Q.A. Certification

The self-catering product is an essential part of the accommodation offering for Irish tourism. The Irish Self-Catering Federation is the sole representative and lobbying body for owners of self-catering properties in the Island of Ireland, recognised as such by consultative bodies, local and central government, and every leading tourism group. Our aim is to promote and defend the interests of owners giving voice to issues affecting our sector.

The Irish Self-Catering Federation (ISCF) has over 100 members who represent some 7,000 holiday homes in Ireland. The overall sector employs 9,000 people both on a full time and seasonal basis throughout Ireland.

Our vision is to increase national and international consumer awareness of the range, quality, and value of the Irish self-catering sector throughout Ireland while pushing for equal representation and exposure for self-catering within the tourism industry.

The ISCF is not a marketing body, rather the Federation represents the views and issues which effect the operation of self-catering accommodation in Ireland. It is an owners’ network, run by owners. The aim of the ISCF is to recruit all operators under one umbrella body, who agree to a code of ethics and legislative requirements and commit to a consistent approach to quality within the products they offer. The objective is to provide reassurance for visitors whenever they choose self-catering accommodation that they have chosen quality accommodation and can expect to receive excellent service during their stay. This reassurance will also be provided to tour operators and Tourism Ireland markets when referring to the www.letsgoselfcatering.ie website.

The ISCF Quality Framework is to be introduced to target self-catering operators which work outside the current approval systems and who have recently entered the self-catering market via a range of online platforms.

Criteria for Membership of ISCF
All ISCF members must agree to the membership criteria as set out in ISCF Memo and Articles of Association. Members of ISCF agree to adhere to the ISCF Quality Framework as outlined in this document, which has been mandated by members at the 2021 AGM.

This includes a requirement to comply with the legislative requirements of providing accommodation in Ireland:

  • Building Regulations
  • Fire Safety Regulations
  • Planning Regulations

It also requires that members comply with ISCF’s quality, standards, and service criteria, comply with the ISCF Code of Ethics (Appendix 1 of this document) and have public liability insurance.

Why establish an ISCF Quality Framework?

The role of the ISCF includes a desire to improve and maintain the standards, quality and service provided by self-catering operators in the wider self-catering sector.

The ISCF is committed to improving standards of quality and service within the self-catering sector and has identified Fáilte Ireland’s Third-Party Framework approach as a vehicle to support this.

As we start 2021, ISCF’s aim is to broaden its membership taking in those outside the existing approval systems already provided by Fáilte Ireland. The ISCF Quality Framework is intended to embrace those existing approval systems to ensure the highest standards of facilities and Health and Safety measures, excellent levels of hospitality and service starting with a warm welcome to provide a great guest experience.

In order to encourage participation in the Quality Assurance scheme it is envisaged that initially the membership fee for ISCF will include participation and inclusion in the Quality Framework at the time of joining.

What is the role of the ISCF within its Quality Framework?
The ISCF undertakes to:

  • Ensure compliance with the criteria outlined in this document.
  • Provide advice and support to owners on continuing quality improvement.
  • Seek annual acceptance of the criteria by owners.
  • Visit 20% of Quality Framework members annually to assess against the Quality Framework criteria and provide advice and assistance where required.

The Main Features of the ISCF Quality Framework are:

  • Initial online Self-Assessment by self-catering operators.
  • Pre-Assessment online research of quality, standards, and reviews by ISCF
  • Annual acceptance of criteria by members
  • Support from ISCF on quality and health and safety requirements
  • Ongoing assessment via major online review sites, general reviews
  • Complaints handling
  • Regular internal Quality Assurance reviews and visits to ensure consistence of process and adherence to the criteria.

1.Criteria for Participation

Membership of the ISCF is diverse, and we welcome all self-catering operators irrespective of the number of properties that they have, the region in which they are based and the type of self-catering accommodation they offer (apartment, cottage, house, etc).

In order to participate in the ISCF Quality Framework, the business must be a member of the Irish Self-Catering Federation.

All ISCF members must agree to the membership criteria as set out in ISCF Memo and Articles of Association, in addition to the following:

  • All self-catering owners and operators must also agree to comply with the ISCF Code of Ethics (Appendix 1 of this document).
  • They must also comply with the legislative requirements of providing accommodation in Ireland:
  • Building Regulations
  • Fire Safety Regulations
  • Planning Regulations
  • All members must comply with ISCF’s quality, standards and service criteria.
  • All members must have public liability insurance.

Compliance with each of the above will be verified as part of the Approval Process (see section 3 of this document).

2.Approval Process

As previously outlined, participation in the ISCF Quality Framework will be a requirement of all members of the ISCF.

