Destination Hospitality Regulation

Destination Quality Podium

When I look at myself, I feel sorry for myself. When I compare myself, I console myself. “And what if, like Talleyrand, we had a definition of our Quality that was a little too relative and personal in the French way? What if the comparison with the Quality of competing tourist destinations would help to settle the old debate?

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The Standards have continually evolved since the industrialization of the sector. Its two virtues are the legibility of competition and consumer protection. In France, we now refer to a unified classification grid issued by Atout France. The ranking must be renewed every 5 years to ensure the sustainability of the level.

The ranking is not the only quality standard. In parallel, there are safety and health standards for town halls (from the Prefecture to Paris) and quality labels issued by private organizations. The standards are measurable and objective: hygiene, comfort, reception quality, sustainable development.

Quality is also Experience. An element less easily measurable, a little more rebellious to metrics. The extra soul, the unexpected attentions, the decoration, the atmosphere, the scenography…. are at the heart of our concerns. This beautiful dimension makes the choice of a prospect change from one establishment to another. It has become the competitive advantage of a growing number of hotels.

Podium of Destinations

Forbes Magazine reports on the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) 2018 report, with :

A Destination Podium in terms of number of visitors

France: 86.9 million

Spain: 81.8 million

United States: 75.9 million

China: 60.7 million

A Destination Podium in recipes

China: $257.7 billion

United States: $135 billion

Germany: $89.1 billion

United Kingdom: $71.4 billion

France, on this podium, is in fifth position.

Let us retain for our podium Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom and France for Europe, China and the United States. How do France’s competing destinations rate their Quality? What are the Quality standards of the top destinations in the class?

Quality Standards of Destinations

Standards Room Areas

Room Size (square meter)

1 star

2 star

3 star

4 star

5 star



8 m2

12 m2

14 m2

16 m2

18 m2


12 m2

16 m2

18 m2

22 m2

26 m2



7 m2

7 m2

8 m2

9 m2

10 m2


12 m2

14 m2

15 m2

16 m2

17 m2





Simple – Double

14 m2

18 m2

22 m2

30 m2








9,75 m2

11,5 m2

14 m2

20 m2


10,5 m2

10,75 m2

13,5 m2

16 m2

24 m2

– : Not referenced

Standards Services and Equipment

In Germany, the ranking, which is voluntary, ranges from one to five stars. A professional association has been determining and guaranteeing the classification since 2000. The classification has the particularity of being the result of market research. The respective clientele of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 stars. It is the field that makes the standard.

1* – Reception, fax, restaurant with the possibility to have breakfast.

2* – Bedside lamp and chair for each bed, towels, toiletries, payment by credit card.

3* – At least 10% of the rooms are non-smoking, internet access, telephone, full-length mirror, luggage storage, shoe polishing accessories, drinks in the room, safe, heating and hairdryer in the bathrooms, reception available 24 hours a day and insured 14 hours a day, bilingual staff, laundry on request.

4* – Armchairs, 24/24 room service, various amenities in the bathrooms (hygiene products, shower cap, nail file), bathrobe available, slippers on request, reception available 24/24 and insured 18/24, a la carte restaurant, bar, computer with internet access.

5* – Choice of cushions, adjustable light accessible from the bed, flowers, welcome gift in the room, reception assured 24/24 and personalized welcome, valet doorman.

In Spain, the attribution of stars, which is mandatory, has been decentralized and assigned to the Autonomous Regions (as in Italy). Each Region applies its industrial prerogatives in the field. The result is an arduous readability and non-homogeneous classification standards. Below is the common core of the classification standards:

1* – No service criteria, only area criteria

2* – Telephone, heating, elevator, safe.

3* – Telephone, heating, air conditioning in public areas, elevator, safe, bar.

4* – Telephone, heating, air conditioning in the room, elevator, safe, bar.

5* – Telephone, heating, air conditioning in the room, elevator, safe, bar. It is the surface area that enhances the category.

In the United Kingdom, the classification, on a voluntary basis, is managed by Quality Tourism and regulated by the tourism organization “Visit England”. While in the vast majority of countries the quality criteria (i.e. subjective) weigh 10 to 20% (in France, Belgium and Spain), they make up 50% of the British ranking.

The subject in the United Kingdom is not only to note the existence of a standard but to qualify its quality of execution (e.g. breakfast is served with a smile). Innovative, the British ranking is, in my opinion, a decisive step towards measuring Customer Experience.

In the United States, the AAA (American Automobile Association) awards diamonds and not stars. The ranking is voluntary and each country has its own regulations. The ranking would be set by self-proclaimed private organizations and Forbes magazine’s standards are authoritative:

1* – Small, clean rooms at an affordable price.

