THE travel industry cares deeply about star ratings as an indicator of quality but has no faith in the present system. The 200+ audience at No Vacancy last week was asked two questions. First, did they believe star ratings are important? The response was a big yes with an overwhelming show of hands. Second, did they think the present star rating system, as administered by AAA Tourism, was working effectively? The answer was a resounding no – a few hands went up but far more stayed down.

AAA Tourism boss Jeff Floyd handled the feedback well, defending the scheme while recognising certain weaknesses and promising its continued evolution. But he said there are no plans to incorporate service into the evaluations (a big issue with the Australian Hotels Association) due to cost. Floyd welcomed consumer rating sites and said user reviews would be displayed alongside official reviews on the AAA Tourism website, perhaps a blue print for the future. 

He also revealed the results of a consumer survey that asked consumers "how important are the following factors" when booking a room? This is the rankings of their results, and it isn’t great news for the marketers … 1. Price/Value; 2. Quality of facility; 3. Location/Nearby Attractions; 4. Service Quality; 5. STAR Rating; 6. Actual Facilities in Room; 7. Actual Facilities in Property; 8. Previous Stay; 9. Atmosphere/Ambience; 10. Testimonials; 11. Internet Booking Service; 12. Brand. Travel Trends: 22 April, 2008

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