AAA Updates Hotel Rating Guidelines

Evolving travel trends spur revisions to AAA Diamond criteria


The voice of travelers just got louder for the only comprehensive guide of North American hotel inspections and ratings by experts. AAA has updated its  Diamond Rating Guidelines to incorporate emerging shifts in member expectations.


“Over 53 million members have spoken and AAA has listened, as AAA’s Diamond Rating Guidelines have recently been updated to reflect travelers’ expectations,” said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. “These guidelines are based on industry trends and member feedback,  as members review and weight the importance of 89 detailed property attributes — from landscaping to extra pillows in the room — to ensure evaluation scores accurately reflect member priorities.”


With input from AAA’s full-time hotel inspectors, AAA members and industry professionals, the updated guidelines reflect current AAA member expectations and travel trends, including:

  • Hidden fees and Wi-Fi. Members want all-inclusive, published room rates with no surprises at checkout and have a growing expectation for in-room Internet access that is both high-speed and free. Now, as part of the travel information collection process, properties charging resort and Wi-Fi fees will receive points off their evaluation score, which could impact their overall rating.


  • Exclusivity. The new guidelines continue to emphasize guest comfort and satisfaction while recognizing greater flexibility and differentiation in how hotels achieve this goal. For example, while improved bedding may have similarities across properties, approaches to enhanced décor may be wide ranging. Hotels may incorporate self-serve, playful or artistic elements such as check-in kiosks, interactive touch screens, digital signage, mood lighting or fragrances in social areas.


  • Amenities. AAA inspectors have noted growing expectations for more amenities at lower rating levels. Examples include flat-screen televisions, portable device docking stations and jack packs that allow transmission of digital information on TVs. Other preferences growing in prevalence include sustainable design features, products and eco-friendly services.


“AAA inspectors have an in-depth, inside view of every AAA Approved property and strive to avoid any treatment or services not extended to every guest so they experience properties the same way members do,” added Gorman. “Unlike many online travel sites, AAA ratings are independent, unbiased reviews conducted by inspectors who consider criteria from a checklist of 400 guest interaction points in the rating process. This sets AAA’s hotel ratings apart from any other source.”

Since 2007, other design trends noted by the inspectors and reflected in the revised guidelines include open and active lobby areas, dramatic headboards, wood and laminate flooring options and the increased use of glass, marble and stone. Amenities incorporate sustainable and allergy-free products and expanded fitness options. Technology trends include easy-to-use alarm clocks, single-use coffee makers and power stations for gadgets and devices.

Now in its 76th year, the new AAA Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines for lodgings are available to properties on the website.


AAA rates more properties than any other rating entity and is the only rating system that covers the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. It is the only comprehensive on-site inspection program of its kind, using published guidelines to evaluate, Approve and rate lodgings and restaurants on a scale of One to Five Diamonds.


Listings of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants can be accessed in the downloadable eTourBook guides at, online at and in the TourBook guides available at AAA offices. Travelers with smartphones can access property listings using AAA’s free app or AAA Mobile Web, at

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and auto travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.