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New Classification System for Ireland’s B&Bs

Fáilte Ireland has developed their own classification system for Ireland B&Bs, using a rating of 1-5 stars, similar to what people are used to seeing for hotels and other accommodation. The following article appeared in the Irish Times on Saturday, October 2, 2010 (http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/travel/2010/1002/1224280149896.html).

New Star Scheme for B&Bs

By PAUL CULLEN Consumer Affairs Correspondent

ACCOMMODATION: FÁILTE IRELAND has begun rolling out a new classification system for B&Bs which is designed to give visitors a better idea of the quality of the accommodation they are booking.

About 400 of the country’s 2,300 approved B&Bs have so far been classified as three, four or five-star accommodation under the new system.

Previously, there was no way of distinguishing the quality of accommodation provided by individual B&Bs, apart from the crude distinction provided by a scheme for approving certain establishments, who were then able to display a sign carrying the distinctive green shamrock logo.

The new classification is based on factors such as the standard of the property, the welcome provided for guests and the quality of the food, according to Helena Healy, managing director of Bed and Breakfast Ireland. “The idea is that people will have a better idea of what to expect before they book,” she says.

So far, 100 of Healy’s 1,100 members have been classified. Three were awarded five stars, 53 gained four stars and the balance received three stars. Prerequisite for getting five stars include a high standard of accommodation, though not necessarily modern, quality decor, the use of locally produced ingredients and that clincher – real orange juice.

Healy believes five and four-star B&Bs will eventually seek to differentiate themselves by charging higher prices, though she admits this won’t be possible in the current economic climate. The average price currently stands at about €30-€35 per person sharing for a night’s stay.

The B&B sector has suffered badly in recent years from intense competition from budget hotels and changing consumer preferences. The new classification scheme was borne out of concerns over the falling number of approved homes and the continuing loss of market share to the hotel sector.

Healy says budget hotels are still “crucifying” her members but adds that the second half of the summer season went very well this year. The main beneficiaries were B&Bs in the traditional tourist hot spots, but areas such as the midlands and the northwest continued to suffer. While domestic tourists have largely switched to hotels, the overseas visitor still prefers B&B stays as a way of experiencing Ireland, she says.

A further scheme categorising B&Bs according to their specialisation is due to be launched shortly.

This will operate under the areas of outdoor activities, farm stays, food specialists and eco- and pet-friendliness.

This new categorisation scheme developed by Fáilte Ireland is due to be launched in the coming months.

The scheme will initially operate under the four core areas of outdoor activities (including golf, walking, cycling, horse riding, angling, surfing, adventure and wildlife); farm stay; food specialist; and eco-friendly. Pet-friendly, currently under development, will also be launched later this year.

We have heard concern on the part of some B&B proprietors that the Fáilte Ireland star scheme matrix does not compare with the system already in place from AA Ireland and that it’s more difficult to get a 3- or 4-star rating from FI than it is from AA. Also, in order to take part in the new specialization classification scheme, a property must pay their application fee and receive at least a 3-star rating before they would be allowed to display the designation sign for their specialization.

If you’d like to review the standards matrix that Fáilte Ireland has developed to rate B&Bs, or if you’d like to get more information about the new specialization designations, visit the Fáilte Ireland website at  http://failteireland.ie/bedandbreakfasts#Classification_scheme.

Our main concern is that there may not be a need for this new classification system, and in the end, it may prove more confusing for the traveler when choosing accommodation to have more than one rating system in place. But the program is so new at this point, we will just wait and revisit the issue after the program has been in place for a while.

Our hope is that the new classification system will provide travelers will more good information to help them make more informed choices about which accommodation is right for them.

Posted 7 years, 4 months ago at 7:55 am.

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