Not too shabby, ARAMA tells AAA

Friday 9 March 2012

Not too shabby, ARAMA tells AAA

A letter has been sent to AAA Tourism's boss by ARAMA Port Douglas expressing their concerns over the controversial accommodation rating scheme.

ARAMA (Australian Resident Accommodation Managers Association) Port Douglas president Sheryn Blundstone wrote to CEO Peter Blackwell after members met on January 24 to discuss what they see as inadequacies in the star rating system.

High up on their list of concerns was an apparent move by AAA Tourism to expect "corporate and southern style" accommodation features.

“We do not question that the guest is looking for the appropriate quality to match the star rating," Ms Blundstone said.

"The weighting system was designed to provide equitable standards that can be compared across properties. Classic, traditional style and timeless quality does not always mean shabby and outdated."

Among a number of points in the letter was a statement that said the accommodation ratings were "at the mercy of assessor’s opinion and not a clear and concise standard."

The letter stated:

"Our businesses cannot sustain a total shift of criteria by AAA. Regretfully, we feel that we should consider withdrawing from the AAA Star Rating System and become self rated.

"In these times of online forums, reviews, blogs and the wealth of information on the internet, we feel that the Star System no longer carries the weight it once did. 

"We agree that in the interest of maintaining this tradition we would still like to participate in the ratings but not as the new system dictates or allows the ability of the assessor’s personal opinion or taste to influence the result."

Other points quoted from the letter included:

  • With only one assessor sent, why can their personal taste in items (colour, style, form) have any influence on percentage points rather than just whether the item is quality or service is present and if it is in a “good standard or condition”?
  • Why were furnishings found to be unacceptable in one property but recommended to another?
  • Why is there no right of reply or feedback regarding the Report – e.g. one property was noted as not having undercover parking yet it does.
  • How does the relative thickness of granite bench in a kitchen impact on a guests stay? Would it not be that  the condition of the bench is more important?
  • One property was advised that the fine modern Italian, $150/sqm wall tiles that perfectly complement the bathroom decor are unacceptable but if they install $10/sqm wall tiles that go to the ceiling they would gain a higher weighting or more points?
  • We are concerned that there is not one property that would increase star rating despite large investments as recommend last year and further, only a couple of properties have been advised that their star rating will be maintained (on the proviso that additional investment is made before the next assessment).
  • Why can extra weighting not be awarded for additional offerings that go above-and-beyond the minimum such as: fresh flowers in rooms, reading materials (not just compendium), area information books/reading materials, international power adaptors, dimmable and environmentally friendly lighting (currently the new long life fluoro bulb rates lowly but energy sapping halogens are rewarded!).

Ms Blundstone said she expected a response for Mr Blackwell in the next seven to ten days.

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