As most of you are probably aware, hotel ratings have gone through many different transformations throughout their existence.
From old-school Mobil (stars) and AAA (diamonds), to today’s OTA star ratings, hotel ratings have became much more complicated. The biggest problem – both for hotels and for consumers who base their decision-making on star ratings as an indicator of quality – is that not all star ratings for a hotel are the same across multiple sites. Most of the OTAs base their ratings on a subjective analysis of a property, based on completely inconsistent metrics.
So it leaves hotels between a rock and a hard place (or perhaps between a star and a diamond?). The question is: which rating system has more impact on your business and your revenues?
In today’s overly crowded hotel marketplace, consumers use OTAs (rather than online search engines) as a tool to research the hotels available in a destination. (A small aside – if your property doesn’t have a presence on the OTAs then you’re missing out on all of this business. What are you thinking?!) Today, travelers rarely visit Mobil or AAA to find out the star rating of a hotel; instead, they base their decisions on the star rating provided by their OTA of choice.
An added factor that demonstrates the importance of your star rating on the OTAs: most sites give consumers the ability to search by star rating, so if you are not being included in the appropriate classification category, you may be losing a lot of business. In our experience, a loss of half of a star on the OTAs, can result in a $40-50 loss in RevPAR. Extrapolate that number out based on all of the rooms in your property and that can add up to MILLIONS of dollars lost because of an error in your star rating on the OTAs.
Hoteliers and revenue managers should ensure that their property has parity in star ratings across all of the OTAs. If not, then there is work to be done.
Use your property’s relationships with the OTAs to get your ratings changed. For example, if your property is rated as a three-star property on Expedia and four-star property on Hotels.com, then petition your Expedia account manager to increase your rating. Since most of the OTAs don’t have a consistent appeals process, your success will come down to whether you can actually argue a case for your claim. Provide as much concrete proof and info to support your claim, including a list of other OTAs (or local Mobil/AAA ratings) that rate your property higher. Once you’ve gotten your ratings into parity, they should be monitored on a regular basis to ensure that they stay consistent.
So my advice for today is this: fight for your property’s stars. Make sure that your property is being reflected in the fairest light so that potential travelers will be encouraged to book with your property over the competition. When it comes to star ratings, you have absolutely nothing to lose but so much (revenue) to gain!
By Jean Francois Mourier, CEO of REVPAR GURU