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The Thing About Hotel Star Ratings…

2011 June 24

Gosh this year seems to be going so fast I can hardly keep up.  After our tremendous success with 3 in a bed over 350 emails, calls and letters of support which are still coming in, we have been truly amazed!  Thank you all so much for taking the time to write to us. I however owe a huge ‘Thank you’   to Sheila West and her team for all their input to my website and social networking sites.  We are now on Facebook, Twitter and of course our very own Blog!  We hope to continue to entertain you endlessly.

The latest news is that I have an interview with the Southern Daily Echo within their Health and Lifestyle – Living section. It will prove to be an exciting and juicy article I hope so do look out for it!

As usual running a bed and breakfast provides so much to talk about as we have interesting people that come and stay with us.  My business is mainly leisure with a small amount of business to business.  With this highly challenging economic situation for us all no matter what industry you find yourself in, we have had an increase in the number of corporate clients. Overall they are very impressed with what we are offering and have been very surprised that we are not graded by the AA or Visit Britain.  However I am continually struggling with the grading system we have in this country as it is rather like visiting a Doctor that has no consistency within the grading system so therefore I have opted out.  Am I doing the right thing by taking such a bold step I ask myself…..is it damaging to my business by not belonging to an institution like the AA or Visit Britain….do I lose European clients by not being a member…..or have they both lost their way in the new line of Boutique Hotels and bed and breakfasts that are fast becoming the most popular choice of the British?

Anyone who is addicted to ‘3 in a bed’, ‘Hotel Inspector’ or ‘4 in a bed’ will have seen a cross mixture of so called ‘4 star’ and ‘5 star’ ratings.  With the greatest respect I have been most surprised at a few of the properties and their ratings.  When you examine more closely what the criteria is, it becomes more apparent why the system is out dated.  As a property owner of a 3 bedroom  home, you are asked for large sums of money from the AA ( about £360 a year) and Visit Britain (£478 a year) respectively to have your business assessed by them. They give their opinion which can be very positive, however if it is not uninformed it is open to abuse.  I feel this in recent times seems to be where the issue is.  You are also competing with many different types of establishments and how do you stand out from the crowd in what seems to be a bit of a ’racket’ or ‘money for old rope’ for the AA and Visit Britain?  Rather a clever idea when you think about it….How does spending that type of funds on your website or google Adwords  compare?  These are all questions that we have to ask ourselves when we commit to possibly an out dated grading system.

Maybe we should have a website that is set up for clients called www.yourateit.com .  Before you can leave a review, you would have use your real name and provide proof that you stayed with this hotel or bed and breakfast, making it harder for silly reviews that are the down side to Tripadvisor.  Let us be honest here, places are graded 1 to 5 star, I know for a fact that we have a new level immerging for 6 star and above.  This needs to be taken in to consideration as people’s expectations are more sophisticated with the development of interior design.  The average person these days has very stylish, beautiful and comfortable homes. Why would they go and stay somewhere worst than their own home?  Therefore it is important that the standards are kept to the highest level and with fashionable surroundings. Grunge does not cut it I am afraid! This is where Tripadvisor has made a huge impact, love it or hate it…..it is above the grading system of the AA and Visit Britain at present.

Tripadvisor, which has gained a very formidable reputation is not only delightful in its approach, it is also free.  There to keep us all on our toes. Very much followed by us all, with many interesting, amusing, funny and sometimes dreadful ‘porky pie’ reviews, as it is not monitored.  If you wish to review a hotel or bed and breakfast, you can do so having no proof you had actually stayed there at all!  It was set up to give the ‘rookie’ back packer accurate information about hostels and places to stay and eat in unknown territories.  It seems to have elevated itself to an unlisted review guru that is quite happy to print everything that a client wishes to complain about…..from not enough topping on their pizza to a hotel not being able to read the minds of it guests that have checked in and decided they do not like their room but refuse to communicate this matter to the Management!

My bed and breakfast has been graded by real people who tell their friends and family that we are the place to stay as they had a fantastic time.  Like everyone in this industry we all work extremely hard to ensure our guests have a memorial and amazing time.

I would happily have a grading system, but not I am afraid what is on offer at present from the AA and Visit Britain, I would fall down at the first hurdle as my place is too contemporary.  I would be very interested to hear other people’s view.  Maybe the government should run a scheme that it endorses for our European and worldwide market.  I also have not touched on Andrew Sawday, Mr and Mrs Smith and Wolsey Lodges.  Have you had any experience of these and if so how did they compare?

Until next time……when goodness knows what my little brain will come up with to chat to you about….we love your comments and views so please do keep them coming in…..

Liese

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