|By Jim Steinberg, San Bernardino County
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 7, 2006 - San Bernardino's longtime Radisson hotel now wears the name Clarion.
A plastic banner, flapping in the wind, ended the mystery and speculation that has been swirling around town since the Radisson name was covered up Wednesday.
The temporary sign read "Clarion."
Clarion is one of the nameplates of Maryland-based Choice Hotels International, one of the world's largest lodging franchisers, marketing more than 5,000 hotels open or in development in more than 40 countries.
"I am pleased they made the decision to align themselves with a franchise as opposed to them being an independent," said Steve Henthorne, executive director of the San Bernardino Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"I don't think it will have a big impact just because they are changing the flag," Henthorne said.
By affiliating with a franchise system, it will be easier for the bureau to generate group sales for conferences and conventions.
"It is name recognition. People know what to expect," Henthorne said.
Charles Koski, comptroller for the 230-room hotel at 295 N. E St., could not be reached for comment Monday.
Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles Area Economic Development Corp., said that Clarion does not have the image of a Radisson.
"Some might consider this (switch) a little down market," he said.
"They advertise, but not in your face like Radisson and Hyatt," Kyser said.
Jim Butler, a Los Angeles-based Hotel consultant, said that if you compare revenue per available room, "a Clarion is probably a cut below a Radisson."
But that does not mean it would be more or less profitable, Butler said.
When the Radisson franchise lapsed, the hotel briefly operated as First Hotels International.
Although franchise fees can run as high as 8 percent to 10 percent of a hotel's revenue, the hotel's owners obviously found it worthwhile to be in a franchise system, said Butler, who is chairman of the Los Angeles-based hotel consulting firm Global Hospitality Group at Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro.
"They deliver heads in beds," he said.
Ralph Affaitati, a former San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce president, said he was glad that the hotel is not closing and its convention center is still operating.
"I hope it all works out," he said.
Choice Hotels' brands, in addition to Clarion, include Cambria Suites, Quality, Comfort Suites, Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn brand names.
The cost of a room with a king-sized bed on Monday was $89.
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