• 5/16/2014 7:17:04 AM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    Do hotel star ratings mean anything anymore?


     For many travelers, user-generated online reviews have become the go-to source for information when booking hotels. Legacy rating systems  meant to provide an accurate and objective assessment of accommodations have had their reliability diminished. And many hotel groups  use their own "star" or points-based rating systems based on user reviews.

    So where does this leave legacy star ratings?


    Inspectors with no vested interest in the outcome of ratings  have traditionally appraised hotels and other accommodations according to basic established criteria and guidelines which vary by country. For example, In the UK, the Automobile Association (AA) maintains a "common standards for hotel and guest accommodation" based on a one-to-five star system, with 60 points of assessment in areas such as service, bedrooms and food intended to  guarantee balanced and unbiased reviews.


    As a result, each country has different requirements for awarding stars -- a three-star rating in Baltimore, Maryland, is different from a three-star rating in Kerala, India. Although these could be classified as impartial ratings there is no standardization,  leading to a disparity of standards and facilities in different countries.


    The question is what do those ratings actually mean and what does the traveler expect when looking at them -   is it the décor, level of service,  amenities or   price range?


    A unified global rating system has been proposed by the World Hotel Rating Project , but so far nothing has gotten off the ground. The trouble is standardization.  In 15 European countries, including Germany, Austria and Sweden, which have a harmonized hotel-ranking system, a five-star hotel room must include a personalized greeting with flowers or a gift and a one-hour ironing service as part of the room rate. In the UK, where ratings are run by tourist boards and the AA, five-star hotels should offer a range of undefined "extra" facilities as well as multilingual service. Guests should be greeted at the door. In the United States, where the American Automobile Association (AAA) runs its well-known diamond hotel ranking system, a five-diamond hotel will offer turndown service, personalized wake-up call and the "ultimate in luxury and sophistication" and "extraordinary physical attributes.


    This does make star-rating systems confusing particularly when each country not only has its own but in some cases more than one. In addition to criteria including quality linens, Jacuzzi bathtubs and valet parking, the tourism ministries are rolling out new guidelines  to reflect things like  how many hooks are in each bathroom,  phones next to the toilet and a luminous LED wall clock with numerals at least three inches apart.


    The reputation of the star-rating system was further diminished in China this year when some hotels voluntarily downgraded themselves from five to four stars after the government banned officials from staying at five-star properties making  their official star ratings   somewhat misguided their hotels’ amenities. And in Dubai where th the Burj Al Arab hotel  is commonly referred to as ‘the world's only seven-star hotel’ - a   myth likely started by an awestruck journalist  and isn't a rating the hotel itself promotes.

    ."Website ratings on the other hand,  are based on personal opinion and individual guest experience.


    Due to the lack of basic criteria against which these are made, the  systems are completely unregulated, rendering them almost  worthless. Do they have a future? Review sites such as Hotels.com, Bookings.com, Expedia and others mean travelers are awash with information about hotels. New topics are added every day to the site's forums. Travelers should have a set of quality standards by country  against which the individual experiences could be compared especially as ratings are manipulated by clever reputation management operatives, and can't be trusted.


    In lieu of a universal hotel rating system, referral to a legacy rating with  acceptable standards for your destination should enable an informed decision when your options suggest, two or three star, budget or five star.  Simple, right?




Add Comment


Online Agency Travel Websites