Hotel star rating system is one of the main ways hotels are assessed and rated. This is important, because potential customers may look at the star ratings of a hotel before deciding whether to book a room there. Here, you can find out about the types of hotel star ratings that exist, what they mean, and their overall significance.

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What is the History Behind the Hotel Star Rating System?

The commonly used hotel star rating system was created in 1958 by the Mobil Corporation, an oil company in the United States. This unusual beginning can be explained by the creation of the Mobil Travel Guide, which was intended to promote road trips in the USA. Star ratings were allocated to hotels, based on set criteria.

In the years since the Mobil Travel Guide has been renamed to the Forbes Travel Guide and it has expanded, covering hotels all around the world. Hotels are rated by anonymous inspectors, who utilise set criteria to make their judgements. Hotel star ratings span from 1-star up to the prestigious 5-star rating, which is earned only by the best hotels.

International Standardisation of Hotel Star Rating Systems

At present, despite attempts from several organisations within the hotel industry, there is no international standard for hotel star ratings. With that being said, individual guides, such as the aforementioned Forbes Travel Guide, do have set criteria for actually rating hotels, and star ratings are the most common system for evaluating hotels.

Some countries have a hotel star rating system that is governed by their hotel industry association, with Germany being one of the biggest examples. However, some companies and hotel evaluators do use different systems, such as allocating hotels a certain number of diamonds, or a letter grade, with ‘A’ being the best, and ‘F’ being the worst.

What is the Significance of Hotel Star Ratings?

Customers make decisions about which hotels to book by weighing up a number of different factors. For example, they may look into the location, the price, the facilities, or the hotel technology being deployed. However, a major part of this decision is going to be based on what they anticipate in terms of service and the customer experience.

With this in mind, hotel star ratings have the power to impact customers’ booking decisions by providing them with insights into what the may expect from a hotel. A higher star rating indicates that a hotel offers a better experience, and customers will then factor this into their decision-making, while still considering other factors, like pricing.

Video: What’s the difference between a 4★ and 5★ hotel?


What Does Each Hotel Star Rating Mean?

Hotels can be given ratings from 1-star all the way up to 5-stars. While most people are aware that a 5-star hotel is highly recommended, it is important to take a closer look at precisely what each rating actually means.

1-Star Hotel

A 1-star hotel is the lowest hotel rating given by guides like the Forbes Travel Guide. Hotels of this kind offer the absolute basics, which means a room with a bed and a bathroom, and very little else. There will not be additional amenities on-site, meaning you will not be able to visit the hotel restaurant. With that being said, most hotels with this hotel star rating will be budget hotels, suitable for those with modest needs.

2-Star Hotel

A 2-star hotel is still going to be aimed at more budget-conscious travellers, and will still provide the essentials, such as a room, a bed, and a bathroom. On-site dining of some kind is usually available, and rooms may have extras, such as a television. Front desk services are more complete than with 1-star hotels and some additional services may be available, but these will usually be fee-based, meaning guests will need to pay extra and specifically request them.

3-Star Hotel

For a hotel to achieve 3-star status, the hotel management will need to focus on delivering a more complete service. In addition to larger hotel rooms, with high-quality furnishings, properties with this hotel star rating will offer additional services and facilities, and these may include a gym, a swimming pool, an on-site restaurant, public wi-fi, and conference rooms for business customers. Many of these hotels will also be part of an established, well-known chain.

4-Star Hotel

A hotel star rating of 4-stars means that a property offers an excellent guest experience. The hotel rooms will be large, lavish, well decorated, and will include plenty of extras. Significant investment will be made in hotel technology, and customer service will be a top priority The on-site restaurant will provide a very good dining experience, while the various additional amenities and services will go beyond those offered by 3-star hotels.

5-Star Hotel

5-stars is the hotel star rating given to the very best hotels in the world. These properties are large, filled with luxury offerings, and provide spacious rooms, with the best facilities. Cleanliness and customer service will be at the very highest level and the on-site gyms, pools, restaurants and bars will also be of exceptional quality. In many cases, these hotels will also feature the very best designs and maybe based within unique buildings.

Introduction of 7-Star Hotels

One of the more popular hotel marketing strategies of recent times has involved promoting certain notable or outstanding properties as being 7-star hotels. This concept is often pushed by the tourist board of a particular country, or by the business itself, and it is intended to highlight the hotel as being extra special.

For example, Dubai’s Burj Al Arab hotel has often been given the 7-star label, citing its Rolls Royce shuttle service, butler for every room, and unique architecture, among other attributes. Similarly, the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi also claims 7-star status. However, this luxury hotel only has a 5-star rating in reality.

No major publication, or reputable hotel rating organisation actually assesses hotels on a scale up to 7-stars and this is, in reality, a simple hotel marketing trend, which is intended to separate the most luxurious and extravagant hotels in the world from the various other hotels that have also been awarded 5-star status.

Green Key International Certifications for Hotel Excellence

While hotel star rating systems have historically focused on areas like quality of service, luxury offerings, and the facilities of the hotel, it is becoming increasingly common for properties to be rated according to other factors, such as how sustainable their practices are, and how well they promote environmental consciousness.

The biggest example of this is Green Key International, a respected environmental body, which awards hotels and other guest accommodation the Green Key label if they meet set criteria. Much of these criteria are focused on issues like waste, clean energy, water management, sustainability, and overall environmental awareness.

In general, the concept of eco-friendly travel is becoming more important, especially as customers become more aware of some of the negative consequences associated with travel and tourism practices. With this in mind, Green Key hotels are able to separate themselves from other hotels by portraying their business as a more ethical choice.

Hotel Star Ratings on OTAs

One of the more significant and potentially misleading hotel trends that customers and others in the hotel industry need to be aware of when exploring hotel star ratings is the issue of star ratings listed on online platforms, such as online travel agencies (OTAs) and hotel metasearch engines.

Many of these platforms allow hotels to self-select their own star rating when they sign up for the service. Although many hotels prioritise credibility and do self-select the star rating they have achieved from reputable organisations, some hotels may instead opt to mislead customers by choosing a higher star rating than they have actually achieved.

Different platforms have different approaches to tackling this issue. However, in general, hotels should promote themselves with integrity. Many of these platforms also showcase customer reviews and assign a customer rating to hotels. If your hotel star rating and customer rating are drastically different, customers may become suspicious.

Tips to Boost OTA Bookings

Developing your offering and raising your hotel star rating is a great way to increase bookings. However, there are many other ways that hotels can boost demand and generate more bookings from OTAs, with examples including showcasing the hotel with the right photographs, using a hotel channel manager, and optimising your hotel description.

To explore these and a number of other strategies for increasing bookings through online travel agencies and similar platforms, take a look at the “OTA: 10 Tips To Increase Your Hotel Bookings Through OTAs” article.

Hotel star ratings help customers to make judgements about the quality of a hotel and the level of service they can expect. Hotels that achieve good star ratings often make it a key part of their hotel marketing strategy, and achieving 5-star status is considered to be extremely prestigious within the industry.

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