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011-0426

The Diffusion of Standardised Quality Management in Hotel Industry in Spain

Maria del Mar Alonso Almeida

Autonomous University of Madrid

mar.alonso@uam.es

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Faculty of Economics

Módulo E-VIII Despacho 313

2804 Madrid (Spain)

Martí Casadesus Fá

marti.casadesus@udg.es

High Polytechnic School

University of Girona

Avda Lluis Santaló s/n

17071 Girona (Spain)

Frederic Marimon

Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

fmarimon@cir.uic.es

International University of Catalonia

Faculty of Economics

C/ Inmaculada, 22

08017 Barcelona (Spain)

POMS 20th Annual Conference

Orlando, Florida U.S.A.

May 1 to May 4, 2009

Abstract

The implementation of quality management systems (QMSs) has become common in this

tourism industry. A forerunner in this development has been the Spanish tourist sector, in

which 17 specific quality-management standards have been developed over several years in

various tourist sub-sectors, including hotels, rural accommodation, restaurants, spas, and travel

agencies. The present study, which is exploratory in nature, analyses the diffusion of hotel

standard using a model that has been well attested in the specialised literature. The study

concludes that the standardisation of quality management in hotels will increase in coming

years. The worldwide diffusion of international standards in many service sectors and the

findings of the present study with respect to the increasing implementation of the Spanish

standards provide an indication of what is likely to happen in the service sector as a whole in

most countries.

Keywords: quality management; standardisation; quality diffusion; QMS; hotels.

INTRODUCTION

Since the last decade, tourism has the need for differentiation strategies and quality. These strategies

were incorporated in industrial companies, such as the automobile industry and the services sector,

such as banking or management consultancy, to compete in a new scene marked by profound

changes in both supply and demand (Alonso Almeida et al, 2006).

Faced with this situation is created in the first half of the 90´s Tourism quality Plans, with the

passage of time, evolved to become, starting in 1996, at the Spanish Tourism Quality System

(STQS),

whose

methodology

is

owned

of

the

General

Secretariat

of

Tourism

from

Spain.

The bet for the quality as key feature of the Spanish tourism policy embodied in the Comprehensive

Plan

for

Quality

Tourism

Spanish

2000-2006

(PICTE),

developed

by

the

Spanish

Tourism

Administration. That plan is based on 10 programs, including one specifically refer to the quality in

the business. It is currently being developed from the Administration, with the help of the industry

and the social partners Tourism, the Plan Tourism 2020 with the objective to achieve the Spanish

Tourist System was the most competitive and sustainable in the world (Alonso Almeida, 2008).

At the beginning of the nineties, tourist enterprises in some countries began to notice that the

competitive advantages on which their businesses were run, and which had converted the tourist

sector into a reference, were being considerably reduced. Price competition, as a traditional strategy

of many tourist companies, was shown with time to be an impossible, unsustainable alternative,

especially in the presence of a setting characterized by its great competitiveness and rivalry (both at a

company and destination level), the sudden emergence of new tourist destinations, the globalization

of the sector, and the important influence of political, economic, social, environmental and

technological factors (Camisón, 2007; Macleod, 2004).

Moreover, in the last twenty years, consumer habits have undergone important changes (Tribe, 1999;

Esteve, 2001; González and Bello, 2002). The search for free time, travel for leisure and short

holiday breaks throughout the year, have become generalized, thanks to, among other factors, the

popularizing of certain means of air transport and, in particular, to the proliferation of low cost

companies, or to the emergence of more economical tourist destinations (Alonso et al, 2006; Talón et

al., 2007).On the other hand, today’s tourist places increasingly greater value on his/her money, has

greater experience, and is more demanding in the provision of an individualized, flexible, quality

service (Figuerola, 2006; Trunfin et al., 2006). To all the aforementioned, it must be added that there

is greater environmental awareness, and a growing concern for climatic change (Nicholls, 2004; Hall

and Higham, 2005).

