Hotel rating

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Further information: Star (classification)
"five-star superior" rating at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski, Munich, Germany

Hotel ratings are often used to classify hotels according to their quality. The development of the concept of hotel rating and its associated definitions display strong parallels. From the initial purpose of informing travellers on basic facilities that can be expected, the objectives of hotel rating has expanded into a focus on the hotel experience as a whole.[1] Today the terms 'grading', 'rating', and 'classification' are used to generally refer to the same concept, that is to categorize hotels.

There are a wide variety of rating schemes used by different organizations around the world. Many have a system involving stars, with a greater number of stars indicating greater luxury. Forbes Travel Guide, formerly Mobil Travel Guide, launched its star rating system in 1958. The AAA and their affiliated bodies use diamonds instead of stars to express hotel and restaurant ratings levels.

Food services, entertainment, view, room variations such as size and additional amenities, spas and fitness centers, ease of access and location may be considered in establishing a standard. Hotels are independently assessed in traditional systems and rest heavily on the facilities provided. Some consider this disadvantageous to smaller hotels whose quality of accommodation could fall into one class but the lack of an item such as an elevator would prevent it from reaching a higher categorization.[2]

In recent years hotel rating systems have also been criticised by some who argue that the rating criteria for such systems are overly complex and difficult for laypersons to understand. It has been suggested that the lack of a unified global system for rating hotels may also undermine the usability of such schemes.

Standards of hotel classification[edit]

The more common classification systems include "star" rating, letter grading, from "A" to "F", diamond or simply a "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" footnote to accommodation such as hostels and motels. Systems using terms such as Deluxe/Luxury, First Class/Superior, Tourist Class/Standard, and Budget Class/Economy are more widely accepted as hotel types, rather than hotel standards.

Some countries have rating by a single public standard — Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Hungary have laws defining the hotel rating. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the rating is defined by the respective hotel industry association using a five-star system — the German classifications are Tourist (*), Standard (**), Comfort (***), First Class (****) and Luxury (*****), with the mark "Superior" to flag extras beyond the minimum defined in the standard, but not enough to move the hotel up to the next tier ranking. The Swiss hotel rating was the first non-government formal hotel classification beginning in 1979[3] It did influence the hotel classification in Austria and Germany.[3] The formal hotel classification of the DEHOGA (German Hotel and Restaurant Association) started on August 1, 1996 and proved very successful with 80% of guests citing the hotel stars as the main criteria in hotel selection.[4] This implementation influenced the creation of a common European Hotelstars rating system that started in 2010 (see below).

In France, the rating is defined by the public tourist board of the department using a four-star system (plus "L" for Luxus) which has changed to a five-star system from 2009 on. In South Africa and Namibia, the Tourist Grading Council of South Africa has strict rules for a hotel types granting up to 5 stars. In India, the classification of hotels is based on two categories such as “Star” and “Heritage”. Hotels in India are classified by Hotel and Restaurant Association Classification Committee (HRACC), Ministry of Tourism, India.[5]

Hotel classifications in Britain[edit]

In Great Britain, hotels are rated from one-star to five stars, as in many other countries. The RAC pulled out of accommodation grading in 2008 so the only grading schemes in operation are those operated by the AA (Automobile Association) and the national tourist boards; Visit England, Visit Wales, the Scottish Tourist Board and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. The schemes were all 'harmonised' to ensure consistency between the schemes. This applies to all accommodation types apart from Self Catering that the AA have recently (2009) started offering. The AA criteria is available on its website.[6] In addition to the usual black stars (ranging from one (the lowest) to five (the highest), the AA awards red stars to the highest-rated, which are deemed 'Inspectors' Choice'. Each of the national tourist boards have grading explanations on their web sites.

European Hotelstars Union[edit]

The HOTREC (Hotels, Restaurants & Cafés in Europe) is an umbrella organization for 39 associations from 24 European countries. At a conference in Bergen in 2004, the partners drafted a hotel classification system in order to harmonize their national standards. In 2007 HOTREC launched the European Hospitality Quality scheme (EHQ) which has since accredited the existing national inspection bodies for hotel rating.

