Hotel Rating Systems: Evolve or disappear (Forbes might be near the end)

AAA- Forbes - Gervois Hotel ratings systemsHow guests choose their hotels? International hotel ratings systems exist for a long period of time. Some are amalgamations of other ratings systems; some, like TripAdvisor, average out user ratings, and everyone know it’s partly fake. (Oops, it’s not politically correct, sorry guys); and then there’s the Forbes Travel Guide, which claims to be “the only independent, global rating system for luxury hotels, restaurants and spas.” The very old fashioned AAA ratings with the fading glory of their diamond ratings is another player. And the new Gervois Hotel Rating is the newest hotel rating system for U.S. hotels, founded in 2017.

There are a few things you should know about the Forbes Travel Guide. First and surprisingly, Forbes doesn’t own it. The publisher licenses its name to this independent entity. Secondly, unlike many other ratings systems, a team of full-time professional mystery shoppers inspects every rated hotel listed in the Forbes Travel Guide. Thirdly, a growing part of millennials don’t really trust Forbes Travel Guide. And that’s problematic for the future.

Additionally, the same company offers consulting services to hotels. According to the Forbes Travel Guide LinkedIn profile, “We also provide the hospitality industry with learning tools and programs that deliver insight into the star rating process and expert guidance on connecting with guests most effectively.” And that’s a big issue for ratings independence.

Forbes Travel Guide evolved out of Mobil Guides, which had been around since 1958. In 2006, Jeffrey T. Arnold, the founder of WebMD, bought the publication, and in 2009, renamed it Forbes Travel Guide.
In recent years the publication has undergone another change. “We stopped measuring one and two-star hotels and replaced the three-star category with a recommended option,” Chief Executive Gerard J. Inzerillo said.Thus, the guide turned its focus to upper-upscale and luxury products. “A four-star rating,” in the words of Inzerillo, “is what we consider the Olympic gold medal or the Oscar. They are extremely difficult to earn. Meanwhile, we are very stingy on the five-star rating.”
He compares five-star properties to Michael Phelps, Meryl Streep or Robert DeNiro: hotels that not only demonstrate excellence, but do so over a span of time. Among Forbes Travel Guide’s perennial five-star hotels with “relentless, seamless commitment to the highest guest standard” are The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado, the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong(one of several Mandarin Oriental hotels on the list), and Portrait Roma-Lungarno Collection, Rome. Places like The Langham in Sydney and L’Auberge in Carmel only get four stars. “The most beautiful hotel isn’t the best hotel, because the best distinguishes itself with emotional connectivity, not how much marble it has,” Inzerillo said.

Emotion is precisely how the Gervois Hotel Rating is working: This New York City based hotel rating system started in 2017 with 80 U.S. properties, and has 120 rated properties in 2018 (200 in 2019). With a more flexible and accurate sytem based on a 100 points scale, it primarily targets sophisticated, diverse and affluent American travelers. And it might well be the future of hotel ratings.

The  Forbes Travel Guide guide benchmark service standards (check-in process, room service) on factors such as courtesy and manners; graciousness, thoughtfulness and sense of personalized service. Meanwhile, it rates the physical aspects of the hotel on factors ranging from cleanliness and condition to guest comfort and convenience. But these factors remain very technical and analytical.  A true hotel experience is about feelings, emotions, and the desire to come back with your loved ones.  Not about the size of the closets or around the clock room service that nobody really uses.

Source: Article by L. Powell in SKIFT / Forbes Travel Guide / AAA / Gervois Hotel Rating / Travel+Leisure / E.K.

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Pierre Gervois to speak at UnfoldBrics event in Dubai on March 20th, 2018

Conjoining the world of Art with Architecture and Culture, UNFOLD Art XChange entices the world’s premier private bankers, financial institutions, government authorities, public art agencies, spatial designers, real estate and hospitality professionals with insights, opportunities and new partnerships as well as attracts corporate collectors, private and public institutions worldwide through a series of Art Talks that will run from the 19th to 22nd of March to coincide with Dubai Art Week.

