Hotel and training centre, Melksham, Wiltshire
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Official Star ratings for hotels - still worth having?

Hotel bedroom (4)Very interesting question that's come up on Facebook between a number of us slightly different Hotels and B&Bs ... the sort that have been gutsy enough to apply to appear on 4 in a bed, and have been quirky enough to be selected!

"Are you officially graded? We are graded 4 star but have decided not to renew this year as it's so expensive! What do you think? Hom much difference does it make?"

On Official Classification

... and the prevailing opinion seems to be that it costs a lot of money to be graded, and that it's becoming "old hat". These days, we're in the information age where people can self-publish, including reviewers, and for modern / young / technical types, the printed opinion of an inspector in a directory has been largely replaced by what real people have written. It's only the prevailing opinion, though; for some markets, some owners still say "I think it is important as it's what people look for"; I can't really comment on the validity of that view, as the hotel that's run by this owner is just about as different as possible to Well House Manor in very many respects - I know because I have stayed there.

Classification costs a substantial amount of money. "We're not graded. Looked at prices for Englich Tourism and nearly died!"; "For a Classification inspection, they sent me a bill for £650.00." says another owner. "Ours was about the same - almost £500!" says a third. And looking on the Visit England web site, Well House Manor would be asked to pay £826 if we were to call ourselves "Guest Accommodation", or over a thousand pounds if we wanted that magic word "Hotel" to be used. To be fair to them, that figure does include a joining fee as well as subs up to 1.4.2014

Some readers may thing that 56p per room per night is quite reasonable, but actually we're pretty busy much of the time already and the optimum extra business for us would be 4 rooms for 30 nights. Extra enquiries during the week (and many of our regulars who book late too) would find themselves unable to stay, and it's unlikely that an official rating would be biased to producing visitors on winter Friday nights which are our quietest days of the year. If we were lucky and got that optimum extra 120 room nights, each would cost us around £8.50 ... not that 56p figure! So for us, classification is a resounding has been - and I've just re-checked - a resounding "no, thank you".

Breads at Well House ManorOf course, gradings from the official bodies are no longer just printed exercises; they're all over the web, they're displayed in the local TIC, and they do give a far more even view - to a specfic set of standards which may not be right for every hotel, and which may be outdated. Well House Manor has aspects ranging from 2* up to 5* - with us attempting to ensure that we have 5* standards in things that are importamt for our clients, but can drop back to 2* standards on things that our customer based doesn't want / need to keep prices sensible.

On Other Intermediaries

We can offer our customers excellent service when they book direct with us. We can sort out the best room if they have specific needs, we can get a note of their flight number or train time so we know when to expect them / pick them up from the station, and we can answer any immediate questions they may have. It's difficult to follow through with that same personal touch if the booking is done by someone else on their behalf.

HOWEVER ... an intermediary can check round a number of places for availability - that's good for the customer. And an intermediary has the potential to help marketing the accommodation, meaning that the cost of sales per room is reduced - and why should they then not be entitled to a share of that saving they have made for you? Alas - you loose elements of the personal touch, and some of the intermediate booking agents are inclined to be big boys - bullies at times - who are businesses looking to maximise their own income. Paraphasing a fellow owner: "Many B&Bers and Hoteliers today are no longer prepared to be ruled over and misused by the big companies. The rating business has become a game of monoply with one company eating the other. We are the worker bees for all the queen bees like XX, Xxxxxxx, Xxxxxx, Xxxxx Xxxxxxx etc. We do the work and they take our profits.".

We prefer direct bookings, as they let us provide the complete service service ourselves. But we appreciate that time is precious for many travellers - especially business ones - and so they use an agent to find and book rooms for them, and so we happily accept those bookings up to a certain price point - after all, the visitor is looking at the overall package that we and the agent have co-operated together and it's that total package that's evaluated by the visitor.

(written 2013-03-07)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter for individual articles
M400 - Well House Manor - The Hospitality Business
  [4613] Our best hotel customers help us ... to help them ... be our best customers. - (2016-01-04)
  [4603] Happy New Year. Our customers are our ambassadors - (2016-01-01)
  [4543] Saturday morning at Well House Manor - (2015-10-17)
  [4521] Should we get an AA or Visit Wiltshire hotel assessment? - (2015-10-09)
  [4321] Are administration / review charges on hotel guests acceptable? - (2014-11-20)
  [4232] Not wanted here - hotel guests who will not be happy - (2013-12-30)
  [4202] Excellent Railfuture conference, but some setup lessons - (2013-11-03)
  [4051] On reading a new hotel review - (2013-03-24)
  [3988] Three cheers for the staff at Well House Manor - (2013-01-24)
  [3909] Every Customer Counts - (2012-11-01)
  [3838] Guest review - Well House Manor, Melksham - (2012-08-14)
  [3832] A busy day at Well House Manor - so come in and make it even busier! - (2012-08-10)
  [3743] Sunday - no longer a day of rest - (2012-05-28)
  [3660] A Pivotal Incident - learning how to welcome your guests - (2012-03-18)
  [3309] Tipping Policy - Well House Manor - (2011-05-29)
  [3164] Brown - or Mrs Sally Brown, accountant from Whitstable? - (2011-02-10)
  [3147] Hotel star ratings - towards a better system of review - (2011-01-25)
  [2936] The service that customers should receive - (2010-08-27)
  [2879] Night Porter and reception - 24 hours a day? - (2010-07-20)
  [2724] Escapee Grandparents welcome - Henfield and Melksham - (2010-04-15)
  [2593] Food and drink launch - (2010-01-21)
  [2303] Turning potential customers away - (2009-07-24)
  [2283] Everyone is in the customer relations business - (2009-07-12)
  [2007] Launch of Melksham Food and Drink Festival - (2009-01-24)
  [1877] Guests doing a bunk? - (2008-11-09)
  [1792] All the pieces fall into place - hotel and courses - (2008-09-10)
  [1622] An extra step - victory from defeat - (2008-04-25)
  [1548] Hotelympia - show report - the lighter side - (2008-02-21)
  [1445] Looking after you Christmas Customer Crowds - (2007-11-26)
  [1422] Wiltshire - speaker / after dinner talker offer - (2007-11-05)
  [1421] Castle Lodge Hotel, Ely, Cambridgeshire - (2007-11-04)
  [1284] An update on the West Wilts show ... - (2007-07-30)
  [1248] How NOT to oversell a hotel - (2007-06-27)
  [1180] Conjugation - (2007-05-08)
  [1161] A contrast in room rates and facilities - (2007-04-25)
  [1122] Hotel - online feedback forms compared - (2007-03-30)
  [1108] Express service - (2007-03-14)
  [1084] Writing terms and conditions for conferences and other events - (2007-02-17)
  [1048] Getting rid of people - hotel techniques - (2007-01-21)
  [1046] Bounce, bounce, bounce - (2007-01-20)
  [1002] Meet the neighbours - (2006-12-20)
  [988] You should think you're first in a hotel room - (2006-12-15)
  [922] Staying at your own hotel - (2006-11-12)
  [884] Drive time - (2006-10-02)
  [774] Bed and Breakfast, or Hotel? - (2006-06-22)

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The VERY basics of a web page ... and web site
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Cascading Style Sheets and formatting your web page
HTML tags uses in these blog articles
Special characters in HTML
The VERY basics of a web page ... and web site
Official Star ratings for hotels - still worth having?
Easier public transport from Melksham to Bristol Airport
Showing what programming errors look like - web site pitfall
What is on OUR pond?
Exception, Lambda, Generator, Slice, Dict - examples in one Python program
Really Simple Class and Inheritance example in Python
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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