The Caterer
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Grades allow individuality…

05 October 2006

I would challenge Mr Robson to provide the evidence that "grading promotes uniformity" (Caterer, 28 September, page 20). Grading is about benchmarking customer expectation and assisting hoteliers to meet those expectations in whatever way suits them. Furthermore, extensive customer research underpins the grading schemes.

In Wales we have several hundred three-star hotels, and there will be many more in England and Scotland. The vast majority of these hotels will be non-corporate, privately owned and managed. As a result they will not be uniform. They will still be three-star, however, but reflect the style and imagination of their owners. I guarantee they will all be different in style.

No doubt Mr Robson is more used to experiencing life in the large corporate chains, which, admittedly, seem to want to develop a distinct corporate style or brand identity. Nothing wrong in that, of course. So, Mr Robson, please do not confuse the desire of a corporate's board to create a uniform product with the aspirations of a UK grading scheme that allows owners freedom of action to deliver a product in their own inimitable style.

Chris Coleman

Head of quality assurance, Visit Wales, Cardiff

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