Economic development officials for Hagerstown and Washington County governments said they have not been contacted by Microtel, but said some companies work directly with real estate agents.
The company, which bought the Microtel brand in 1995, has struck deals in 45 states, said Jill Shapiro, marketing coordinator. She said 34 properties are open and 200 are under development, including one near BWI Airport.
Those who buy franchising rights pay the building costs and marketing fees and royalties, said Debbie Campbell, senior vice president of marketing. She said royalties equal 8 percent of gross income.
De Marrais said Microtel Inns seek to reduce room costs by cutting down on space. Room sizes average from 12-by-10 feet for singles to 12-by-27 feet for suites, he said. Prices average about $37 per night.
The hotels are ideal for travelers looking for a clean, comfortable place to sleep, but who do not plan on spending much time in the room, de Marrais said.
Several analysts said U.S. Franchise Systems' expansion plans follow a trend spurred by a humming economy.
Marni Dacy, a spokeswoman with the American Hotel & Motel Association, said the industry has rebounded after a period of overbuilding during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Greg Larsen, with the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said a strong national economy, local tourism efforts and proximity to I-81 make the area an attractive draw. He said he gets inquiries about possible hotel sites every month.
Fred Teeter, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, said hotel chains normally do not advertise plans before they have completed deals because doing so can drive up the price of land and other development costs.
But in a franchiser's case, he said doing so allows company officials to seek out franchisees, who will bear the development costs.