Under the patronage of HOTREC, the hotel associations of Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland created the Hotelstars Union.[7] On 14 September 2009, the Hotelstars Union classification system was established at a conference in Prague. This system became effective in these countries in January 2010, with the exception of Hungary, Switzerland and the Netherlands, who have chosen later dates for the change. Later more countries have joined the HOTREC hotelstars system: Estonia (2011), Latvia (2011), Lithuania (2011), Luxembourg (2011), Malta (2012), Belgium (2013), Denmark (2013) and Greece (2013).

The European Hotelstars Union system is based on the earlier German hotelstars system that had widely influenced the hotel classifications in central Europe, with five stars and a Superior mark to flag extras. Instead of a strict minimum in room size and required shower facilities (e.g. a bath tub in a four-star hotel) there is a catalogue of criteria with 21 qualifications encompassing 270 elements, where some are mandatory for a star and others optional. The main criteria are in quality management, wellness and sleeping accommodation.[8] In the catalogue of criteria each entry is associated with a number of points - each Hotelstars level requires a minimal sum of points besides some criteria being obligatory for the level.[9] The minimum requirement for the Superior flag requires the same sum of points as for the next Hotelstars level which however was not awarded due to at least one obligatory requirement being left out.[9]

For hotels with three to five stars, the Hotelstars Union will use "mystery guests" to check the service quality regularly.

Hotelstar Excerpt of the catalogue of criteria
\bigstar Tourist
  • 100% of the rooms with shower/WC or bath tub/WC
  • Daily room cleaning
  • 100% of the rooms with colour-TV together with remote control
  • Table and chair
  • Soap or body wash
  • Reception service
  • Facsimile at the reception
  • Publicly available telephone for guests
  • Extended breakfast
  • Beverage offer in the hotel
  • Deposit possibility
\bigstar \mathbf S Superior Tourist The Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The bathroom facilities are usually at the same level as for two stars hotels but built from cheaper materials. The cost for regular inspection by independent associations is waived as well.
\bigstar\bigstar Standard In addition to the single star (*) hotels:
  • Breakfast buffet
  • Reading light next to the bed
  • Bath essence or shower gel
  • Bath towels
  • Linen shelves
  • Offer of sanitary products (e.g. toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving kit)
  • Credit Cards
\bigstar\bigstar \mathbf S Superior Standard The Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The Standard-Superior does usually offer the same service level as three-star hotels but the interiors of the hotel are smaller and cheaper so that the three stars were not to be awarded by the inspection body. A two-star superior does not require mystery guesting.
\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar Comfort In addition to the standard star (**) hotels:
  • Reception opened 14 hours, accessible by phone 24 hours from inside and outside, bilingual staff (e.g. German/English)
  • Three piece suite at the reception, luggage service
  • Beverage offer in the room
  • Telephone in the room
  • Internet access in the room or in the public area
  • Heating facility in the bathroom, hair-dryer, cleansing tissue
  • Dressing mirror, place to put the luggage/suitcase
  • Sewing kit, shoe polish utensils, laundry and ironing service
  • Additional pillow and additional blanket on demand
  • Systematic complaint management system
\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar \mathbf S Superior Comfort The Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The accommodation facilities for a superior hotel need to be on a modern level and fully renovated which is checked regularly.
\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar First Class In addition to the comfort star (***) hotels:
  • Reception opened 18 hours, accessible by phone 24 hours from inside and outside
  • Lobby with seats and beverage service
  • Breakfast buffet or breakfast menu card via room service
  • Minibar or 24 hours beverages via room service
  • Upholstered chair/couch with side table
  • Bath robe and slippers on demand
  • Cosmetic products (e.g. shower cap, nail file, cotton swabs), vanity mirror, tray of a large scale in the bathroom
  • Internet access and internet terminal
  • "À la carte"-restaurant
\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar \mathbf S First Class Superior The Superior flag is provided when the first class hotel has a proven high quality not only in the rooms. The superior hotels provide for additional facilities in the hotel like a sauna or a workout room. The quality is checked regularly by mystery guesting of an external inspection service.
\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar Luxury In addition to the first class (****) hotels:
  • Reception opened 24 hours, multilingual staff
  • Doorman-service or valet parking
  • Concierge, page boy
  • Spacious reception hall with several seats and beverage service
  • Personalized greeting for each guest with fresh flowers or a present in the room
  • Minibar and food and beverage offer via room service during 24 hours
  • Personal care products in flacons
  • Internet-PC in the room
  • Safe in the room
  • Ironing service (return within 1 hour), shoe polish service
  • Turndown service in the evening
  • Mystery guesting
\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar \mathbf S Superior Luxury The Luxury star hotels need to attain high expectations of an international guest service. The Superior Luxury star is only awarded with a system of intensive guest care.

