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The British Travel Industry Developing New Scheme to
Clarify Lodging Product Standards; Uniting the Ratings
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by John R. Hendrie, December 2005

The British thrive with continuity and consistency in a most civilized fashion.  Their gifts of tradition and protocol delight we off shore Visitors, although some of the more adventuresome may snicker.  But, the trains run on time, the Guards change punctually, and tea is served at 4pm.  The British relish order and precision.  In their Hospitality world, expectations are delivered with few surprises, a claim few other countries can echo. 

However, Great Britain has gone one step further.  The British Travel Industry, representing Tourist Boards and Motoring Organizations, will unify the Ratings for Accommodations, effective in 2006, under a new scheme (love the word) to clarify lodging product standards.  Even Hotel Groups have acquiesced, foregoing the argument that their Brand power supersedes any rating.  Accommodation standards will be measured against a set of detailed tables in a 40 page workbook, codifying and melding the assessment standards of existing Rating Companies and Services and integrating research on Visitor needs and expectations.  Mystery, suspense and interpretation will disappear. A hotel will be a hotel, not a bed and breakfast. And, if you have a restaurant, you must be open “X” number of days and serve “Y” types of meals.  Your new Star Rating requires this adherence.  As noted by Bob Bacon, of the British Hospitality Association, “Visitors including people from abroad are bewildered by a plethora of Stars, Diamonds and Crowns…The new unified system of standards will clarify all that”.  Professional assessment of food and beverage, the actual experience and service levels will not be affected.  The source for this information was ehotelier.com.

WOW!

What generated this clamor?  Consumer outcry?  Industry prescience?  Lost souls?  Imagine that – Standards which mean the same thing to everyone. – the provider, the Guest, the Destination Marketing Organization, and those who translate the Hospitality landscape.  Holy smokes, what a break-through!

The rest of the world can still play with the Crown, the Thistle, the Diamond, the Feather, the Check Mark and the Thumbs Up, as we continue to “rate” accommodations based upon price, amenities, location, water fountains, clock radios and other criteria, differing between an en-suite bathroom and a commode at the end of the hall or luxury versus rustic or high end body talc in comparison to that simple bar of soap or commodious King bed versus a davenport.  And, our Assessment Teams, what will they still consider?  Will it require an actual visit or merely a quick review of a Web Site.  Personally, I enjoyed a research article by Christina Binkley of the WSJ a few years ago, where she related a Hotelier who affixed a Four Star to his operation because the Hotel across the street carried the same status.  All stripes of hubrus. 

Is global Hospitality moving forward, laterally or receding?  We know that standards are uneven.  Ratings do assist the Consumer, but each “scheme” with its variables still leaves the Visitor Experience to chance.  Independent operations outnumber the flag properties, yet corporate hotel groups have standards, quality and measurement as part of their Brand commitment.  Independent lodgings and restaurants do not have that reliability at no matter which end of the spectrum.  Consistency helps match expectations. 

Yet, we in Hospitality do not want total homogenization of the product.  We want uniqueness, excitement, and the extraordinary.  But, we also have an obligation to our Visitor, the experience we frame for them, and the experience we deliver.  Britain obviously feels that the Visitor has been misled.  Perhaps their Visitors voiced this concern.  Perhaps, tourism officials looked at the landscape and saw the inconsistencies.  Perhaps, it is as simple as truth in advertising, which protects the consumer.  Maybe, some global Standards are appropriate, certainly the basics.  They have them for Manufacturing, Trade, and other practices.

 Plateauing (one, two, three stars) runs into problems without strict interpretation and guidelines.  Great Britain has dissected the Product, it appears.  Thank goodness the rating companies can still tell you whether the bison steak was ill-prepared, that the uniforms were tidy, and the guest room reeked of garlic.  “Professional” opinions and guidance are still up for grabs!  Cheers!

