Is Anyone Keeping a Cap on Star Ratings?
Saturday, 10th April 2010
There are quite a few reports available on the web about the significance of hotel star ratings.

A report on news.bbc.co.uk questions: Time was when a four-star rating for a hotel was the marker of sheer, unbridled luxury. Then it was five stars, then six and seven... But is anyone keeping a cap on star ratings?

"The high-end luxury hotels, and their eye-candy images in magazines and on travel websites, are easy enough to spot. But often when it comes to booking a hotel, navigating the global hotel star rating system can be the most complicated part of a trip. That is because no such system exists," according to the report. "Star rating systems can vary from global region to global region, country to country, and in many cases even within countries." It even goes on to say that some in the industry believe that the star-rating inflation is more for the benefit of the hotels than their guests.

Elsewhere, a report filed by Newsroom Panama, says hotel room supply is climbing but customer service is lagging behind. One of the issues concerns tourist authorities is the lack of a regulatory body responsible for the star rating certifying the quality of hotels in the country.

According to another report filed by the Hotelier Middle East, InterContinental Hotels Group MEA chief operating officer John Bamsey, talking about the opening of the new Holiday Inn Express at Dubai airport, says: "We classify rooms on a scale rather than through star ratings. We're a mid-scale hotel — limited service, midscale sector. When you're in the industry there's a lot of talk of two-star, three-star, four-star but the customer never talks in that language and they don't understand it. It also varies depending on which country you are in. For example, a two or three-star hotel in one country could be the equivalent of a four or five-star hotel elsewhere. The important language which is looked at by the customer is used in terms of value — midscale and then upscale or luxury and even then the customer wouldn't necessarily talk in those terms, but they will have brands which they think of in those terms. (DTCM has classified Holiday Inn Express, Dubai Airport as a two-star hotel)."

When asked whether there will be a phasing out of the star system, Bamsey said, "That classification of hotels really grew on the basis of trying to classify a lot of the independent hotels where quality was variable. It was a way of giving the customer the confidence that that hotel met certain standards. But for brands, the whole quality positioning of the brand is very different from a star rating. Somewhere like London, for example, the star rating was driven by a lot of the poor quality independent hotels. They had a complicated system —diamond keys, star ratings. That is far too complex and the customer doesn't think that way."


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