World hotel rating[edit]

There is so far no international classification which has been adopted. There have been attempts at unifying the classification system so that it becomes an internationally recognized and reliable standard, but they have all failed.

It has been considered that, as it has been the case in other areas (e.g. international accounting standards), hotel classification standards should result from a private and independent initiative. This may be the case of the World Hotel Rating (WHR) project, which notably aims to set international classification standards and rating criteria along the lines of a world star-rating system. It will also establish an information platform on the hotel industry which will be multilingual and multicultural. WHR intends to play a key role in the development of quality hotel services, as well as equitable and sustainable tourism, and the protection of the world's cultural and natural heritage. In addition, WHR will develop labels to promote hotels distinguished by specific features, such as a family and child-friendly disposition. A test period was scheduled for 2010.

Seven Stars[edit]

Some hotels have been advertised as seven star hotels. The Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai was opened in 1998 with a servant for every room - this has been the first hotel being widely described as a "seven-star" property, but the hotel says the label originates from an unnamed British journalist on a press trip and that they neither encourage its use nor do they use it in their advertising. Similarly the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi (open since 2005) is sometimes described as seven star as well, but the hotel uses only a five star rating.

The Town House Galleria in Milan, Italy has opened in 2007 and it claims to have a seven star certificate from SGS Italy in 2008.[10] However the SGS Italy (not the official tourism agency) only has five stars in the general hotel stars categorization, with the full title of the certificate being left unknown, just as the renewal process is unknown. Overall, as no traditional organization or formal body awards or recognizes any rating over five-star deluxe,[11] such claims are meaningless and predominantly used for advertising purposes.

Historically, luxury hotels have used the membership in The Leading Hotels of the World to document regular inspection on an additional level. This organization had been formed in 1928 and it reorganized in 1971 introducing a world-wide inspection service.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hensens, Struwig & Dayan. "Guest-review criteria on TripAdvisor compared to conventional hotel-rating systems to assess hotel quality". Eurochrie 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Vine, P.A.L. (March 1981). "Hotel classification; art or science?". International Journal of Tourism Management (Elsevier Science Ltd.) 2 (1): 18–29. doi:10.1016/0143-2516(81)90014-1.  (Requires purchase of a document for $31.50)
  3. ^ a b ""History & development", hotelsterne.ch, accessed November 14, 2010, "In 1979, hotelleriesuisse (Swiss Hotel Association) introduced the hotel classification. This was the first and only worldwide private enterprise system of its kind. The system is internationally considered as exemplary, and has been repeatedly utilised as the basis for the development of a customised classification system (e.g. Germany, Austria)."". Hotelsterne.ch. 2012-06-01. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  4. ^ "Eine Erfolgsgeschichte: Zehn Jahre Deutsche Hotelklassifizierung". hotelsterne.de. 27 July 2006. press release. Retrieved 2012-06-12. Am 1. August 2006 feiert die Deutsche Hotelklassifizierung ihr zehnjähriges Bestehen." - "80 Prozent der Gäste geben an, dass die Sterne Hauptkriterium bei der Hotelauswahl sind, denn sie bieten Transparenz und Sicherheit 
  5. ^ "Hotels and Restaurants". Government of India, Ministry of Tourism. 2014-05-29. Retrieved 2014-05-29. 
  6. ^ "AA Hotel Recognition Scheme". Theaa.com. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  7. ^ "HOTELSTARS UNION - About us (English)". Hotelstars.eu. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  8. ^ "HOTELSTARS UNION - Criteria (English)". Hotelstars.eu. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  9. ^ a b Hotelstars - Catalogue of Criteria, see last page: (*) 90 minimum + 80 superior = (**) 170 minimum + 80 superior = (***) 250 minimum + 130 superior = (****) 380 minimum + 190 superior = (*****) 570 minimum + 80 superior - maximum points for all criteria: 860
  10. ^ http://www.sevenstarsgalleria.com/philosophy/the-7-stars
  11. ^ "AFP: China plans $1.3bn 'seven-star hotel'". Google.com. 2011-01-07. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 

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