Outside many hotels in the UK you will find a plaque bearing a star rating. Here we will discuss what they are, why people have them and how to get them.
The Star rating system is a way of comparing the standards and facilities of hotels to help customers find a hotel the meets their expectations. They are issued after an inspection by either the official tourist board, Visit Britain, their partner boards, Visit Scotland, Visit Wales and the AA. They all rate hotels to the same shared set of common standards to ensure consistency throughout the UK.
Star rating systems were originally started by the RAC and AA as a service to their members, as the rise of the car lead to more people travelling to areas where they had little prior knowledge of what to expect. To begin with there was no unified scoring system so it was common for hotels to have a score with both companies, it wasn’t until 2006 that together with Visit Britain the settled on one scoring system and the RAC stopped issuing ratings in 2008.
To be rated you have to apply through the website of one of the issuing companies and pay a fee based on your expected rating. This can be between £500 to £3000 depending on expected score. You should remember that as facilities available are a major scoring factor it is not possible for every location to gain a five star rating.
There are schemes run worldwide that may appear similar but have different scoring systems. Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland are all part of the HotelStars scheme to provide a consistent rating scheme amongst themselves which is similar to the UK system.
Once your application has been received, an inspector will book to stay the night in the hotel unannounced. They will aim to experience the hotel in the same way as other customers, eating on site if possible. The following morning they will identify themselves to management and go through the rest of the inspection with them. They will explain any major issues found and discuss improvements needed to get you to the score you are after. You will be expected to waive the cost of an inspection visit.
You will be issued a certificate which allows you to display the rating given to promote your business. You will have annual re-inspections to ensure your score is accurate.
Hotels are broken down into five categories. Hotels in each of these categories need to meet all of the minimum requirements for each rating with the exception of Metro Hotels where providing dinner is not required.
The categories are:
The scheme is arranged around quality and type of service and facilities available at the Hotel, with a minimum set of standards that must be provided at each level across 9 areas.
For example the minimum requirement for a one star hotel on arrival is that “Guests clearly directed to their room and given a brief explanation of location of hotel facilities.” In a five star hotel the requirement is “Guests are shown to their room and given a full orientation of hotel and bedroom facilities.”
When dining a one star hotel requires “Individual tables available for each guest or party.” Whereas a five star hotel requires that “Restaurant tables should have sufficient space around them to allow a high degree of privacy and freedom of movement.”
You can find the full breakdown of the requirements of each star level on the AA website here: https://www.theaa.com/hotel-services/ratings-and-awards
When looking at quality in each hotel, they try to take into account the varied nature of hotel décor. Asking if the quality is of the standard in keeping with star rating expected. In their guide the AA state that they take account of the following when defining quality:
There are many advantages to joining the star rating scheme. For business owners it provides an annual 3rd party inspection with a full written report and action points, which can be a big help in improving and growing your business. This price of this alone purchased separately could be more than membership.
You also gain access to a vast amount of free publicity materials, your hotel will appear on the issuing companies website and feature in there promotional work, you get a plaque to display outside your business and stickers a web logo and the ability to use the rating on all of your promotional work.
It also gives a way for customers to know what to expect when staying with you. A customers expectations when they enter an establishment have a big impact on their perception of the service they receive, so setting those expectations before arrival can have a positive effect on reviews left on sites such as Tripadvisor and google reviews.
Ultimately you should look at what the benefits from the scheme are to your business and see if it makes financial sense for your business.