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The morning newspaper placed outside of your hotel room door may become an anachronism. And that may not be such a bad thing.
As travellers increasingly kick the paper aside in favour of getting a digital dose of morning news from their laptops or mobile devices, cash-strapped hotels have happily responded by cutting back or eliminating the delivery of newspapers because it helps them reduce costs — and appear more environmentally friendly. For me, the morning newspaper, along with a cup of coffee, used to be a ritual, but now I’ll check the news online and likely kick the newspaper aside (or put it in the recycle bin) on my way out the door.
Marriott hotels in the US used to provide every guest with a free morning newspaper on weekdays, whether they asked for it or not. Now the chain delivers 13 million fewer newspapers per year than it did two years ago, after it adopted a policy of delivering them only upon request. Marriott estimates that a newspaper produces 0.5 pounds of carbon emissions, so its new policy keeps 10,350 tonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere each year. Such policy changes are also taking a toll on newspaper circulation numbers — according to Forbes, more than half of USA Today’s 1.78 million daily circulation consists of hotel copies.
Most hotel chains in the US and around the world have not implemented broad initiatives and instead leave newspaper delivery up to individual hotels. Most high-end brands like Ritz-Carlton or Renaissance always deliver newspapers to guests who request them at check in. But at mid-priced brands like Crowne Plaza or Residence Inn, you might have to scurry down the hall to the elevator bank to pick up a copy. And at less expensive brands like Holiday Inn Express, Best Western or Fairfield Inn, newspapers are available in lobbies. Radisson Hotels only delivers papers to those paying more expensive “business class” rates, but makes them available to others in its hotel lobbies. Some other brands, like Hilton Garden Inn, charge guests $.75 for newspaper delivery, a practice that resulted in a recent lawsuit.
When the economy tanked in 2009, many upscale chains relaxed newspaper delivery as a cost savings measure, allowing properties to make newspapers available in lobbies, lounges and common areas. But as the outlook brightens, pre-recession practices are returning at some chains. For example, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts says that it will once again proactively offer all guests a complimentary edition of a daily local language or international language newspaper delivered each morning to their room starting in 2012.
All of this means that if you haven’t gone digital and still like the luxury of having a newspaper at your doorstep each the morning, it’s something that you’ll need to determine or request when you check in the hotel.
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Chris McGinnis is the business travel columnist for BBC Travel