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Gold Star Standards of Hotel Rating Systems
April 11, 2008
Category: Corporate Travel: Asheville
When setting out to research a hotel for an upcoming stay, sorting through, and better yet, understanding the various hotel ratings out there can be overwhelming. There are many online travel companies that have created hotel ratings and criteria in addition to a multitude of travel guides. Some use stars, others use checks, while even more use symbols or number scales. So, what’s a traveler to do?
Whether planning a family vacation to the beach or a luxury mountain getaway, travelers can rarely go wrong, if they depend on the classics: Mobil Travel Guide or AAA.
Mobil Travel Guide: Gold-Star Planning
The Mobil Travel Guide has been working to help business and leisure travelers for almost 50 years. Their system is based on stars and ranges from one to five with five being exceptional. According to Mobil travel Guide statistics, in North America, there are approximately 50,000 hotels, of which Mobil Travel Guide recommends approximately 9,000.
So, how does it work? Basically, there are two steps involved: a facility inspection and a service evaluation. An inspector visits the hotel, and does not usually call ahead during the facility inspection. He or she uses a checklist to evaluate cleanliness, physical condition and location. This inspection results in a Mobil one, two or three-star rating. Step two, the service evaluation, may qualify the hotel for a four, or even five-star rating. This time the inspector is anonymous and the hotel will not know that he or she is representing Mobil Travel Guide. This evaluation is based on more than 500 service standards.
“For instance,” explains James Gibson, Managing Director for The Residences at Biltmore, a condo hotel based in Asheville, NC, “Does the guest have to ask for assistance or are their needs anticipated? At check-in, are they addressed by their name? There are many service points to consider and inspectors typically spend two-three days at the hotel.”
Service is always important, but at the four and five-star level, it is truly scrutinized to the point of perfection. For example, luggage is either delivered to the room within 10 minutes, or it’s not, there is no grey area. The staff at Mobil Travel Guide use checklists, stopwatches and recorders to make their findings as accurate as possible.
Gibson is not new to the hotel rating system. He is a 20-year hospitality veteran and prior to working at The Residences at Biltmore, he served as Hotel Manager for the Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel, Spa and Casino. He also spent 11 years working with Hyatt in various capacities of hotel management.
AAA: Saves Travelers Time, Money and Worries
AAA has over 100 years of experience in the travel industry. Their rating system is based on diamonds rather than stars and the five-diamond is the ultimate in luxury travel and reserved for less than 0.25 percent of properties in North America. Five diamond hotels must consistently reflect the criteria’s characteristics in physical attributes and level of guest services.
Physical attributes include a wide array of areas to be inspected and include overall curb appeal; quality of furnishings, décor, and floor coverings; condition of corridors, public restrooms, guest rooms; and much more.
“No detail is overlooked,” says Gibson. “When it comes to ratings, the criteria are very specific.”
For example, when evaluating a closet, a one-diamond rating would be awarded for an open-wall with a mounted clothes rack; two diamonds: semi-enclosed clothes hanging area with detachable, wood, plastic, metal or heavy metal hangars; three diamonds: fully-enclosed clothes hanging space with at least six wood or plastic removable, matching hangars; three diamonds plus: at least eight open-hook wood hangars; four diamond plus: at least 10 hangars and illumination in the closet.
Service is also held accountable for very specific factors. At check-in, does the bellperson offer to fill the ice bucket? If room service is ordered, is it delivered within five minutes of the estimated time? At check out, does the bellperson inquire about the guest’s stay? And, the list goes on.
Hotel Rating Maintenance
“In order to maintain high level ratings, yearly site visits are performed and consistent service and products must be delivered,” says Gibson.
It is important for travelers to be well informed about the rating systems so they can determine the appropriate accommodations to best suit their travel needs and budget. So, if it’s a travel concierge you are seeking to aid in making a business trip smoother or you are simply planning a summer vacation or romantic mountain getaway, make sure you do your homework and avoid being an accidental tourist.