Trump brand loses lus­ter with af­flu­ent

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - STATE NEWS - By Mae An­der­son And Bernard Condon

Event plan­ner Beth Bern­stein de­cided she had had enough with Don­ald Trump af­ter his 2005 hot-mic boasts about grop­ing women came to light ear­lier this month. She re­moved pho­tos of wed­dings she had thrown at a Trump ho­tel in Chicago from her web­site, wrote to ho­tel staff to re­move her from the list of “pre­ferred ven­dors” and posted a sort of call to arms on her blog.

“I sim­ply can­not bring my­self to walk in the door there any longer,” wrote the owner of SQN Events.

Bern­stein is not alone. Rates for rooms at Trump’s new D.C. ho­tel are be­ing slashed as trav­el­ers weigh their op­tions, and smart­phone data sug­gest fewer peo­ple are vis­it­ing his prop­er­ties com­pared to ri­val venues nearby.

The Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for pres­i­dent is in dan­ger of los­ing not just the elec­tion, but some­thing dear to a man who claims the mar­ket­ing value of his name alone is worth $3 bil­lion: the many cus­tomers, mostly wealthy, who have stayed at his ho­tels, played a round at his golf cour­ses or held galas at his ocean­side re­sorts.

Ex­perts say the Trump brand is tar­nished and at a tricky cross­roads as his ap­peal shifts from the well­heeled, high-in­come peo­ple he has long courted to a more mid­dle-class base, in­clud­ing the fer­vent fans he cul­ti­vated dur­ing the cam­paign.

There is spec­u­la­tion that he could start a Trump me­dia net­work as a right-wing al­ter­na­tive to ma­jor news out­lets, draw­ing money from ad­ver­tis­ers to make up for any weak­ness in his em­pire else­where. But he may have to pivot fast.

“The cur­rent tra­jec­tory is very harm­ful to his busi­nesses,” said Scott Gal­loway, a mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sor at New York Univer­sity. “Right now his brands cater to the af­flu­ent, who are dis­pro­por­tion­ately turned off by his ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Ever con­fi­dent, the busi­ness mogul has de­nied his cam­paign has dimmed the gilded al­lure of his five-let­tered name and has said, if any­thing, it has bur­nished the brand and boosted his busi­ness. In a state­ment, Amanda Miller, vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing at the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion, said: “The Trump brand re­mains in­cred­i­bly strong and we are see­ing tremen­dous suc­cess across busi­ness units.”

Ev­i­dence of that is hard to see at Trump’s new ho­tel in Wash­ing­ton, which Trump has de­clared the “best” in the city. It ap­pears to have got­ten off to a slow start.

A room at the Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel with a king size bed and a city view could have been yours any night of the week start­ing Nov. 14 for $505 or $555, ac­cord­ing to a check of the ho­tel’s web­site last week. By con­trast, five ma­jor lux­ury com­peti­tors in the city gen­er­ally charged more — some­times hun­dreds of dol­lars more — or were sold out. For in­stance, the St. Regis only had rooms start­ing at $975 on Mon­day and Tues­day. The Four Sea­sons in Ge­orge­town had no rooms avail­able at any price for those days, and the Jef­fer­son Ho­tel for those two days plus Wed­nes­day.

Rates at the Trump ho­tel have con­tin­ued to sink, too: By the end of last week, the price of many Trump rooms had been cut by 10 per­cent or more.

The man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Trump’s new ho­tel, which the can­di­date will for­mally open with a rib­bon-cut­ting on Wed­nes­day, dis­putes that it is strug­gling.

“With 10 years of ex­pe­ri­ence with Trump Ho­tels, I can eas­ily say the open­ing of Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., has been the most suc­cess­ful in terms of open­ing book-

ings, in­ter­est from groups and large events,” said Mick­ael Damelin­court in a state­ment. “The build­ing it­self is an Amer­i­can icon,

and we’ve cre­ated a world­class ho­tel with the largest lux­ury ball­room in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.”

Some cus­tomers are clearly turned off by Trump’s deroga­tory re­marks about women and im­mi­grants, though, and the fall­out is spread­ing be­yond

the ho­tels.

A woman an­gry about Trump’s grop­ing com­ments, and that his daugh­ter still sup­ports him, has cre­ated the hash­tag “GrabYourWal­let” on Twit­ter to boy­cott the Ivanka Trump Col­lec­tion, which in­cludes hand­bags, shoes, jew­elry

and clothes. On Mon­day alone it was viewed more than half a mil­lion times.

Some char­i­ties, in­clud­ing the Su­san G. Komen Foun­da­tion, are con­sid­er­ing mov­ing events from Trump’s prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing the Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

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