This week, booking.com has announced that it will be releasing star ratings for its comparatively new homestay listing category.
And it’s their own – pretty much subjective – view of a property, based on amenities and quality rather than simply the current guest approval rating.
Airbnb sort of does the same, through giving hosts the opportunity to become Superhosts or even trade up to Plus properties – or Luxe, perhaps, for the odd millionaire! But the only other way to sort the wheat from the chaff is to read between the lines on the guest reviews, and work out the level of luxury from the price.
Which is fine; but it’s hard work, and puts all that toil on the guest.
I spent much of my early career as a hotel inspector for various bodies, assuming the mantle of judge and jury. To paraphrase ‘Blade Runner’, I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe (maybe near enough)! And I’ve seen many a property presented in the best possible light for an inspection, but which I’ve left feeling little confidence that everyone coming after me will experience the same.
Still, many people feel it’s very important to have a star rating system so they can have some idea ahead of a stay what they’re likely to find. And it does take an element of that work away from the guest, because someone else has endorsed it.
In the early days of travel, perhaps, that rating probably was a vital part of the guest experience. When the privileged guest arrived by horse and carriage on a journey that might take a day, he had to know whether he’d get to eat at a roadside establishment. And later, when the people who stayed most often at hotels were travelling salesmen away from home, it actually mattered whether there was a trouser press – often the difference between three and four star for a property – so they could woo their customers with sharp creases.
But in these days where everything is constantly shared, every experience, every view from the window, every extra twirl of sugar work on a mille-feuille, having some bloke in a suit trying to be anonymous staying in a roadside branded hotel and trying out the in-room kettle seems hardly relevant.
What should surely matter to the guest – even more than whether there’s 24-hour room service – is knowing he or she will be comfortable, well-served, and safe.
Airbnb actually suggests to the guest – quite late on in the booking process – that the host hasn’t ticked the box to say there’s any safety equipment, and they might like to bring their own. It rocks me to my core to think that so many millions of people are blissfully unaware that tens of thousands of properties proudly promoted on Airbnb do not have fire sensing equipment or even carbon monoxide testing equipment. This is why having an accreditation system where the accommodation has been rigorously tested to ensure that professional standards have been examined and passed scrutiny, and this on a regular basis to confirm continuity in the quality of care, should mean so much more.
I make no apology for banging this same drum over and over. I’m getting so used to it I might just take it up professionally. We’re proud to have developed the ISAAP Accreditation which our Members – and their guests – enjoy.
It should be, but isn’t everywhere, a given, that the guest is assured they will enjoy a professionally-managed and safe stay wherever they go. But we at ASAP are trying with all our efforts, to get there. The serviced apartment and aparthotel sector offers the experiential nature of hospitality the modern consumer expects, especially having sampled the occasionally erratic delights of living like a local via the sharing economy. But ISAAP Accreditation shows the creative and enjoyable experience is combined with professional management and the guest experience as a priority.