reinforcement and measurement.  
5 –Measurement and Outcomes :30  ………………
 5.1The programme implementation in a cost effective manner.  
 5.2The measurement process is rigorous and reliable.  
 5.3The programme is achieving the stated business objectives.  
 5.4The programme is demonstrating sustainable outcomes.      
   100  ………………