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Is the hotel classification really useful?

Di Antonio Caneva, 23 Maggio 2003

In Italy we apply a mandatory hotel star classification to determine hotel categories and thus identify the quality level of the respective facilities and services.
It would seem to be a clear and rational procedure, but unfortunately we immediately stumble on a peculiarity of the system that makes it difficult to define hotel quality in relation to classes: it is a regional legislation, with each area establishing its own standards, which may be widely different even between neighbouring regions. Another reason why it is difficult to judge hotels only on the basis of their star classification, is that scant controls are performed after the rating has been assigned; while it is unlikely that any structural characteristics may me substantially changed at least for a few years after the classification, the same does not apply to service quality, which often becomes significantly different from the standards of reference. One of the classification requirements that are most often not fulfilled, for example, is that rooms are tidied up at night.
Some help in the assessment of standards is provided by the ISO classification, setting out all the relevant procedures. Even more useful in defining quality is the assurance provided by a hotel forming part of a consolidated hotel chain, which by constant monitoring of the establishment can guarantee its quality level within acceptable limits, in terms of both its facilities and service, thus in fact superseding regional hotel classifications, which are sometimes contradictory and ultimately entrusted to the sensitivity of hotel managers.
Dennis Zambon, General Manager of the Milan Hilton, mentioned in a conference that his Company, in the annual summary report on operations, before inquiring about economic data, requests information on the employee satisfaction level. Belonging to an important hotel company, whether owned or based on franchising or management agreements, involves the strict compliance with a whole set of requirements, and the defined standards allow in fact to replace the role of classification in the relations with customers.

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