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New Hotel Rating System

The new French Revolution

Elisabeth Lang, eTN  May 02, 2011

France, which was rated the world’s first tourist destination in terms of attendance in year 2009, has launched an extensive policy to modernize its tourist services. Most important is a new hotel classification system that will help international visitors to find accommodations that will meet their expections.

The reform of the classification system for commercial tourist accommodation in France is a result of the law of July 22, 2009 on the development and modernization of tourism services. It concerns hotels, campsites, residential leisure parks, apartment hotels, holiday villages, and residential tourist villages.

The three strong goals of the hospitalty reform are:

1. Modernization and improvement of French tourist accommodation by means of a much stricter rating system, by introducing criteria for quality of service and inspection every 5 years.

2. Restoring the meaning of stars by offering stronger and more reliable indicators and transparency to domenstic and international visitors.

3. Making rance a more competitive destination - in particular through the creation of a new 5th star to the hotel category.

This is a real revolution in a country that has a total of 115 prestigous
give-star hotels - rated as 4-star hotels (this was the end of the rating scale) and is a convenient way to pay less taxes.

The old hotel rating system, whose standards were revised in 1986, was based exclusively on compliance with a thirty-point criteria relating to the facilities of an establishment, with the stars awarded indefinatly.

So what is new? Here is the new range of French tourist hotels:

1 star corresponds to an economy-class hotel, with a minimum size of a double room at least 9m², excluding the bathroom.

2 and 3 stars indicate mid-range hotels. In these hotels, the staff has to speak at least one European language – in addition to French. Reception has to be opened at leat 10 hours a day.

4 and 5 stars are at the top of the hotel range. The rooms are spacious - at least 16m² - including a bathroom. A minimum of 24m² are requested for a 5-star hotel. In hotels with over 30 rooms, staff has to speak two foreign languages, including English, and hotel reception has to be open 24 hours a day. The absence of air conditioning in 5-star hotels is no longer considered a nostalic sign but is mandatory from now on.

The rating system will be valid for a period of 5 years, with ratings defined by over 240 inspections points, among them customer service, foreign languages spoken, and additional servicese in order to meet international standards.

Right now, a complete restructuring of hotel classifications is in progress and 5,000 out of 17,500 hotels in France have been checked out, said Christine Trotignon, Direction de de la réglementation des métiers du tourisme, des classements et de qualité, to EL. The trial time takes up 2-3 months. Requirements will change constantly – due to guest relations and enviroments, she added.

The old rating system will be permanently replaced by the new system in July 2012. Before being ratified by Ministerial order, the new rating standards formed the subject of a long consultation process conducted by ATOUT FRANCE, the national tourism development agency of France. ATOUT FRANCE's primary mission is to maintain a permanent system for monitoring and analyzing supply and demand in the tourism market, based on a quality mission and “training in professional tourism,” in cooperation with national professional bodies such as the French Ministery of Economy, Industry, and Employment.

The draft stands are then presented to the Commission de l`hèbergement touristique marchand (Committee for Commercial Tourist Accommodation) and old Hotel signs from 1999 will be replaced by newly-designed plates:

A red plate is used for hotels ranking from 1 to 4 stars, and a golden plate is reserved for five-star hotels. These are literally golden times for upscale markets.

The new French Revolution
Photo © Elisabeth Lang

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