Founded in 1928, The Leading Hotels of the World originally covered 38 hotels in Europe and Egypt. By 2010, the collection included more than 450 hotels in 80 countries. Though the membership has expanded significantly, the organisation says its standards are stricter than ever. Each year, only a handful of hotels pass the rigorously detailed 1,200-point inspection. Leading Hotels of the World Ltd. has also launched an affiliate business, Leading Quality Assurance, to administer this inspection to interested hospitality organisations.
Hotel inspections take place anonymously and unannounced over a 48-hour period. After his stay, the inspector assembles a final report that includes transcribed telephone conversations, analysis of 1,200 standards with percentage scores by department, photographs of the room before and after servicing and a qualitative narrative. This report is filed with the executive committee, which then votes to include or reject the hotel. Once a hotel has been accepted as a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, it is reinspected twice every three years to ensure it remains up to the group's standards.
The Leading Hotels of the World standards are based on the steps of the guest journey. Evaluation begins with the reservation process itself, before the guest even sets foot in the hotel. This is the first of 28 departments --- a mix of activities, amenities and guest actions --- into which the 1,200-inspection points are grouped. Seven departments centre on food and food service: the food and beverage area, breakfast, restaurant setting, light meal offerings, drink service, room service and minibar. Though physical surroundings encompass several departments, including guest rooms, bathrooms, public areas, the fitness centre and the spa, the focus is on service interactions like turndown service, doormen greetings, wakeup calls, laundry service, check-in and checkout.
The inspectors complete a checklist with about 30 detailed questions for each department, assessing if the hotel meets or falls below expectations. Each department receives a percentage score that is calculated by dividing the number of standards met by the total number of standards in the checklist, first subtracting any questions that were not applicable. For example, there are 38 reservations standards. A given hotel met 23 standards, fell below expectations on 13, and had four that weren't applicable. It would receive a score of 61.8 per cent.