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Fairmont Hotels is one of the most environmentally-minded chains around. From joining up with WWF initiatives to promoting tap water among guests, the well known brand has created respect among those concerned with lightening the footprint of traveling. Which makes their latest move particularly interesting. The hotel chain has decided to offer guests e-readers, so they can leave their books at home. According to a recent press release, Fairmont is joining up with Kobo, a global eReading service, to provide Kobo e-readers with a full library of Random House books loaded to guests staying in select US and Canada Fairmont Gold (read: super fancy) locations.
"Travelers are a great fit for the Kobo offering and a group that is eager to engage in eReading," said Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo. "We know that travelers do not want to carry heavy books in their luggage, and vacations provide the perfect time to relax and catch up on reading. This partnership allows Kobo to expand our reach and offer our service to an important segment of our customer base."
Indeed, it's a great opportunity to get people with money aware of your product as opposed to the Kindle or iPad which are leaders for those interested in reading e-books. The readers are currently available at Borders for $150, but not a lot of people have it in top of mind when thinking of best selling e-readers.
The guests can access the books already loaded on the reader, or access Kobo's collection of over 2 million titles. It's a small additional luxury that could become more common. Who knows, maybe the usual bed-side bible will be replaced with one on an e-reader. Considering the devices will receive such light use, they'll likely last a long time as long as the hotel doesn't constantly upgrade as new e-readers rush onto the market. The idea of major hotel chains beginning to offer yet more electronics to guests is a little iffy, especially with the burgeoning e-reader market in such a state of change, and hotels are already notorious for the amount of energy they use, even if e-readers are energy sippers. It could have the potential to help hotels dematerialize a little more (beyond books, perhaps a hotel's binder of amenities and menus, lists of nearby attractions and what-to-do-during-your-stay lists could be loaded as well) or it could be just a big fat addition to the environmental footprint of a hotel.
Also interesting is the idea that if travelers expect to have an e-reader available anywhere they go, books, as Serbinis notes, may be left at home more often during flights, lightening the load on planes. Perhaps it's a minute impact, and one unlikely to happen soon, but if some airlines are already encouraging passengers to empty their bladders before boarding to conserve fuel, then having slightly lighter luggage will also be appreciated.
We'll see if the idea becomes popular among guests and spreads to other Fairmont hotels, and other hotels in general.
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