You likely stand on one side of an ongoing debate: whether or not printed materials will soon be a thing of the past. Regardless of where you personally assume the paper industry is headed, though, we know that businesses and individuals everywhere are still heavily reliant on print products and documents.

It seems that every week there is another research study or survey published demonstrating the preference many still have for paper materials versus digital versions, how some organizations turn to printing providers to help secure business operations that are becoming in increasingly susceptible to threats and the many ways in which direct mail and print ads are still a viable means of marketing and advertising.

And this week has been no different.

Paper media and the hospitality industry
Bentley University recently announced that new research conducted by its Center for Marketing Technology, in collaboration with the International Association of Professional Brochure Distributors, revealed that printed pamphlets and brochures are still an effective tool among companies in the hospitality industry. Nearly all of the hotel employees surveyed agreed that displaying these paper materials plays an important role in improving the experience of guests who visit by both assisting and engaging them.

Below are some of the additional findings the research, which included responses from professionals in the hospitality industry across multiple countries, showed:

  • 98 percent of staff who work the front desk of hotels think printed media should be used
  • 94 percent do display brochures for guests
  • 83 percent agreed that providing print media to guests is crucial
  • 27 percent of hotel staff and customers favor brochures
  • 26 percent cite maps as their preferred choice
  • 22 percent named place-based guides as most popular

"In the age of mobile phones and devices, guests still look to the front desk for printed, tangible brochures and visitor maps," CMT Director Ian Cross stated in the announcement. "Data suggests the importance of well-placed printed materials in displays catches the attention of guests and fosters interaction with front desk staff."

Another interesting point that the study suggested was that even if a business does not provide the print media for the guests (in the lobby, for example), people will still end up finding ways to access and use paper materials regarding the industry. In fact, a whopping 87 percent of survey participants said they have seen visitors reading brochures that the company has provided and more than half revealed that they still see guests using them even if they were not provided in the lobby. Perhaps the most telling statistic about the prominent role printing services still play in the hospitality industry though is that 88 percent of guests favor in-room printed materials versus the 12 percent who prefer electronic kiosks.

Prominence of print in business
Although this study looked at hotels and other hospitality companies in particular, the findings are indicative of the broader trend permeating across virtually all other markets. And that is that printing services are still needed by many organizations looking to improve customer engagement and satisfaction levels.

It is obvious that the digital age has disrupted the way many traditional operations and processes are conducted. But that does not mean paper products have been replaced altogether. When it comes to adjusting your business model in a way that best serves your consumers, it is imperative that you take into account not only what is easier or most cost-effective for the business, but what your target audiences might actually prefer. Because the answer may surprise you.

It's all too easy to get distracted by the technological innovations and electronic developments happening all around us. The Internet of Things is a valuable and necessary aspect for organizations to incorporate into their growth strategies. However, keeping pace with the latest trends does not mean you have to abandon or ignore traditional tools and solutions used to communicate, engage and interact with customers. And this is true regardless of the industry you're in, be it automotive, health care, legal or financial.

One area you should make sure is modernized, though, is the process and technology you use for print media and paper materials. Using a printing service provider that is in-tune with the latest industry changes can lead to better customer service and significant cost-savings.