The contribution of tourism to economic prosperity depends on the quality and the revenues of the tourism offer. Quality is the main factor affecting revenues and destination recognition.
Service quality in tourism industry has been examined in many different types of business enterprises. Aspects of service quality can be divided into two main categories: tangible and intangible. Tangible aspects of service quality include the exterior and interior design of hotels, the established equipment and the ambient conditions in the hotels’ environment. On the other hand, the intangible aspects of service quality are those factors that are not touched; they include reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. In common language we define the two aspects of quality in hospitality, as Technical Quality and Operational Quality.
Hotels Classification is the only tool that is currently available, to improve quality in both aspects. Classification Systems are a kind of Guarantee that the service provided is conformed to what was expected and described, as well as that service delivery satisfies Customer Needs.
• Common International Hotels Classification System limitations.
The matter of developing a common international classification system for tourism accommodations is particularly difficult for at least the following reasons:
✓ Culture is different between destinations and the feeling of comfort is highly diversified.
✓ The large diversity of types of touristic premises for accommodation, a diversity that is constantly increasing, definitely influences the comfort conception for standards classification related to various visitors’ groups.
✓ A large diversity of classification systems that are themselves embedded in highly different cultural and economic contexts makes convergence of classification systems quite difficult.
✓ Construction methods and practices are different between various geographical areas.
✓ Different climate conditions between various destinations are a strong limit on convergence of existing classification systems.
Despite the above mentioned difficulties, there are some objective factors that are commonly accepted by most classification systems:
- Consumers’ information. This point is of great importance because, by definition, a hotel is far away from tourist’s home. Classification thus constitutes an indicator, a piece of information that gives confidence to the customer before, during and after his travel planning.
- Tour operators and travel agencies guide. There is a need for reference they can use when preparing their catalogues, when negotiating wholesale deals with a hotel chain, or when putting together a customized product. However, second party audits can be implemented in this case, but as a general issue, classification is an important guide on Hospitality Industry.
- Sales and marketing promotion tool. This would be useful, first of all, for the hotels, which by featuring how many stars they have will be able to promote their specific characteristics, and their additional services, based on the «certification platform» provided by their stars. It is also useful at the governmental level. It gets absolutely clear in this regard that practically all governments that are reforming their classification systems highlight their desire to bring the quality of their national tourism up to a higher level. In this way, the classification system itself can also become an element of promotion.
- Quality-measurement tool. The classification system providing the hotel profession with a coherent framework that makes it possible to evaluate in a consistent manner a sector that is characterized by the extreme diversity of accommodation units, the vast majority of which, in both number and volume, are managed by individual entrepreneurs or by enterprises with fewer than 10 employees.
- Public policies proclamation and implementation, such investment plans, regional planning details and regulations etc.
• The International Classification Framework
Today there are several examples of sub regional classification systems, for example in Europe, led by HOTREC, in South-East Asia within the framework of ASEAN, in East Africa, or in West Africa within the framework of ECOWAS with different graduated criteria and methodology.
On the other hand, Private systems are basically managed by private enterprises that grant labels or «awards» according to criteria that they themselves establish. This is the case in the United States, in Ireland, in several Latin American countries. These systems naturally have the advantages of flexibility and responsiveness.
Technical characteristics of the enclosures remain unchanged, since they relate to the legislation.
Operational (Functional) features are rather common to all levels of existing classification systems, as involving basic infrastructure and minimum safety criteria laid down by legislation and construction techniques.
Graduated Infrastructure, in line with what is happening today will continue to categorize the main tourist accommodation in five basic categories of classification, however, showed an improvement in their quality and contain new and modern views classification.
The graduated Services Criteria, are related only to «PLUS» 3 *, 4 * & 5 * or 5 *, 6 * & 7 * Classification levels, and the introduction of PLUS levels, is proposed just to enable diversification in Quality empathy and consistence during service delivery to Hospitality Guests.