Destinations

The Nordic Hotel Giant Who Ditched Pay-Per-View Porn for Contemporary Art

Aug 26, 2013 1:43 am

Skift Take

Revenue streams from pay-per-view as a whole have declined as the use of BYO technology has become the norm. It’s a nice statement to drop porn, but it wasn’t likely a tough business decision.

— Jason Clampet

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Scandinavian hotel guests flicking through pay-TV channels may get more (or less) than they bargained for from now on. The Nordic Choice chain has promised to remove pornography from each of its 171 establishments and replace it with contemporary art.

The chain’s owner, Petter Stordalen, was inspired to take action after becoming involved with Unicef’s campaign to help the 1.2 million children who are victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation .

He said: “The porn industry contributes to trafficking, so I see it as a natural part of having a social responsibility to send out a clear signal that Nordic Hotels doesn’t support or condone this.”

The cliche of the travelling businessman coming back to his hotel room and watching porn is the same in Norway as in the rest of the world, admits Stordalen, but he is convinced that this can change.

“It may sound shocking or unusual [to remove pay-TV porn], but everyone said that about the ban on smoking. We were the first hotel chain in the world to ban smoking and people thought we were crazy. Now it’s totally normal for public spaces to be smoke-free.”

A well-known philanthropist in Scandinavia, Stordalen is Norwegian’s sixth richest man with a net worth of $1.2bn (£772m) according to Forbes magazine. He’s passionate about the environment, from chaining himself to Sellafield nuclear treatment plant in protest in 2002, to preserving 100 square metres of rainforest for every night booked by a guest in his hotels, and even converting his Ferrari FF to run on biofuel.

He is also an avid collector. “Art is important to me, but hotel art has always had a bad reputation – cheap paintings that match the sofas and so on,” he said. “I wanted to redefine hotel art to be something unique.”

Starting with his flagship hotel in Norway’s capital, Stordalen has done just that. Each of 121 rooms in Oslo’s The Thief is decked out with original artwork, some borrowed from Stordalen’s own collection, including a Tracey Emin and a Peter Blake. There are interactive TVs in each room offering “art on demand” with a choice of nine works of contemporary video art, including Sam Taylor-Wood’s Still Life from 2001″ – a film showing a bowl of fruit slowly decomposing.

Guests’ reactions have been positive, so far: “No one has asked for their porn back!” said the hotel’s Siri Løining Kolderup. “Instead, I think they appreciate that we’ve taken movie-on-demand to the next level, exchanging bad taste porn for high-end contemporary video art. We hope and predict porn will not be a part of the next generation of in-room entertainment in any hotel, anywhere.”

Stordalen and the team plan to roll out video art in their other hotels, with Copenhagen next on the list.

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