With all the different options for reviewing hotel stays and providing online feedback for travel products and services, business travelers may find themselves asking, “How hard is it to find decent lodging with decent reviews?” The key is to understand that hotel rating systems vary from place to place. Additionally, there is a difference between a hotel’s rating and its guest reviews.
What are hotel rating systems?
Hotel rating systems are meant to provide an accurate and unbiased assessment of accommodations. In the U.S., the American Automobile Association (AAA) runs the “AAA Diamond Rating Process.” This system only rates hotels that meet AAA’s essential requirements based on things like cleanliness and comfort. Ratings are indicative of service, amenities, and décor. Keep in mind, however, that each country uses different systems. You can’t really compare a 3-star hotel in the U.S. to a 3-star hotel in Europe.
Christopher Elliott, author of “How to be the World’s Smartest Traveler,” submits the opinion that in many places, ratings are manipulated by clever reputation management operatives and can’t be trusted. Though Elliot may be on to something, don’t completely negate the validity of AAA’s process. This is where it can be valuable to weigh and compare a hotel’s ratings with its guest reviews. Though guest reviews can sometimes be fueled by circumstantial frustrations, they come from the people actually eating the food, swimming in the pool, and sleeping in the beds.
As you can see, next time you’re selecting lodging based on ratings, a little bit of investigative work may be necessary. Make sure you understand what the rating systems mean, and take the time to read a handful of guest reviews for a well-rounded picture of what your stay could be like.