It may be up for sale, but US Franchise Systems continues to innovate with new products, services and marketing campaigns. Last month, at the company's annual conference in Atlanta, USFS President Roy Flora told Microtel and Hawthorn Suites franchisees that parent company Global Hyatt intends to seek a buyer for the two-brand company. Hyatt believes the focus of USFS — select-service franchising — isn't a priority for Hyatt and doesn't align with the parent's core customers and products.

According to Flora, however, if Hyatt can't find the right buyer for the franchise system of 270-plus Microtels and nearly 90 Hawthorns, it is prepared to retain the company and apply the resources necessary to “establish a great future for USFS.” Ironically, Flora says 2007 was the most financially profitable year for his company.

Which brings us back to the conference: USFS had a series of lively presentations with a focus on product, growth and marketing around a theme of teamwork among franchisees and corporate staff. Last year, 24 new Microtels opened, ground was broken for 29 more and the company executed 100 new license agreements. The chain should reach the 300-property plateau some time this year with 40 to 45 new openings. About 20 Hawthorns will open this year. Both brands are expanding aggressively outside the U.S.

Following a successful roll out of Microtel's new room design (see page 30 for more information), USFS debuted new ff&e packages and suite layouts for the Hawthorn brand. As part of the package, all new Hawthorn guest suites will feature flat-panel TVs. The new looks, which also include refreshed public-space designs, will be implemented in new Hawthorn properties and in existing hotels as they renovate.

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