We have read and analyzed point by point the new official hotel classification grid awarding stars from 1 to 5, valid from April 1, 2016. Here are the points and elements that seem to us to justify an opinion on our part, in particular in relation to the expectations of hotel customers or / and compared to the first benchmark launched in 2009.

GOOD. Preliminary articles 3 of the Decree of January 27, 2016, as well as the comments in the table develop further instructions for the attention of audit firms . Is this in connection with the very many abuses, cheats and approximations that we have seen among them since the launch of the new hotel classification in 2009?

GOOD. The number of mandatory criteria pointsto be achieved has been increased, but only in 1 and 2 * .

  • 1 *: 195 points (2016 standards) against 165 (2009 standards)
  • 2 *: 232 points (2016 standards) against 206 (2009 standards)
  • 3 *: 257 points (2016 standards) against 260 (2009 standards)
  • 4 *: 334 points (2016 standards) against 338 (2009 standards)
  • 5 *: 397 points (2016 standards) against 416 (2009 standards)

GOOD / NOT GOOD. The system of points earned by the presence of optional criteria is maintained. Very good, except that often unimportant or secondary services can compensate for points lost due to non-conformities in much more valuable mandatory criteria. On the other hand, the lack of cleanliness and good condition of spaces and equipment cannot be compensated; this is what theCommittee for the Modernization of French Hotels and Tourism has beenasking for since 2008 (when the standards were designed). In short, a dirty hotel in poor condition will now have a harder time redeeming this serious flaw by drawing points in the à la carte criteria.   

 RECEPTION HALL:

NOT GOOD. It is not mandatory to have clean facades in good condition in ranges 1 and 2 *! Of course, previously it was only compulsory in 5 *. In addition, the double criterion “clean” and “in good condition” has been left, here as in other references. However, a facade (or a piece of equipment, a room) can be both in good condition and dirty. Or clean, but in poor condition (cracks, damaged or blown plaster, etc.). This double criterion in one is inconsistent.

GOOD. It was specified in what way the common areas must be clean and in good condition (always the double criterion which can be contradictory). But, subjectivity remaining strong,interpretation by the auditor and the hotelier remains fully in order, with the risk of contestation. In other words, at what stage is it considered dirty or in poor condition?

NOT GOOD. The safe is compulsory only from the 4 th star. However, foreign customers are very happy to opt for 3 * hotels as well.

NOT GOOD. The luggage trolleys are binding until the 5 th star.

NOT GOOD / GOOD . A drink dispenser is compulsory in 1 and 2 *, optional previously. Surprising as an obligation and not really justified.

GOOD / NOT GOOD. It’s new:WiFi Internet access is compulsoryin common areas and bedrooms from 2ndstar. It is specified that the connection must be at leastlow speed, which is contrary to the expectations of customers who want at least high speed (90% travel with a smartphone and 60% with a laptop or tablet – Coach studies Omnium ). However, it is specified that if it is technically impossible to offer a wireless network, a wired connection must be available.

Except that no one moves with an ancestral RJ45 cable or other in their bag to connect their computer to the Internet! Another annoying detail: free WiFi is only available in the lobby. In rooms, hoteliers can charge. But here too, customers may be (very) unhappy when you find Internet access offered in any Mac Do. Paid WiFi is extremely unpopular in the hotel industry. Where is the progress of this revisited ranking, which is still so far behind the purchasing behavior and lifestyles of customers?  

 BEDROOMS :

NOT GOOD. The minimum areas of the rooms have not been increased since the first grid. For example, rooms for 2 people, bathroom / shower included:

* 1: 10.5 m 2 /2 *: 10.75 m 2 /3 * category: 13.5 m 2 /4 * category: 16 m 2 /5 *: 24 m 2 .

