Quality Inns International plans to introduce McSleep Inn, a new chain of economy hotels with rooms for $20 to $29 a night, at a lodging conference in Chicago today.

But the Silver Spring company, one of the largest and fastest-growing hotel chains in the world, may meet some resistance to the name for its new product from another well-known company -- McDonald's.

"Obviously, {the name is} a takeoff on McDonald's and quality at a consistent price," Robert C. Hazard Jr., Quality's president and chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview last week. "We think we're going to let McDonald's continue to use their name," Hazard said when asked whether he feared any conflict with the name.

However, a McDonald's spokesman was neither amused nor flattered by Quality's choice of names.

"We do jealously guard the trademark," said Charles Rubner, a McDonald's spokesman. "Having a hotel chain with a 'Mc' formative is very likely to cause confusion among the general public that it is associated with McDonald's. We are very concerned. We will be corresponding with Quality Inns. We hope they see the error of their ways."

Rubner cited a case in U.S. District Court in New York that McDonald's brought against a store called McBagel. In that case, the judge wrote that "a lengthy record ... of court orders and agreements evidence a general recognition in the business community that the Mc formative stands as a symbol of McDonald's services and products."

Hazard said Rubner's comments bothered him "not in the least." He said that while it makes good sense for McDonald's to protect its name in the food area, there are other names -- McThrifty, McLube, McVideo -- where McDonald's has not claimed trade name rights.

In fact, Hazard concluded, "We're going to try to convince them to put McSleeps behind McDonald's because all of our guests would eat breakfast and dinner at McDonald's."

Guests of Quality's new economy line will have to find someplace else to eat whether the company keeps the name or not. As with most economy hotels, McSleep will be a pared down version of full-service hotels, offering a basic room with a bath but no pool, meeting rooms, food service or restaurant. That will allow a McSleep Inn with 100 rooms to be run with the equivalent of only 11 full-time people, Hazard said.

Quality, which will franchise the McSleep Inns, as it does its Comfort, Quality and Clarion hotel chains, expects to open about 200 McSleeps by the end of 1990, the company said. The first three are planned for Washington, Phoenix and Detroit. Quality, a subsidiary of Manor Care Inc. of Silver Spring, also owns and operates nursing centers in 22 states.

McSleep will appeal to guests who are not on expense accounts, such as traveling salespeople, government workers on per diem and family vacationers, Hazard said.

Of 2.7 million hotel rooms in the country, only about 10 percent are priced under $30 a night, according to hotel industry analysts at Laventhol & Horwath. Those include chains such as Motel 6, Super 8 and Econolodge. While some of those are large chains -- Motel 6, for example, has 425 units in 40 states -- many others are small "mom and pop" operations, according to lodging analysts.

"You quite typically associate those with old, musty, tired, tacky rooms," said Hazard of the economy lodging currently available.

In the past five years, a number of large hotel companies have begun to identify new market segments for their hotels by offering more luxury accommodations, services and amenities. As that market filled up, the budget sectors of the market have been explored by others.

Bethesda-based Marriott has tested and built Courtyard by Marriott for the midpriced market and will begin to test market Fairfield Inns next spring. Fairfield Inns will be in the under $40 range and will be geared primarily for the business market and per diem customer, as well as families.

And while some market analysts said that the last thing that's needed is another hotel chain of any kind, most agreed there's still room in the economy segment.

"There are obvious advantages to segmentation if you can give a customer very specifically what they want without giving them more than they want or less than they want," said John J. Rohs, a lodging analyst with Wertheim & Co.

In giving customers what they want, Hazard believes Quality has found the right mix with McSleep, which will consist of a room 70 percent the size of the average hotel room, but will have one queen-size bed rather than two double beds. It will also contain a desk, color television and phone. Adjoining rooms will connect to form suites for families.

"There's always room for a McSleep, but there's not room for three or four different chains to succeed at it," said James M. Meyer of Janney, Montgomery, Scott, a Philadelphia brokerage firm. "Profit margins are very tight and there's no service to differentiate you."

However, Meyer added that the $10 a night difference in cost for a new property will make a difference for some travelers.

"If you're a traveling salesman and it's coming out of your pocket, $10 a night is $50 a week," he said.

After several months of consumer testing of the McSleep rooms with 500 frequent travelers at the company's Silver Spring headquarters, Hazard is convinced McSleep is destined to be part of lodging history.

Going back to the McDonald's analogy, he said: "Anybody at any income level feels comfortable going there. People who make $200,000 a year are comfortable sitting down with people who make $20,000... . If guests feel comfortable staying at McSleep, they'll come back.