2* – Rooms of medium size, telephone, television, proximity of a restaurant, proximity of an expressway.

3* – Spacious rooms, restaurant offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, swimming pool, fitness center, close to a shopping area.

4* – Very spacious and well appointed rooms, lobby, fitness center, room service, close to a shopping area.

5* – Luxurious and elegant rooms, well furnished, quality and pro-active staff, jacuzzi, movie theater, several restaurants, fitness center, room service 24/7, close to a shopping area.

In China, hotels are officially rated by the government body CNTA (China National Tourism Association.) Chinese chains are based on the standards issued by the State. The constraint of a gigantic park coupled with the massive opening of establishments does not always allow for uniform control.

The particularity of Chinese standards is their very high added value. For the sake of brevity, I will give a few examples by category.

1* – Air conditioning, coffee, dining room, 75% of the rooms with private bathroom, central heating, lobby with information and reception, postal service, cold and hot running water.

2* – 95% with private bathrooms, 50% with telephones, free western and chinese breakfast.

3* – Well decorated rooms, dressing table, desk, drawers and closet, carpet or wooden floor, mini-bar and refrigerator, movies on demand, music, cover service, disco, karaoke, store, laundry, bar, China Daily and China Tourism News free, doorman 16/24, deputy manager present in the lobby 18/24.

4* – Luxurious and spacious soundproofed rooms, low noise toilet, guest elevator, background music, health club, swimming pool, sauna, business center, 24-hour doorman, 24-hour room service, 24-hour coffee store.

5* – Own fleet of Mercedes limousines or Toyota vans available, executive floors with concierges and free continental breakfasts, best Western and Chinese cuisine in the city, most luxurious breakfast buffets, sumptuous halls.

In France, hotel classification is voluntary, its criteria are arbitrated by Atout France, controlled by the Cofrac and control is delegated to private organizations.

Operational Solutions

Each podium country has its own classification system and operates according to its own rules.

For Europe, Hotrec has launched its classification system. It has 17 members and four observers, including France. The points system is cumulative and has the originality to measure MICE, children’s services, the presence of a library, animation programs. The system is being piloted.

Another American initiative also in progress: the World Hotel Rating (WHR World Hotel Rating). It focuses on the environment, the size of the hotel, the atmosphere, and the activities accessible from the establishment. They also seek to establish international classification standards.

For the moment, none of the countries on the podium are harmonizing their system. Harmonization is essential for the coherence of the hotel offer, on a national, European and international scale. In the meantime, it is delicate to objectively judge a destination on the basis of non-existent common standards.

Europe receives half of the world’s international tourist arrivals, still according to the UNWTO. The immediate imperative is to make the French hotel offer more immediate and understandable in order to strengthen the image of our destination.

How can we make our Quality offer understandable to international travelers, when the Top Destinations reveals such disparate standards?

Legibility of Room Size Standards

As we have seen, France does not lead the way in terms of room surface area. Eventually, it will be in our interest to bring ourselves up to European comfort standards. In the meantime, in concrete terms, the objective is not to revolutionize our classification by surface area, but to let our national and international clients know about it to avoid disappointment.

Communicate, especially around your smallest surfaces, around 3D videos. You give your future customers a concrete vision of your spaces, beyond the simple declaration of surfaces. You wipe in advance the dissatisfaction of rooms and spaces imagined more spacious. In addition, you give your prospect the opportunity to get a preview of the experience he will have in your home.

Legibility of the Standards of Services and Equipment

The enumeration of our services is often long on our supports. The prospect has to compare between several lists of services and equipment. The legible entry is imperative to accelerate the conversion of sales to your profit:

  • By pictograms illustrating them.
  • By systematic translations of your communication supports according to your priority customers over the last three years or since your opening (you will find them in your PMS).
  • By the synthetic explanation of your labels: The establishments generally display the labels’ buttons on their official website, at the entrance of the establishment, or even on the brochures in the rooms. In addition to this display, make the values and promises of your labels your own and insist on your own commercial arguments (Luxury Image, Sustainable Development, Place of Silence …).

Transparency of the Client Experience

The Experience is by definition outside the cursor of the Standards. However, it is obvious when we look at the e-reputation of hotels. You put it forward:

  • By relaying your positive AND negative customer opinions on your official website. The maximum possible number of languages is to be preferred to facilitate the understanding of your prospects.
  • By videos of experience reflecting the image of your establishment and your collection.
  • By ephemeral offers (and not year-round packages…) which are a renewed and attractive showcase for your brand.
  • By a regular feeding of your Social Wall. Your beautiful and sincere images will be more immediate than the text.

Next week, we will consider a more and more marked part of the Quality Standards and Experience: Sustainable Hotels.

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