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Do you remember the first time you stayed in a hotel room? You may have been a little kid or a full-grown adult, but one thing is likely. At some point, you opened the drawer to the bedside table and wondered, why do hotels have bibles in them. Where did this all come from and are bibles in hotel rooms still common?
If you’ve continued globetrotting since then, you know this was no mistake. A previous guest didn’t forget their Bible when their stay was over. Bibles are standard in just about every hotel. But why is this?
Where do the Bibles come from?
If you ever find a Bible in your hotel room, you can thank Gideon International, an evangelical organization formed in 1899. After three traveling salesmen met in a hotel room, they came up with the idea to leave a copy of the holy book in their Superior, Montana hotel room to help spread the word. Today, Gideon International still does this by distributing Bibles and New Testaments to hotels, hospitals, medical offices, convalescent homes, domestic violence shelters, prisons, jails, and more.
Hotel Bibles aren’t as common as they once were
Just under 15 years ago in 2006, 95 percent of hotels provided a Bible to guests at their bedsides. Today, only about 79 percent do according to the hospitality analytics company STR. People still ask why do hotels have bibles in them and we aim to find out even though the trend is down.
Why? There’s no definite answer, but there are a couple of common speculations.
- Millennials: In 2019, CNBC reported that the average millennial (then aged 21 to 37) planned on taking roughly five trips throughout the year. Three of those five trips were intended to be international. In general, millennials – reported to be the least religion generation – are constantly on the move, and hotels want to attract and accommodate them.
Wi-Fi: When you stayed in a hotel 30 years ago, what would you have done in your leisure time? You may have visited the hotel bar or spa, called your family on the phone provided or perhaps watched the news. Yet, beyond that (and once it got late), you were just about out of options.
Access to wifi was an additional charge when it first became available at hotel properties. Then the move to offer it as a benefit to top tier rewards guest as a loyalty bonus. Most hotels have transitioned to offering free wifi as it is now expected at most properties. This has been significant change in how hotel guest spend their spare time and how they consume content worldwide.
Today, there’s never a shortage of entertainment even on the road. Most hotels provide Wi-Fi so that guests can keep in touch with family, stream entertainment, surf the Internet, and browse social media. The lack of boredom doesn’t leave as many people with the downtime that they otherwise might have to flip through a Bible.
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Can I take the Bible?
If you’re the kind of hotel guest who loves to take the complimentary soap, shampoo, conditioner, pens, etc., then you may wonder if you’ve happened upon a free Bible as well. And you know what? You have. The Bibles are distributed freely and are intended for anyone who finds worth in them. If you feel called to take the Gideon Bible home with you, no one will stop you!
There you have it! That’s why most hotel rooms you come across will have Bibles. It’s all thanks to Gideon International. Be sure to share this trivia with any future travel companions.