Hey Hotelier, did you hear the news? Hotels are frantically testing news apps so that they can replace hotel newspapers, mistakenly thinking that this is what guests expect them to do.
Many supporters of digital newspapers clamour about the “undeniable“ benefits of this hospitality product, but their arguments are feeble when examined from a practical point of view.
Argument 1 – Guests will have publications galore at their fingertips
As hard as it can be to resist deals that offer quantitative advantage, we should not forget that quantity and quality don’t always go hand-in-hand. Digital newspapers have the same effect as a multichannel TV bundle: first it entertains you, then you ignore the majority of the channels.
Regardless of how advanced a news app seems to you, to a guest it will be nothing more than aimless, time-wasting web browsing, a mundane experience that is neither impressive nor memorable.
Staying in a hotel should always be an unforgettable personalized experience. Great customer service and outstanding hospitality products make a guest’s stay exceptional and get mentioned on Booking.com and TripAdvisor. Not so digital newspapers.
The majority of guests’ time abroad is spent exploring the new surroundings and culture. The remaining hours of the day are then occupied with checking personal favourites such as Facebook and Mail Online while resting on a bed connected to your hotel’s Wi-Fi.
With a hectic daily schedule like that there is no time for 100+ digital newspapers – which completely defeats the purpose of having them.
A hospitality product that is designed to provide value added service but is destined to be ignored is not worth paying for.
Argument 2 – Digital newspapers grant free access to sites that require subscription
At first blush, this sounds like a great value-added service indeed. A guest would be delighted to click through the pages of the Times for free while having a drink at the hotel bar.
However, don’t get carried away any further by this vision.
First of all, free access to high-ranking digital newspapers is a costly hospitality product. Secondly, why pay for something that is already available for free?
“How come?” you will ask me!
The scarcity of visitor attention, plus fierce competition, require publications to yield leading content on a regular basis. One way to have avant-garde content that is as good as a competitor’s is to get it directly from them.
You may be surprised to know that it is common for small publications to purchase subscriptions from their bigger rivals for in-house writers who then “get inspired” by other people’s work.
In fact, for every subscription-based website there is at least one free copycat on the web. Therefore, hotels that want to provide value added service should be cautious about wasting half their budget on a product that is available for free.
The only online publications that manage to maintain their individuality are those that produce tailored content aimed at a very narrow readership.
Argument 3 – Digital newspapers appeal to all guests in your hotel
A golden rule of success for any business is to define the target audience and provide it with the right product. The hospitality industry is no exception.
First, the hotel must understand which type of traveller forms the biggest proportion of its regular guests; only then should it choose a suitable hospitality product.
For the majority of hotels, the biggest share of revenue comes from the holidaymaker: a “regular Joe” who travels to a holiday destination for a typical resort or city viewing holiday and doesn’t like anything complicated.
Therefore, websites such as the Wall Street Journal, the Economist and the Times are not among their favourites. They prefer free, easily accessible and widely available platforms of immediate entertainment value – copycat sites!
Hence, purchasing a news app with brainy content is worth it only if a large number of your regular guests are business travellers. Otherwise your intention to give guests something extra for their money might leave you with a wrong product for your target audience!
Think before you pay!
Despite twenty years of erroneous prophecy that newspapers will not survive if they don’t migrate online, print editions remain the main source of advertising and subscription revenue and hold on to the majority of the readership. People feel that there is something soothingly trustworthy about the newspaper. As newspapers remain as much in demand as ever, so do their smaller versions.
The hotel newspaper is the undisputed winner of the guests-oriented hospitality product contest. It is an elegant and professional approach to extra customer service. It fits any schedule, appeals to all guests and is absolutely irresistible if published in the guest’s native language.