USFS UPS MARKETING ANTE

Expect the profile of US Franchise Systems to rise now that the Microtel-Hawthorn Suites parent has hired media personalities Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh to hawk the respective flags. Also, expect AmeriSuites, USFS parent Hyatt Hotels' latest acquisition, to upgrade and modernize. Hyatt bought the 143 units of the AmeriSuites chain from The Blackstone Group in January as part of its hotel-exclusive Global Hyatt Corp. thrust. It plans to spend $150 million to upgrade the all-suite, limited-service flag. The three brands will share the USFS reservation system and will be cross-sold.

“The addition of AmeriSuites lowers marketing cost to our other brands and makes more dollars available to ‘do all we can with what we have’ as we look ahead to the next three years of this cycle,” Mike Leven, USFS president & CEO, told some 200 franchisees at the “With Us, We Can” USFS conference in Atlanta in early February.

In his remarks, Leven touted Project Reveille, a just-completed technology package offering Microtel Inns & Suites guests free high-speed wireless Internet access, along with free long-distance telephone calls. He also said Hyatt's acquisition of AmeriSuites will give USFS clout in reservations. Jim Abrahamson, senior vice president of acquisitions and development for Hyatt, said AmeriSuites will join Hyatt's Gold Passport program in April and sales for the three brands will be integrated in September.

“The opportunity is to do something different, maybe something a little more edgy,” Abrahamson said. The focus of AmeriSuites will be Gen X and Gen Y travelers who hanker for style, high technology and in-room entertainment.

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