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Do hotel star ratings mean anything anymore?

Profile Photo By: Chief Editor Hospitality News
May 7, 2014

Do hotel star ratings mean anything anymore?

Luxury 5 Star Hotels in BeijingYou go for a five-star place.

Budget city crash pad?

A two- or three-star joint.

Simple, right?

Not anymore.

For many travelers, user-generated online reviews have become the go-to source for information when booking hotels.

TripAdvisor says more than 150 million reviews and opinions are posted on its pages, with 2,800 new topics added every day to the site’s forums.

Review sites such as,, Expedia and others mean travelers are awash with information about hotels.

Many sites use their own “star” or points-based rating systems based on user reviews.

So where does this leave legacy star ratings?

Do they have a future?

What do those ratings actually mean?

Legacy rating systems are meant to provide an accurate and objective assessment of accommodations.

Inspectors with no vested interest in the outcome of ratings judge hotels and other accommodations according to established criteria and guidelines.

In the UK, the Automobile Association (AA) maintains a “common standards for hotel and guest accommodation” based on a one-to-five star system, with 60 points of assessment in areas such as service, bedrooms and food.

Simon Numphud, head of hotel services at the AA, says the system guarantees balanced and unbiased reviews.

“Website ratings are based on personal opinion and individual guest experience, whereas AA inspections are carried out using a set of quality standards by a highly experienced inspector,” he says.

The trouble is standardization.

Each country has different requirements for awarding stars — a three-star rating in Baltimore, Maryland, is different from a three-star rating in Kerala, India.

This can make star-rating systems confusing, according to Zoe Chan of

“There is no universal star rating system,” says Chan. “Each country has its own and in some cases more than one,” leading to a “possible disparity of standards and facilities in different countries.”

“You can’t really compare a three-star hotel in the United States to a three-star hotel in Europe,” agrees Christopher Elliott, author of “How to be the World’s Smartest Traveler.”

“In some countries, official star ratings can be a reliable guide to a hotel’s amenities.

Click here to read more.

Source:?Claire Hu (2014), Do hotel star ratings mean anything anymore?, KSPR published May 06, 2014. Viewed May 07, 2014.


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