In 1927, the Hotel Statler in Boston became one of the first to offer complimentary newspapers to its guests.
Since then, most other verticals in the luxury travel industry from hotels, to airlines and cruise ships, have followed suit.
Their reasons have varied, according to a new study by Forbes Travel Guide and Pressreader, a “digital newsstand.”
Some hoteliers want to differentiate and enhance their brand; others aim to enrich the guest experience, and still others want to help keep their business clients connected with important business news.
When it comes to the way we consume news and other information, a lot has changed in the last 90 years.
But, perhaps surprisingly, the Forbes study found some constants in hoteliers’ goals and the role that various media play in achieving them.
The buzzwords have changed, the technology certainly has gone through a metamorphosis, but the top priorities for hoteliers over the next three years are improved guest personalization (70%) and improved service quality 65%.
And 67% of the hoteliers surveyed say the quality of magazines and newspapers they provide to their guests is a differentiating factor.
At the same time, the transition from a world in which most information was disseminated by print to the digital environment of today has produced some unusual attitudinal shifts.
For example, guestroom technology upgrades is more important to hoteliers than improving loyalty programs (53% vs, 40%); improving Wi-Fi capabilities is more important than upgrading the rooms themselves (49% vs. 38%).
Should hoteliers continue to provide newspapers and magazines to their guests?
The Forbes study suggests they should, with a caveat: Despite what appears to be a print-digital divide, the medium seems to be less important than choice.
Hotel guests prefer having a choice of at least two complimentary newspapers, whether print or digital.
“We’ve all heard about the doom and gloom in today’s media business with plummeting advertising revenues and declines in print circulation,” the study says, “but the truth is: that people across all demographics value high-quality content and those who use news apps (which are on the rise) spend even more time-consuming news” – an average of 50 minutes a day.
“They’re just not willing to pay for it.”
The full report can be downloaded here.