ISO certification in the tour operator sector

Lui Ming Mak

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The objectives of this study are to find out why tour operators implement quality assurance, and what problems and challenges they face in doing so. Design/methodology/approach: This study utilized a multiple-case study approach, interviewing the senior managers of three accredited tour operators using formally structured questions. Findings: The purposes for which the tour operators attained ISO 9000 certification were image building, promotion and advertising; to rectify the varying standards amongst different departments; to build an understanding of the operations; to review the operation procedures and system, and the management of the tour operators; as well as to legitimize the senior management's action to make changes. A number of negative aspects to the ISO 9000 certification were found, including the high cost of implementation, lukewarm reception by staff, reduced effectiveness over time and that consistency of procedures did not equate to good or improving quality. Research limitations/implications: As the current research used a very small sample, only limited generalizations can be made. Practical implications: Tour operation is a service-based business in which it is difficult to standardize service quality - but, where an attempt is made, there does seem to be a significant reduction in human error. Originality/value: A body of literature exists in which arguments for and against the use and practices of the ISO 9000 certification in different sectors are presented, but the tour operator industry is neglected. This paper examined the value of quality assurance certification in the tour operators sector to fill the void.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-130
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011


  • ISO 9000 series
  • Quality assurance
  • Service levels
  • Tourism
  • United Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


Dive into the research topics of 'ISO certification in the tour operator sector'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this