How will Michelin Key impact hospitality?

The Michelin Guide will begin rating hotels in 2024, potentially transforming the industry.

The Michelin Guide, the prestigious restaurant rating system, recently announced its plans to begin rating hotels. Starting early next year, 5,000 esteemed hotels around the globe will receive a Michelin Key rating.

“Just as the Michelin Star distinguishes those restaurants that are at the peak of their art,” Michelin Guide International Director told Travel + Leisure. “The Michelin Key recognizes the most exceptional hotels throughout the world.”

Hotels will be evaluated on five criteria, including excellence in design, level of service, unique character, and consistency between experience and price.

Michelin’s trusted reputation and standards will undoubtedly transform the hospitality industry. One of the most unlikely implications, however, could be the acceleration of consumer trends in other sectors.

Facilitating consumer trust

The Michelin Star is highly regarded in the culinary world. So much so, that earning or losing a star can impact a restaurant’s business volume, publicity, and even staff retention. Inevitably, we can expect to see this in hospitality with the introduction of the Michelin Key–perhaps even more so.

It’s no secret that a growing number of consumers turn to online reviews before making purchases, and this trend holds for hotel bookings. More than 90 percent of travelers consult reviews before booking a hotel, and hotels with higher reviews tend to receive more bookings on average.

Capitalizing on its reputation as a trusted source, Michelin’s website and app give consumers the ability to search for hotels, read and leave reviews, and, ultimately, book accommodations. With the addition of key ratings to its search filter, luxury travelers will be able to explore and reserve Michelin-approved hotels and restaurants all in one place.

In a time when customers liken reviews to personal recommendations, being awarded a Michelin Key can add another layer of confidence to a purchase. It’s also possible to envision a future world where Michelin’s rating system will hold equal value to the current hotel star rating system.

The rise of culinary tourism

We have seen certain trends emerging out of the current travel resurgence. One trend, culinary tourism, bridges the gap between Michelin’s two rating systems. This year, 34 percent of travelers said they prioritized dining and restaurants while on vacation, making it the top financial consideration. The sector is expected to grow even bigger as 70 percent of luxury travel advisors at Virtuoso have seen an increase in culinary tourism ahead of next year.

While the Michelin Guide is synonymous with fine dining, its move to hotel ratings could further link it to travel. Today, several tourists plan their trips around Michelin Star restaurants. Next year, tourists will be able to add Michelin Key accommodations to their itineraries. Furthermore, they could make both reservations on the Michelin Guides’ website or app.

With the culinary tourism market projected to reach $2,114.2 billion by 2028, Michelin’s integration of gastronomy and travel is not only perfectly timed but also positions it as a player to watch in this emerging sector.

A new frontier for hospitality

With knowledgeable, digital-first customers gravitating to culinary tourism, the Michelin Guide’s move to rate hotels seems like a well-informed response to today’s luxury consumer. I applaud the addition of this respected rating system to the hospitality industry. Not only will it enhance the industry’s prestige, but it will also likely create new household names, increase revenue for recognized hotels, and strengthen the bond between hotels and guests.

Danilo Diazgranados is an independent investor in the global food and wine, financial services, real estate, and the hospitality sectors.

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