Quality Inns International has announced plans to segment the chain into three groups of low-, medium- and high-quality inns catering to travelers with different budgets.

Quality Inns President Robert Hazard said the Silver Spring lodging chain will become the first in its business to offer three levels of accommodations in the same way that auto companies sell various models of cars. a

The top 2 percent of the hotels in the group will be designated Quality Royale and will compete with Mariott, Hyatt, Hilton or Sheratorn, Hazard said.

The first hotel to carry the Quality Royale name is now under construction in Georgetown at 28th and M Sts. NW.

The bulk of the units will keep the Quality Inns name and will cater to what Hazard termed "middle-income guests," competing with Holiday Inns, Ramada, Howard Johnson, Rodeway and Trave-Lodge.

For what he called "the value-conscious traveler," a group of Comfort Inns will be created to lure "a price-sensitive guest on a budget tour or a budget family vacation" away from Days Inns, Best Western and Friendship Inns.

The Quality Royale and Comfort Inns will get their own logotypes and distinctive marketing programs aimed at their prospective customers.

Hazard took over last winter as president of Quality Inns, a subsidiary of Manor Care Inc., which operates a group of nursing homes.

Hazard was formerly president of Best Western and brought with him part of the executive team credited with transforming that group from an 800-unit chain with 2 1/2 percent of the lodging market into a 2,600-unit operation with an 11 percent share of the market.

The announced goal of Hazard's group is to double the number of hotels and motels under the three Quality Inn logos from the present 370 to more than 750 within three years.

Quality Inns officials said they expect most of the growth to come from the new, budget-priced Comfort Inns, which ultimately could become the biggest of the three groups.

The goal is to add 100 to 150 Comfort Inns, 20 or 25 Quality Royale units and boost the number of Quality Inns from 350 to 400 or 450.

Quality Inns owns 26 of its hotels and motels, including several in the Washington area, but most are independently owned and operated under license and franchise agreements.

As well as catering to different segments of the traveling public, the three-tier marketing system is meant to enable Quality Inns to sign up a more diverse group of local operators. Small roadside hotels and urban luxury lodging that didn't fit into the Quality Inn image will be sought for the new Comfort Inns and Quality Royale groups.

Quality Inns officials did not specify room rates for the three types of accommodations.

They said the top group will consist of facilities qualifying for a Mobil Travel Guide four-star or American Automobile Association four-diamond rating "or its equivalent" with gourmet restaurants. At the other end of the scale, Comfort Inns will offer what Hazard called "a good night's sleep and clean, friendly service.