Have the Stars Lost Their Wonder?

TRAVEL THERE: THE STARS AREN’T WHAT THEY USED TO BE

No not those stars, the rating stars.  I just got back from a five star cruise.  Five stars?  There was a day when four was the most stars you could get. Actually, the four star cruises I’d been on outclassed  this latest jaunt at sea by a mile.  And it’s not just cruises.  Hotels have also started sporting five and six stars.

Why?

So, what happened?  Getting that fourth star used to be a magical mystery tour.  Everyone was reaching for it, but only the best of the best made it.  It’s like there was a time when it was sufficient to say that someone put 100% into a project – nowadays, you better at least put in 120% or you’re a slacker.

I think at least some of it came from the large number of people doing the ratings this day and time.  Used to be there were only a few people that actually mattered in the ratings world – but now every Joe Blow in the world is out there assigning stars to hotels, restaurants and attractions.  The stars have no standard other than personal opinion and who has the most friends.

Opinion vs Amenities

Then there are the sites like expedia.  I like and depend on expedia, but it seems their ratings are tied strictly to amenities.  Ice machine, check.  Turn down service, check. Bathroom toiletries, check? Free breakfast, check.  Give them four stars.  Gorgeous, charming, local color?  No checks!  Elegance, mystique and je ne sais quoi just aren’t in the equation.

We’re also much more given to superlatives this day and time.  Everything is awesome.  An enchilada can be tasty, delicious and original  but awesome?  When was the last time you felt awe? I bet it didn’t have anything to do with a steak.  To boot, every restaurant has something on the menu that’s come up best in someone’s survey.  I think some of the surveys were taken by the chef and his survey takers were the waitstaff.

And another thing, some superlatives don’t really add to my enjoyment.  Take bigger, for instance. Bigger is not necessarily better.  Bigger is about maximizing return on investment for the business, not about providing anything better to customers.  Bigger usually means I’m not going to get my fair share of the employees’ attention.

And more is not better.  It’s not how many choices you cram into your square footage that matters, but the experience you provide your passengers or guests.  On my latest cruise there was some bar or activity shoved into every inch of the ship.  I was claustrophobic.  Sure the ship was BIGGER and I had more CHOICES, but I’d have much preferred a little elbow room with my deck chair or to be able to stroll from one part of the ship to another without dodging anything or anyone.

I could go on, but you get the drift.  I decided that part of the problem might be that I was letting everyone else do the voting.  It was time for me to decide how many stars hotels, restaurants and attractions deserved.  So I found my way over to Trip Advisor and I’ve been having a great time.  My link over there is http://www.tripadvisor.com/members/213JaneS213 .  They do have five stars, rather than the traditional four, but at least I’m participating in the conversation.  Come over and visit me.

How about you?  Do you think the rating stars have lost some of their shine?  Do you think we need seven stars or should we go back to four?  Do you participate in the conversation by rating your experiences online and if so, what sites do you frequent?

2 Comments

Filed under Accommodations, Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

2 responses to “Have the Stars Lost Their Wonder?

  1. Jane – It’s a great conversation you’ve started here. I believe the rating system on everything has slipped to the point of no return. Take books for example. I no longer trust a single top ten list – not one. I’m no longer impressed by the number of books moved out of a warehouse or sold via electronic mode. The numbers simply don’t mean anything. My husband used to tell me that you could make a number say anything you wanted and I’ve found that so true. If a report I’m preparing is supposed to say 7 our of 10, all data can be presented in such a way as to reflect that. If an author goes on line and asks everyone in every group she/he belongs to, to get their free e-book, well of course the numbers are going to shoot straight up – but what does it mean? Nothing. The same goes for our traveling. Those of us that have been fortunate to travel a lot have a sense of what to look for and back out when something isn’t pleasing. It’s the novice that I really feel bad about. It’s the same thing with a bad meal. When a bad meal appears in front of either my husband or myself, we aren’t shy about sending it back to the kitchen and asking to speak to the manager. It pays to talk and it’s our responsibility to let those that depend on the bottom line to know they have to make us want to return to their place of business whether it’s on the open seas or on land or air.

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    • I was at a writer’s workshop this week and can vouch for the book stat juggling. My book’s rewrite will soon be finished and I’m dreading getting into the fray. I just pray I can get an agent. I know that even with an agent I’ll have to get out there and pound the pavement for my art, but maybe I won’t be reduced to some of the antics I heard being promoted to get on the lists.

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