Are hotel bookings tumbling for Trump?
Donald Trump’s persona and presidential run has been controversial, to say the least. The man himself would likely agree with that statement, as it has garnered him with free publicity on all the major news channels, social media, blogs and all other internet venues, in the United States and around the globe. Trump and his vocal supporters could boost the bookings at his hotels, while his detractors could drive consumers to avoid his brand until the election is concluded.
But how has this swirling controversy impacted his hotel business? If at all? Or is the old statement “there is no such thing as bad publicity” true?
The world may have an answer to this proverbial expression, thanks to data from Hipmunk, a Priceonomics customer and travel search engine. Hipmunk focused on Trump Hotel’s most-booked locations and compared bookings for 2015 and 2016, for an apples-to-apples comparison. There is a caveat to this analysis, as Hipmunk’s customers tend to skew younger and more urban than the general population, so the numbers may be excluding some of Trump’s constituents.
According to his site, bookings at Trump hotels have plummeted 59% for the first half of 2016, compared to last years’ numbers. Hipmunk indicates that other hotels have seen a rise in bookings compared to last year, so this is not indicative of an industry-wide trend. “The share of Trump bookings is smaller than the same time frame of 2015,” says Adam Goldstein, Hipmunk’s CEO stated in a recent Time article. This indicates that the Hipmunk audience is choosing other properties over the Trump brand at a higher rate than in 2016.
Specific hotels have seen even larger decreases in bookings, with the largest slump at the Trump in Soho declining 74% over a year ago. The Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas also plummeted, with a decline of 71% in bookings. Chicago bookings were also down, albeit not nearly as steep as the bookings on the coast, with a decline of 31%. The declining bookings are also being felt in Canada, with a 47% decline at the Trump Toronto.
According to a recent article in Fortune Magazine, Trump’s team disagrees with the analysis, with Eric Danziger, CEO of Trump Hotels, said Hipmunk’s use of percentages come from “minute numbers” that are inconsequential and don’t offer a complete or accurate representation of its booking. Danziger added, “We are very pleased with the performance of our business.”
Trump Hotels does not publicly release any occupancy data or earnings by property, so at this time, the Hipmunk data is the only information available to determine if Trump’s controversy is hurting (or helping) his hotel properties.
So while we cannot definitively answer if bad publicity is impacting Trump’s hotel business, if Hipmunk’s small piece of the Trump pie is indicative of the overall bookings, Trump’s hotel empire is not winning.