Hotel Online  Special Report
Stars and Diamonds; Some Similarities and Some Differences

Harry Nobles & Cheryl Thompson Griggs,  January 2003

How are hotel and restaurant ratings determined?   Who gives them?  Who takes them away?  How are they similar?  How are they different?  MOBIL awards stars; AAA awards diamonds.  Both bestow ratings on a scale of 1 to 5; 5 being the highest, denoting the absolute ultimate in luxury, service, atmosphere, and price.  There are many similarities in the way these organizations determine ratings, and some significant differences.
Both conduct annual on site physical inspections. AAA employs a full-time staff of more than 50 inspectors; Mobil uses some part-time inspectors and some contract personnel.  Both organizations have very detailed rating criteria that is available to the industry. 
Ask Harry and Cheryl
We encourage readers to email us with questions on ratings, guest services, design, decor, etc. We'll directly respond to your questions. Email Harry and Cheryl
AAA publishes its ratings in 23 regional TourBooks that are free to the 
40,000,000- plus AAA members.  Mobil Travel Guides are sold to the public in book stores. 

Both AAA and Mobil provide inspections, evaluations, and ratings free of charge to  hotels and restaurants.  Approved establishments may pay a fee to display the copyrighted AAA logo and may purchase advertising space in the TourBooks. 

Our clients often ask us which rating is better; which is more credible?  Despite my background with AAA, I must be totally honest and objective.  In my professional opinion, both are of equal merit.  In my personal opinion,  stars may be better known and more widely recognized as the universal symbol of quality and excellence.  This is due primarily to the generic meaning of the word. 

Basically a AAA 4 Diamond hotel and a Mobil 4 star hotel are very much the same thing  as both ratings have been awarded through similar evaluation processes and guided by  similar physical and service standards.  One must remember that both AAA and Mobil rating criteria are based on  industry standards and reflect guests’ expectations, not on the personal whim of the inspector. 

That aside, one must also remember that inspectors’ rating decisions are always influenced by personal factors despite clearly defined guidelines and criteria.   This will be true as long as stars and diamonds are awarded by humans.

In summary, AAA and Mobil ratings are one tool  the traveling public to uses to decide where to stay and  dine. If you are in the hospitality business,  a rating by either or both of these organizations will bring guests to your door. 

Credible and popular they are; perfect they are not.

Harry Nobles & Cheryl Thompson Griggs
Optimum Rating


Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting
POC:  Harry Nobles
Phone:  757-564-3761
Fax:        757-564-0076


  • Former head of AAA Lodging/Dining Ratings Program. 
  • An independent consultant serving the hospitality industry. 
  • A Special Training Consultant to the Educational Institute, American Hotel/Motel Association
Also See: AAA's Delay: Good or Bad? / July 2002
Timing Is Everything, Or Is It? / July 2002 
Boutique Hotels: Have They Gone Too Far / May 2002
People Really Do Make the Difference / Jan 2002
What Is a Boutique Hotel? / Dec 2001
The Non-negotiable Traits of Leaders / Oct 2001 
How Important is Service? / Sept 2001
Front Desk Service Mistakes / Aug 2001
Food & Beverage Mistakes & How to Correct Them / July 2001
Bell Staff Mistakes & How to Correct Them / July 2001 
Attitude vs Aptitude / June 2001
Female Business Travelers' Expectations / June 2001
Is Outsourcing Your Training a Viable Alternative? / June 2001
Unique Identity + Consistent Service = Success / May 2001
AAA Standards vs  Guests' Expectations / May 2001
Are Your Guests Better Informed Than Your Staff? / April 2001
Are U.S. Hotels Rated Differently From Other North American Hotels? / April 2001
The Design Theme - AAA / Mobil Ratings Connection / March 2001
Attitude Can Make the Difference / January 2001
How Should Casino-Hotels be Rated? / Dec 2000
Does AAA Rate Resorts Fairly? / Nov 2000
Is Your Property Suffering From Design Deficiency? / Nov 2000 
The Future of AAA Ratings / September 2000
What Is Your Optimum AAA Rating / August 2000
If You Disagree With Your AAA Rating…../ June 2000
Are AAA Ratings Always Accurate and Objective / May 2000
Creating Atmosphere / Jan 2000
What is "Atmosphere"? / December 1999
Maintaining Your AAA Rating / Nov 1999
Earning a AAA Rating vs Maintaining a AAA Rating: Which Is More Difficult?  / Oct 1999
Can Outstanding Service Offset Hotel Physical Deficiencies in the Rating Systems? / Harry Nobles / June 1999 
Consistency: The Hallmark of a Fine Hotel / September 1999
Who Should Train Your Employees  / Aug 2000 
Mobil Travel Guide Announces 1998 Mobil Four-and Five-Star Award Winners / Jan 1998 
Key to Success: Training + Follow-Up / June 2000
The Legend of the Pineapple / Harry Nobles / Feb 1999 
To Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting Index Page

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