As a consequence, the Tourism sector has seen the need to adopt differentiation and quality

strategies, already incorporated in industrial companies, such as the automotive industry, and the

service sector, such as banks, or the hospital sector, in order to compete in a new setting marked by

great changes, both in offer and demand. A myriad of empirical studies have appeared in the last few

years, analysing quality in different tourist sub-sectors, such as, for example, in rural accommodation

(Reichel et al, 2000; Albacete et al, 2007), hotels (Sharpley et al, 2003; Tsaur and Yin-Chun Lin,

2004; Briggs et al, 2007), or in tourist destinations in general (Graefe and Vaske, 1987; Wall, 1995;

Go and Govers, 2000).

Nonetheless, all of them have been focused on assessing customer satisfaction, or implementing

models for Total Quality Management, but none of them has focused on an innovating aspect in the

sector: quality assurance by implementing standardized quality management systems to do so.

This research, of an exploratory nature as it is the first study of these characteristics, will analyse

how the diffusion of these standards has taken place in tourist enterprises, specifically in the hotel

industry, with the aim of gauging their real impact and forecasting their future importance.

SPANISH TOURISM QUALITY SYSTEMS (STQS)

Since their deployment in 1996, the STQS has had two basic objectives:

1.

Equipping

Spanish

tourism

companies

of

a

common

methodology

to

establish

a

management system and improving the quality that allows companies to maintain and

improve its competitive position.

2. Supporting institutionally Quality Mark. Q is a Spanish brand recognition of quality.

The system is based on four components:

• Some quality standards for each subsector tourist specific standards that define processes

and services and the quality system requirements.

• A system where an independent third party certification ensures that companies fulfil the

standards.

• The quality mark Q.

• An agency manager, the Institute for Spanish Tourism Quality (ICTE), which promotes the

application

of

the

system

and

ensures

compliance,

development

and

dissemination

The ICTE since its establishment in 2000 born with a mission to strengthen the STQS and the

credibility and reach of the mark of quality tourism Spanish Q. At present, the ICTE has

published 17 different quality standards for tourism companies, six of which have been

transformed into UNE Rules, which gives greater recognition in the national territory (see

Table 1: Tourist quality standards in Spain

Original Standards

Corresponding standard (nationwide)

Quality standard for Travel Agencies.

UNE 189001:2006

Quality standard for Small-sized Tourist Accommodation.

 

Quality Standard for Tourist Coach Companies.

 

Quality Standard for Spas.

 

Quality Standard for Camp Sites and Holiday Resorts.

UNE184001:2007

Quality Standard for Golf Courses.

UNE 188001:2008

Quality Standard for Rural Accommodation.

UNE183001:2006

Quality Standard for Convention Bureaux.

 

Quality Standard for Rural, Protected Spaces.

 

Quality standard for Ski and Mountain Resorts.

UNE 188002:2006

Quality standard for Hotels and Tourist Apartments.

UNE 182001:2005 updated in 2008

Quality Standard for Tourist Information.

 

Quality Standard for Supranational Tourist Information Offices.

 

Quality Standard for Convention Centres.

 

Quality Standard for Beaches.

 

Quality Standard for Restaurants.

UNE 167000:2006 and from UNE 167001 to UNE 67011

Quality Standard for Time Share Companies.

 

Source:(Casadesus et al, 2009).

EVOLUTION OF THE Q CERTIFICATION

At end of 2007 over 2,117 companies are certified by the mark Q (see Figure 1).

As can be seen in Figure 1, the distribution of certification is dominated by travel agents (1,164),

representing 55% of the total number of registered companies and hotels (445) 21% of certified

companies. Then there are an amount well below the lodgings (179), catering (104) and the beaches

(59). In other subsectors tourist certificates present some very low numbers. There is not any firm

time-sharing, or any golf course certificated, at present.

Figure 1. Companies certified with the Q in 2007.

AUTOCARES 3 PLAYAS 59 PAL CONGRESOS 5 6 OFI SUPRA 16 ESP.NATURALES 19 BALNEARIOS 32
AUTOCARES
3
PLAYAS
59
PAL CONGRESOS
5
6
OFI SUPRA
16
ESP.NATURALES
19
BALNEARIOS
32
OFI INFO.TUR
6
1
CONVENTION BUREAUX
104
RESTAURACION
18
179
CAMPINGS
1164
ALOJ.RURAL
49
AAVV
12
ALOJ.PEQ.DIMENSIONES
445
EST.ESQUI
HOTELES Y APART. TUR.
0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
Source: Calculations based on data from ICTE (2007)

As can be seen in Figure 2, in 2004 there has been a considerable increase in the number of firms

that have been certified with the regulations Q, thanks to the support of the administration and the

campaigns both nationally and internationally, training sector and, in 2007, the creation of a

directory of certified firms and an information manual on certification.

