Hotel Star Ratings System Needs an Update

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Is the current Hotel Star Rating System outdated? Some hotel marketing professionals believe so. Here's why:

It's too complicated. The evaluation process is known only to hoteliers, not consumers. The detailed quality standards are hard to understand from a consumer's point of view.

It lacks uniform standards. There is no global standard in the current rating system. Opinions are often affected by cultural factors. There are even conflicting evaluation criteria within the same country.

It's too subjective. Online guest reviews only identify specific factors that may matter to a certain guest. They often ignore general factors, which ratings organizations perceive as important. Moreover, amenities like “cloakroom service” offered by 5-star hotels elevate ratings but are virtually ignored by most guests. Guests don't care as much about grand lobbies and staff or comme il faut details as they do about free WiFi, privacy, and lots of little "feel good" touches.

Its sample size is weighted. More guest reviews outweigh a hotel inspector’s visit. While TripAdvisor reviews have their limitations, sample size is critical. Hundreds of travel-savvy consumers praising a hotel speak louder than an inspector's checklist.

It's been severely devalued. Some hotels can self-declare, many of which fall short of their star rating. There's also ratings inflation, driven by hotels whose marketing departments are eager to grab some industry headlines. Some publicity hungry hotels have declared themselves 6 star or even 10 star.

It's less about service. Hotel managers know that service is king at the luxury end; yet current ratings assessments are often too formal and out-of-date. Antiquated factors once crucial to a 5-star grading--like giving guests a detailed tour of the room or presenting themselves “in a uniform way” seem far less important now. Today's guests place a premium on hotels that let check them in quickly, so they can shower, work and relax. Incredibly, hotels that excel in these streamlined services are often penalized by star ratings.

For an added perspective, check out this video:

Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients. Please see more of his blogs at view additional job postings on Nexxt.


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