The idea and concept behind the International Guest Certified Hotel Award were developed in 2004 by Ortwin Oberhauser, the CEO of bobdo, a film production agency & Google Premier Partner agency based in Bregenz, Austria. Ortwin comes from a family of hoteliers, and really got into service quality and active hospitality, along with the resulting guest satisfaction, at a young age.
He noticed that the hotel industry had innumerable awards that solely deal with objective matters. However, Ortwin couldn't find an award that rewarded service quality, active hospitality and guest satisfaction.
Hotels with great facilities received stars, suns or smiley faces. More amenities and more luxurious fittings led to more stars, suns, or smiley faces.
Depending on the target group in the hotel’s sights, the property could receive specific awards for being the best children's hotel, dog-friendly hotel, adults-only hotel or business hotel. Hotels that pamper guests to the height of luxury have their own luxury hotel awards: luxury furnishings, lifts, pools and spas all receive acclaim.
However, these awards all have one thing in common, as Ortwin realised: they often completely ignore the quality of service a hotel offers. This means that a hotel with awful service and unfriendly employees can win an award, as long as it invests in its furnishings and provides lavish, luxurious surroundings.
It’s easy to give out awards based on objective matters, as they are inexpensive to review and easily measurable.
However, for most organisations, it’s almost (or utterly) impossible to measure feelings on a qualitative level.
Feelings include criteria such as hospitality, trust, appeal, reliability, satisfaction, recognition, acceptance, joy, fun, certainty, comfort, and other characteristics that are very tricky to measure. Overall, they shape a hotel's emotional landscape.
Guests’ perceptions ≠ number of stars
But here's the gulf that separates how the providers of traditional awards see things and how guests see things.
Hotel booking platforms that let guests rate hotels have been around since 2004. Today, and back then, negative reviews rarely refer to objective elements, i.e. amenities. Instead, they focus on emotional shortcomings that guests have remembered, whether in the form of unfriendly employees, or employees who are uncommunicative, unskilled or inflexible, just to name a few.
The discrepancy between what wins awards and what guests really want led Ortwin to create the International Guest Certified Hotel Award in 2004. His aim? To help hotels optimise service quality through genuine, objective guest feedback. This aim applies regardless of whether the property is a simple guesthouse or a 5-star hotel, as long as the business's goal is to focus on service quality.