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Trend to Eliminate Telephone Books from Hotel Rooms Growing - Brands Starting
 the Process Include Hyatt, Kimpton, Omni, Westin and Sheraton

By David Ranii, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 5, 2008 - Next time you're staying in a hotel in a strange city and need to consult the yellow pages, you might be out of luck.

Some hotel chains have started saying goodbye to phone books.

Their position: Guests no longer let their fingers do the walking through the yellow pages, because they have the Internet at their fingertips.

Hyatt Hotels and Resorts and Hyatt Place hotels are among those with phone-book-free rooms, company spokeswoman Amy Patti said. Hyatt Place has hotels in Raleigh and near Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

The chain has dumped in-room phone books "primarily due to the convenience the Internet provides," Patti said. "A phone book can be provided at the guest's request," or guests can get assistance from the hotel staff.

Other hotel chains tossing phone books include Omni Hotels, Kimpton Hotels and some chains operated by Starwood Hotels -- such as Westin, Sheraton and Aloft.

The trend is one more bit of bad news for Cary-based R.H. Donnelley, which publishes directories in 28 states.

Like other traditional media, yellow pages publishers have seen advertising revenue decline because of the struggling economy and companies shifting their advertising to the Internet. As a result, Donnelley has been cutting jobs, and its stock has dropped 98 percent in the past year.

Donnelley spokesman Peter Larmey notes that the company has exclusive deals to be the sole provider of print directories to hotels in many of its markets.

Many hotels still keep phone books in their rooms -- often alongside the Bible.

Louise Garrell, general manager of the Ramada Inn on Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh, said making yellow pages available reduces demands on hotel employees' time. "We have them in the rooms so people don't have to ask us," she said.

Yellow Pages Association spokeswoman Stephanie Hobbs contends that the hotels that have chosen to eliminate phone books are relying on false assumptions.

"The current wisdom is that everybody is wired 24/7," she said. "Would that were true, but it's not."

Still, the association plans to provide hotel chains with consumer usage data in hopes of reversing the trend. The association estimates, based on 9,008 telephone interviews, that last year, Americans turned to the printed yellow pages 13.4 billion times -- about the same as in 2006.

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To see more of The News & Observer, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.newsobserver.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.

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