Pierre Gervois, Founder and President of Gervois Hotel Rating, the disruptive hotel rating system that makes Forbes stars and AAA diamonds look old fashioned and tacky, will deliver a speech about the importance of re-assessing the standards of hotel rating, in particular for the new generation of sophisticated travelers who are not impressed anymore by the mere lobby’s size or a 24h room service, but rather by elegance in decoration, truly warm service, and sustainability.

 

Wealthy Chinese travelers favor boutique hotels when traveling overseas

STC Display 2016Among the biggest trends among China’s luxury travelers is the growing popularity of boutique hotels, according to the ILTM Asia event in Shanghai.
With 60 percent of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) reporting that they spend over 3,000 RMB (US$441) per night when they stay at hotels, the future looks bright for luxury hotels catering to China’s growing number of high-end travelers. While large luxury chain hotels remain dominant on the list of HNWIs’ preferred accommodation providers, the report finds that HNWIs now increasingly favor boutique hotels—a clear significant shift from the trend just a few years ago.
For wealthy Chinese travelers, The Ritz-Carlton was the most popular hotel group in 2016, followed by the Banyan Tree, the Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Fairmont and the Peninsula. The luxury boutique hotel group Aman also broke into the top 10, and Chinese HNWIs’ favorite boutique hotel brand, Banyan Tree, keeps climbing on the list of hotel brands preferred among luxury travelers. Hilton, while not topping the overall list, still remains the preferred business hotel for survey respondents. Ritz-Carlton, which tops the list, also has the by far most popular membership scheme among overall luxury travelers and millennial luxury travelers alike at 33 percent and 31 percent membership rates respectively. In comparison to airline membership schemes, hotel membership rates remain low among China’s wealthy. Nevertheless, Ritz-Carlton’s jump in membership rates by 19 percent compared to the year prior indicates that there is substantial interest in membership schemes among luxury travelers given the right incentives.

Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre GervoisAccording to Pierre Gervois, Expert in marketing to affluent Chinese outbound travelers and Publisher of the prestigious STC magazine, “High Net Worth Chinese outbound travelers’ behavior pattern is now exactly the same as other HNWI travelers from the U.S. and Europe. They want sophistication, exclusivity, and experiences that money only can’t buy”
Among the biggest trends among China’s luxury travelers is the growing popularity of boutique hotels. With 60 percent of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) reporting that they spend over 3,000 RMB (US$441) per night when they stay at hotels, the future looks bright for luxury hotels catering to China’s growing number of high-end travelers. While large luxury chain hotels remain dominant on the list of HNWIs’ preferred accommodation providers, the report finds that HNWIs now increasingly favor boutique hotels—a clear significant shift from the trend just a few years ago.
For wealthy Chinese travelers, The Ritz-Carlton was the most popular hotel group in 2016, followed by the Banyan Tree, the Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Fairmont and the Peninsula. The luxury boutique hotel group Aman also broke into the top 10, and Chinese HNWIs’ favorite boutique hotel brand, Banyan Tree, keeps climbing on the list of hotel brands preferred among luxury travelers. Hilton, while not topping the overall list, still remains the preferred business hotel for survey respondents. Ritz-Carlton, which tops the list, also has the by far most popular membership scheme among overall luxury travelers and millennial luxury travelers alike at 33 percent and 31 percent membership rates respectively. In comparison to airline membership schemes, hotel membership rates remain low among China’s wealthy. Nevertheless, Ritz-Carlton’s jump in membership rates by 19 percent compared to the year prior indicates that there is substantial interest in membership schemes among luxury travelers given the right incentives.

