We wrote yesterday that the damage from the campaign (and Donald Trump’s conduct during it) to his reputational value is potentially enormous and permanent. If people no longer see him as a positive asset, Trump hotels won’t get a premium price or fill up, people won’t pay to license his name, vendors won’t give him favorable terms, etc. This is the business equivalent of box-office poison. Lo and behold we have ample evidence this is occurring, in traditional ways and also unique ones.
On the hotel front, CNBC reports:
According to new analysis by Foursquare, which looked at visits from its more than 50 million users, the share of customer traffic going to Trump-branded properties fell 16.5 percent in September compared with a year ago earlier.
The decline follows a 7.1 percent year-over-year dip in August, a 14 percent drop in July, and a 17 percent decline in June, Foursquare said.
Yet the data does not capture the month of October, when a video was released showing Trump making lewd comments about women. It was also pulled prior to women coming forward with accusations that the Republican candidate had inappropriately touched them. Trump has vehemently denied those claims.
That’s not all. The Trump International Hotel in the District has already fallen on hard times, CNN reports: “The Trump International Hotel in Washington was supposed to be the latest luxurious prize in the Trump collection. But to some travel agents and event planners, it’s just not worth the trouble.” The report continues:
The hotel has been the target of protests and vandalism since it opened last month. And its namesake’s presidential campaign has made the Trump name awkward at best and toxic at worst for those who specialize in the hotel industry.
“There certainly are people who are concerned about the message they send by spending money in Trump-branded hotels,” said David Loeb, a senior hotel analyst at the Robert W. Baird private equity firm.
Have your wedding in a Trump hotel? Yuck.
Trump’s reputational fallout is also affecting the perceived self-interest of those around him. “During the final few weeks of the presidential campaign, as Trump falls further behind in the polls, picks fights with his own party’s leaders and makes unsupported claims about a ‘rigged’ campaign, [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie — one of Trump’s most faithful surrogates since primary season — hasn’t been there to back him up,” Politico reports. Christie isn’t alone.
Trump’s own campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, wasn’t on the Sunday shows to shill for him this past weekend and now — while she still draws a paycheck — is distancing herself from his crackpot claim that the election will be fixed. Asked on MSNBC whether she believes that massive fraud could deprive Trump of a victory, she contradicted her boss: “No, I do not believe that. So absent overwhelming evidence that there is, it would not be for me to say that there is.” (Not only does she not agree, but she also is suggesting there’s no evidence for Trump to make the claim.)
This is the “rats running from a sinking ship” phenomenon — or in reputational terms, people are worried that their association with Trump will be fatal to their own reputations. Well, they should worry, and they won’t be able to mitigate the damage simply by making themselves scarce in the final weeks of the campaign.
Even his own children — once thought of highly by many who didn’t know them well — are keeping a low profile. Ivanka Trump’s brand, some fashion analysts argue, “remains particularly vulnerable in light of the campaign particularly in countries where her products are popular and where her father’s comments have caused outrage.” Ivanka Trump’s complicity in sheltering her father from allegations of sexual assault may come back to haunt her and her brand. (Martha Ross writes in the Mercury News: “Rather than just stand back quietly and smile at a few campaign events here and there — and then go about her own business — she’s given tacit approval to some of his most outrageous rhetoric and actions, such as his sick but failed attempt at Sunday night’s debate to shame Hillary Clinton, the nation’s first viable female candidate for president, by bringing into the audience women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct”.)
In sum, the election isn’t over yet, and already we’re seeing the reputational damage Trump has done to himself and his heirs. Who says there is no such thing as karma?