Why are these hotel confirmations "irksome to the extreme"?


In the records of travel industry ridiculousness, the humble hotel confirmation merits hardly a mention. After all, it’s a piece of paper with your name on it, right?

Not if you’re Douglas Shachnow, and not if you’re staying at Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott.

“I have to make a two-night stop in the New York area in a couple of weeks, and as it turns out, the Newark Airport Marriott is convenient for my stay in the area,” explains Shachnow, a travel agent and regular reader of this site.

Then he received the confirmation.

“I always keep a hard copy printout of a hotel confirmation whenever I travel anyplace,” he explains. “I’m sure thousands of other travelers do the same thing.”

All Shachnow was looking for, in other words, was a piece of paper with his name on it to show the hotel when he checks in. You know, just in case it loses his reservation.

He got that — and so much more. He explains,

Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott’s email confirmations run three legal sheets long, and it’s fixed so that if you try to get just two pages, and print it on letter-size paper, you get something that looks like Greek.

I don’t know why that should happen, but it does. But forget about that.

If there was something about a two-night stay in a service hotel that required extensive terms and conditions, they could be in small print. I’ve never seen extensive T&C on these confirmations, so that rules out that excuse.

In fact, in this case it’s white space and advertising. Lots and lots of white space.

To confirm a two-night booking.

Not only is this inconsiderate to the guest by using up his paper supply unnecessarily, but it is downright irresponsible environmentally.

If you saw this document in my hand right now, even as I write this to you, there’s no way you could say that this is justified.

I’ll take his word for it.

Lengthy hotel and airline confirmations are nothing new. But what Shachnow alleges — that if he refuses to print out the last page with all the ads, it will render a glitch — is noteworthy. It is almost impossible to prove that it’s being done systematically, of course. (I can already hear Marriott’s explanation: it was an “error” on his side, not ours.)

But Shachnow’s dilemma — either print out the entire thing or go without a confirmation — underscores a bigger problem. For a company that makes so much noise about being environmentally responsible, don’t you think three-page confirmations are a little much? Or does the desire to save the planet end when it interferes with making a buck, as the ads, coupons and upsells on these confirmations must certainly do.

“You’d think a major company like Marriott would be at least a little bit concerned for the environment,” he says. “I mean, how much space on a piece of paper does a hotel confirmation have to be? You need the guest’s name, the dates, the rate, and a short description of the accommodations. That would take up maybe 1/4 the size of a letter-size sheet of paper.”

Maybe. Next time, you might just take your electronic confirmation, and go completely paper-less.

Lengthy printed confirmations are:

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  • Amy

    There should have been a voting option for “Who the heck cares? People will complain about anything these days.”

  • Cheri Head

    As a hotel owner, I am responsible for one of those 3 page confirmations. Ours doesn’t have a lot of white space but does have a lot of information. Everything on it is something that people have, in the past, been confused about or said they wished they had known. Yes, much of the same info is on our website, but many people come to us from OTAs and never look at our website. And the info an OTA page has about a hotel is minimal and often wrong. I would rather give a guest too much information than have them be confused or unsure about anything. The pertinent info is on the first page, however, by design…so if they want to print out only one page and save a tree, they can do so.

  • Marc

    If conserving the environment is the concern, then why print on paper in the first place? It’s called a smart phone – get one and you will always have a copy of your reservation electronically in any number of independent, third party app’s.

  • rgoltsch

    I have a reservation upcoming at a Marriott Property. I went to the Marriott website and printed my reservation confirmation using the page’s “Print” button. I got a single page confirmation sheet.
    Next, I then just pressed the Print button in my web browser (Firefox for those tech people that might ask) and it printed the reservation over two pages, with little white space.

    Next, I switched to Internet Explorer 11. When I used the page’s Print button, I received the confirmation over 2 pages. When I then used the Print button in my web browser, I was able to print the first page , with the key information I needed, with no big blank white spaces.

    I might suggest that the original poster has some configuration in their
    web browser settings that is causing this issue with their printing.

  • VoR61

    The AP stated that it was an e-mail confirmation. I have successfully edited those in Outlook for just the reason the AP stated.

  • rgoltsch

    I just tried to print my email confirmation in Outlook 2013. I printed it out two times…..the first just pressing print. The first confirmation was six pages. Yes, that is extreme. But there were no large blank white spaces. Perhaps the OP has an ad-blocker that is blocking the images in the email?

    However, the second time I printed and choose just to print page 1 of the confirmation email. That page printed without issue. It also contained the primary things I need for my reservation…..The hotel name, address, confirmation number, check in date and time, and the check out date and time.