It goes without saying that they are insufficient in relation to the comfort that customers can expect. We understand that this criterion is made to please the Parisian hotel industry, in particular, renowned for having small rooms. But, whoever is inspired by this minimum classification to develop a new hotel – which is encountered – will very quickly find it difficult to retain customers. For the record, 16 m 2 in 4 stars is smaller than a typical Ibis room, which is around 18 m 2 .

NOT GOOD. The TV is compulsory from the 2 e star, yet massively service requested by customers. The flat screen is only required from the 3 rd star… No minimum screen size is mentioned.

NOT GOOD. The socket-outlet near the bed remains optional in all categories. However, customers have at least one mobile phone to recharge (also serving as an alarm clock), not to mention that the majority of them use their tablet or laptop while sitting on their bed (studies by Coach Omnium).

NOT GOOD. The wardrobe must have at least 6 “quality” hangers . What is a quality hanger? Nothing is specified. Should the wardrobe be closed or without a door? Nothing is said.

NOT GOOD. The luggage rack in the room is only compulsory from the 4 th star. It is true that with rooms of 10.5 m 2 in 1 *, how to find its place …

GOOD. If the blackout of the rooms is obviously still mandatory, it is finally detailed that “the device must cover the entire glazed surface” , which is often not the case in hotels which have curtains and where you are awake. by day in the early morning. However, if they are curtains and if they must be opaque, it is not specified the degree of opacity (which should be 100%). Often, blackout curtains are not lined and are therefore more or less translucent, allowing light to filter through. We also see the day on the sides.

NOT GOOD. The measurement of acoustic comfort is still not developed. How can an auditor know if the rooms are quiet by coming only during the day (he sleeps there on a mystery visit, but in one room only, only from the 4 th star)? However, the room noise is the first ground of complaint of hotel guests. And it is above all the interior noise that is evoked by insufficient soundproofing: flushing of the building, vacuuming the door in the morning by the chambermaids, customers talking in the hallway, noisy neighbors, elevator machinery, air conditioning or ventilation fan, etc.

GOOD. The absence of a private bathroom is only tolerated for 30% of the rooms and only in 1 *. In the 2009 benchmark, the 2 * could have 25% of rooms without bathroom and the 1 * none. The revised classification will not please the F1 hotel chain, which will have to downgrade its hotels.

NOT GOOD. It’s even a joke, the repository does not talk about the obligation of a bathroom mirror . Hotels, including 5 stars, can therefore offer ice-free bathrooms on the wall: convenient for shaving or applying makeup. However, we mention the magnifying mirror, but which is only optional. We had already reported this oversight in 2008, but without effect …

 OTHERS:

GOOD. The newspapers available to customers are required, including 1 * which was not previously the case in this category (paper or digital).

NOT GOOD. The lift is no longer compulsory for 5 * hotels from the first floor, whereas it was in the previous gate. The lift is prescribed from the 2 nd star in hotels with 4 floors and more, 3 floors in 3 stars and 2 floors in 4 and 5 *. Even if a 1 star hotel has 15 floors and more, the elevator is not compulsory (not requested regardless of the number of floors). Notice to heart patients and the elderly …

GOOD / NOT GOOD. Thehotel’s websiteis now mandatory in all categories, whereas it was only from the 4thstar before. However, the presence of an integrated reservation module is only requested from the 4th star. However, this is the only way for the hotel to hope to gain customers who absolutely want online reservations to be possible.

NOT GOOD.   The staff is able to inform the customer about tourist offers in the surrounding area”  : this service is only compulsory from the 4 th star. Too bad for French tourism.

GOOD. Payment by credit card is compulsory in all ranges; not in 1 * in the previous repository.

GOOD. Breakfasts: “Regular use of at least two products from regional production or fair trade or organic farming”  : this is new, but it is not fixed until the 4 th star.  

GOOD / NOT GOOD. Employees must always be madeaware ofthe economical management of energy, waste, water and the reception of customers with disabilities. But, if the justification will be requested during the verification visit, it is not known who carries out this awareness-raising work (the hierarchy often not more educated on these questions or an external specialist?). And what is its content, what monitoring exists and above allwhat concrete and effective applications are put in place in hotels?

