Purpose The purpose of this paper is to critically review and synthesize the scale development practices in hospitality and tourism and propose updated guidelines applicable for both reflective and composite scales. Design/methodology/approach Using a critical review of a sample of scale development papers published in six top-tier tourism and hospitality journals, the current guidelines' weaknesses and strengths and their applications are identified. Updated procedures are proposed to overcome these weaknesses. Findings This review showed several issues in applying existing guidelines, including incomplete and unclear data collection processes, inconsistent data analysis processes including validity/reliability assessment and lack of criteria to identify and assess composite scales. As such, this paper proposes updated guidelines by incorporating the confirmatory composite analysis to assess composite scales. Originality/value This paper offers unique theoretical and methodological contributions to scale development literature, by identifying the shortcomings of current practices of scale development and propose guidelines for both reflective and composite scales. The current scale development procedures cannot be applied for composite scales, and so the results of composite scale development using the current procedures are questionable. The updated guidelines by the current study improve new scales' accuracy, reliability and validity.