The internationalization in tourism demand calls for an internationalization on the supply side. As core service providers in tourism, hotels are at the forefront of this process (in terms of their infrastructure and service scope).
Such services are intangible and thus – from the customer perspective – information intensive, which is why the key constitutive element of accommodation-related information, i.e. hotel classification schemes, need to be internationalized as well. National classification schemes are becoming a rather odd phenomenon in this increasingly globalized world. (International) tourists basically do not stop at borders and are not willing to cope with a plethora of classification systems.
In 2009, hotel associations from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Hungary therefore established the Hotelstars Union with the goal to develop a harmonized classification scheme for the hotels in their countries. This scheme was built on the foundations of existing national classifications systems. However, and due to the on-going changes in demand, it was obvious that this harmonized classification scheme would need more customer-oriented revision sooner or later.
This is why in 2012 a revision process was initiated with the goal of further adapting the classification scheme to customer needs wherever necessary and appropriate. A number of studies was launched to increase the knowledge about classification schemes in general, and the guests’ needs in particular. One of these studies, commissioned to the Institute for Systemic Management and Public Governance at the University of St. Gallen, had the goal to identify further the needs and wishes of guests regarding a hotel overnight stay.