The dramatic rise of international tourism, from the pursuit of the privileged few only half a century ago to a truly worldwide phenomenon today, has seen the sector become a bedrock of our global economy, representing 9% of the world’s GDP, 30% of service exports and one in every eleven jobs.
But even as travellers become increasingly adventurous, seeking new and unexplored destinations, they still demand certain indicators of what they are about to experience. Official hotel classification systems have long provided such indications/information relating to accommodation.
There is no worldwide standard for official hotel classification systems, and there may well never be one due to the incredible diversity of the environmental, socio-cultural, economic and political contexts in which they are embedded. However, there are without doubt commonalities which unite accommodation of various standards across the globe. Identifying such commonalities, as well as differences, can help destinations in establishing or revising their classification systems in such a way that they are relevant and useful to consumers, hotels, intermediaries and destinations alike.
In this regard, this report takes an in-depth look at recurrence of criteria in 4 and 5 star hotels, comparing them across 30 European destinations and 6 global destinations. In addition to the comparison of criteria, the report provides a general overview of the types of hotel classifications that currently exist, their benefits and challenges, and offers general guidance on areas to consider when setting up an official classification system.
We would like to thank the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries of Norway for partnering with UNWTO through the QualityMark Norway department of Norwegian Accreditation in the development of this report, which follows on from our joint report on Online Guest Reviews and Hotel Classification Systems: An Integrated Approach. The contribution of QualityMark Norway to the report is yet another example of the excellent research the department carried out on hotel classification in Norway and internationally, and of the leadership of Norway in this field.
Hotel classification systems are widely used in the accommodation sector as a means of providing an indicator to both consumers and intermediaries on the standards to be found at individual establishments.
Moreover, hotel classifications can provide useful marketing platforms for individual hotels and for destinations wishing to promote the quality of their offer.
However, the existence of multiple systems worldwide is a challenge. There exist at least five different approaches, and within each approach there can be different practices and processes. This can confuse the consumer, particularly in a global market.