If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel room, you likely noticed the tradition of placing a Bible on the bedside table. This tradition began more than 100 years ago and continues today.
Gideon International, named for the Old Testament judge known for his obedience to God’s will, distributes these Bibles through hotels as well as hospitals, domestic violence shelters, prisons, schools, and military bases.
It’s a sign of respect
If you’ve ever stayed at a hotel, odds are good that the nightstand drawer will contain either a bible or other religious text. While this tradition may seem to be fading away, it has been around for over 100 years and still serves some purpose today.
Historically, this was seen as a mark of respect and also meant to provide guests with comfort and guidance during their stay. Gideons International, an evangelical Christian organization established in 1899, began placing bibles in hotel rooms across America as part of its initiative to spread Christian teachings.
Though not a religion, Gideons does promote spirituality and encourage its members to spread awareness of it while on vacation. It’s important to remember that Bibles in hotel rooms are provided free by the Gideons with no conversion goal – rather, providing guests with an experience of spirituality while away from home.
Many hoteliers are opting out of providing religious materials in favor of other amenity options. For instance, most now provide complimentary Wi-Fi in guestrooms so guests can browse their preferred religious texts on laptops or phones instead of having to bring along a physical Bible with them.
Another reason why these materials are being phased out of hotels is that they no longer reflect the brand or decor. As more boutique-style hotels strive to appeal to a younger clientele, they’re opting to stock their rooms with less traditional items.
Marriott is not alone in this trend; other chains such as Hyatt and Wyndham have also discontinued providing in-room bibles in favor of more modern options. As The Washington Post notes, it comes down to consumer targeting and the fact that Millennials are the least religious generation in American history.
For some travelers, packing their bible or buying one from a nearby bookstore before arriving at their destination is necessary. Others simply have personal preferences and don’t wish to be associated with any religious organization.
It’s a source of comfort
Though Bibles may no longer be a must-have item in hotel rooms, this practice began over a century ago when Gideons International, a Christian organization, began placing Bibles there to spread its message.
Gideons International was established in 1899 by three traveling salesmen who believed that leaving Bibles in hotel rooms could help spread the Gospel and inspire others to read them. After becoming so successful at distributing Bibles, they officially became an organization in 1908.
Today, the company is still shipping Bibles to hotels around the globe and has distributed more than 700 million copies globally.
It’s worth noting that the hotel industry is going through many changes, such as offering free WiFi in rooms so guests can access their favorite shows and music online. This means travelers no longer require physical books in their room – they can simply store them away in a drawer.
Recently, STR – a hospitality analytics firm – conducted a survey that revealed fewer hotels are providing religious materials in their rooms. Just under 15 years ago, 95% of hotels provided Bibles at each bedside; today that number has dropped to 79 percent.
Many times, this is due to a simple fact: Society has evolved. It has become more secular, and younger travelers no longer value having physical books in their hotel rooms.
One reason is the furniture used in rooms, which often does not include nightstands with drawers. Instead, hotels are opting for sleeker and more minimalist pieces of furniture.
Another motive is their desire to appeal to a younger demographic of guests. They’re targeting millennials, the least religious generation in history.
They’re also trying to compete with other brands by offering high-speed Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and other modern amenities that travelers have deemed necessary.
It’s a source of guidance
The Bible has been around for over 2,000 years and remains a timeless book with many positive messages. Unfortunately, it also endured some difficult times in its past and some parts don’t quite measure up to modern-day standards.
Hotels have long placed bibles in guest rooms as a gesture of respect. But this tradition is slowly being phased out as more hotels cater to younger travelers who value more contemporary amenities like free Wi-Fi and on-demand movies.
This is beneficial, as there are plenty of other ways for guests to learn about religion without having to open a drawer in their nightstand. Gideon International provides Christian literature through their app or podcasts for Apple devices.
Many people wonder why there is a Bible in hotel rooms and where this tradition originated. The answer lies within Gideons International, which began its mission in 1908.
One of the reasons that Bibles have been placed in hotel rooms for over 100 years is to spread Christian teachings. This has proven a successful method of doing this.
Gideon International not only places Bibles in their rooms, but they also supply them to hospitals, schools, and other public institutions that might be vulnerable. The group has a list of approved distribution locations where Bibles can be given away for free.
These include public schools, airports, military bases, college campuses, and even domestic violence shelters – all legal in the United States and listed on Gideons’ website.
Hotels often opt not to include Bibles in their rooms for religious sensitivities, the lack of interest in reading ancient texts, or simply because they want to appeal to younger, hipper guests.
It’s a source of entertainment
Hotel Bibles have been around for more than 100 years, beginning with Gideons International – a group of Christian businessmen who took it upon themselves to place these religious materials in hotel rooms across America.
Despite its age, the in-drawer Bible remains popular with travelers. Estimates suggest that each Bible placed in a hotel could reach up to 2,300 people over six years.
Aside from providing entertainment, the Bible also serves as a source of guidance. Its messages can assist people in dealing with difficulties such as marriage, job interviews, or health crises. Furthermore, travelers may use this text to profess their faith and commit themselves to live a Christian lifestyle.
However, the hotel Bible has become less and less popular over time as more hotels choose either to provide alternative religious literature or not provide any at all. This trend can be partly attributed to a wave of political correctness and inclusivity which has seen businesses shy away from religious content for fear that it might offend guests or not match up with their brand image.
According to Newsweek magazine, hotels that have decided to remove Bibles from their rooms do so because they believe society is changing and younger generations are less interested in reading sacred texts. They also contend that it is in their best interest to accommodate different belief systems.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Marriott’s Moxy and Edition brands have largely abandoned religious texts due to their incompatibility with the brand image they’re trying to project. This is part of an overall trend sweeping throughout the industry.
Another reason hotels are turning away from the Bible is that it has become increasingly easy for guests to access the digital versions of the Scripture they desire. Free Wi-Fi has become commonplace in most hotels, enabling guests to browse and read whatever they please from wherever they are.