AAA Diamond Ratings Now Take Hotel Technologies into Consideration
AAA said it recently updated its hotel Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines, the criteria inspectors use to evaluate more than 27,000 AAA Inspected & Approved hotels throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The new guidelines, developed with input from AAA inspectors, members and industry professionals, reflect the importance of connective technologies that allow guests and lodging operators to interact on an increasingly personalized basis.
Ratings previously given for the traditional business center have been replaced by a score for connective technology, which reflects the hotel’s overall capability to connect with its guests. This includes not only the availability of free Wi-Fi and USB ports, but also robust mobile apps, interactive kiosks, mobile key technology, and the availability of digital messaging services at high-end properties.
“AAA members put a high value on the availability and use of convenient, leading-edge technology at hotels. They expect properties to have up-to-date devices and free internet access, but also for the hotel to connect with them via technology,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings. “Thanks to the proliferation and rapidly increasing sophistication of hotel mobile apps, guests today can do a lot right from their smartphones and tablets.”
This translates to guests being able to book, check in and choose a room from a hotel’s app at a time and place that is convenient for them. While on-site, hotel guests can use these technologies to request more pillows and order breakfast, and increasingly, use their phone as a room key to bypass hotel staff upon check-in if they choose. Some properties are beginning to incorporate robotic bell staff and voice-controlled guest rooms, a peek at the technological possibilities of the near future.
AAA’s inspectors now also review a hotel’s technological capabilities, particularly guest request systems, as part of the anonymous overnight service evaluation conducted at Five Diamond properties. Inspectors use the hotel’s digital systems during their stay, and evaluate responsiveness, communication, presentation and follow-up.
Additional changes to the Diamond Rating guidelines reflect the proliferation of open-concept lobby designs with increased focus on gathering spaces and social seating arrangements; the popularity of shower-only bathrooms; the use of modern materials, especially for flooring; and the trickling down of high-end details—such as plush bedding, large, flat-screen televisions and sleek bathroom lighting—from upscale properties to the midscale and budget categories.
“The updated guidelines reinforce AAA’s longstanding pledge to provide our members with reliable travel information through on-site inspections and accurate ratings for all AAA Inspected & Approved hotels,” continued Petrone. “We include members in the review process to ensure the requirements reflect their expectations and the ratings emphasize their priorities.”
The new guidelines are currently in use by AAA’s professional inspectors and are available to hotels on AAA.biz/Approved.
AAA began field inspections of lodgings and restaurants in 1937, which evolved into the Diamond Ratings for hotels in 1976. The assignment of a rating of One to Five Diamonds marks the completion of a successful on-site evaluation by a professional AAA inspector. To learn more about AAA Diamond Ratings, visit AAA.com/Diamonds