FLESHING OUT THE USFS IDENTITY

Microtel Inns and Suites and Hawthorn Suites expanded their accessibility footprint in March, officially incorporating “little people” into their mission. Endorsed by Matt Roloff, former president of Little People of America and star of the Learning Channel television show, “Little People, Big World,” the U.S. Franchise Systems flags will offer people less than 4 feet 10 inches tall special step stools designed to facilitate access to front desks, beds and door locks. Roloff's blessing was a highlight of the USFS conference in Atlanta March 26-28.

Microtel and its extended-stay sibling, Hawthorn, are the only brands accredited by the Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH), a lobby for people with disabilities.

Executive Vice President-COO Roy Flora mandated that all Microtels and Hawthorn Suites make the special step stool assemblies available to the 1.2 million “little people” who stay at USFS properties. Each assembly costs USFS a hair under $300.

The gathering drew about 300 Microtel franchisees and 100 Hawthorn franchisees to the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, the weary, 40-year-old hotel USFS owner Hyatt Hotels & Resorts mandates for conference attendees. It was the first USFS confab lacking the presence of USFS founder Mike Leven, who has entered the philanthropy field, and his son, Jon, who recently left his post as USFS executive vice president of marketing.

While Microtel stakeholders basked in J.D. Power and Associates ranking Microtel as guest-satisfaction leader in economy lodging for the fifth year in a row, Hawthorn Suites didn't fare so well, falling behind Residence Inn and Homewood Suites. Both Microtel and Hawthorn will benefit from new bedding, USFS executives pledged. The Microtel package is called Dream Well with Microtel; its Hawthorn counterpart is the Sweet Suite Bed. Also on the front burner: flat-screen televisions.

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