Figure 2. Q Certification per year and cumulative.

763 800 700 1998 1999 546 600 2000 2001 500 2002 400 2003 2004 300
763
800
700
1998
1999
546
600
2000
2001
500
2002
400
2003
2004
300
209
2005
172
2006
200
129
112
90
2007
100
46
36
14
0
2005 172 2006 200 129 112 90 2007 100 46 36 14 0 2500 2000 1500
2500 2000 1500 1000 763 546 500 209 172 112 129 90 46 14 36
2500
2000
1500
1000
763
546
500
209
172
112
129
90
46
14
36
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Source: Calculations based on data from ICTE (2007).

Although since 2004 certification of tourism enterprises with the trademark Q has increased

considerably, it is still inadequate given the number of tourist establishments in Spain and the weight

that the tourism sector has in the Spanish economy. The conversion of the regulations Q rule UNE

brings benefits to both companies and certified as those who wish to do so, since it allows the choice

of auditor; renewal of the certification is done, in line with other UNE regulations, every three years,

instead of every two, expands the number of trained professionals to carry out the work necessary to

obtain certification and helps make it more transparent and uniform the process of auditing and

certification.

Spain has been marked as a goal to lead the international certification in the tourism sector from his

experience in the field Spanish. For this part of the committee ISO / TC 228 "Tourism and related

services", which is within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), in order to

develop quality standards for activities and services in the tourism sector. The Secretariat of the

Committee

is

held

by

Spain

through

AENOR,

as

Spanish

Agency

for

Standardization,

his

counterpart association in Tunisia. The presidency is also Spanish, and the Spanish delegation is

represented by the General Secretariat of Tourism and the business sector (Rodriguez Antón et al.,

2008).

THE Q STANDARD FOR HOTELS

The adaptation of the Q standard to the specifics sectors has allowed establishing guidelines in

blocks that correspond to each unit service for each touristic establishment. For each block, the norm

requires to establish the action and control responsibilities, the conditions and requirements that have

to be fulfilled by the service, the process and system management specifications, and lately the

internal control activities that have to be conducted by the responsible of service to be able to know

the service level provided to the customers in each moment and to be able to introduce the pertinent

improvements (Camisón et al., 2006). An example of the norm scheme for Hotels and apartments is

Figure 3. Q norm scheme for Hotels and apartments

SELF ASSESMENT

Compulsory variables immediately Compulsory variables Mid term compulsory variables or complementary variables

Responsibilities

Control system

Requirements:


Control system Requirements: • • • Management Reception Cleanness Restaurant

Management

Reception

Cleanness

Restaurant

Entertainment

Maintenance

Purchasing and inventory system

Special events

General reules: HOTELS
General reules: HOTELS
EXTERNAL ASSESMENT
EXTERNAL ASSESMENT
Continuous improving
Continuous improving

Source: In-house compilation.

It is interesting to note that the requirements that the norms establish are of three types: compulsory

variables to be fulfilled immediately, compulsory variables and variables in order to be fulfilled in

the midterm or complementary variables. This division in these three types is something that

differentiate this norm form other quality standards.

The norm establishes two mechanisms to assess the requirement fulfilment level: the self assessment

and the extern audit. The self assessment works in a similar way that the model EFQM does. It

consists in a questionnaire that the managers use to check the adaptation of facilities, equipments,

services and management of the touristic establishment comparing to the norm. It provides a view of

the actual situation comparing to the quality variables demanded by the norm and it allows to the

managers to seek for improvement areas. The external audit, by the other hand, is held by a third

independent part following a regulated procedure, in the same way that is performed in other quality

standards as ISO, that allows the concession of a seal of quality and to maintain it.

