British government rates TripAdvisor over its own hotel star ratings
The British government has said that the current hotel classification system of star ratings may be abandoned next month when a government decision on funding the scheme is due. John Penrose, the country’s tourism minister, has told the BBC that widely used travel websites with user-generated content, such as TripAdvisor, provide a much better service.
“We would like to get people to use those websites rather more frequently, but also if the industry wants to carry on running a star rating system off its own back that is absolutely fine as well,” he said on the national radio station BBC Radio 4. “It is rather bizarre that the government is involved in rating hotels when, for example, there is no government rating scheme for cars or cornflakes. I am not quite sure why hotels are so special.”
The star ratings system has been attacked on many occasions in recent years, particularly by hoteliers, who argue that excellent hotels sometimes lack a high number of stars because of one or two minor characteristics, for example not having a 24-hour reception. Hoteliers also criticise the system because of the expense involved in maintaining a high rating.
The system is also expensive for the cash-strapped British government to maintain. However, some travel industry insiders say that some kind of system that rates properties is necessary. Other destinations, such as Jordan and Abu Dhabi, have only just implemented their own classification systems. “Our star rating scheme is not in question at all,” assured Jenny McGee of VisitEngland, the official body for tourism in England.
“What we are looking at in our review is how we can support the scheme in a reduced-funding environment, with higher fees from industry a possibility,” she added.