There’s no such thing as bad publicity, so the saying goes. But it appears Donald Trump may be starting to prove this idea wrong, like much of the conventional political wisdom this year.
It turns out that bookings at Trump hotels — at least those made through the travel site Hipmunk — have plummeted since this time last year. Bookings at Trump hotels over the past three months have decreased 59 percent from spring 2015 levels, according to an analysis by Priceonomics released Wednesday.
Hipmunk hotel bookings have been on the rise since last year, but that is not the case with Trump-owned hotels, the analysis found. Before Trump entered the presidential race last summer and started making remarks offending many groups of people, his hotels garnered 1.7 percent of all bookings on Hipmunk in the major cities where his properties are located. But now they make up just 0.7 percent of bookings in those cities.
This data shows what many have speculated about for months. Since Trump began his campaign with calling Mexican immigrants rapists, many have guessed that his constant stream of invective regarding immigrants, Muslims and women, among others, could hurt his businesses around the world. After all, Trump has built his candidacy on the fact that he is very wealthy and that people know his brand.
After all, who can forget the press conference/infomercial Trump held in early March after 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney attacked Trump’s many failed business ideas? To get back at Romney and his other detractors, the New York real estate magnate turned a primary night victory speech into a press conference to hawk his many ventures, including supposedly Trump-branded steak, Trump Magazine, the Trump airline, Trump Wine, Trump University and Trump Water.
Throughout the primary season, there were reports that Trump’s anti-Muslim comments were jeopardizing his properties in the Middle East, that public opinion about his brand was sinking and that some companies in the Middle East were choosing to stop carrying Trump’s lifestyle products. But even as world leaders condemned the candidate and nervous Republicans urged him to tone down his rhetoric, Trump continued to gain supporters and rack up victories.
He won the vast majority of the Republican primary contests and is now the party’s presumptive nominee. So it might make sense to wonder if people just don’t care about the Donald’s antics and will continue to patronize his organization.
Now the Priceonomics analysis shows that at least some of Trump’s hotels are seriously hurting since he has become a presidential candidate. In New York City and Las Vegas, the share of hotel bookings occupied by Trump hotels dropped more than 70 percent. In Atlantic City, New Jersey, where Trump properties hold the highest percentage of a city’s hotel bookings, the Trump hotel there dropped 17 percent in its share of bookings during the first quarter.
It’s too early to tell if this trend will continue into the general election and after 2016 is over, but so far, the Trump hotels have definitely lost market share since their owner entered his bid for the White House. Little has seemed to deter Trump so far — he does not care what other politicians or the media say about him — but perhaps if his other businesses see similar declines, he will begin to worry about the toll on his much-touted brand.