Encyclopedia of Tourism

Living Edition
| Editors: Jafar Jafari, Honggen Xiao


  • Robert M. O’HalloranEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-01669-6_2-1


Tourism Industry North American Industry Classification System Hotel Sector Trailer Park Classification System Code 
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In tourism, accommodation is regarded “home away from home,” typically for overnight stays. A dictionary definition might refer to accommodations as a room in a hotel, where tourists can sleep. Gunn (1979) referred to it as service facilities. Most people think of it in terms of hotels, inns, or lodges.

The history of accommodations is connected to that of civilizations (Levy-Bonvin 2003). Historically, it can be traced to the Greeks and Romans building at thermal baths and places for caravan travelers on the Silk Road or for crusaders going from Europe to Jerusalem. As the Industrial Revolution began, so did the building of hotels in city centers, often as focal points. Famous hotels, Le Grand Hotel Paris, Palmer House in Chicago, Waldorf Astoria in New York City, Savoy in London, and Negresco in Nice, have all become part of a global culture. Accommodations are a key part of the infrastructure of the tourism industry and critical to the tourists.

Accommodations by type

STR Global (2014), one of the leading data sources for the hotel sector, provides classifications of hotels by type. Hotel classifications have been developed based on structures and service levels. It also distinguishes properties by their location, including urban, suburban, airport, interstate (major highway), resort, and small metro/town hotels. Accommodation types include all suite, one or more bedrooms, boutique, and unique, contemporary, and distinctive design/decor; conference, mainly focusing on group operations; convention, minimum of 300 rooms and large meeting facilities; destination resorts, leisure and family vacation; gaming/casino, focusing on gambling operations; golf or hotel with a golf course; hotel/motel, standard operations, and ski lodges with ski slope access; spa, designated treatment options; and waterpark, offering aquatic facilities.

Governments also track business development for the hospitality sector as accommodations. The combined North American Industry Classification System codes (UNWTO 2014) and the Statistics Division of the United Nations classifications additionally include auto courts and bed and breakfast units; camping grounds, recreational vehicle parks, and trailer parks; chalets, housekeeping cottages, and cabins; clubs and residential houses; off-campus dormitories; fraternity and sorority houses; guest houses; holiday homes; membership hotels, motels, and motor courts; migrant workers’ camps; motels; motor hotels; pensions; protective shelters; rooming and boarding houses; suites and apartment hotels; time share units; tourist homes; tourist flats and bungalows; workers’ camps; and youth hostels and mountain refuges.

Accommodations and tourism

Accommodations represent a significant part of the economy worldwide. For example, in the United States, there are almost 53,000 accommodation properties. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, in 2012, there were 52,529 properties or 4,900,642 guest rooms, with US$155.5 billion in sales, $65.16 revenue per available room, and 61.4 % average occupancy rate (AHLA 2014a).

Accommodations are measured by occupancy and average daily rates. The sector monitors and reports its own statistics through companies like STR Global. In 2012, the reported average room rate was $106.15 and an occupancy of 61.4 % which is inclusive of all property types serving both business and leisure tourists. There are also many subsegments that can be classified and matched with the appropriate accommodation types. For example, most business tourists are currently male and represent about 40 % of the total. Leisure tourists are typically couples, spending multiple nights away from home (AHLA 2014b).

Tourism goods and services are produced by public and private sectors facilitating relationships between tourists and their host community in terms of cultural, sociological, economic, psychological, and physical impacts. Typically, for many countries, tourism is a large industry. Accommodations are typically part of the private sector and critical to the infrastructure of the tourism industry. In the United States, domestic and international tourists spend an average of $2.3 billion a day; much of this revenue is generated through accommodations. The sector also pays federal, state, and local taxes. Further, it creates a significant number of wage-earning jobs (more than 7.7 million in 2012) through accommodations and related fields (AHLA 2014a).


Accommodations are often illustrated through brands. Although the majority of accommodations are independent, the public often thinks of Accor, InterContinental, Marriott, Jin Jiang, and Hilton as dominating the sector. Successful global brands have the ability to become synonymous in the consumer’s mind with the potential of answering tourists’ particular needs or wants, forming strong consumer bonds (Tillotson 2002).

Another common feature in the accommodation sector is its classification systems. The American Automobile Association rates hotels from one to five diamonds, based on service, facilities, and amenities. UNWTO (2014) provides information about classification systems on a global basis. Also, all accommodations are continually evolving and innovating, with booking online, vacation rentals, and time share spread throughout the sector. Meetings and conventions have evolved into a distinct segment and accommodation owners are integrating sustainable strategies for economic, cost-saving, and competitive advantages.

A country’s inns have become an index of its roads and methods of transportation and a true reflection of national character (Gunn 1979). This is also reflective of accommodations and its evolution from a sector for privileged few to accommodations for all. This premise illustrates the global importance of the sector in the global tourism market. As discussed, accommodations have changed and transitioned over time to their current offering and operations. As the tourism industry progresses, more research will be needed on newer and vacation rental concepts and other new accommodation innovations. Additionally, the question will need to be asked concerning how the traditional accommodation sector will adapt or transition in order to continue to compete.


  1. AHLA 2014a Lodging Industry Profile www.ahla.com/content.aspx?id=35603 (14 April).
  2. AHLA 2014b Shifflet & Associates www.ahla.com/Green.aspx?id=25018&terms=glossary (15 April).
  3. Gunn, C. 1979 Tourism Planning. New York: Crane Russack.Google Scholar
  4. Levy-Bonvin, J. 2003 Hotels: A Brief History www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4017990 (16 April 2014).
  5. STR Global 2014 A Guide to Our Terminology www.strglobal.com/resources/glossary/en-gb (9 August).
  6. Tillotson, J. 2002 Food Brands: Friend or Foe? (Business and Nutrition) Nutrition Today 37(2):78-80.Google Scholar
  7. UNWTO 2014 About Hotel Classification Systems www2.unwto.org/agora/about-hotel-classification-systems (16 April).

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of BusinessEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA