Govennment department plans to replace stars with blogs.
As a child, I remember going to stay at an hotel with a yellow AA shield by the door which announced that the establishment had an AA star. Later, I stayed at both 2-star and possibly 3-star AA hotels. For some strange reason, my mother did not trust the RAC ratings and so I think we gave those hotels a miss.
Back in those days, one also received an annual copy of the neatly bound AA-Membership handbook which listed all of the towns with their population and early closing day. It also gave a list of the hotels and their star ratings.
Sadly, we have moved on from ‘those days’. Early closing on Wednesdays is no longer within our contemplation and even the star system is under threat.
The governments ‘tourism strategy’, whatever that is, is being drawn-up by officials from the department of Culture, Media and Sport. Do these people not have proper jobs to go to?
They are expected to argue that the star system does not reflect value for money or what guests now want. Their plan is that guests should post anonymous reviews on a web site to encourage or discourage future visitors. Presumably, these departmental wallahs have not read some of the tripe that is published on these un-moderated feedback sites.
At the moment, bodies such as Visit England grade accommodation much as the AA used to do. They also give gold and silver awards to those that they regard as the best in each classification section. This system of grading is certainly slower and more considered than the subjective and sometimes malicious web blog but it may give a much more objective view of the establishment.
Of course it can be difficult to judge a hotel. You can have a great weekend and recommend it to friends who then have a dreadful time because the manager changed or the chef was sick.
I can see some value in reading blogs from recent visitors but please do not just throw away a star rating system that has stood the test of time.
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3 February 2011, 09:58AM
Rating systems are a bit flawed in that hoteliers have to pay to be part of the rating agency but they do give a clear guide to classification.
15 February 2011, 02:13PM
I miss the traditional AA membership handbook and always relied on the star rating system, however it appears that like a lot of good old-fashioned tools it has become obsolete.
17 March 2011, 12:53PM
Catriona makes valid points, however I think with such useful tools as the Internet most of us don't make the time to sit and look through a guide they will just look at the reviews online.
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