This week I learned that Questex Media Group Inc., publisher of Hotel & Motel Management magazine, Hotel Design and more than 20 other publications, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to bankruptcy documents, the company has $321 million in debt and $299 million in assets. Questex's struggles are a reflection of the overall current state of the print publishing business. Newspapers, consumer and trade publications are all experiencing tough times. This week, Conde Nast folded Gourmet magazine. Also shut down were two wedding magazines: Elegant Bride and Modern Bride. I just received a copy of one of the leading hotel trade publications yesterday and it was barely more than 40 pages.
Not all trade publications are struggling but many are. One industry publication still makes a thud when it hits my coffee table. And my publication, Green Lodging News, is doing just fine. Being Internet-based, my company exists in a different world than that of print publishers. It certainly will be interesting to see if all of the lodging trade publications make it through this downturn. I suspect they will.
I worked for Hotel & Motel Management magazine from 1989 to 1996 and then again from 2000 to 2001. During both stints with the publication, the magazine experienced some tough times but also some great runs as well. One low point was when Robert L. Edgell, former chairman of Edgell Communications Inc., which owned Hotel & Motel Management at the time, took his own life in 1991. It was reported then that he may have paid $100 million too much for publishing company HBJ Publications. Another low point: Edgell Communications filing for bankruptcy protection in 1991.
There will always be a need for trade publications in our industry, just as there will always be periods of prosperity and struggle. My competitors all work hard and deserve success. Support them with your ad dollars and your readership support.