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With the majority of online bookings consulting Trip Advisor over traditional inspectors such as the AA or Visit Britain, Lisa Holloway, proprietor of Compton House B&B gives us her view as to why she thinks star ratings are still relevant.
When you book a hotel or B&B, where do you look to check if the accommodation will meet your expectations?
From a local straw poll the majority of guests booking online consult TripAdvisor, and apparently, fewer prospective guests are taking notice of star ratings from the traditional inspectors such as The AA or VisitBritain, the website of the British Tourist Board.
In fact some business are “going it alone” and not applying for ratings from these organisations, saying the fees do not cover the amount of business generated. Anyone can give themselves 3 or 4 stars, but are the public aware which are self assessed and which are bone fide ratings ? And does it matter?
Airbnb claim they are creating a “safe and trusted community around the world”, but apart from photos and other guests comments, you don’t really know what you are getting. And not everyone’s standards are the same.
In some European countries it is legally compulsory to get a rating, and there is a place for cheaper places to stay which might not have been inspected. But when you are paying for accommodation, most people want to know that their money is being well spent
One hotel owner who has recently left both the AA and Visit Britain told me “It’s all very well to have the star rating, but does it bring in more business?” And let’s face it, we all work to make a profit.
Everyone is an expert these days, so have real experts lost some credibility? And is it only about more bookings, or also accreditation of your establishment?
My B&B, Compton House, is with The AA and it is important for me to say what I stand for; I am confident because I have been audited and inspected for Health and Safety, Environmental Health and Fire Safety as well as guests’ level of comfort and standard of meals. Anyone looking at our website will immediately see the AA logo which gives us integrity.
Garry Baldwin, Senior Hotel and Restaurant Inspector with the AA stated, “A star rating helps to sell a property to prospective guests, because they have a guaranteed standard, it’s not just the proprietor saying how good it is”. It is a right to trade, a guarantee if you like.
Owners are encouraged to use the organisations and the inspectors experience as a resource to help their own businesses and while it is unnerving having an inspector to stay, they are not the enemy so use their experience and advice to get the best results.
Although I greatly value my guests’ reviews, and they do help us enormously, when looking for accommodation to stay in myself, I am aware that not all reviews on accommodation websites are verified and scrupulous. And of course, they are very personal, not from an impartial inspector of a recognised brand using the same professional standards for each property.
Garry Baldwin again; “ It’s a bit like shopping in a supermarket; in retail terms there are basic and premium ranges to choose from, and the AA is the equivalent of the premium range. A nod of reassurance that the quality is there”.
So I think it does matter that you are backed by a trusted brand. And I hope more people recognise that quality counts. I want to know that my money is safeguarded as an owner, and as an accommodation buyer, and more importantly, I want MY guests to know that when they book in to my B&B, that their expectations will be met and hopefully, exceeded.