|by Harry Nobles, March 1999
When evaluating a property for the prestigious 4 and 5 Diamond rating, the AAA Inspector looks carefully and critically at all aspects of guest service, and always from the guest’s perspective. No allowance is made for operational factors, such as heavy arrival and check-in volume, understaffing of key positions, or time of day or night. This is fair since the paying guest makes no allowances for these factors.
The rating is usually based on an anonymous one-night stay and service evaluation; I believe this is also fair since the paying guest bases his or her assessment of the property on the same type experience.
While the physical facilities of the property play a significant role in the overall rating, the guest services provided and personal attention of the staff can sometimes influence the inspector’s final decision.
What are some specific services that AAA deems critical at the 4 and 5-Diamond level?
Beginning with the reservations process, use of guest name is very important. Use of the guest’s name should continue through the arrival, check-in, and rooming experiences. I suggest discreet use of the name; when a name is repeated excessively, it sounds contrived and phony.
Bell service is also a key element in the AAA process. Bell staff should have detailed knowledge of the property and the services offered. Proper baggage handling and an offer to get ice are also important.
Room service order taking and delivery are carefully and thoroughly evaluated. In addition to addressing the guest by name, staff should provide as much personal attention, particularly in delivering and serving the order, as the guest indicates is desired. Here, it is crucial that staff “read” the guest and render services accordingly.
Evening turndown and wake-up calls can also have some influence on the rating. There are many other services that have an impact on AAA’s decision to honor a hotel with the 4 or 5 Diamond rating.
At a 5-Diamond property, turndown is expected to be automatic for all guests. The guest of course may decline the service, but it should be the guest’s choice. In my experience, turndown is most appreciated if performed while the guest is not in the room. One of my personal pet peeves is the late arrival of Housekeeping staff to provide the service. I suggest that turndown be performed prior to 9:00PM unless the guest requests otherwise. Staff should be able to honor guests’ specific time requests; failure to do so seriously detracts from the quality of the service.
At a 5-Diamond property, turndown should be very thorough and include ice bucket refill, the robe(s) placed on the bed, and replenishment of bathroom amenities. Although a less detailed service is acceptable at the 4-Diamond level, many properties choose to add some “extras”. I will address this option and some suggestions in my next offering.
Wake up calls are another expected service. Needless to say, the call must be on time for every guest. The guest should be addressed by name when the request is made, and during the actual call. A nice addition to the wake up call is a VERY brief mention of the weather. A live call is expected at the 5-Diamond level; recordings are acceptable at a 4-Diamond property. Finally, all properties should have a contingency plan for dealing with unanswered wake up calls.
|Also See:||The AAA Five Diamond Award for 1999 Earned By a Record 105 Outstanding Lodgings and Restaurants / Nov 1998|
|Mobil Travel Guide Announces 1998 Mobil Four-and Five-Star Award Winners / Jan 1998|
|Dealing with the AAA or Mobil Inspector - Does AAA Approval Help? / Dec 1998|
|"AAA" - Hotel Online Viewpoint Forum|
|The Legend of the Pineapple / Harry Nobles / Feb 1999|