WINGATE MAKES ROOM

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A marketing budget of $27 million will support the launch early next year of Wingate Inns, the nation's first new construction-only hotel chain in more than 10 years.

The first midmarket Wingate Inn will open in early 1996 in Atlanta or Charlotte, N.C., said Hospitality Exec VP-Marketing Bob Zapletal. The Midwest and far West are the next target regions.

With a theme of "Wingate Inns: Built for business," ads will come from Grey Advertising, New York.

Mr. Zapletal said the marketing plan is to stay off TV initially and concentrate on radio and print. Public relations events, such as a hard hat party midway through construction, and a grand opening for properties, are also on the schedule.

"We won't have a national campaign," he said. "We will concentrate on the local market because we won't have 100 up overnight. Our goal is 100 by 1998 and 300 by the year 2000."

The chain will closely resemble other limited-service, midmarket products serving a continental breakfast and having a small conference room. It's the guest rooms where Wingate separates itself from the others, said Mr. Zapletal. Wingate's rooms will be about 17% larger than competitors', he said.

Room designs include a telecommunications package with an executive style phone on the desk and a cordless phone. Voice mail, conference call capabilities, call waiting and data ports are also part of in-room amenities.

"Focus groups said they like suites, but Embassy costs too much," said Mr. Zapletal. "Guests don't want to work on a bed."

At $59 to $70 per night, the brand will be about 10% more than Hampton Inn and 10% less than Courtyard by Marriott, the brands that Wingate said set the standards for this class of hotel.

"Our focus groups said they wanted....sameness and consistency and clean, safe locations. The business traveler is a creature of habit," Mr. Zapletal said

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