By Larry and Adam Mogelonsky
Your kneejerk reaction might be, “Why would anyone come to a hotel to read a book?”
You wouldn’t be wrong. Books aren’t the main draw – nor will they ever likely be unless you theme the entire place like a library. Instead, think of books as a spice to flavor a dish; they’re one more item in the room to elevate the visual appeal and to ensure your guests are never bored.
Coming out of the pandemic, adding books would be a timely addition. Many people became quite introspective during the lockdowns and general malaise of being restricted from pre-pandemic forms of social interaction. They turned to books, it became a habit and the habit persists even as the pandemic subsides. Again, this doesn’t mean that the books you place in the room will be the lure, but guests nowadays may be more inclined to have a glance while waiting for an event or freshening up for dinner.
This is hardly anything inventive. In fact, it has a name – bibliotherapy, or seeking personal wellbeing through reading. Such a ‘lo-fi’ room feature also means that it’s relatively cheap to add in a few surplus books. You might even theme the books to certain rooms or make them a touchstone that reinforcing the brand in a memorable way.
Beyond the guestroom, consider revitalizing a lounge or business center space as a library. This could even take on elements of a premium-access club or living room concept. Food and beverage act as the main draw while the stacks of books foster interactivity with the space where the intent is to have a ‘third place’ vibe with quieter social dealings mixed with solo business guests.
In deciding between physical books and tablets or e-readers, our vote is decidedly with the former because they add colorful visuals to a space while offering a more tactile, pleasurable reading experience. Related to this, one other concern is that of COVID-19 and fomite transmission – that is, a non-living entity (in this case, a book) acting as the infectious agent. In March 2020, this was a legitimate fear, but we’ve since learned that fomite cases are non-existent, and they shouldn’t be consideration.
On that note, how does one start? For one, the cost of going all new may be prohibitive, so consider used bookstores or other auctions. Then you can go guestroom by guestroom, theming each as the books come in. Alternatively, a public space such as an onsite library requires more advanced planning and critical mass of inventory.
While not an outright revenue builder, appealing to the bibliophile within us may serve more passive ends towards asset growth. As such, bibliotherapy should be one more potential, low-cost initiative to keep in mind when planning the next physical upgrade to your hotel.