Ethiopia’s introduction of the hotel grading and accreditation system came as good news and a welcome trait to some hotel owners. Although the star system is recognized internationally, it is not awarded by international standards but by national ones. Local hotels depend on grading while internationally known multi chains consider grading to be relatively unimportant.
Proper classification of hotels is an indicator that can give confidence to the visitor throughout the stay. A standardized listing gives easy access to industry stakeholders and clients. The quality measurement tool grants the hotel a coherent framework that makes it possible to evaluate in a consistent manner.
The classification of platforms can be used as an instrument for marketing and promotion as hotels can feature their star rating and additional services they offer based on their rating. The government also has a take on this as they desire to improve the quality of their national tourism which contributes to the economy. The sector is branded by the extreme diversity of accommodation units which makes classification a challenge because it is highly embedded in different cultural and economic contexts.
Star ratings are general quality indicators and should be regarded as so – broad guidelines in measuring a hotel’s general quality, amenities, and customer satisfaction; ratings are not meant to be perfectly precise. All the facilities and services that a hotel offers may not necessarily be reflected in star ratings.
In the growing hospitality and tourism industry, consumers are becoming more selective and demanding while choosing accommodation. Consumers rely on grading of the establishments to make their choice. Evidently, star grading is recognized universally nevertheless the system is not administered consistently at an international level.
The absence of statutory law prohibiting hotels from claiming false ratings and the lack of an international body for common grading enables different country-specific grading. A lodge is graded as a luxurious accommodation in most African countries while it is graded as cheap accommodation in India.
The hospitality industry provides different kinds of accommodation to suit the different customers ranging from 5-star luxurious service to affordable accommodation for backpackers. The classification or grading of different kinds of accommodation is very difficult as they can mean different things to different customers coming from different locations.
The star rating system is the most common for hotels. Higher stars indicate more luxury. Some use diamonds instead of stars to rate hotels and other establishments. Although hotels claim six and seven star ratings for their service and operations, most of the grading bodies do not rate beyond five-star and five-star deluxe.
Five-star hotels are categorized as luxurious in all aspects of services, internet connection, recreation centers among others.. Their facet of hospitality, craftsmanship in architecture, landscaping, interior design are expected to portray perfection. The same ambiance is expected for the rooms, facilities, and outer grounds. Business centers and meeting facilities are usually present. Four-star hotels also offer upscale accommodations, with excellent restaurants, fine dining and complete room service.
Three-star hotels are markedly upgraded to include more spacious guest rooms with quality amenities, good dining service, usually a pool and fitness center, well-laid out lobbies, and variable room service. These first-class mid-scale properties offer parking and sometimes medical services. Meeting and conference facilities for business groups or family reunions are occasionally available. Two-star hotels are identified as basic with some business services and fairly complete recreation facilities. In-hotel restaurants have limited menus and typically consist of continental breakfast service. Small to medium size properties are the norm, with medium-priced attractions. Rooms have comfortable accommodations and typically include basic facilities.
One-star hotels are characterized as clean and simple accommodations, usually fulfilling a budget-traveler’s basic needs. Rooms are generally small and amenities are more needs-driven than wants-based. Most will not have on-site restaurants with limited hours to public access and guest reception.
There are also other grading systems implementing different types of grades for different purposes. Some grading systems guarantees cleanliness and value for money while others offer higher standards of service and facilities. The main objective of a consumer looking at a grading system is that he or she is fully aware and informed when purchasing tourism or hotel related services especially accommodation. In modern times with the advent of technology and hotel booking websites such as Jovago.com and hotelscombined, consumers compare various accommodation facilities, prices and guest reviews instead of just buying based on rating.
By Eden Sahle