The average cost of being affiliated with a hotel brand last year was between 9.6 percent and 9.9 percent of a property's room revenue, depending on whether the hotel was budget, mid-tier or high-end, according to the 2011 United States Hotel Franchise Fee Guide, produced by HVS Global Hospitality Services. Franchise fees are often one of the biggest operating-expense categories for a hotel, second only to payroll, HVS noted. Such costs may have driven more hoteliers to reconsider their brand relationship during the 2007-09 recession. Many who switched probably did so to survive but then, as the economy began to recover, decided for other reasons to continue as an independent, said Scott Smith, a lodging instructor in the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management. "They may have had to drop their flag for financial reasons - and they may have found out, 'We don't need a flag,' " Smith said. "If I have a good location and I really didn't suffer that much of a loss of business from losing the flag, I'm rethinking my whole strategy." Get the full story at the Orlando Sentinel