While authentic and unique experiences are highly sought after by China’s luxury travelers, the same applies to a much lesser degree in terms of accommodation. Only 25 percent of HNWIs interviewed for the report had even considered Airbnb-style accommodation options, and instead preferred private boutique hotels and yachts when considering options other than brand hotels. In fact, only 30 percent of respondents said that they have the impression that Airbnb-style rentals allow them to better experience local life—arguably defeating the purpose of rentals for travelers that put little importance on cost-effectiveness. “I think that in a close future the category of luxury Airbnb’s will attract the youngest generation of Chinese HNWI. Now is the right time for Airbnb owners to promote themselves in China”, Pierre Gervois added.
Instead, boutique hotels seem well-positioned to benefit from Chinese HNWIs’ lust for authentic and unique travel experiences. With accommodation cost of little concern for these travelers, boutique hotels certainly have an exciting future ahead of them in China’s luxury travel market.

Source: ILTM Asia / Skift / Jing Daily / Ritz Carlton

Chinese travelers want personalized service

Chinese wealthy gentleman - China Elite FocusChina’s outbound luxury travelers spend $65,000 per household on tourism per year, including $34,000 on travel shopping, according to a new study from Marriott International.

Chinese outbound tourists have long been a high-priority group for luxury brands, but the demands and habits of younger travelers are changing quickly. The digital natives aged between 18 and 36 years old want a more personalized experience, including superior guest services and smart device integration.

China’s young luxury travelers go abroad between three and four times a year on average, primarily for leisure. While France remains the most popular destination in Europe, Japan is the preferred shopping destination given its proximity and favorable exchange rates, while Australia is the preferred leisure destination.

Australia has long been a developed economy, but it is less commonly seen as a haven for growth than North America, and luxury’s home in Europe has also pushed Australia to the back burner for many brands aiming to capitalize on China’s growing tourism rates. A strong presence in Australia could entice wealthy vacationers to make a purchase.

Moreover, western brands should be aware that summer travel is less common in China. National Day Golden Week travel in the early fall and travels for Chinese New Year are nearly two and three times as likely, respectively.

As with North America’s millennials, China’s young travelers get most of their travel information digitally, largely from official WeChat accounts, underscoring the platform’s importance. C-Trip, Qunar and Tuniu are also popular third-party platforms on which hotels should strive for good placement.

While the above generation is more closely defined by a desire for material goods, a reaction to globalization and advertising in the wake of China’s emergence from poverty, its young travelers strive for more adventurous travel. Hotels and retailers alike should tailor messages to these consumers to emphasize experiential components and offerings.

More specifically, over the next three years global travel is expected to increase 25 percent, while polar exploration grows 32 percent, adventure travel by 52 percent and road trips by 75 percent.

However, personalized service is still the biggest consideration in traveling for luxury travelers. Besides a liking for amenities, being able to choose pillows of different firmness and having a butler or personalized service through digital channels are also important. Seventy-three percent demand WiFi while 55 percent want smart TVs, while unique art and design are also high draws.

With luxury growth stalling around the world and quarterly earnings being largely at the mercy of Chinese tourists and which markets they enter, the country remains the top concern for marketers. As it transitions to a consumer-driven economy, China’s growth has fallen below the double-digits that were beginning to feel normal, but it still offers enormous opportunity.

Chinese residents will make 90 million outbound trips in 2020, with that number increasing by an additional 36 million over the following decade, according to a report by Euromonitor.

Outbound trips have increased on average by an impressive 13 percent since 2000, helping China overtake Japan as the second largest consumer market in 2011. With the significance and size of the Chinese tourist market only projected to swell, brands will need to develop a more nuanced understanding of the market in order to reach consumers. In particular sophisticated native advertisement campaigns in influential digital travel publications catering to China’s super-rich, such as the Shanghai Travelers’ Club (STC) magazine, give good results to reach China’s elite.

However, as brands cater to Generation Y consumers and look to the future, they must be as aware of generational differences in China as they are in the West.

In a reversal of the more materialistic tendencies of their parents, almost 95 percent of Chinese Generation Z consumers say it is essential for brands to be sustainable and environmentally conscious, according to a report by RTG Consulting.

The continued growth of China over the next several years will ensure that its consumers remain prime targets for brands for the foreseeable future, as even a slowed China exceeds the growth rate of western nations. As a result, brands will need to make a connection to this group, the first born in a fully modern China, in the interest of long-term success

Source: TheTopTier