If things aren’t bad enough in the newspaper industry, Marriott International said last week that it’s going to stop dropping free papers at guests’ doors at 2,600 hotels across the country starting June 1.
The Maryland-based lodging company says a guest survey showed a 25 percent decline in demand for papers. The desire to reduce waste is also a factor.
“We want to give guests the choice of whether they want a newspaper or not,” said Chairman and CEO J.W. Marriott Jr. “I visit more than 250 hotels a year, and more often than not, I’m stepping over unclaimed newspapers as I walk down the hallway.”
It projected that newspaper distribution will be cut by 50,000 papers a day, which comes up to 18 million annually, or 10,350 tons of carbon emissions.
The money saved will vary according to individual hotels because Marriott will still deliver newspapers, including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal or the local paper, to guests’ doors if they request them at check-in.
The newspaper industry has suffered declines in circulation and ad revenue as Internet news sources gain sway, and the recessionary economy has only worsened the problem.
But the lodging industry has its own woes as consumers and businesses tighten budgets and forgo travel. Nationwide surveys have shown that occupancy, room rates and profitability have been in decline month over month for the past year, and hoteliers are trying to cut corners.
Marriott claims that it was the first major chain to deliver newspapers free to guest rooms 25 years ago through partnerships with Gannett and USA Today, and is now the first to change its policy.
As of April 20, Marriott’s limited service brands , Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites and TownePlace Suites hotels , will have newspapers available for free in their lobbies.
Traded under the symbol MAR on the New York Stock Exchange, Marriott reported net income of $362 million for its 2008 fiscal year and $696 million for ’07. Its revenues were $12.88 billion in 2008 and $12.99 billion in ’07.