April 11, 2010

other people's rating systems

I am staying in a wonderful little hotel right now.  Which is quite likely not in any AA ratings list of good places to stay, or possibly in any ratings listing.  Which is a shame, because it is a family-owned and operated hotel.  The people are incredibly friendly.  It is bright and cheerful and tidy.  It is very affordable.  It is cleaner than many 4 star hotels I have stayed in. And I have watched the cleaning staff. They actually care about the cleaning.  Like they get what a difference they are making, they get the contribution their job of cleaning is to the bigger picture.  This place is clean enough for me to sit on the floor.  Which I am doing right now.  How many places are that clean?
It makes me wonder.  What are we losing out on by allowing ourselves to be guided by someone else’s rating system?
I understand why rating systems develop.  It is a convenience thing. A way of making meaning of things that simplifies it.  It creates a sense of trust, perhaps, that someone else has thought about it and made an assessment.  How many of us know what the assessments are based on?  I certainly haven't thought about it much, until now.  Turns out that it is often based on things like whether there's an elevator.  And how big the rooms are.  Whether there is a restaurant onsite.  Go figure.  
The systems limit what’s possible.  Experiences forgone, because of a filter based on things that may not actually be important to you. And you don’t even know what you are missing out on.
What will I do differently after this experience?  Take rating systems with a grain of salt.  Check out what they are making their decisions based on, and look for systems based on information that I would choose as important.  Or collect my own data.
What would my system look for?  Cleanliness. Friendliness. Care. Attitude. Authenticity. Opportunity to interact with the culture rather than be isolated from it. And an opportunity for me to contribute to the local economy through supporting a business run by a local person or family.  

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