According to Camisón et al. (2006), the compulsory variables to be fulfilled immediately are those

considered indispensable in a quality service, thus they are basic necessities for the costumer. The

failure to comply these variables at the external audit moment implies the impossibility to attain the

certification and consequently the concession of the Q standard. On the other hand, the compulsory

variables are those that give the minimum level that the company must accomplish and its failure

may prevent the concession of the brand; or whether it is conceded, the company will have to attain

this minimum level before the deadline proposed by the certification committee. Finally, the

variables in order to be fulfilled in the midterm are those that its failure accomplishment in the audit

does not prevent the company from getting the quality seal, neither it is required its accomplishment

in a compulsory way in an improvement plan to attain the minimum level before a deadline.

Nevertheless, it will be necessary to accomplish the minimum level for the renewal of the

certification.

EMPIRICAL STUDY

The literature on the dissemination of management tools and systems is extensive (Rogers, 1995;

Teece, 1980). From these studies, it is apparent that the accumulative adoption of innovations over

time can, in general terms, be said to follow a sigmoid curve.ne This sigmoid curve reflects: (i) few

organisations adopting an innovation during its early stages (and hence a relatively ‘flat’ adoption

curve in the initial stages); (ii) the rate of adoption then rising (and hence a steep rise in the curve);

and (iii) the adoption process reaching a saturation point (with another ‘flattening’ in the curve of the

adoption rate). Such a sigmoid curve is seen in the adoption of many innovations; for example,

Stoneman (1995) claimed that this model provides a good description of the diffusion of new

technologies.

Some studies of the dissemination of ISO quality standards have been reported in the academic

literature. Corbett and Kirsch (2001, 2004) and Vastag (2004) proposed a regression model to

explain the number of ISO 14000 certificates in a given country on the basis of: (i) its exporting

capacity; (ii) its degree of commitment to the environment; and (iii) the number of ISO 9000

certificates issued in that country. The authors concluded that the number of ISO 9000 certificates in

a given country is one of the factors explaining the number of ISO 14000 certificates issued in the

same country; however, they did not specify how such a dissemination occurs, and nor did they

present

an

analysis

of

the

effect

of

different

sectors

acknowledged would be of interest).

on

dissemination

(which

the

authors

In another study of the dissemination of quality standards, Franceschini et al. (2004) established that

the logistic curve (or ‘S-curve’) explains the dissemination of the ISO 9000. Such a logistic curve

model was first applied in the nineteenth century by the Belgian mathematician Verhulst to account

for the growth of a biological species. According to this model, the growth rate of a species is at its

exponential maximum in the initial stages when there are few individuals to compete for limited

resources, but later slows to zero when a certain saturation of available resources is reached. As

applied to the growth in ISO certificates, the model is explained by the following expression:

N =

N K

0

(

K

N

0

)

e

r t

0

+

N

0

in

which:

N

represents the number of certificates (as a function of time);

N 0 represents the number of certificates at the starting point;

K is the maximum level that can be reached (the saturation level);

r 0 is the initial growth rate; and

t is the independent variable time.

On the basis of the above work, Marimon et al. (2006) perceived that the logistic model might also

be applicable to the dissemination of the ISO 14000 standard. They showed that the increase in the

number of certificates for both the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 standards was proportional to the

number of existing certificates at a given time, and that the dissemination in different sectors was

rather similar. These findings were in accordance with those of Corbett and Kirsch (2001, 2004) and

Vastag (2004), who had already noted that the number of new ISO 14000 certificates in a certain

country is related to the number of ISO 9000 certificates.

Casadeus et al. (2008) applied the logistic model to prevailing data to obtain a forecast of the ISO

14000 and ISO 9000 certificates worldwide as a percentage of their saturation. It is apparent that the

data presented a near-perfect logistic curve, with a fit of better than 99% for r squared in both curves.

Casadeus et al. (2008) reported that the number of worldwide ISO 14000 certificates at the time of

their study was at 64.6% of the predicted saturation level and that of ISO 9000 was at 84.6% of

predicted saturation level. If 95% is taken as a possible saturation point, the forecast according to this

model is a maximum of 160,000 ISO 14000 certificates and 870,000 ISO 9000 certificates

worldwide.