The approval process will include:

  • Initial response to enquiry from a prospective new member/existing member to join the Framework by the ISCF
  • Pre-Assessment online research of quality, standards, and reviews by ISCF of the property
  • Acceptance by ISCF that the property owner/manager should proceed to On-line Assessment
  • If the applicant is a manager of multiple properties (more than 30 properties in different locations) an arrangement will be made for an ISCF Assessor to visit the business. See section 3.4 for additional details for multiple properties.
  • If the applicant is a manager of multiple properties in the same location, they will be required to complete an application for each accommodation type. See section 3.4 for additional details for multiple properties.
  • ISCF will provide ongoing assessment of member properties via major online review sites, general reviews, regular internal Quality Assurance reviews and visits to ensure consistence of process and adherence to the criteria.
  • Annual acceptance of criteria by members
  • Agreement by members to an on-site assessment within a 2-year period
  • Agreement by members to an Assessor’s visit in the event of a serious breach of the Code of Ethics and standards.
  • Any issues that arise during the completion of the On-Line Assessment will be dealt with by the administration office of the ISCF
  • All issues will be recorded in a QA system set up by the ISCF to contain information relating to all matters of the QA
  • On successful completion of the QA online assessment and membership of the ISCF the member will receive the QA ISCF Quality Mark and a certificate to declare the premises is part of the QA.
  • The applicant will receive confirmation of their successful QA completion within 48-hours.

When the ISCF is satisfied that the property meets the stated criteria of the Quality Framework they will be accepted as members of the ISCF and included in the Quality Framework and may upload their property to the listing on the www.letsgoselfcatering.ie website.

For those properties new to the market with little or no reviews, the ISCF undertakes to give advice to the owner and assist in their completion of the Framework application.

All Operators must accept that they may be chosen for onsite assessment within 2 years. Some of these assessments may be completed by Fáilte Ireland assessors, using ISCF Quality Framework criteria.

3.1 Online Self-Assessment

As part of their application by a self-catering Operator for membership of the Irish Self-Catering Federation, the Operator will ask to complete an initial self-assessment to ensure that they comply with the overall criteria for the Quality Assurance Framework as outlined in this document.

The link to the online self-assessment form will be provided by email to the Operator.
On completion, the Operator will submit the form to the ISCF who will review the form to ensure that all mandatory criteria are complied with.

All records relating to Quality Framework will be stored on the ISCF server in a master sheet which will keep details of Members who participate in the Framework, frequency of online and telephone assessments/advice; frequency of visits by ISCF assessors; complaints and outcome.

3.2 Pre-Approval Online Research of property by ISCF

The QA Framework Co-ordinator or an assigned individual will then seek reviews from a number of sources to determine the suitability and quality of the Operator’s property. These will include:

  • Requesting reviews from the self-catering Operator
  • Reviewing online customer review websites which include (but are not limited to) TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Airbnb, etc.
  • Reviewing records of complaints which required action by the ISCF.

We acknowledge that reviews are subjective, and that even properties providing an excellent product may occasionally receive negative reviews, however we will require that properties approved under the ISCF Quality Framework receive positive feedback on at least 80% of their reviews.

Note: this step will be completed by a limited number of individuals to allow for a consistent approach.

3.3Approval

Properties which are considered of appropriate quality (as outlined above) will be deemed approved under the ISCF Quality Framework.

These properties will receive the following:

  • An email confirming their approval under the ISCF Quality Framework
  • A Logo / digital mark which they can use on their marketing collateral to promote their approval.
  • An opportunity to become listed on www.letsgoselfcatering.ie and highlighted as Quality Assured
  • Details of how to request a listing on the Discover Ireland website (if one is not already in place)

Note: businesses that are Fáilte Ireland approved can choose to appear as such on the DiscoverIreland.ie website.

3.4 Approval for Multiple Properties

A member who acts as a manager for multiple properties, will be deemed responsible for the Assessment of all their properties which are eligible to display the ISCF Quality mark. An individual on-line assessment will not be required for each of the properties. Initially, the approval criteria may involve Assessor’s visit to such a member’s place of business.

If the applicant is a manager of multiple properties (more than 30 properties in different locations) an arrangement will be made for an ISCF Assessor to visit the business as part of the initial application process.

If the applicant is a manager of multiple properties in the same location, they will be required to complete an application for each accommodation type. A minimum of one of each type of accommodation should be assessed.

Once a minimum of 10 % of the properties have been assessed and are deemed acceptable in terms of the requirements of the ISFT Quality Framework, the framework will apply to all properties which are part of the Manager’s portfolio of properties. The Manager will be informed that this accreditation can only be displayed / used when the property is booked by the customer through the member’s platform.

The ISCF Quality Framework logo will only be provided to the member, and not to the individual properties within the group. Any individual property looking to display / use the ISCF Quality Framework logo will be required to apply for membership of both the ISCF and the Quality Framework in their own name.

3.5 On-going Checks on Quality

In order to ensure the quality of properties under the ISCF Quality Framework is maintained, the Quality Framework Co-ordinator will ensure that online feedback is reviewed quarterly by ISCF Administration and that properties receiving consistent negative feedback are included in the next scheduled on-site assessments.

3.6 On-site Assessment of Property by ISCF

All members will receive an on-site assessment visit within 2 years of joining the ISCF Quality Framework during which they will be assessed to ensure compliance with all mandatory aspects of the criteria. Please see the Assessment Report / Criteria within this document for further details. A panel of assessors contracted by the ISCF will complete the visits to 20% of members each calendar year.

In order to maintain quality standards and to ensure compliance, we propose to complete an on-site assessment at least every 4 years, and more frequently should serious complaints be received or those that relate to health, safety and legislative compliance issues.