For hoteliers and bed & breakfast owners, stars mean everything – these are the difference between success and failure. A good star rating from AA Hotel Services or Visit England is what every establishment strives for and pins their reputation on. If you are reading this, you probably already have a star rating of some kind – it may be a good one; but could it be better?
An extra star is a gateway to more guests and increased revenue, but how do you go about getting it? Well, it may sound obvious but quality is the key. Hotels and B&Bs are judged on quality standards across the board and, if you can demonstrate excellence, you will revel in the star that follows.
Both AA and Visit England award hotel star ratings from one to five. These ratings are based on every aspect of your customer facing business: cleanliness, safety and security, maintenance, physical quality, hospitality, services, opening, and guest access.
To earn top marks for cleanliness you will need to ensure excellence is achieved throughout every area of the property, with particular attention paid to bathrooms, shower rooms, and toilets, especially items that involve direct contact with guests, such as:
- flooring and seating
- bedding, linen, and towels
- crockery, cutlery, and glassware,
- toilets, bathrooms, and shower rooms.
Daily cleaning and regular checks throughout the day are a must and a clean, fresh smell should always be present. Environmentally friendly and chlorine-free products are looked upon favourably.
Many rooms may lack natural space; however, potential can easily be maximised by:
- thinking ergonomically; maximising the usability of space
- designing the room for good ease of use
- decorating, furnishing, and equipping rooms to the highest standards
- providing plenty of power outlets for electrical items
- employing space-saving measures for clothing
- ensuring windows are easy to open
- providing TV’s with subtitles
- avoiding deep-pile carpets (trip hazard)
- controlling hot water to a maximum of 41-degrees C.
It is good practice to use rooms yourself, or ask friends or family to stay in a room, and work on the elements that need improvement.
Consider the following tips for impressing inspectors:
- ensure fire evacuation strategy includes emergency exit procedures for disabled guests
- make records of room location and specific requirements for staff to pass on when changing shift
- provide solutions for guests with hearing impairments.
Improve how your guests are treated during their stay by:
- always asking about accessibility needs
- welcoming assistance dogs
- training staff in how to welcome all types of guests
- training staff in British sign language communication
- providing public transport information with promotional and booking documentation
- briefing all staff on the hotel’s sustainable tourism policy
- offering guests a choice in how to contact you; e.g. phone, email, letter, text – also, embrace text relay to cater to guests with impaired hearing
- offering disabled guests a familiarisation tour
- making hotel information available in a wide range of formats
- providing local tourism information in bedrooms and at reception
- preparing rooms for guests and ensuring no furniture needs to be moved.
Quality of dining can be improved by:
- offering flexible meal times
- offering guests a choice of seating location and a choice of chairs
- providing dinnerware that contrasts with table linen
- ensuring tables and chairs always provide adequate support
- catering for all dietary requirements
- sourcing food and drink locally, where possible
- briefing staff on the source of food and drink and its characteristics
- offering large print menus
- offer local specialities – these will help you stand out from the competition
- always offering guests assistance with self-serve buffets
- offering in-room meals.
Do not be nervous around an inspector as they are there to help you improve. Always ask plenty of questions and ask them for advice on ways to earn yourself that all-important extra star.