|April 2004 - In recent months we have seen a steady increase
in TV and Internet ads touting online hotel booking opportunities.
They often offer discounted rates, a simple and easy 24/7 reservation process,
and a star rating, often with glossy photos.
The reduced rate can certainly be an valid inducement; use of 21st century technology at anytime is definitely convenient. I do have questions about the photography and the star ratings. How current are the photos? Do they accurately depict the property, or do they show only the “best of the best”?
Who says this is a 4 Star hotel? Was the hotel actually visited and inspected by a human, or is this another example of hi-tech? Do hotels pay a fee to be rated?
If AAA and/or Mobil rates a hotel, I know that a live inspector was there on site and actually looked at the facilities and dealt with some employees. While I know that neither AAA’s nor Mobil’s rating system is perfect, I do know they have a very good track record of evaluating hotels. I also know their inspectors visit all approved properties annually, and I know that hotels do not pay a fee for AAA and Mobil ratings. This gives me some assurance that their ratings are relatively current and objective, and that any incorrect ratings can always be adjusted on the next visit.
Do the online ratings offer the same degree of credibility? Do these organizations send an inspector to each rated hotel? Does he or she look at the physical facilities? Do they stay overnight as an anonymous guest to assess the service and staff performance?
I have seen a recent TV commercial showing an “inspector” measuring various distances at a hotel. I am unsure how many guests care how far Point A is from Point B. I suggest most are more interested in knowing if the place is clean and well maintained, and if the staff is competent and cordial; those are certainly my priorities.
I predict that online hotel booking services are here to stay. This is a valid alternative to the traditional approach and is gaining popularity daily. I might suggest that a comparison of online ratings with AAA and Mobil ratings would be one way to determine consistency and establish some credibility. As with all business transactions, “caveat emptor” springs to mind.
|Also See:||Resorts Ratings Redux / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / February 2004|
|Are Your Trainers Trained? / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Thompson Grigg / January 2004|
|The Language of Service / Cheryl Griggs / October 2003|
|Hotel Renovation Ideas vs AAA Ratings Criteria / Harry Nobles / October 2003|
|New Employee Orientation: Necessity or Luxury? / July 2003|
|Save the Best - Replace the Rest / July 2003|
|AAA and Mobil Ratings As a Sales Tool / May 2003|
|How Well Do You Know Your Competitor? / May 2003|
|Our Favorite Hotel? / March 2003|
|The Current Value of AAA Hotel Ratings / Feb 2003|
|Stars and Diamonds; Some Similarities and Some Differences / January 2003|
|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|