The AAA Star Rating System was established back in the 1950’s when the Australian Auto Clubs began assessing accommodation on behalf of its members. Over time it grew to become the recognised symbol for quality accommodation standards. In recent years there has been much debate about the future relevance of the star ratings system following the rapid onslaught of property visibility and guest opinion in the online world. Once considered the holy grail of “Hotel Ranking” with over 15,000 Australian hotels subscribed to the program, just this week (early March 2017), it has been announced that Star Ratings Australia will be closing it’s doors due to un-sustainability of the business model. While this tells a story in and of itself, let’s take a look at some of the reasons behind it.
WHY the Star Rating system DID work
WHY IT FAILED
A New Trust Equation Online Reviews are now far more important than official star ratings. There you go I said it. It’s true. Research tells us the over 60% of travelers, won’t make a booking decision before consulting with reviews from previous guests first. Think about your own experience when it comes to buying just about anything. You will listen to those that have come before you and paid their hard earned cash and experienced the actually product, more than you will listen to any form of marketing or promotion. The trust is now evidence based, from real people and real experiences. So optimizing your Review sites and in particular your TripAdvisor listing is critical. Read our article on how TripAdvisor rank your property. It Self Policies Self rating of properties, once frowned upon, now soon sorts itself out if someone wants to play the dangerous game of ‘fudging’ your star rating. If you say you are 4 star, and you are actually 3 star (to make you appear good value), guests will quickly ensure you’ll be found by way of numerous poor reviews. While you may receive a spike in initial bookings it will take you some time until you recover from those online reviews. Equally if you reverse the situation and claim to be a lower star rating than you really are (to go for an under promise over deliver approach) you will likely attract the wrong type of customer to your property and your whole value offer may not get traction in the market place. So you must be true to who you are. It’s an important part of the new ‘trust’ equation in the modern age. Deeper Insight Representation of Quality, Inclusions and Condition is not enough anymore. Th combination of self-rating systems and online reviews now also provides;
The AA star rating system was good, but ultimately failed because it didn’t shift with the guest demands. This is hospitality 101 so we should always be on the look out for what guests are looking for. The static and stiff model was over-ridden by a more nimble, and insightful model. Sound familiar? LESSONS So what are the lessons from all this?