Time to measure our hotel stars

Classification seems to be the new buzz word in the hotel industry, and about time too. For far too long there has been a disparity between the standards of five-star hotels, with some offering services more akin to a standard four-star property, while others are so deluxe that they have taken to marketing themselves as ‘seven star’.

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  June 6, 2006

Time to measure our hotel stars|~||~||~|Classification seems to be the new buzz word in the hotel industry, and about time too. For far too long there has been a disparity between the standards of five-star hotels, with some offering services more akin to a standard four-star property, while others are so deluxe that they have taken to marketing themselves as ‘seven star’. Meanwhile, the mid-tier market has remained a minefield of substandard properties and services, with the odd gem of a three- or four-star branded hotel. Earlier this month, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Dubai, announced that it is to introduce a new hotel classification system, with up to 20 categories for various property types, in a bid to raise standards and services. While star ratings are not expected to exceed the seven stars enjoyed by Burj Al Arab, there will be between 15 and 20 different categories, to account for relative newcomers to the market, such as boutique hotels. The DTCM announcement follows on from Oman’s recent revitalisation of its hotel classification system. The new system, introduced this month, offers stars for service and keys for space, with 351 special criteria for hotels to meet to ensure quality, and is the result of six months work by the ministry of tourism. In Oman, the new system has been met with mixed reviews. Some hoteliers feel the new categories are too strict, and interfere with hotel operations, others have welcomed it as a step towards bringing hotels in line with the international marketplace. Other markets looking at bringing their star systems in line with international standards include Saudi Arabia and the emirate of Sharjah. It is great to see that markets are looking to raise standards across the board, enabling local, regional and international chains to compete on a level playing field. However, does this move signal that the time is right for the industry to push for a globalisation of standards? Travellers are spreading their wings more and more, as advancements in technology enable us to see more of the world. Hotels need to bear this in mind, and ensure that the quality of their product is not only equal to the best in their competitive set, but that it is also worthy of a place on the international stage.||**||

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