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You've Got Mail.....From AAA

by Lisa Miller
July 2011

It’s that time of year again! AAA is now into the throes of yet another hotel and restaurant inspection cycle. And that mean’s the letter is in the mail – either the email or the post mail!

It is important to plan accordingly for the AAA onsite physical and service inspection so that the letter will say what you want it to say.

Too often hoteliers and restaurateurs think to themselves, “The inspection will be tomorrow.” Then as luck would always have it – the inspection is today! Borrowing the well-known line from the scouts – be prepared! It really is easy to be prepared. By spending a few minutes of quality time assessing your establishment and operations, you will be in a more comfortable position to meet and greet the AAA inspector.

The first part, prepare a file of pertinent information. Make certain that this file is readily accessible for any of the hotel leadership that may be hosting the AAA inspector. The file should include three basic sets of material that will promote the hotel:
  1. Hotel and Staff accomplishments: make a list of awards and recognitions.
  2. Hotel capital expenditures: what has been done to make the hotel a better place.
  3. Plans for the upcoming 12-24 months: what great things will be happening.
Keep the information simple, but extensive. This is not the time to be shy! This is the time to make certain your best foot is forward expounding on every positive attribute of the property, the leadership, as well as each and every team member. Update the file as plans reach fruition so that all information is up to date.

Now you are ready! When the AAA inspector knocks on your door –grab the file and get ready for part 2 – the onsite inspection! Review all of the information and if possible and plausible, have copies to hand to the inspector. Make an effort to walk with the inspector so that any questions may be answered immediately and if anything is amiss, you can deal with it right there on the spot.

AAA has recently changed their inspection processes for the 4 and 5 Diamond rated properties. Properties earning the 4 diamond award will only have a physical evaluation and not a service evaluation. The overnight service evaluation is only conducted at the Five Diamond level for hotels holding the awards and for the “five diamond wannabes.” So be prepared at the five diamond level to not only conduct a walk-through inspection with the AAA inspector, but be prepared to discuss your services.

Take advantage of your time with the inspector. Not only is this the time for AAA to learn about your property, but this is the time for you to learn about AAA and happenings within the industry. Ask the inspector what he or she thinks about your rooms, your bathrooms, your public areas. Ask the inspector for advice and what he/she has seen that is remarkable.

And finally, part 3: follow-up with the inspector and AAA. Write a thank you note if you get what you want, or write a letter explaining what or how things will be different if you fell short in any areas. Don’t just shrug your shoulders and say, ‘Oh well, wait till next time.’ Take immediate action to let AAA know how things will improve.

Time to check for the mail and put your hands on the letter from AAA that you deserve!

Lisa Miller is President of Advisors Hospitality Consulting, (AHC). She is a former AAA inspector and AAA Inspections Manager. Lisa and the AHC team provide expert advice on AAA, Forbes, and the inspection processes. AHC has also received acclaim in working with hotels, restaurants, spas, and golf clubs around the world in teaching staff not only how to reach higher service levels, but how to garner more revenue in each guest engagement and to create and maintain guest advocates.


Lisa Miller


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