Guest post: AAA diamond inspections – demystified

If you want a job in the transportation industry, there are so many different paths your career can take...

Just yesterday we told you about a group of high schoolers exploring the field of engineering and how it relates to transportation. In the past we’ve also highlighted the varied jobs here at ADOT and will continue to give you a look at what it’s like to work in this field.

Which brings us to today’s guest blog post. It’s from our friends at AAA of Arizona and gives an overview of what it takes to be an AAA Diamond Inspector. Now, maybe that’s not a job that would typically come to mind when thinking of the transportation industry, but we think this guest post just goes to show how wide-ranging the field is. Enjoy!

By Linda Gorman
AAA of Arizona

As hundreds of thousands of motorists embark on their summer vacation, many are consulting rating sites or programs in order find the best places to stay and eat.  As the oldest rating system of its kind in North America, the AAA Diamond rating system remains the hospitality industry’s benchmark for property ratings and an indispensable travel tool for more than 53 million AAA members and countless travelers.

Each year, 65 full-time AAA Inspectors evaluate more than 65,000 lodging establishments and restaurants in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, and rate their overall quality and hospitality on a scale of one to five diamonds.

Traveling around the state, staying in posh places and dining out nearly every night—sounds like a dream job, doesn’t it? Recently, we sat down with a AAA Diamond inspector who is in charge of evaluating properties and restaurants in Arizona, on what it’s like to inspect hundreds of properties every year. Here is what he had to say.

How long have you been an inspector and what is your background?
I just celebrated my third anniversary with AAA. Previously I worked in the hospitality industry for over 15 years with several companies including Four Seasons, Rosewood and Omni Hotels. I also was the owner of a small café & wine shop.

What does a typical day consist of?
The day starts with mapping out the areas I plan on covering, and then researching any new restaurants that may have opened in that area. I try to visit at least three hotels and one restaurant daily, and maybe an attraction if necessary. Then in the evening it’s all about paperwork. What many people don’t realize is that AAA is one of only two rating systems in which field inspectors conduct rigorous on-site evaluations.  Unlike many online travel sites, AAA ratings are independent, unbiased reviews that are never negotiated for discounted room rates or other enticements. In addition, our inspectors are proven experts in the hospitality industry, not a casual traveler with subjective opinions or limited experience.

What’s the one thing members would be most surprised to learn about inspections?
People are always surprised to learn how many properties I visit. On average, an inspector will visit nearly 900 hotels, restaurants and attractions annually, approving only those that pass a rigorous on-site inspection with excellent housekeeping and physical quality being a key member-driven requirement. When you take into consideration all the travel time and the writing that’s involved, it definitely keeps us very busy!

What do you see as trends in the hospitality industry?
Green initiatives are becoming increasingly popular, and many major hotel companies now participate in a variety of programs. One that I have noticed taking off recently is the use of bath amenity dispensers, even in the higher end properties. Guests can now find upscale shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel in handy wall mounted dispensers, and hotels can eliminate thousands of half-used plastic bottles and bars of soap. Reducing costs and cutting waste have become important trends, and hopefully we will see these trends continue.

What do you love most—and least—about your job?
Love most: Traveling, discovering the latest and greatest restaurants, and meeting new people every day. Love least: Paperwork!

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