Inside Choice's Convention

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Some quick highlights and thoughts from Choice's annual convention in Las Vegas, set to close Thursday night...

• During a media roundtable, CEO Steve Joyce said the company would love to add an upscale brand or an upscale extended stay brand, either by launching one or acquiring one. It sounds as if the latter option would be more likely considering the potential deals that may be out there.

• Choice and Joyce seem firmly committed to Cambria Suites, despite its slow growth, and are investing even more resources into the upscale select-service brand. Not only is Choice actively buying sites it hopes to flip to developers, it would potentially consider building a hotel, Joyce says, with the same intent.

• Other Cambria news: A green prototype aimed at earning LEED Silver status will be offered this summer. SVP of Global Development David Pepper said the brand could offer a Cambria Hotel in Europe and internationally, instead of the brand's hallmark all-suite offering.

• Sleep Inn unveiled a redesigned look, with a model room at the conference exhibit area, and execs talked about a repositioning in the lower midscale tier. The new design is available for new construction now and three properties are already open featuring the majority of the new package. Aggressive programs are being offered to expedite renovations, although the recently built Sleep Inn locations will have seven years to comply.

• Joyce faced several questions from franchisees and the media on OTAs after last year's well publicized battle with Expedia. Ultimately, all he would, and likely could, say was "we believe the success of hotels is directly related to hotels being able to control their inventory and price."

• The theme of Choice's 56th annual conference was "Right Here. Right Now" and Joyce talked about the company's opportunities as the economy rebounded and the many ways it was backing and supporting its franchisees.

Check LHOnline later this week and next for more details on the conference.

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