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Visit Scotland | Alba

Our Quality Assurance Scheme - Enquiry Form

What will be assessed?

The grading visit comprises of an assessment of the quality of the entire visitor experience and takes into account every point of interaction visitor will have when engaging with your business.  

The scoring guidelines below give a complete overview of all the elements that are assessed, split into a maximum of eight key areas.  

Please note, this is a quality based scheme and there are no facility requirements within the scheme. This ensures that, regardless of size, any shopping experience can achieve a maximum award if they are providing an outstanding visitor experience. If you do not offer certain facilities, e.g. a café or toilets, these areas are simply not assessed, with no detrimental impact on your award, providing that the overall experience meets the required standard for the award.  

  • Pre-arrival – an assessment of website and digital information provision, along with other promotional material, e.g. brochures. 
  • Staff – hospitality and friendliness – an assessment of the levels of friendliness shown by staff throughout all areas of the shop. 
  • Staff – service and efficiency – an assessment of the levels of efficiency shown by staff throughout all areas of the shop. 
  • Cleanliness – an assessment of the levels of cleanliness throughout the shop. 
  • Arrival – an assessment of the quality of experience when the visitor arrives at the shop premise, e.g. initial first impression, appearance of building, quality of signage etc.  
  • Retail experience – an assessment of the core, retail experience, e.g. range and quality of merchandise, how easy it is for the visitor to browse products, the quality of point of sale information provided, etc.  
  • Catering – an assessment of any catering facilities offered, e.g. menu display, quality and range of produce etc. 
  • Toilets – an assessment of the quality and condition of any toilet facilities, e.g. quality of fixtures & fittings, provision of facilities etc.   

How are businesses scored?

The awards are represented by 1-5 stars, as follows: 

  • 5 star award - 85% - 100% - reflects an exceptional customer experience 
  • 4 star award - 78% - 84% - reflects an excellent customer experience 
  • 3 star award - 71% - 77% - reflects a very good customer experience 
  • 2 star award - 64% - 70% - reflects a good customer experience 
  • 1 star award - 55% - 63% - reflects an acceptable customer experience 

"No grade awarded" reflects an unacceptable customer experience. 

Scores from 0 to 10 are awarded for all the elements assessed. The overall percentage score determines the award a shop merits.   

If, however, a shop scores a zero for any of the below elements, this will result in no award being confirmed, as the shop will be failing to meet minimum acceptable standards for the overall experience to merit an award. 

  • Staff – hospitality and friendliness 

  • Staff – service and efficiency 

In addition, if the shop scores a six or below for cleanliness, this will result in no award being confirmed, as the shop will be failing to meet visitor expectations to merit an award.  

Scoring guidance

When does the visit take place?

All visits are scheduled during your normal opening hours in the form of an incognito visit. A business will normally receive a visit every two years unless the business specifically requests an earlier visit in order to review an award. This visit would incur an additional fee.  

New applicants are given priority when scheduling visits and we will endeavour to visit them within six weeks of receipt of application (unless otherwise instructed by the business). 

How do I learn about my award?

Where possible, the Quality & Tourism Advisor will give detailed feedback and relevant business advice to the owner or manager of the business immediately after the visit and will confirm the award. The written report will be received within two-three weeks of the visit.  

A Quality Review Committee supports the QTAs in confirming awards of all new applicants and in any change of award. 

If there is a need to consult the Quality Review Committee as part of the confirmation process, you will receive notification of the award in the following weeks.  

Taste Our Best

Where there is a catering outlet, a business can be considered for the Taste Our Best food award as part of the main grading assessment and with no additional fees. 

Taste Our Best is VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance food and drink scheme, developed in response particularly to visitors’ growing interest in sampling local produce. This scheme assesses the overall quality of the eating experience, as well as the extent to which businesses use and promote Scottish produce. 

Further information can be found on our Taste Our Best page.

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