The certification process
What is certification?
Certification is an independent third-party activity certifying that a service meets the requirements set out in a relevant standard, regulation or international criteria. Certification aims at assessing the conformity of a service with the criteria set for it and is carried out in accordance with the relevant service assessment schemes and the criteria set out therein. The certification body shall have an effective quality system documented in a quality manual.
Certification body – SIA “Viesnīcu un restorānu centrs”.
SIA “Viesnīcu un restorānu centrs” (hereinafter – VRC) is a company established in 1999 by the Latvian Hotel and Restaurant Association, which carries out conformity assessment of the quality of services of hotels and other tourist accommodation establishments as an independent third-party certification body. VRC has introduced a voluntary conformity assessment and classification system for tourist accommodation in Latvia. The certification scheme, as set out in the VRC Quality Manual, is based on documentary verification and inspection followed by monitoring by the VRC Director in close cooperation with VRC external staff – competent experts in the field of tourist accommodation and hospitality.
The governing bodies of the VRC are the Members’ Meeting (represented by the LVRA Board) and the VRC Board. Edvīns Buka, a member of the Board of the VRC, acts as the Director of the VRC.
In connection with LVRA joining the unified European hotel classification system HOTREC under the supervision of Hotelstars Union, since 1 July 2011 VRC has been certifying Latvian hotels according to the international criteria of Hotelstars Union.In 2012 the transition to the new evaluation criteria was made, which provides Latvian hotels with significantly wider recognition in Europe and the world. Since 1 January 2015, the VRC has been assessing compliance with the Hotelstars Union criteria for 2015 – 2020.
VRC’s motto: RESPONSIBILITY – REVENUE – QUALITY – COMPETITION is fully in line with the trends of the Latvian economy, where hotels are particularly keen to emphasise the reliability and quality of their offer, as well as actively promote it.
The stars or categories awarded by the VRC to a tourist accommodation are the best advertisement and sign of quality for the customer – a foreigner or a Latvian resident who wants to stay there.
VRC’s philosophy is based on meeting the needs of its clients, who receive professional and high-quality services. The VRC provides its services not only to LVRA members, but to all interested parties.
The voluntary conformity assessment process carried out by the VRC, which results in the tourist accommodation receiving a Certificate of Conformity of a certain category, is divided into two parts:
- the assessment of the property’s compliance with the Hotelstars Union criteria, carried out by the Inspection Panel;
- certification of the site by the Director of the VRC, based on the results of the survey, the recommendations of the Certification Commission, the documents received and evidence of the corrective actions taken at the site after the survey.
The Inspection and Certification Committees are composed of external VRC staff – experienced experts in the tourist accommodation and hospitality sector who are competent to assess the compliance of hotels and other tourist accommodation establishments with certain requirements.
In order to obtain a Certificate of Compliance, the representative of the accommodation and service establishment shall receive and complete an application form in which the desired classification category of the accommodation and service establishment according to the Hotelstars Union criteria shall be indicated. The application form shall also indicate the documents required for obtaining the certificate, which shall be submitted to the Director of the VRC, as well as the costs of the services related to the certification.
Upon receipt of the completed application and the documents specified therein, the Director of the VRC shall assess the documents received and, if in order, form an Inspection Committee. The composition of the committee and the possible time of the inspection shall be agreed by the Director of the VRC with the responsible representative of the object to be inspected.
If the documents specified in the application are not received within 3 months of the application being registered, the application will be cancelled.
The inspection committee shall carry out the inspection of the accommodation and service establishment in accordance with the inspection report forms established by the Hotelstars Union. If the customer has objections to the assessment, he shall have the right to record his objections in the minutes. The original of the inspection report shall be given to the customer and a copy to the Director of the VRC. If the client has a complaint against the work of the Assessment Committee, he/she may submit a written complaint to the Director of the VRC. The Director of the VRC must reply in writing within 10 days of receipt of the complaint. If the representative of the accommodation and service establishment is not satisfied with the reply of the Director of the VRC, they may appeal to the Board of Supervisors of the VRC within 10 days.
The Director of the VRC shall collect, if necessary obtain missing documents, and evaluate the documents submitted by the guest accommodation and service establishment, the Inspection Report and take a final decision on the certification of the guest accommodation and service establishment or a reasoned refusal of certification. Certification shall not be granted until all the non-conformities identified have been rectified and verified by the Director of the VRC and/or written confirmation has been received from the representative of the guest accommodation and service establishment.
Within 5 working days of the decision, the Director of the VRC shall inform the representative of the accommodation and service establishment of the award of the certificate or the reasoned refusal of certification.
Within 10 days of the decision on certification, the Director of the VRC shall issue to the accommodation and service establishment a Certificate of Compliance and an extract from the minutes recording the decision of the Director of the VRC. The certificate shall be signed by the Director of the VRC.
If the representative of the accommodation and service establishment is not satisfied with the decision of the Director of the VRC, he/she may appeal to the Supervisory Board of the VRC within 10 days of receipt of the decision. All complaints and appeals must be submitted to the Director of the VRC in writing.
The certificate of conformity is valid for 5-6 years. “The Hotelstars Union certificate shall be valid until the end of the year of review of the criteria every 5-6 years. Each year during the lifetime of the certificate, the accommodation and service establishment is reassessed or monitored annually. Annual monitoring procedures shall be carried out without an application from the customer. The monitoring of the accommodation and service establishment shall be carried out by the Director of the VRC. Once a year, after the monitoring procedures have been carried out, the Director of the VRC shall take a decision on the maintenance or refusal of certification.
If the accommodation continues to meet the Hotelstars Union criteria after the corrective actions have been taken, the assigned classification category is maintained until the next monitoring. If the deviations from the standard are significant, the assigned classification may be suspended or withdrawn and the conformity assessment process shall be restarted.