Forbes Travel Guide
Forbes Travel Guide (formerly known as Mobil Guide or Mobil Travel Guide) is a star rating service and series of travel guides for hotels, restaurants and spas. In 2011, Forbes Travel Guide published its last set of guidebooks and on November 15, 2011, launched its new online home, ForbesTravelGuide.com which covers more than 250 international destinations, including Hong Kong, Macau, Beijing, Singapore, Shanghai and London. ForbesTravelGuide.com combines Forbes Travel Guide’s Five-Star travel ratings system with insights and perspectives from Forbes Travel Guide’s own inspectors. This website marks the first time in the company's history that the information is available to the public online, alongside expert answers from tastemakers, consumers, and some of the world’s leading hotel, restaurant and spa brands.
Founded by Mobil in 1958, Forbes Travel Guide is the oldest travel guide in the United States. Ratings are given by anonymous, paid staff members in stars (with no half-stars or zero stars), based on objective criteria. A Four- or Five-star rating is a considerable honor, with only 60-70 hotels and restaurants receiving the top rating. The ratings serve as a Certification mark, in that Mobil had registered trademarks for the phrases and designs indicating each star rating level, and allowed only rated establishments to display them. Although less exclusive than the Michelin Guide, Mobil employed a similar system of recommending and rating only approved establishments. For example, it only listed 9,000 of the 50,000 hotels in the United States.
Initially guides were regional and limited to the United States and Canada. The first, issued in 1958, covered five states in the Southwest and South Central United States. In 1960, this guide was revised and volumes covering the Northeastern States, the Great Lakes, and California and the West were introduced. Guides covering the Middle Atlantic States and the Northwestern states were introduced in 1962. In 1965, a guide for the Southeastern States was introduced, although only one state covered by this volume, Tennessee, had any Mobil service stations.
Later, the number of volumes was expanded, as regions covered by the guide shrank. For instance, California was covered by two volumes, one for the north and one for the south. City guides also followed. In 2008, Forbes Travel Guide launched the international star ratings program for hotels and spas with the release of the inaugural Forbes Travel Guide Beijing and Forbes Travel Guide Hong Kong and Macau. Published in print by ExxonMobil Travel Publications, until 2011, the guide was published online by HowStuffWorks.com.
In October 2009, ExxonMobil licensed the brand to the Five Star Ratings Corporation, which is owned by internet entrepreneur and WebMD founder Jeff Arnold. Five Star Travel Corporation entered into a licensing agreement with Forbes Media, and renamed the Star Awards and guidebook series, Forbes Travel Guide. Forbes Travel Guide's new online home, ForbesTravelGuide.com, was launched in 2011, which marked the last year of publication of the traditional printed guidebook series.
The Mobil Travel Guide Star Ratings provided ratings and reviews of hotels, restaurants and spas on a scale of one star (average to good) to five stars (one of the best in the country) starting in 1958. Forbes Travel Guide has continued the Five-Star ratings with current ratings categories of Five-Star, Four-Star and Recommended, and has a team of inspectors who anonymously evaluate properties against proprietary standards.
- "About Forbes Travel Guide". Startle.com. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- "Startle". Retrieved 2011-12-22. "The online home of Forbes Travel Guide, the creators of the original Five-Star ratings system and the leading travel authority since 1958."
- "Mobil Travel Guide to become Forbes Travel Guide". Associated Press. 2009-08-04.
- Carly Zinderman (2009-12-03). "Hotel Rankings: Forbes Merges with Mobil". International Business Times.