    I still stand by my earlier comment that this is a user configuration issue, not specifically a Marriott issue.

    PS I am a business traveler, not an employee of any hotel chain. Believe me when I will tell you that if I have a chance to slam the travel industry I would freely do so. They do many things poorly, this is just not one of them.

  • Rodolfo

    This is all rather comforting in fact. Some guy needs to print one extra piece of paper, probably because of some issue with his browser or printer settings, and that’s all Chris could come up with for his “That’s Ridiculous” rant this time. All must be well in the world of travel.

  • VoR61

    Regrettably, that does not work for my reservations. Information I need will spill over to the second page plus the first page has way too many ads (uses a lot of ink), as the AP stated.

    This is not an issue as much as an annoyance. And I agree with the AP that Mariott (and others) could do better in arranging their email content …

  • Marc

    First world problem. :)

  • Lila

    Amen. It’s a great saving

  • trwmn

    Whenever I need to print out a document with too much wasted space, the software PrintWhatYouLike is my friend.

  • mike313

    I share the frustration – my solution is to print the confirmation to a PDF file, and then just print the first page with my name on it.

  • emanon256

    I didn’t vote, I am with @disqus_IbFwNwg6qZ:disqus

    Just for grins I made a reservation at that Marriott and when I click “Print Confirmation” on the web page, and print it to a PDF, it is 2 letter pages with no ads. When I tried, through the site again, printing the first page which had all of the relevant information, it printed just one letter page with no glitches.

    The e-mail confirmation is about 3 legal pages and contains info for their mobile app, on-line check-in instructions, the check in/out times, reservation rules, info on dining options, a picture, etc. and a tiny ad for Hertz and a tiny ad for the Marriott card. When I printed the first page, it did contain all of the relevant info except the room type which appears would be on the second page.

    I think this was a glitch with the OP printing. That said, I haven’t printed a paper hotel reservation since the the early 2000s. I don’t think its necessary, its a waste, and I can keep an electronic copy or better yet write my confirmations in a paper note book that I carry (since replaced with an app).

    PS. I am recycling my printouts.

  • justmeeeee

    Simple solution–I take the first page or two that I need, and keep the rest on my desk for scratch paper, using the back for notes etc. But that stack builds up faster than I can use it up :-)

  • Andrea Rip

    This is insightful. Many companies could think more sustainably about their potential paper waste. The same could written about grocery store (and other retail store) receipts. I’ve often received two feet of tape for the purchase of one peach. Ridiculous – and not impressive to an eco-conscious person like myself.

  • Andrea Rip

    It is one thing to provide the information in a confirmation email or on your website – it’s another to force feed that much information on something that is just meant to provide proof of confirmation. We have enough technology these days to enable you to provide different print options as well. Look at the recipe sites where you can print a recipe with a picture, a shopping list, or just the simple recipe. No excuses. In fact, when I get information that is so wasteful of resources, you do a discredit to your brand – and I am prone to find a more eco-friendly hotel or VRBO to stay at.

  • Beverly Walker

    I have a two-page confirmation email from The Hotel in Vegas with no rate quoted!

  • bodega3

    Cut and paste what you need, store it and the original in your inbox for reference if needed, then print the one page. What is the issue?

  • Meredith Putvin

    Of course I’m nuts enough to edit out the irrelevant information and markup…

  • bodega3

    You last line is funny, as the VRBO property we rent, we get a 15 pages of information. BUT, you can pick or cut and paste what you wish to print and save the rest for reference. What is the big deal with her comment, as she says, print what you want, but it is there if you need it?

  • TonyA_says

    They waste an advovate’s time and possibly ours more than they waste paper and ink.

  • TonyA_says

    I agree. I can’t recall when a hotel ever asked me to show them my email confirmation in paper. They always only ask for my name and credit card info.

  • Ton

    simple solution, install a print to pdf program, not only give you the option to store it on phone/cloud etc, but also to print only what you want

  • jruckert

    Excellent point. You can also delete a lot of text before printing.

  • terence cummings

    this is so apropos. my wife and I made a reservation at the Holiday Inn Express in Stevens point WI for next weekend and the same thing happened when I printed out my confirmation – 3 pages long with much ‘white space’ and more advertisements. what ever happened to save the trees?

  • LZ126

    Airlines do the same when all I want is a half-page boarding pass. I don’t care to waste my paper and ink on rental car ads or on a 10-day local weather forecast.

  • Gilmore Tuttle

    Who blindly hits the print button without previewing the print job first? Copy and Paste just the relevant text into a blank Word document, ensure in Print Preview that it all fits onto a single page, and print. Not rocket science, and not worthy of complaint.