December 18, 2007
The Bible has been a mainstay in most hotel and motel rooms since the early 1900s when the Gideons began placing them in guestrooms as an evangelistic tool. However, today, many trendy, upscale hotels are putting other initiatives in place that compete with Biblical principles and this innovative evangelistic approach that began nearly a century ago.
One example is the San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, LLC, which has a diversity initiative that targets the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. "As a result of a formal diversity initiative, Kimpton has embarked on its first ad campaign specifically targeting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travelers," the company Website states.
"Kimpton Hotels welcomes everyone. You'll find people from all over the world who feel at home in our stylish surroundings, including gays and lesbians, families, single women, pet lovers and even their pets. So whether you're looking for fun, adventure or a blissful night's sleep, you'll find that all our hotels have something in common - a sense of inclusiveness."
In addition, the site states Kimpton Hotels support dozens of LGBT organizations across North America. (Kimptonhotels.com)
In spite of the competition with technology and other recent initiatives akin to Kimpton’s, the Bible will remain a standard at the majority of economy and luxury hotels across the country, including Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Marriott Hotels and Resorts.
“At Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, including the Gideon Bible in every guestroom is a brand standard and a requirement that has been in place since the chain was founded 26 years ago. At the present time, there has been no discussion of removing the Bibles from Wyndham hotels. If a guest is interested in reading the Bible, he or she knows that it can be found in the drawer,” said Evy Apostolatos, Director, Media Relations, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts.While some timeless standards like the Bible will remain, the company said it also continues to meet its guests needs in a variety of different ways. “From our new product upgrades to our service mantra and initiatives, brand is committed to delivering high quality programs and products that reflect the brand’s values of personalized service, flexibility and innovation. We have a new marketing campaign we launched this fall that features the company’s “Be Well” philosophy. Be Well is a powerful and succinct brand philosophy that resonates with our customers’ value system and leverages a brand promise that will be a significant part of the Wyndham culture. It embodies the essence of the brand – upscale, comfortable and casual, not pretentious,” said Apostolatos. Marriott representative Roger Conner said Marriott Hotels and Resorts has the Bible in each of their guestrooms and will continue to make it available to every guest. “We do have the Bible in our guestrooms. It has been a long standard item in all of our guestrooms, and we continue to have the Bible in our guestrooms,” Conner said.
Unfortunately, many Christians see other things competing with the Bible such as materials from other religions, media, or pornography. Phil Cooke, Television Producer and Media Strategist, Cooke Pictures, Los Angeles, California and Author of Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Non-Profits Impact Culture and Others Don't from Regal Books said he believes the Bible should continued to be offered, but he has some concerns about the future.
“It's a wonderful concept, but in a pluralistic society, especially today, I can see a number of other religions demanding equal time. I travel about 150,000 miles a year, and in most hotels I already find a Book of Mormon next to the Bible. Before long, I predict we'll find a Koran, Tao, Torah, I Ching, Writings of Confucius, and more. Pretty soon, there won't be room for a bed,” Cooke said.
When Cooke is traveling, he said he takes his own copy of the Bible that is pretty worn but said, “Today, probably, not many” read the copies of the Bible that are available. “Sadly, I'm afraid the pornography available through the TV in hotels today is probably a much stronger force for most businessmen today. Plus, wireless Internet access is pretty tough competition as well.”
Solo artist and Blessid Union of Souls frontman Eliot Sloan also travels quite frequently. He said he regularly reads the Bibles that are made available in hotel and motel rooms, but he also takes his Bible on the road.
Sloan said it is “hard to say” how many people may read the Bibles provided in hotel and motel rooms but he said, “Probably more people read it than one may think.”
He believes the Bible should continue to be made available in hotel and motel guestrooms. “God’s Word is being snuffed out in so many other ways, it is important for it to be in as many places as possible,” Sloan said.
Cooke’s hope is that God’s message continues to reach people in relevant ways, “The truth is, putting Bibles in hotel rooms was a brilliant move for its time. It wasn't ‘in your face’ and yet it was a profound evangelism tool, which offered great comfort for millions of travelers. But that was then. The question is: What's a similar project for the digital age? As we move into what I call a ‘media-driven culture,’ how can we effectively present a message of hope to people today? Should we investigate a Christian TV channel? Online service? In-house hotel channel? How can we share our faith in a way that's as unobtrusive as those original Bibles, and yet reaches people during a desperate time? That's the question we should be asking.”
Sloan admits he would like to see the Bible make its way out of the nightstand and dresser drawers. “It would be nice if they were sitting out instead of in the drawers. People think Christians are trying to shove the Bible down their throats, but we just want people to have peace and eternal life. We’re trying to feed the world meat and vegetables and all that the world wants is dessert,” he said.
According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Gideon’s International placed their first Bible in the Superior Hotel in Montana in 1908.
Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, a subsidiary of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (NYSE: WYN), is an upscale hotel chain offers that offers hotel and resort accommodations throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean. We have a pretty even mix of leisure and business clientele. (www.wyndham.com)
Marriott’s Website noted that the company is ranked as one of the lodging industry's most admired companies and one of the best places to work according to Fortune®, “Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR) is a leading lodging company with more than 2,900 lodging properties in the United States and 67 other countries and territories. The company is headquartered in Bethesda, Md., and had approximately 151,000 employees at 2006 year-end. It is ranked as the lodging industry’s most admired company and one of the best places to work for by Fortune®. The company is also a 2006 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star® Partner. (Marriott.com)