I have lately been put under intense pressure from Qualmark, regarding their branding on my old brochures, because I withdrew from the Qualmark programme about 12 months ago, and am no longer Qualmark accredited. They have insisted that I remove these brochures from hotels, B&Bs, information desks etc., or replace them with new ones without the logo.(This hysteria was largely prompted by another wine tour operator in Auckland who is fiercely competitive and obsessive).
So, in short, under threat of legal action I complied and removed or replaced the brochures. I had erroneously thought that a grace period would be allowed in which time the brochures would have been all used up and replaced by a brand new print run without the logo. I.e. the Qualmark branding was correct at the time of printing.
I withdrew from Qualmark because they are basically an accommodation rating agency, paper-based ‘tick the boxes’ assessment system with little or no customer feedback.
Since the advent of TripAdvisor, Qualmark is redundant as far as tour guide rating, and I gather that a number of accommodation providers have seen the light and are also dropping out. Apart from the fact that they charge me around $750 a year for participation, I am assured by all my overseas clients that they do not have the faintest idea what Qualmark is.
Qualmark, in my opinion has utterly failed to promote itself effectively to inbound tourists as a QA brand.
Finally, I can assure you that Fine Wine Tours provides tours of the highest quality despite opting out of Qualmark. I maintain the highest standards of industry practice - I am a certified passenger vehicle driver. I have $1,000,000 public liability insurance, I hold a St. Johns First Aid certificate etc.
This year Fine Wine Tours was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor and rated as TripAdvisor’s Best Auckland Visitor Activity in June 2011