Monday, June 21, 2010

Qualmark To Extract Enviro Criteria

We see that Qualmark NZ Ltd has sent an email to its licence holders and general media outlets detailing in corporate speak that they are about to "streamline some of its processes" (See the link below).

So what does this mean?

Quite simply it means that the money has run out and finally Qualmark have been forced to tailor their be more like a business.

On the face of it, the changes must be seen as necessary and positive.

The streamlining of Qualmark's operations started in April this year when CEO, Geoff Penrose was issued with a DCM (Don't come Monday). David Wilks, General Manager with Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) has taken over responsibilities for Qualmark's operations at arms length.

Geoff Penrose will probably be most remembered for being at the helm when Qualmark inserted a fashionable and politically correct environmental criteria into their quality assessment under the maternal eye of the previous government. This means that accommodation businesses were assessed on their allegiance to environmental and social mantra as part of their quality assessment process. 

This embedded criteria meant that an accommodation property had the opportunity to maintain or in some circumstances, increase their quality star rating due to their environmental and social efforts.

We understand that the environmental criteria is about to be extracted from the quality assessment and be offered as a stand alone assessment. Token minimum environmental standards will remain within the quality assessment.

This blog has long since rallied against embedding a compulsory, prescriptive environmental criteria into an accommodation quality benchmarking assessment system. We are pleased to see that Qualmark has at last heeded our advice and is about to tone down and separate its environmental evangelism as part of the streamlining process.

Those special accommodation providers that still wish to grandstand their environmental and social concerns can still be awarded a separate Qualmark Green enviro-rating, however this will now be offered as an optional assessment and will be charged a new separate fee. We speculate that the quality assessment fee will also be increased.

This is a huge shift in attitude by Qualmark that will now allow the market to determine the true value of its controversial  environmental program. Now that Qualmark licence holders have to pay for an enviro-rating, it will be interesting to see if the landscape will start to be de-cluttered of the insidious enviro-green accreditation branding.

So what are the other changes?

As Qualmark will be run remotely from Tourism New Zealand, the vacant CEO position has been made redundant and will be replaced with a "General Manager" that will have little discretion and will perform the function of an office manager. There is no doubt other "back office" functions will also move over to TNZ and this will have an immediate positive effect on Qualmark's efficiencies and financial outgoings. 

We suspect that Qualmark will be moving out of their offices just off Queen Street in Auckland into a more modest abode, possibly camping within existing Tourism New Zealand office space.

As is usual with any major corporate shake-up there will be a customary change in branding and it is planed to give greater prominence to the stars. For motels, Qualmark will finally drop the contentious "Service and Self-contained" moniker and the sector will be branded as "Motels."

The assessment process is to be streamlined, however there is not too much detail has been released on how this will be achieved at this stage. We do know that properties that choose to be assessed for a Qualmark Green enviro rating will now be able to be assessed and graded on the spot.

We see that Qualmark's Shareholders, Tourism NZ and the Automobile Association have "renewed their support" so funding streams at least in the short term have been agreed.

It will be interesting to follow what savings and efficiencies Qualmark will achieve? How will the motel industry react to the changes? And what future public funding it will take to sustain Qualmark?

For Qualmark's press release: Click HERE

Click the "Get Widget" link below to place this widget on your website or blog!