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How star ratings boost hospitality business

SX 10Tsitsi Matope

MASERU — Lesotho’s hospitality sector is still not fully aware how accommoda­tion and catering facilities could positive­ly benefit from the star-grading system launched last September.

Against this background the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) last week conducted workshops in Mas­eru, Berea, Butha-Buthe and Mafeteng to emphasise to proprietors the importance of having their facilities graded.

In an interview this week, the LTDC’s Investment Promotions Manager, Mamello Morojele, said follow-ups made after the star-grading launch showed many own­ers did not fully understand the concept of standards.

The proprietors, she further said, were also not clear when it came to grasping how the star-grading-system would posi­tively impact their businesses.
“This is why we also decided to invite some of the representatives of the six graded establishments so they could share their experiences regarding their busi­nesses before and after they were graded.”

According to Morojele, the biggest issue was the misunderstanding over the reper­cussions of failing to acquire the desired stars on businesses.
“The issue of stars is important for both improved marketing results and for the continued improvements on standards,” Morojele said.

An establishment which has been awarded one star, for example, should not use this as an excuse to slacken on ser­vices, Morojele added.

“It should be the very reason why stan­dards should continue to improve to en­sure that in future the facility’s status is further upgraded. Being a one-star es­tablishment does not also take business away but shows such facilities value stan­dards and strive to continue improving to attain additional stars.”

On the other hand, Morojele said, de­spite fear by some owners that their es­tablishments might fall far too short of the minimum requirements; many of them were ready to be graded.

“Except for a few details that need to be attended to at some facilities, a good number of them are gradable,” she said.

Establishments graded after the launch include Orion Mohale Lodge, which has three stars, Mohokare Guest House with two stars, the three-star Blue Mountain Inn, Motlejoa Guest House with a single star and Botleng Guest House which boasts three stars.
Representatives of all the graded fa­cilities commended the rating system for helping them easily market their estab­lishments to international tourists and increasing their bookings.

The Managing Director of the Maseru-based Botleng Guest House, Puleng Mc­Cathy, said the grading system has been the “icing on the cake” for her facility.
“The star-grading system has helped us make our potential visitors understand where they can place us based on the number of stars,” she said.

McCathy added that although visitors came expecting three-star treatment, they always surprised them by providing even better services.

The star-grading system, she said, has helped her understand the importance of maintaining high standards of service.

“The service you provide determines the kind of messages visitors would share with their families and friends, after­wards. For us, word-of-mouth promotions have done us good while the grading has been icing on the cake.”

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