The author believes that Remarkable Hospitality is the portal to the Visitor Experience.  He can be reached at: jhendrie@hospitalityperformance.com

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Contact:

John R. Hendrie, CEO
Hospitality Performance, Inc.
www.hospitalityperformance.com
978-346-4387

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Also See: Determining a Return on Investment for Your Quality Assurance Program / John R Hendrie / November 2005
A Prescriptive for Destination Marketing / John R Hendrie / November 2005
The Visitor Experience Is Impacted Before They Get to Your Door - the Value of Customer Service / John R Hendrie / November 2005
The Independent  Restaurateur Challenge; Competing with the "Formulas" / John R. Hendrie / October 2005
Are you ready for Business? – A Hospitality Recovery Plan / John R Hendrie / October 2005
Destination "Damage Control" Starts with that Single Visitor Complaint / John R. Hendrie /  October 2005 
Grappling with Progress, A Destination Denies Chains / John R Hendrie / October  2005
Promoting the Dining Experience by Matching Expectations / John R Hendrie / September 2005
The Gratuity Revolution / John R Hendrie / August 2005
Plotting His Travels; Some Bumps Encountered - Chaper III / John R. Hendrie / August 2005
Jacques Sets Up Shop or Jacques Joie Hospitality Advisory Establishes Rating Scheme / John R. Hendrie / August 2005
Thats So Jacques' / John R. Hendrie / August 2005
The Symbol of Hospitality, the Pineapple, Has Morphed to That of a Kumquat; Hotel Operators Focus on the Guest Becoming Secondary / John R. Hendrie / August 2005
Ready for Pluckin'; Hospitality Represents that Fat Roaster, Just Sitting there, Plump and Contented / John R. Hendrie / July 2005
Literally Every Destination Marketing Organization Is Under Duress; The Challenge to CVB's / John R. Hendrie / July 2005
A Smile is Really a Simple Thing – an Expression of Welcome, No Cost Involved / John R. Hendrie / July 2005
Lead the Trend to Becoming Guest-Centric; Demonstrating Behavior Not Normally Experienced by the Guest / John R. Hendrie / June 2005
Hospitality QED, That's Latin to Me! / John Hendrie / June 2005
Unless You Operate a Business in a Very Remote Location, You Belong to the Amorphous “Brand-Scape” /  John R. Hendrie / June 2005 
Maximize the Performance of Your Greatest Asset - Your Employees / John R. Hendrie / May 2005
Preparing for the Assault by Organized Labor on Hospitality / John R. Hendrie / May 2005
Customer Service - Panacea or Placebo / John R. Hendrie / May 2005
How to Even the Playing Field, As Independents Suspiciously Eye the Chain Hotels / John R. Hendrie / April 2005
Oh, What a Web We Weave! Pitfalls with Descriptive Language / John R. Hendrie / April 2005
Woe is We! We in Hospitality Have Lost Touch and Share the Responsibility for Consumer Cynicism, Angst and Ennui / March 2005
Moving the Guest Comment Card from Paper to Paperless / John Hendrie / March 2005
Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association Launches 'Total Quality Destination' and Presents 'Gold Star of Excellence Awards' / March 2005
The Evolution of Guest Room Amenities / John Hendrie / February 2005
Advertising Integrity; Framing the Visitor's Expectation Through Print, Signage & Internet / John Hendrie / February 2005
Hospitality Trade Associations:  What Have You Done for Me Lately? / February 2005
I Would Like to See your Hospitality Standards. Where Are They? Anybody Seen Them? / John Hendrie / January 2005
Remarkable Hospitality - the Road Map to Excellence; Exceeding the Expectations of our Guests / John Hendrie / January 2005
Are Your Guests Expecting Mediocrity with Your Hospitality Services? Move Your Level of Excellence to the Remarkable / John Hendrie / December 2004
Guest Services - A Tradition Diminished / John Hendrie / December 2004
Rescue from Mediocrity; The Decline of Service Etiquette - A Sequel / John Hendrie / November 2004
Offering Crushed Pepper Before Tasting the Entrée; The Decline of Restaurant Service Etiquette / John Hendrie / October 2004
Destination Marketing – How to rebuild your Reputation and the upcoming Season after the Hurricanes / John Hendrie / September 2004
Six Factors Which Dictate Success in Performing Destination Marketing / John Hendrie / September 2004
Influencing the Consumer to Book Business through Your Commitment to Quality / Aug 2004
Major Hotel Operators Have Rediscovered Hospitality Fundamentals by Revisiting the Guest Room / John R. Hendrie / July 2004
Destination Marketing 101: Take Care of Mom / John R. Hendrie / June 2004
Service Unions Combine, Presenting Huge Challenge to Hospitality Industry / John R. Hendrie / March 2004
What Value Quality? Most Hospitality Operators Use the Term “Quality” In their Advertising. What Exactly Does that Mean? / John R. Hendrie / April 2004


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