Recently, Marimon et al. (2009) have conducted individual analyses of various countries, which have

demonstrated that logistic curves apply to virtually all of the available empirical data for the ISO

9000 and ISO 14000 standards. In view of the good results obtained from the logistic model with

respect to the ISO 9001:2000 quality standard and the ISO 14001:2004 environmental standard, the

present study applied the same model to analysis of the emerging tourist quality-management

standards.

RESULTS

Table 2 shows the hotels that were ‘Q’ certified by ICTE since 1998 until 2009 described.

Table 2. Hotel certifications.

Years

Number of certified Hotels

1998

13

1999

35

2000

23

2001

29

2002

2003

39

2004

24

2005

42

2006

50

2007

111

2008

41

2009

69

TOTAL

476

As shown in table 2, in one particular year there are an abnormal number of certificates: in2007. The

mass certification in 2007 is explained by the fact that some hotel chains took a central decision for all their

hotels distributed all over Spain, provoking a large number of simultaneous certifications. It has the potential

to distort the model; nevertheless, we will proceed with our data. Thus we will be cautious with the

analysis of the results extracted from the regression conducted.

Figure 1 shows the results of the analysis using all the data. As can be seen in the figure, the

proposed model applies to the evolution of Q certifications in Spain: the coefficient of determination

was near to one, and the parameters indicating growth (r 0 ) and saturation level (K) were both

statistically significant at a 0.05 level. However, due to the fact that the available time series is very

short (only eleven years), it has been observed that the 95% trust interval for these parameters is

quite wide. Bearing it in mind, 95% of the saturation level will be reached in 2015.

On the other hand, it can be appreciated that the growing rhythm is quite low, provoking a slow

slope, and quite regular and smooth along the time. The Q seal is increasing its acceptation in the

market in a steady way, but without punctual booms (with the mentioned and explained exception of

the 2007 year).

Also the third parameter (N 0 ) is at .05 significance level, although it does not provide important

information. It only confirms that the initial level is low (34 certifications), that actually is the real

level at the second year.

Figure 4. Forecast of the Q certificates for Hotels in Spain

Figure 4. Forecast of the Q certificates for Hotels in Spain   DF   Sum Sq
 

DF

 

Sum Sq

Regression

3

694,690.44

Residual

8

 

1,944.56

Uncorrected Total

11

696,635.00

(Corrected total)

10

239,266.91

R squared

 

.992

 
 

Value

LL

UL

N

0

34.020

20.184

47.857

K

781.469

433.614

1,129.324

r

0

.354

.259

.450

LL: Lower limit of the 95% confidence interval UL: Upper limit of the 95% confidence interval

 

CONCLUSION

Ground-breaking tourist quality schemes were developed in Spain in the 1990s, before being

incorporated into a comprehensive system—known as STQS (‘Spanish Tourist Quality System’—

from 1996 onwards. This system has four components:

quality standards for each specific tourist sub-sector, which define process and service

standards, and quality service requirements;

a certification system whereby an independent third party guarantees that the

enterprises enforce standards;

the ‘Q’ quality trademark; and

a managing body, known as ICTE (‘Institute for Spanish Tourist Quality’)—which

promotes the system and is responsible for its enforcement, integrity, and diffusion.

This quality-management system, which is customised for each tourist sub-sector, is unique in the

world.

The present study has focused on the impact of these standards in the Spanish hotel sector. Utilising

a model verified in the literature (Marimon et al., 2006; Casadeus et al., 2008), an analysis of this

standardised management system has enabled a reliable forecast to be made of the future diffusion of

these standardised management systems in the tourist sector. Although the data are specific to Spain,

the results do indicate future developments in other countries in which similar standards are being

developed or in which the emerging ISO tourist standards are applied.

It is apparent that standardisation of quality management will increase in tourism in coming years.

The worldwide diffusion of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 in many service sectors (Marimon et al., 2006

and 2009) and the findings of the present study with respect to the Spanish standards provide an

indication of what is likely to happen in the service sector as a whole in most countries.

It is interesting to speculate how the diffusion of national standards of the type examined in this

study will be affected by the creation of similar ISO international standards. Although this question

has not yet been analysed in the academic literature, it seems likely that the impact of the two might

be complementary. The transposition of a sectoral standard to a national standard, as occurred with

some of the standards analysed in this study, appears to have strengthened the impact, even with little

essential change to the standard.

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