Stacy Small, the founder of boutique travel agency Elite Travel International in Los Angeles, told me she has clients who specifically request not to stay at Trump hotels. Small describes her clientele as a “high-end crowd—a lot of Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Hollywood types.” Quite a few are not fans of Trump: “I’ve had people say, ‘I can’t stay at a hotel with his name on it,’” she said. The agency remains politically neutral during the booking process, but respects clients’ wishes. “The hotels themselves are beautiful. It has nothing to do with the property,” Small said. “It's the association. If someone doesn't like Trump, they don't want to stay in a hotel with his name attached."
Holly Lombardo, a luxury travel planner who lives in Atlanta, no longer recommends Trump hotels to clients. Lombardo, a self-described Democrat, is so repulsed by Trump’s presidential campaign that she feels it would be morally wrong to drive business to any of his properties. “That would be like putting money in his pockets, and I can’t do that,” Lombardo said, though she clarified that she would facilitate a booking if a client asks to stay in a Trump hotel. Before the presidential race started, Lombardo said she would have been "very interested in recommending” the new Washington hotel to clients. Now, she can't bring herself to promote the property “because of this divisive campaign.”
The privately owned Trump Organization, which operates Trump Hotels, is not required to publicly disclose financial earnings. That makes it more difficult to precisely evaluate whether Trump’s campaign is taking a toll on his businesses. The Trump Organization, however, has pushed back against any suggestion that the campaign has done damage. Instead, its representatives insist business has never been better for Trump hotels.
“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 bookings, interest from groups, and large events,” Managing Director Mickael Damelincourt said in a statement. A spokesperson for the Trump Organization added: “Our properties are known for their iconic locations, achieving the highest accolades, and for providing unrivaled five-star service. We continue to outperform our competitors and we are very enthusiastic about the future and our continued growth.”
The protesters who gathered outside the hotel Monday don’t share that enthusiasm. But it’ll take more than demonstrations to affect the hotel’s bottom line. Whether the venture succeeds, and by how much, hinges more on how well-to-do travelers decide to spend money. “None of us can afford to boycott the Trump hotel because we couldn’t afford to stay here to begin with,” Ben Becker, a protester and organizer with the anti-war ANSWER coalition, told me.