PRESSPOINT’S COMPETITORS HOPE TO FIND A BETTER WAY

By: Alan Salomon

NewspaperDirect, PEPC Continue ‘Paper-on-demand’ Projects





One electronically delivered newspaper company’s misfortune could
become a bonanza for a couple of others. PressPoint, a company
that reprinted for hotel guests (among others) their hometown
newspapers, went bankrupt recently and left the field wide open
for its two competitors, New York-based NewspaperDirect and
Dutch-owned Publishers Electronic Printing Concepts (PEPC)
Worldwide.



The two companies deliver their products – newspapers from
around the world – in different ways. NewspaperDirect uses
the Internet while PEPC relies on satellite dishes.



The overall concept means hotel guests don’t have to worry about
getting their news from unfamiliar newspapers printed in someone
else’s language. Instead, outside of their doors in the mornings,
or freshly delivered from kiosks in a hotel lobby, are copies of
their hometown papers in their native language, courtesy of
NewspaperDirect or PEPC.



Hotel managers who use the NewspaperDirect program say it gives
them a marketing advantage. “People are getting the papers they
are used to reading in the morning,” said the manager of a hotel
in Vancouver, British Columbia.



Currently, NewspaperDirect offers more than 20 newspapers daily,
including The Christian Science Monitor in Boston, the
New York Post, the National Post in Toronto, The
Vancouver Sun in British Columbia, the Financial Times
in London, El Pa’s in Madrid, Spain, the Jerusalem
Post, The Times of India in New Delhi, and most
recently, the Mainichi Shimbun in Tokyo.



The company is negotiating with 60 more papers. Fifty titles are
expected to be offered by year’s end.



The key to this type of program is the technology used –
namely the Internet. NewspaperDirect is eliminating costly
overnight and early-morning air shipments because the company is
transmitting complete newspaper editions via the Internet as soon
as they are available.



Copies are printed on 11-by-17-inch sheets of paper on-site,
where they also are collated and stapled. All complete newspapers
are sent from the paper’s home base via e-mail in a snapshotlike
file as it goes to press.



Users of NewspaperDirect say the company is finding success
because it fills a niche some hotel operators say they didn’t
realize existed. The company has discovered that there are those,
especially from the United States, who enjoy their hometown
newspapers.



“Hotels can be very far from a guest’s home city,” said Richard
Miller, vice president for sales and marketing for the company.
“Some cities are so far that some places don’t get papers until
the end of the day.”



NewspaperDirect expects to be successful because it takes only
three to five minutes for a hotel to download a typical weekday
edition and another three to five minutes to print out each
issue, including the guest’s name. Hotel operators are charged
only for the copies of papers that are printed – at a cost
of $1.50 to $4.50 per paper.



Pricing may differ depending on the number of pages, Miller
explained. “The hotel may or may not pass along the cost of the
paper to its guests,” he said. “We are targeting mostly four- and
five-star properties, and many times they will give their guests
the papers at no charge, while other hotels see it as a revenue
source and will decide to mark it up.”



Looking for new markets, Miller said he sees the cruise industry
as another match for the product. “Because of the technology, we
can be anywhere,” he explained.



Jan W. Vanhogerwou, PEPC’s sales director for the Americas, said
his company has specially designed machines with touch screens
placed in hotel lobbies. “Should a German walk up to a machine in
New York and touch the screen, he would immediately see a world
map in front of him,” said Vanhogerwou. “He would then press
Europe on the screen, and then Germany. … [H]e will receive the
names of all German newspapers, at which point he will press a
title, scan his credit card through the reader, and in two
minutes or less have a printed version of the latest edition.



“We send downloads every hour all over world,” he said. “We
receive papers as soon as they are ready.”



PEPC designed its machine two years ago and positioned it in a
couple of hotels in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It started commercial
activities the first of this year.



“We have 40 machines on the market now and another 400 on the way
to different locations,” said Vanhogerwou. “We mostly placed them
in larger hotels, at least 250 rooms. By the end of the year, we
should have 4,000 in place.”



Vanhogerwou said larger hotels receive the machines for free. “If
we go into a smaller property, say 250 rooms or so, we have to
see what type of activity occurs and what their occupancy is
beforehand,” he said.



Currently, the machines are only in hotels, but Vanhogerwou is
targeting airports, cruise lines, and different organizations. He
said a large, international Dutch organization, as well as the
United Nations, have called requesting information.



Vanhogerwou said the main task for PEPC now is setting up a
service organization that can respond to calls. “Newspapers love
this concept,” he said. “We conducted a six-month trial period,
and 50 papers sent information each day. They see it as a service
to their readers, and that is how hotels view it also.”



At present, both companies print only in black and white. But,
said Vanhogerwou, “We’ve had a request for a pink paper ? la the

Financial Times.”







Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher.

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