Swiss Approval Technische Bewertung S.A.

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Common International Restrictions for Hotel Classification Systems

The issue of developing a common international classification system for tourist accommodation is considered to be particularly complex for the following reasons:

  1. 1. The culture between countries or tourist destinations is different and the sense of luxury and comfort is highly differentiated around the world.
  2. 2. The wide variety of tourist and hotel facilities, and the ever-increasing diversity, have a significant impact on the ranking standards concerning the comfort and satisfaction of the customer of different categories and origins.
  3. 3. A large number of existing classification systems are embedded in very different cultural and economic environments, which makes it extremely difficult to converge and harmonise classification systems.
  4. 4. The methods of construction of accommodation units and the operational models vary considerably between different geographical areas.
  5. 5. The different climatic conditions between different destinations are a major constraint for the convergence of existing classification systems.

Despite the above-mentioned difficulties, there are a number of evaluation factors that are objectively commonly accepted as advantages for most ranking systems:

  1. 1. Consumer information. This factor is of great importance because, by definition, the hotel is often far from the home – or even the country of origin – of its customer. The ranking is therefore an indicator, a piece of information that gives the customer confidence before, during and after planning his trip.
  2. 2. Evaluation for travel agents and travel agencies. From the point of view of travel agents and operators, there is a clear need for an objective reference point that they can use when preparing their catalogues, negotiating with hotels the wholesale price of packages, or formulating customised packages with various additional services. Although second-party controls can be applied in this case from the tour operators’ point of view to evaluate hotels, the ranking is the main ‘rating guide’ for the hospitality industry.
  3. 3. Sales and marketing strategy. Hotel operators use their ranking (the number of stars) to promote their special features and additional services, based on the ‘certification platform’ on which their stars are based. At the national level of the destination country, on the other hand, any process of upgrading or developing their classification systems emphasises their intention to enhance the quality level of the national tourism product. In this way, the classification system itself can be an element of tourism promotion.
  4. 4. A quality measurement tool. The hotel star rating system makes it possible to assess in a coherent way a sector characterised, as mentioned, by a considerable diversity of accommodation establishments, the majority of which are run by entrepreneurs or by businesses employing fewer than 10 people.
  5. 5. Promoting investment and attracting projects to upgrade and develop the tourism industry. The ranking systems are indicators for sizing investment projects in the hospitality sector.

The International Classification Framework

Today there are several examples of individual regional classification systems, such as in Europe, under the supervision of HOTREC, in Southeast Asia under ASEAN, in East Africa, and in West Africa under ECOWAS, with different criteria and evaluation methodologies.

On the other hand, private schemes are implemented by independent organisations which grant the relevant labels or ‘awards’ according to criteria they have established themselves. Such systems are most commonly found in the United States, Ireland and several Latin American countries. These systems have, of course, the advantages of being flexible and easily adaptable to the particularities of the companies being evaluated.

Swiss Approval Classification System approach – HSTAR Swiss Approval Classification System approach – HSTAR

International classification systems generally consist of 5 levels, some private systems include fewer levels and some more, for example up to 7 stars – quality classification levels – which are found in the Middle East.

The ranking system developed by Swiss Approval is fully compatible with the existing international ranking framework. Swiss Approval’s approach is based on specific requirements – rating parameters, which are complementary to any National or Private Ranking System.

The introduction of the additional PLUS star “+STAR” for the three highest ranks/levels of each existing ranking system is based on a specific evaluation of the services provided by the hotel, using Swiss Approval’s special Mystery Guest questionnaires, with a plurality of assessable points scored by the Agency’s empirical inspectors. The ranking model is called HSTAR and was developed by Swiss Approval international.

HSTAR functional specifications and quality ranking criteria for hotels

Swiss Approval’s ranking scheme envisages the expansion of the ranking framework from the five (5) or seven (7) classes/stars currently provided by the international ranking framework to 8 or 10 in order to ensure a correspondence between the expected service and the final level of service quality provided to customers.

The eight (8) or ten (10) new HSTAR ranking levels are derived from the existing five (5) or seven (7) basic ranking categories, with additional differentiation of PLUS stars for categories 3, 4 and 5 or 5,6,7 stars.

The HSTAR star classification system for hospitality services is detailed in the tables below:

5 Star/Level Classification Table

Swiss Approval Certification System adapted to each applicable system

Table of 7 stars/levels

Swiss Approval Certification System adapted to each applicable system

The technical evaluation characteristics of the accommodation remain unchanged, as they are related to the applicable legislation.

The Operational (Functional) characteristics are rather common to all levels of the existing classification systems, as they relate to basic infrastructure and minimum required safety criteria, also defined by legislation and applicable building regulations.

The assessment of additional qualitative characteristics, as is still the case today, essentially categorises tourist accommodation in the minds of the customer in a differentiated way which adds value to these modern perspectives on classification systems.

The additional, these, evaluated quality criteria are those related to the “positive sign” “PLUS” 3+, 4+ & 5+ or 5+, 6+ & 7+ in the HSTAR system Certification levels.

It is exactly those that constitute the “PLUS” in the quality of hospitality services as sealed with the Swiss Approval International reliability mark!!!