IN SUMMARY :

While this new benchmark appears more progressive than the previous one in that it requires hoteliers to meet more points from the mandatory criteria than in the previous grid (but only in 1 and 2 *), and despite the apparent wealth of these standards in terms of a number of criteria (especially optional), the system remains outside the minimum expectations of hotel customers . They are 27 million to frequent our hotels, of which 1/3 are foreigners. Almost half go to hotels between 1 or more nights per week and once per month: business customers. They are therefore very used to it.

However, it should be noted that efforts to write guidelines have been made in relation to hotel audits by accredited firms. Because we know that so far many have not provided reliable audit reports, to be clientelistic (reminder: it is the hoteliers who choose them and pay them), to find themselves in conflicts of interest. , to arrange the results and to cheat (for example, by not controlling the number of rooms imposed). The result is that more than 80% of hotels are classified but that there is not this percentage of quality establishments (in all ranges) in the French hotel stock. The e-reputation of hotels is enough to confirm this.

However, it does not seem that there are more ways to audit the auditors and to ensure that they do their job well, with honesty and professionalism. Nothing should therefore change in this register in the next wave. However, the credibility of the classification is also due to the seriousness of the verifications and procedures, going far beyond the single benchmark.

And there is still no possibility for customers to express themselves , by having the contact details of Atout France affixed in the rooms, for example. The stars are made for them. We prefer to leave an auditor to act alone with the key to a classification valid for 5 years.  

Services or elements of comfort are not verified or verifiable, such as the good practice of foreign languages ​​by staff in contact with customers or, for example, the soundproofing of rooms during the night, where noise is most prevalent. most polluting and the most obvious.

The first grid was minimalist in criteria; the second is a little less so, but still with serious shortcomings  : rooms with surfaces for Lilliputians, TVs which can be tiny, hotels without a lift even with many floors, no compulsory electrical outlet near the bed, … re-read everything described above.

And then there are the pretenses of progress , when we impose staff awareness (water, energy, waste, disability) but without measuring its relevance and without being interested in the tangible implementation on the ground. Or when we impose WiFi, which is good, but only at low speed and free only in the hotel lobby.  

The real obvious progress is to be found in the obligation of individual bathrooms in all rooms , including 1 star (for at least 70% of the offer).

It should be noted that we will easily gain from 1 to 5 points (which erase the imperfections of the mandatory criteria) by optional criteria, if the hotel has a billiard table, a board game room, a lobby larger than prescribed, a park or garden, a terrace, lighted exteriors, rooms with balconies, the enhancement of buildings by vegetation or flowers (from how many flower pots?), etc. A real board game.

In short, “can do much better” so that hotel customers can find their way there and so that they can think that the stars have an interest, which has not been the case in recent years. Only 14% of hotel customers say they take the stars into account when choosing a hotel, compared to 64% in 2008 (Coach Omnium studies). It is the Internet with its OTAs that changed the rules and the first criterion to get an idea of ​​the range of a hotel is now the price.  

As for the increase in the volume of points to be garnered in this 2016 version, that will not change anything in the level of services of the hotels which stick to it, because once again, the criteria are really not very demanding. A hotelier who applies them to the letter , without going beyond them, will quickly close shop.

It should be noted that the new classification and its minimalist criteria encouraged hoteliers to request an additional star compared to their old classification, without necessarily enriching, modernizing and improving their service. 6 out of 10 hoteliers have made this false move upmarket . So, for example, we read that there are 2,044 4 and 5 * hotels(February 2016) compared to 898 in 2010. This volume of easy upgrades obviously devalues ​​true upscale and luxury hotels and blurs the understanding of the system by customers. Same thing in the lower ranges.

• Download the 2016 ranking grid

• Also read our first section on the 2009 hotel ranking

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