The Trumps can blame politics, but it's a bad business decision for any hotelier to flag under a controversial brand when there are dozens of others with more robust distribution networks and stronger consumer awareness available to choose from.
President Donald Trump’s company scrapped its once-ambitious plans to expand its hotel business, the company announced Thursday, blaming politics for the retrenchment.
The hotel division of the Trump Organization canceled the development of four new mid-tier hotels in the Mississippi Delta. The properties, which were to be branded as four-star Scion and three-star American Idea hotels, were billed as the only significant source of growth for the president’s family business, now run by his two oldest sons, Eric and Donald Jr.
The president stepped back from the business when he took office, but his sons said that politics still got in the company’s way.
“We live in a climate where everything will be used against us, whether by the fake news or by Democrats who are only interested in presidential harassment and wasting everyone’s time, barraging us with nonsense letters,” Eric Trump said in a statement.
He was referring to Democrats in Congress, who have vowed to launch broad investigations into the president’s business. Federal prosecutors have also been scrutinizing various aspects of the business.
His brother, Donald Trump Jr., suggested the company will return to growth once its namesake is out of office. “When politics are over, we will resume doing what we do best which is building the best and most luxurious properties in the world,” he said.
The hotel development plan was meant to target parts of the country that generally support the president, with company executives talking up the possibility of new hotels in cities such as Dallas. The four hotels that had been announced were to be developed by a pair of Indian-American brothers in Cleveland, Clarksdale and Greenville, Mississippi.
At one point, a Trump Organization executive said the company had 39 signed letters of intent and was considering two dozen U.S. cities for new locations.
That growth was meant to offset the lack of new business elsewhere. The Trump Organization has said it won’t pursue new foreign projects while Donald Trump is in public office, and the company’s other sources of business — such as licensing its name for various buildings — haven’t been particularly successful in recent years.
“When my father took office, we made countless voluntarily sacrifices as a family and as a company, turning down hotels and projects from almost every corner of the globe. We walked away from billions of dollars’ worth of deals and ceased virtually all expansion,” Eric Trump said in the statement. “If we have to slow down our growth for the time being, we are happy to do it.”
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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Photo credit: Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Tiffany Trump at a political rally. Bloomberg