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Most hotels have just a black white printer guests can use freely. But at every Hilton Garden Inn ("HGI") my colleagues and I stayed, HGI has a color printer guests can use freely in their business center. We're bewildered. HGI is upper middle scale, not upscale. I googled "Hilton Garden Inn" color printers and saw this on https://hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com/en/about/work-smart.html

  • Color laser printer and photocopy machine

Does this website constitute official policy? Does it mean every HGI must have a color printer for guests to use freely?

HGI belongs to Hilton. I consider fancier Hilton brands first. We've stayed at Conrad, Hilton Hotels & Resorts with the blue Hilton logo on the building, Waldorf Astoria in business hubs, right in downtown core. They offer just free B&W printing.

Cheaper, lower class Hilton brands like Double Tree, Homewood Suites, and Hampton Inn offer just free B&W printing.

Even hotels more upscale than HGI have just free B&W printing...like Four Seasons, J.W. Marriott, Ritz Carlton, and St. Regis hotels.

I'm not talking about color printers for staff in staff areas that guests can't use, or how front desk can print in color for you if you ask, but the printers available in the "business center".

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    Possibly because this is not necessarily something which is often requested by customers? Colour laser printers are more expensive to buy, run and maintain, so unless this would clearly help them get more customers, they have little incentive to upgrade. If they have lots of request for it, then they'll probably do so. – jcaron Oct 15 at 11:52
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    Quality Inns have waffle makers the shape of Texas, but Holiday Inn Express, they're just round. I don't understand it either. Likewise Culvers sells cheese curds, but Steak-n-Shake does not. And sometimes Taco Bell gives me all the items from their $5 box... in a bag instead. Mysteries of life... – Harper - Reinstate Monica Oct 15 at 16:02
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    @jcaron is entirely on-point here. There is little to no demand from the primary customers who actually make use of the service. 'Business center' usage in hotels is 99% people using it for business purposes, and it’s actually pretty rare to need color copies of printed documents, so black and white is sufficient for most users. – Austin Hemmelgarn Oct 15 at 20:53
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    @AustinHemmelgarn i don't understand. if there's "little to no demand from the primary customers who actually make use of the service", why does HGI offer color printers to guests? – fast Oct 16 at 4:42
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    To explain my close vote... there are no press releases explaining why a) they chose to partner with PrinterOn and b) they have remained so. Without press releases or other definitive documentation, this is simply a source of opinions. At the time of this comment, the leading answer (51 votes) has as a reason because they can which is opinion and not a reason, financial or otherwise. – CGCampbell Oct 16 at 10:58
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More often than not, the more you pay for a hotel, the more you pay for amenities. If you stay at a $30/night hostel in Singapore, they often provide a simple but free breakfast. If you fork out $1000 for the Raffles, they charge you an extra $80 plus taxes for breakfast.

Why? Because they can. People staying in expensive hotels are either wealthy enough to be able pay for amenities, or their company is footing the bill. I once stayed at a Shangri-La and paid some absurd sum to print/copy a bunch of training materials, because it was the only way to get it done in time and the cost wasn't coming out of my pocket.

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    Same goes for WiFi. Almost always it’s free in the middle class hotels (like Best Western, Ibis, or independent hotels) but you have to pay sometimes an absurd amount per day in the upper class hotels. – dunni Oct 15 at 6:43
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    @dunni This used to be the case but I haven't paid for wifi in any hotel for quite some time now. Some do still try to charge extra for "premium Internet speeds" though! – lambshaanxy Oct 15 at 7:07
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    Great answer, and it's very frustrating. Both ends of the spectrum charge for every little thing (low end and high end). Very annoying. At least high end hotels don't have signs posted everywhere. – gamma_sponge Oct 15 at 17:38
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    Same with parking. It's free at the cheaper hotels, but you'll be paying a hefty valet parking fee at upscale hotels. – pacoverflow Oct 15 at 19:46
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    This happens in other businesses too. Like Apple - roll out a new expensive iPhone, but don't include a charger. – pacoverflow Oct 15 at 21:07
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Bad Business Deal

This is pure speculation on my part, but here is a very old press release announcing a partnership between "PrinterOn" and HGI to provide "guest printing services" for the entire HGI chain. The emphasis is on remote printing from a room, but it makes sense that PrinterOn would push color printers for the best possible experience.

Obviously, the HGI chain is positioned mid-market with a likely robust business traveler customer base. So, at the time this deal was inked, this probably looked like a smart, forward-thinking move by HGI to attract more business travelers. Why do I call it a "bad deal"? Well, as far as I can tell, PrinterOn did not manage to capture any more chains after this deal, if we can use the Google results for its website as any indication:

Google results for "printeron"

If you browse the website, you will not see any mention of HGI. The only mention I could find is the link highlighted by Google.

Obviously, this implies that other similarly positioned chains did not consider it a good investment, and declined to partner with PrinterOn. Probably, those chains watched the market for a while, noticed that remote/color printing was not really a differentiator, and thanked their lucky stars that they didn't sink any money into a losing investment.

Now, the interesting question is, "Why is HGI still offering color printing?" Because it looks like they have been in this business for up to 17 years. If it really were not a market differentiator, I would guess that they would have downgraded to B&W after the first generation of printers went kaput and needed to be replaced. I highly doubt most of their original printers have been operating all this time. That implies that they have been replacing the color printers, along with maintaining this unusual, one-off relationship with PrinterOn.

All I can say to that is: "corporate inertia". Perhaps this aspect of the business is such a small line item expense that nobody wants to bother tinkering with it. Customers have probably come to expect this unusual amenity, even if they are not a significant majority, so it is easier to just pass the costs on to the other customers, as noted in other answers.

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  • thanks. this makes sense. but why don't other Hilton brands offer color printers? why didn't other Hilton brands partner with "PrinterOn" to provide color printers? – fast Oct 16 at 4:46
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    I can't say for sure, but often times, brands are operated by somewhat independent teams. So while the top Hilton corporate management likely dictates certain common Hilton standards (like participation in HHonors), they probably let the chains operate with some leeway so they can optimize for their target markets. Other brands were acquired from standalone chains. Anyway, corporate probably let HGI run this as a test, and decided after looking at the numbers that it wasn't worth rolling out to other brands. Just a guess, though. – Lawnmower Man Oct 16 at 5:18
  • Wel done for doing some research. I still wouldn't call it a bad deal though, since it seems the contract has been running from 2003-current – smci Oct 16 at 17:45
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    @smci yeah, that's a fair point. I think it's more of a "niche deal", meaning it provides a small marginal value for the first player to take it, and quickly falling value for everyone else. The opposite of network effects. Hard to say without seeing the actual usage numbers for the color printers. Another possibility is that PrinterOn gave HGI a sweet deal to bootstrap themselves, and want out, but got stuck with a long contract. – Lawnmower Man Oct 16 at 20:22
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There's another factor, also: The higher end the property in general the longer ago they provided the tech. Thus you tend to see newer tech at lower end places.

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