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It could be worse for Donna Marx. At least the hotel she manages, the Sweetbrier Inn & Suites, doesn't depend heavily on the struggling air travel industry.
Located on Interstate 5 in Tualatin, the 131-unit lodge instead attracts plenty of guests who drive. Still, business is prickly at the Sweetbrier. With fewer people traveling, and the region's supply of hotel rooms outrunning demand, Marx has lowered rates, in some cases more than 40 percent, just to keep occupancy near last year's levels.
"Business is down somewhat, even though we've been marketing to the auto industry for some dine," Marx said.
Like Marx, other Portland-area hoteliers are striving to compete in a sluggish market. Their actions include lowering rates, boosting marketing and trimming costs. The area's lodging industry wasn't hurt quite …