Hotel companies spend millions of dollars creating warm-and-fuzzy feelings about their brands and crafting the sensation that a stay there will make customers feel welcome and comfortable. Good hospitality is all about making someone feel at home.
Yet the instant you walk into many hotels, the jagged tones of discord are thrust in your face. Given the fevered level of partisan rhetoric politics right now, it's hard to believe that any hotel would risk shattering their hard-earned reputation for hospitality by tuning televisions in the common areas to news channels devoted to 24-hour political blame and spin.
At nearly every mid-priced hotel, the lobby TVs are tuned to a channel that, if you believe opinion polls, is bound to annoy approximately half the guests. How many times have you sat in a hotel lobby or breakfast room and endured Fox News, MSNBC or some other cage-rattling channel when what you really would have preferred is something more harmonious?
I asked some of America's leading hotel brands for an official policy when it comes to where to tune the TVs in lobbies and other common hotel areas.
Although some brands instruct general managers to tune TVs to a "news channel," none of them advises them to steer clear of channels known to ruffle rhetotical feathers.
A rep for Marriott told me the company has "no brand standard in place for TV channels in public spaces" for its Courtyard by Marriott name. Drury Hotels, a family-run chain based in Missouri, said, "We direct the hotels to choose a news, weather, or sprots channel for the public areas and guest rooms."
A Hyatt spokesperson said "we recommend that GMs keep a very low volume on a channel such as CNN or a news channel. In our fitness centers, we recommend a news channel or ESPN although the decision is ultimately at the general manager's discretion." At Best Western, too, "Those decisions would be made by each hotel," a rep told me.
Across the board, there were no requirements from Home Office for hotels to steer clear of potentially divisive broadcasts. So the next time you find that the programming in the lobby or breakfast room is setting your teeth on edge, you know whom to talk to. They're probably in the office behind the check-in desk.