Hotel Online  Special Report
AAA Evaluation Procedure:
Is It Fair?

Harry Nobles  - May 2006

AAA’s current evaluation and rating policy is actually quite simple: an anonymous and unannounced evaluation is conducted annually.  The final diamond rating for the next AAA TourBook cycle, normally 12 months, is based on that evaluation.

Is it fair to base the 12-month rating of a large and complex lodging operation on a one day visit?  In the case of properties rated 1, 2, and 3 Diamonds, the annual visit is limited to a walk through physical inspection that may be completed in one hour; only 4 and 5 Diamond rated lodgings require an overnight stay and service evaluation.

Is this fair to the properties that trust AAA to accurately represent what they offer the traveler?  Is it fair to the millions of AAA members and TourBook users who depend on AAA’s help in choosing a place to stay?  

Can a short on-site visit really justify a rating that remains in place for up to 16 months, depending on publication and TourBook validity dates?

In my opinion, the simple answer is “Yes”.  AAA presents a “snapshot in time” of a property.  After all, the guest gets only one bite at the apple; there is no free second chance in case of a bad experience.  

Is it a perfect system?  Certainly not.  

There will be inaccuracies and inconsistencies in ratings as long as there is a rating system.  There can be significant changes in a property’s physical facility and/or the level of service in a short period of time.

These changes can result from human error on the part of the inspector, new ownership or management, loss of business causing unavailability of funding, and many others too numerous to list  here.  The point to remember is that rating hotels in an art not a science; the system will not be perfect as long as humans are involved. 

Both AAA and MOBIL evaluation and rating procedures are imperfect but do achieve their basic goals of fairly and objectively rating lodging operations based on a set of consistent industry standards.

These third party ratings also bring guests to your property giving value to the process.  This value will continue as long as the public continues to trust the ratings; as long as that trust is there, the industry will benefit from the ratings, despite the imperfections, frustrations, and occasional disagreements.


Harry Nobles
Direct line: (757) 564-3761

Also See: Four Star vs Mobil Four Star / Harry Nobles/ February 2006
Rating Condominiums / Harry Nobles / January 2006
AAA Five Diamond Lodgings; Chain vs Independent / November 2005
Katrina & Rita: Silver Lining or Opportunity? / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / October 2005
Our Dream Hotel / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / July 2005
Losing a Diamond or Star / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs /  March 2005
Ratings vs Guest Satisfaction / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / February 2005
Our "Pick of the Month" / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / November 2004
5 Star vs 5 Diamond: What’s the Difference? / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / November 2004
Strategic Alliance Announced, Committed to Hospitality Excellence / August 2004
Family Resorts: Suggested Strategies / Cheryl Griggs / July 2004
Are Small Resorts Unfairly Treated by the AAA and Mobil Rating Criteria / July 2004
Designing For Optimum Global Ratings / Cheryl Griggs / June 2004
QualAsia Formed to Provide Authoritative Organization to Inspect and Evaluate Hotels Across Asia; Harry Nobles Appointed Chairman of New Asian Hotel Rating Service / May 2004
Validity of Online Hotel Ratings / Cheryl Griggs / April 2004
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 
To Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting Index Page

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