Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Newspapers in Hotels - A Service to Reconsider

Nothing is more pleasing and gratifying to the interested and the inquisitive than to open the hotel door in the morning and almost step on a thick stack of paper with pretty colored pictures on, staring right at you and begging to be picked up. You pick it up and give it the traditional shake, holding it with both hands very impressed with the hotel service and how much they care for your morning needs, not quite reading anything yet. Of course, who will? The pictures these days are too colorful and just either a tad too revealing or personal; something that wouldn't have made past the editor's desk a few decades ago. Suddenly, you realize that the gentleman next to you, in the elevator, is taking almost as much interest in the picture as you are. That's when you avoid embarrasement and divert your attention to the headlines pretending to read and flipping pages. That's when the news thirsty individual in you awakes and starts to look for something interesting that you don't already know about or haven't read online yesterday. Time to toss the paper in the trash can outside the elevator door, and that's exactly how most of these newspapers end up. Simply put, no one has the patience to wait until the next day to get their news. It already got wired on their computers and palm-pilots as it happend, yesterday. Newspaper is just an old habit like morning coffee, only it doesn't have the same kick anymore.

Life is too Short
So what's the life of a newspaper these days? I would say less than a few minutes. Gone are the days when a newspaper was picked up even at the midnight or the next day to keep up with the world around. I remember reading newspapers from other countries in the libraries where they showed up a week late because that's how long it took them to be shipped. Gone are those days indeed. These days newspaper gestate longer than the time between they are picked up by hotel guests and tossed out of the bags.

Environmental Impact
That said, isn't it obvious that the hotels are now wasting money delivering an almost outdated commodity to its esteemed guests. Are they draining their resources? I am convinced that they are. But then this is considered a measure of service. Other hotels do it so should us, thinks the person in charge of guest satisfaction in the hotel. Not only will this save the hotel some money it will also save huge amounts of paper and wood and of course the energy that is used to print and distribute tons of it around the world. Yes, tons. Consider this, as per the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell there are about 10,000 hotels of US origin in a certain segment. And this does not count the Waldorf Astorias, Intercontinentals, Tajs, and Oberois of the world. Even without these the number of rooms we are talking about is approximately 3,000,000 (3 million). With 70% average occupancy this is about 2.1 million rooms occupied every day around the world. Long story short there's about 440 million lbs of paper every year that is wasted. This is a huge environmental impact.

Redefine Service
It is time that the hotel industry realizes that 440 million lbs is a substantial impact in the number of trees felled and takes steps to save paper and trees. They can still maintain the same 'sense of service' by modifying the process a little bit.
  • Instead of pushing newspapers to guests, the guests should be asked at the time of check-in if they'd like to get a newspaper delivered in the morning.
  • Another possible way is to have the papers stacked at a common area where the patrons can pick them up from.
I am very optimistic about the savings that just these two workarounds will help achive without disturbing any of the returns in guest satisfaction.
On March 24, 2007, one of Canada's leading newspaper, The Globe and Mail, reported that the growth of free dailies is dropping in Canada. One of the leading papers in Toronto has seen as much as 11.7% drop in its weekday readership.