DirectoriesAdd Your Business
News Archive Search
Dear Star (Rating): You Donít Shine As Bright These Days
By feature writer Carla Caccavale
I know you know this hotelier. You’ve met him (or her) at least once in your lifetime. The one who is with a five-star hotel and lets you know it. Repeatedly. They would ink it across their forehead if facial tattoos were acceptable in their world, but guests and colleagues would probably turn an eyebrow up at it.
Maybe you’ve noticed less of these hoteliers recently? If so, I don’t think it’s because egos are shrinking or there is a decreasing number of five-star accommodations. It’s the stars themselves you can point the finger at. In this world of increasingly important online reviews star ratings have lost some of the shine. They are not the popular, puff-up-your-chest-and-brag-about-monikers they once were. We have the rankings and ratings of online review sites, OTAs, social media and the growing number of guests who post all of this user-generated feedback to thank for this.
The playing field has become a more leveled. Three- and four-star properties that formerly would not be listed alongside five-star digs (in the static star-rated rosters) now can come up alongside, if not ahead, of its once superior competitors. The exploding and continuously growing review space has changed the ranking game. The stars need to face the music; they aren’t the driving force and deciding factor they once were.
Let’s be clear; I am not knocking five-star hotels. I love an incredible hotel as much as the next person and five-star accommodations usually live up to the hype and price they get. However, stars, in the sense of star ratings, alone should not define a hotel. It’s the memorable experiences, the exceptional service, the thoughtful gestures, the staffer who calls you by name, the bellman who goes out of their way, the GM who sends you a hand-written note that make a hotel shine. Regardless if they have three, four or five stars. Selecting a hotel based on star rating alone would be like picking friends solely on net worth. Guest reviews are putting the focus on the true stars of the industry: the hospitality employees who go above and beyond to deliver an amazing experience.
We have something called the TrustScore, which is a ranking, based on a possible top billing of 100, pulled from a compilation of guest feedback across all major user-generated review sites to measure how a hotel is rated in one single, easy-to-read, centralized “TrustScore.” Content from over 250 sites go into the determination of this score. What does not get weighted? The number of stars. If your hotel is hitting it out of the park and getting glowing reviews you can have a score in the high 80’s and 90’s, putting you in the “Excellent” category. You might not get white-glove butler service and champagne at check-in at these properties, you may or may not have the option of 24-hour room service. What you can expect, based on the vast majority of guest feedback, is some solid service, a clean room and satisfied travelers singing the praises of one of these hotels.
Here’s a look at a sampling of hotels that are *not* five-star accommodations, yet they boast an “Excellent” TrustScore based on the compilation of online feedback: (Hotel name, followed by score out of 100)
A Best Western. A Holiday Inn Express. Jerry’s Motel. Not exactly what you’d typically think of when it comes to the “head of the pack,” yet it’s clear – from guest feedback – that these properties are doing something right. (Note: You can check the TrustScore of over 400,000 properties worldwide here.)
An astonishing 92% of consumers worldwide said they trust “earned media” (word-of-mouth, friends and family) above all other forms of advertising (Nielsen Global Trust Survey). This is an 18% jump since 2007 and social media and review sites have no doubt contributed to this increase as the process of sharing recommendations has become much easier, often times unsolicited (as it pops up in your Facebook stream and you think, “I should try that hotel the next time I am in New York”). The bottom line is that people trust recommendations from people they know. And who they “know” is growing as you see what friends of friends have to say and suggest across social networks. On review sites you might not even know the person, yet they become a trusted source of information just by the high level of detail they have shared about a particular experience and the number of past reviews they have posted.
So the next time you think you can’t compete with the guy next door (they have newer rooms, they have fancier amenities, they have whatever else you might not have but wish you did), think back to service. Focus on the true stars of the industry: the hospitality employees who go above and beyond to deliver an amazing experience. Invest in your staff and remember the stars, in the sense of the traditional “static” ratings, aren’t shining as brightly as they once were. You can come up on the top of list that drives revenue and repeat guests simply by being the best by impressing guests who go on to write glowing reviews like the ones the guests before wrote that likely influenced them to come stay with you in the first place.
About the author
Carla Caccavale, Brand Strategist for TrustYou and founder of Carla Caccavale PR, has a passion for the hospitality industry and a relentless pursuit of perfecting the guest experience through exceptional customer service. From award-winning PR campaigns to common-sense driven programs and an emphasis on intense attention to detail, Carla helps clients increase awareness while building brand advocates in a meaningful, measurable way. Her deep roots in the hospitality industry, from individual hotels to destinations, airlines, tour operators and websites give Carla a hands-on, comprehensive understanding of the travel world. Carla takes an integrated approach and considers all channels when looking to accomplish a brand's goals, including online reviews, social media, direct-to-consumer communication, on-property execution, and the marketing program as a whole. Carla has live, on-camera broadcast experience, having made appearances as a spokesperson on major national networks shows, such as TODAY (NBC), Good Morning America (ABC), The Early Show (CBS), American Morning (CNN), CNN Headline News and more. She has spoken on the topics of secrets to winning PR awards and creating superior PR campaigns. In addition to underscoring the importance of creativity, Carla puts an emphasis on implementing PR campaigns that drive revenue, awareness and visitors. Her byline has appeared in a variety of publications and she recently appeared on Travel Channel's "Hotel Impossible."
Visit our sponsors