A BRIGHT HORIZON

Now that business travel is back, Wingate Inn is ever more appealing to Horizon Hotels, a New Jersey company that manages 15 properties around the country.

“There are a lot of factors when you choose a brand,” says Cindy Olcott, president of Horizon. “Frequently, it's what's available in the market, and you can't always put the hotel you want in every one. All things being equal, my favorite brand is Wingate.”

Horizon is a woman-owned company that also manages Ramadas and Days Inns for Cendant; Hilton Garden Inns for Hilton; Comfort Inns and Sleep Inns for Choice; and Four points by Sheraton for Starwood.

“We've had a good year,” Olcott says. “I think the economy is picking up and we've been very successful in the hotel business; we took some new contracts last year and have been able to turn them around.”

Over the years, Horizon managed 20 Days Inns, Olcott says. She touts Cendant's TripRewards loyalty program and says that when Horizon is exploring a new market possibility, Cendant salespeople “will do a lot of the legwork for us.”

“When you call them about a new hotel or a conversion, the people I've dealt with know their markets very well and are able to help guide us,” she says. Being a Cendant “preferred customer” also helps. “Here, you call one person and the right person calls you back,” she says. “It's sort of one-stop shopping for us.”

Also buoying Horizon business: strong marketing, a hands-on sales force and embracing third party booking.

“We've gotten a lot smarter and have been able to achieve much higher rates by managing them better,” Olcott says. “You have to be diligent and work on that every day, and in our large hotels, we've revamped the organization so we have a dedicated revenue manager.”

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