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 QualAsia Formed to Provide Authoritative Organization
to Inspect and Evaluate Hotels Across Asia
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Harry Nobles Appointed Chairman
of New Asian Hotel Rating Service
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Phuket, Thailand May 27, 2004 - The Quality Authority of Asia (QualAsia) has appointed Harry Nobles as its first chairman.  QualAsia will begin rating hotels and restaurants throughout Asia in the summer of 2004, and plans to expand coverage to more than 40 countries and territories by the end of 2005.

The Quality Authority of Asia was started by Steve Barlow, a resident of Phuket, Thailand. He began forming the concept for the company in 2000.

Since 2001 Nobles has led QualAsia in establishing objective physical and service standards to bring consistency and integrity to Asian ratings.  As a part of this effort, Nobles made several trips to Asia to become familiar with the hospitality community, meet with industry and tourism officials, and to personally assess the need for a ratings program based on international standards and guests’ expectations.  His ultimate goal is to enable QualAsia to achieve the credibility enjoyed by other multinational ratings organizations.

As chairman, Nobles will also be responsible for establishing and maintaining contact with the industry.  In a recent interview, he says “…in establishing our initial standards we sought input from the industry and tourist agencies; we will continue to seek that same assistance to assure that our standards keep pace with a rapidly changing business.”

Nobles, is a former head of AAA’s Hotel & Restaurant Rating Program and was involved in the initial development and implementation of The AAA Diamond Ratings Guidelines.  Concurrent with serving as Chairman of QualAsia, Harry Nobles will remain as a principal in Optimum Rating, the consulting firm he co- founded with noted designer Cheryl Griggs in 2000.  The firm will continue to serve its clients in all matters related to design, guest service, staff training, and ratings.

Cheryl Griggs Appointed QualAsia's Director, Quality Services

A noted designer and graduate of Virginia Tech, Cheryl Griggs has been active in hospitality design for more than a decade.  She began her career as an in-house designer with Colonial Williamsburg’s historic 5-Star Inn.  Her operational experience and extensive knowledge of AAA and MOBIL ratings make her uniquely qualified to advise clients on all matters related to ratings and guest services, particularly at the 4 and 5 star level.

Ms. Griggs’ international travel and consulting experience as co-founder of Optimum Rating give her a special insight into the global hotel market.  As QualAsia’s Director, Quality Services, she will be in a excellent position to assist qualified clients throughout Asia.  Ms. Griggs’ responsibilities at QualAsia will include development and implementation of guest service training programs, workshops, and seminars.  She is also expected to play an active part in QualAsia’s public relations liaison with the hospitality and tourism industry

Since 2001, Ms. Griggs has made several trips to Asia, Mexico, and the Caribbean to become more familiar with international guests’ expectations and the potential for improvements in services and physical facilities.  She has played a key role in establishing hotel and restaurant rating standards, which QualAsia will soon introduce to the Asian hospitality industry. 

Ms. Griggs will retain her position with Optimum Rating, the multinational consulting firm she co-founded with Harry Nobles.  She will also continue as a member of National Hotel Executive Magazine’s Editorial Board. 

About QualAsia Star Ratings

AAA and Mobil rate lodging and dining establishments throughout North America; Michelin stars are well known in Europe.  What about Asia? Who rates hotels and restaurants in capital cities such as Beijing and Bangkok or in exotic locales like Bali or the Maldives? 

Simple answer: No one! There is currently no objective, authoritative organization inspecting and evaluating hospitality establishments across Asia. 

Some countries do have state agencies that rate hotels according to established national standards. While this approach does result in some consistency within the country, it does not always achieve international consistency.  A “4 Star” hotel in country X may be significantly different from a similarly rated hotel in neighboring country Y.

Far more frequently, any rating assigned to these hotels and restaurants is usually determined by the property itself or by a travel agency working on behalf of the property.  Some are accurate.  Some are inaccurate.  Many are pure fantasy.

On recent trips to Asia we have seen examples of all types.  We saw “4 Star” hotels that were in fact deserving of that rating.  We also saw “4 Star” hotels that were barely fit for human occupancy.  We spoke with many tourists about their experiences and their perception of ratings.  As one might expect, their expectations are based on their individual frame of reference. 

We spoke with tourists from the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia, most of whom have traveled extensively.  Responses confirmed the obvious: expectations are based on previous hotel experiences.  Tourists expect the same things at a 4 Star hotel in Bangkok as they find in Boston, London or Sydney.

Is it time, therefore, for a reliable, independent hotel and restaurant rating system for all of Asia that can give international travelers accurate, unbiased quality information?  At least one organization thinks it is.  Beginning in the summer of 2004, QualAsia (The Quality Authority of Asia) will rate and award quality hotels and restaurants throughout Asia.

QualAsia’s star ratings will be determined according to actual on-site evaluations by trained QualAsia assessors using a comprehensive set of physical and service standards. As with other major international rating organizations, these standards were developed with input from ratings professionals, the traveling public, and industry representatives. 

The QualAsia system was researched and designed over a three year period and is intended to bring a high degree of consistency and credibility - an absolute must for a ratings program that will be operational in major cities and visitor destinations in over 40 countries and territories across Asia by the end of 2005. 

All QualAsia rated properties will be reinspected annually to ensure continued validity of the ratings.  Ratings criteria will be regularly reviewed to assure compliance with guest expectations and industry changes. The ratings will be published extensively in travel guides, media publications and online travel portals. 

Against a backdrop of explosive tourism development and economic growth across much of Asia we firmly believe that QualAsia Star ratings will quickly generate the levels of consumer recognition and confidence enjoyed by those of other major rating organizations in the USA and Europe - and prove to be a powerful promotional tool for Asia's quality hospitality providers. 

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Contact:

Harry Nobles
Chairman
QualAsia 
(The Quality Authority of Asia)
Toll-Free Direct:  (800) 750-5666
info@optimumrating.com


 
Also See: Validity of Online Hotel Ratings / Cheryl Griggs / April 2004
Zagat's Consumer Survey Rates Amanresorts and Four Seasons Best Hotel Chains in the World; Surveyors Found Hospitality in Hotels, Resorts Outside the United States Better than Those Within the U.S. / April 2004


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