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When 1998 began, Choice Hotels International found itself in an unfamiliar position. The hotel franchiser, which once owned and operated properties around the world, was in the process of spinning off its hotel properties. Without the cash generated by company-owned hotels, Choice set three goals for the year:
* To increase its number of franchised hotel properties worldwide
* To renegotiate and increase the average royalty it receives from franchisees
* To boost revenue at franchises
"They did all of them," said Robert LaFleur, a lodging analyst at Bear, Stearns & Co. in New York.
That helped Silver Spring-based Choice, the …