Hotel OnlineSpecial Report
Are AAA Ratings Always Accurate 
and Objective

by Harry Nobles, May 2000

The simple answer is “No."  Very few things in life are always one way or the other; there are usually ambiguities and shades of gray.  This is certainly true with AAA’s rating policies, procedures, and practices.

Several factors can have an impact on the inspector’s rating decision.    Among these are the inspector’s level of knowledge and experience.  The 25,000 lodgings rated annually range from very small inns to world class  resorts with thousands of rooms and extensive recreation facilities.  AAA inspectors do not acquire the requisite level of knowledge and expertise to deal with this diversity overnight.  They must work at it over a period of time.  

Like all of us, inspectors  have personal preferences.  While the inspectors I have known over the years make a sincere effort to keep  personal bias out of the rating decision,  it could occasionally be a factor.  My experience , however, shows that most inspectors strive to remain objective in their interpretation and application of the AAA Rating Guidelines.

The rating decision at a 1,000-room resort complex with 6 food outlets and 3 golf courses is often based on a half day visit.  Is this a perfect system?  Is this fair to the property?  Perfect?  Certainly not; no system devised and executed by humans will ever achieve perfection.  Fair?  That is debatable, and might be a topic for a future article.

More pertinent questions about AAA ratings might be: 

  1. Are the ratings generally accurate and correct?  In my opinion, Yes, when considered in the context of the numbers and types of properties, and  rapidly changing industry standards and guest expectations.
  1. Do the ratings have credibility with the traveling public? The more than 40 million AAA members and millions of non-members  think so.
Next article:  Courses of action when you disagree with your 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: The Unsung Heroes / Feb 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
Remaining Hospitable in an Inhospitable World / August 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
Mobil Travel Guide Announces 1998 Mobil Four-and Five-Star Award Winners / Jan 1998 
Are Your Employees Checking Out As Fast As Your Guests / Setting Up an Effective Training Program / Harry Nobles / May 1999 
The Legend of the Pineapple / Harry Nobles / Feb 1999 
To Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting Index Page

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