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.
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?