Star Ratings Australia closure: One month on

As Accomnews reported in February of this year, Star Ratings Australia ceased to operate as of June 30 2017, later announcing that they would be leaving the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) with the responsibility of accreditation for the accommodation sector. Almost a month after the changes came into effect, Accomnews has investigated the importance of the scheme, and looked at where consumers are turning for ratings and reviews.

Star Ratings Australia had operated since 1915 prior to their closure this year. With Star Ratings being an “internationally recognised symbol for quality accommodation standards” according to their website, the system was used in more than 70 countries worldwide, with over 200 criteria in play to determine ratings.

For some time, the Star Rating system has been synonymous with expectations for luxury and overall guest experience, but with an increase in online consumer rating systems and reviews, consumers have more than one source to turn to when evaluating a property’s service, style and offerings.

Accomnews recently caught up with Best Western Australasia’s new brand development manager Georgina Williams, and asked if she would be interested in commenting on the changes to the system.

“Star ratings are so important,” she told Accomnews. “But of course, there’s been an incredible shift away from official rating systems to consumer rating and reviews over the past decade.”

Demonstrating that there remains a degree of respect for the Star Rating system, Ms Williams reported that Best Western requires properties to have a minimum 3.5 official Star Rating to join the Best Western network.

“We believe in the power of ratings no matter what type they are. Our members can certainly attest to their importance with online ratings through major online travel agents, and TripAdvisor having a major impact on business,” she added.

According to a trend report launched by TrekkSoft in late 2016, four in five TripAdvisor users will ‘always’ or ‘usually’ reference reviews before booking, with Australians being 82 percent likely to reference reviews, and Generation X being 74 percent likely. It also reported that 70 percent of travellers look at up to 20 reviews while planning for holidays.

The report also stated that while millennials may be ‘money poor’, they are rich when it comes to time. Not only does this mean they’re spending longer in destinations, but it also means they’re taking more time to review the places in which they’re staying; turning not only to the Star Rating system, but also to consumer opinion.

TrekkSoft identified that what a Star Rating system cannot offer travellers is the experience to see accommodation and destinations. It states that there are over 53 million candid traveller photos on TripAdvisor alone, with 76 percent of TripAdvisor users agreeing that traveller-submitted photos influence their booking decisions.

While there are mixed opinions amongst hoteliers when it comes to the relevance and benefits of online travel agencies (OTAs), it’s undeniable that consumer reviews are of some benefit, particularly when supplemented by a Star Rating system.

With the Star Rating system being continued by ATIC, the non-profit organisation representing the State tourism industry associations, the system will be maintained for years to come, not only for consumers, but also for accommodation industry professionals. While consumer reviews are becoming more popular online, the Star Rating system will continue to guide guests towards the general level of luxury they are seeking, allowing them to conduct their own ‘research’ and make informed choices based on their needs.

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Liz Pryor
6 years ago

We seem to be living in a parallel universe when it comes to quality standards in Australia’s tourism industry.

For years, Tourism Australia and the state and territory government tourism organisations have encouraged Australia’s tourism businesses to aspire to excellence. Accreditation, star ratings, tourism awards, professional development opportunities and even the ill-fated TQual program have all been aimed at achieving world class tourism products and experiences.

Conversely, the words excellence and quality are never mentioned in connection when highlighting the supposed benefits of the ‘sharing economy’. A tidal wave of short term accommodation which doesn’t comply with any of Australia’s strict regulations, and therefore doesn’t have the costs associated with compliance and insurance, has hit other small compliant accommodation businesses hard. The trashed homes of hosts, less than desirable guest experiences, and disgruntled residents of apartment blocks where they have to cope with the anti-social behaviour of some guests who have booked through a sharing economy website, demonstrate the exact opposite of any quality standards in this sector of the tourism industry.

A parallel universe, indeed!

Hosted Accommodation Australia Ltd is a national peak organisation that remains committed to representing short term accommodation (B&Bs, farmstays and other hosted accommodation) that is compliant with regulations.

Julian Maul
Julian Maul
6 years ago

We are about to celebrate 15 years as a 4.5 star rated property and whilst social media is important, guests still talk about the importance of REAL ratings in making decisions. As do international wholesalers. Sure there were problems with the guidelines but that’s been resolved and the merger with ATIC is a positive, long term strategically correct decision.

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