The next presidential election doesn’t take place until 2020, but many voters are finding a way to let President Trump know exactly what they think of him – by slamming him in the wallet.
Two more pieces of evidence have now emerged that many people, if given a choice, would rather not turn their money over to Trump-affiliated businesses. While we can’t speak to his real estate investments, we can say with increasing certainty that Trump’s falling popularity is causing consumers to avoid doing business with him when possible.
First, a survey conducted by FairFX, a British international currency provider, discovered the asking price of the lowest-cost room of the 13 Trump hotel properties it surveyed has fallen, on average, more than a third between January of 2017 and January of 2018. The hotels are located in the United States and internationally. The nightly charge for the cheapest room at the Trump Doral in Miami fell by 46 percent, while the Las Vegas property saw a drop of almost two thirds for their lowest-priced room. International properties also saw declines – the price to stay at the Vancouver, Canada, property fell by more than 50 percent, for example.
And it’s not just hotels. The Post has reported that of the 25 galas and other gatherings that were scheduled to be held at Mar-a-Lago over the coming Palm Beach social season, 19 had ditched the Trump property and either rescheduled for another venue or gave up on the event entirely. This is bound to hurt the bottom line — if not now, then in the future.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross and other worthy charitable endeavors at Mar-a-Lago are getting replaced by bookings of groups affiliated with right-wing political causes such as the Palm Beach County Republican Party. And it looks like these bookings may be designed to ingratiate these groups with Trump.
Indeed, at least two of the groups scheduled to hold galas at Mar-a-Lago admitted to Post reporters that they were highly unlikely to make any money on the events in question. “We’re supporting our president,” conservative activist Steven Alembik offered by way of explaining why he did not expect his “Truth About Israel Gala,” to make much, if any, money for the organization. If you are wondering, he’s discussing a 700-person, $600-a-plate event at Mar-a-Lago.
While price declines at some of the hotels seem to have a logical, and nonpolitical explanation – Trump’s Washington D.C. hotel could be expected to see a drop in a non-presidential-inauguration year – others seemed to point toward something else.
First, it’s not exactly a secret that businesses — and we can include large nonprofits in this description — don’t want to make potential customers unhappy. Hosting an event at a Trump property — even if you might get a surprise drop-in from the commander in chief — is almost the definition of making any number of would-be supporters unhappy, given the number of, shall we say, passionate nonsupporters of the president. The Post quoted one would-be attendee telling an anonymous now-former Mar-a-Lago member, “If it’s at Mar-a-Lago, then we’re not going.” Little wonder many organizations that actually use their galas to make an actual buck are giving Mar-a-Lago a pass.
And that brings us to the overarching issue: distaste for the president, his actions and his policies. In September, Post reporting found that a large number of sports teams were avoiding Trump hotels. “Some coaches and players have made it clear that Trump’s politics definitely factors into their decision to stay elsewhere,” the New York Post reported as a follow-up.
Similarly, the Post reported that the exit of charity galas from Mar-a-Lago turned into a stampede — or, as the reporting put it, they “abruptly quit” the Trump facility — after after Trump spoke up in defense of the white supremacists after their violent rally and related protests in Charlottesville.
Trump is clearly using the White House to pad his bottom line, and it’s quite possible the Republican tax reform will have the same result. But when it comes to direct spending by the public, his unpopularity is costing his businesses dearly.