Are hotel stars fading?
by Thomas Allemann, Hotelleriesuisse
The media tells us over and over again that hotel stars will become less important in the future. On the one hand, they say that global booking and evaluation platforms create their own classification as there is no internationally harmonized hotel classification system. Additionally, guests increasingly rely on reviews rather than on classifications when booking. In order to achieve more transparency for the guests, the Hotelstars Union tries to convince booking and evaluation platforms to use the official European classification on their websites – more or less successfully.
For instance, an agreement with Expedia and its partner platforms is soon to be closed. In contrast, booking.com once again manages to affront the whole industry as well as the consumers. Booking.com does not consider it its duty to classify the hotels but solely relies on the declarations that hotels create themselves and explicitly does not want to play the role of a “star police agent”.
On the other hand, it is often pointed out that especially hotel chains and well-positioned brands, like Hilton, Mariott or Motel One, do not depend on stars anymore. But, as Marco Nussbaum from prizeotel Bremen shows in a column of the German magazine “Hotel & Technik” from December 2012, hotel brands and evaluations do not automatically lead to the desired success. Because his hotel was clearly positioned, he abstained from an official hotel classification at first. Subsequently, he received numerous negative comments from guest on evaluation platforms. It turned out that they had expected at least a 3- or even 4-star standard and were – except for the price – disappointed by the (lack of) services and offers. As soon as he made the step to have himself officially classified as 2-star standard, the expectations of the guests were consistent with the offer and were even exceeded. His rating on different online platforms improved accordingly fast. In the meantime, the Prizeotel has even won a “Tophotel award” by Holidaycheck and a “Certificate of Excellence” by Tripadvisor.
What do we learn from that story? The classification system and the evaluation platforms depend on and complement each other perfectly. The classification is, so to say, the hotelier’s promise on what the guest can expect in his hotel regarding infrastructure and services; the evaluation platforms, then, provide evidence if this promise is kept.