Donald J. Trump kicked off his presidential bid at the Trump Tower last summer. Since then, he has repeatedly hawked his business ventures on the campaign trail and made several stops to promote his newest property, the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
But on election night, Trump won’t be celebrating — or conceeding — at one of his hotels.
Instead, he has booked what he’s called his “victory party” at the New York Hilton in Midtown Manhattan, just around the corner from the Trump Tower and about a half-mile from the Trump International Hotel & Tower. A third property, the Trump Soho, is about three miles away.
Why? The simplest explanation: Size.
Trump’s properties are not large enough to accommodate the kind of crowds he’s expecting, says Helio Fred Garcia, president of the crisis management firm Logos Consulting Group.
“The Hilton is huge,” said Garcia, also an adjunct professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “I don’t think it’s so much that he’s embarrassed to hold it in his own place or that his brand has been tarnished, but rather that he expects a large crowd. And so he booked the largest venue that he could.”
The Hilton, which boasts “Manhattan’s largest self-contained function space,” can hold more than 3,000 people in its 24,000-square-foot ballroom. The ballroom of the Trump Soho (the largest function space in a Trump property in Manhattan) measures about one-sixth the size and has capacity for 400, according to its website. The atrium of the Trump Tower maxes out at 350 guests, while the largest space in the Trump International Hotel is a 665-square-foot boardroom.
It is worth noting that while Trump’s Washington hotel is much larger — its 13,200-square-foot presidential ballroom can hold 1,335 — it’s still about half the size of the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom. Neither the Trump campaign nor McLean-based Hilton Worldwide responded to requests for comment.
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, will also host her “election night event” in Manhattan, at the nearby Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
But even if size wasn’t a concern, some say Trump may have good reason to look beyond his brand on Election Day. The candidate’s business ventures have taken a hit during his campaign. Foot traffic to Trump-branded hotels, casinos and golf courses has slipped roughly 24 percent since he announced his candidacy, according to location-based app Foursquare. And last month, the Trump Organization announced that its newest line of hotels, to be called Scion, wouldn’t bear the Trump name, a move that caused many in the industry to wonder whether the billionaire was trying to distance himself from his commercial ventures.
“It’s clear now that he’s trying to draw a clear line between two things he now represents: Trump the business brand, and Trumpism, the political movement,” said Nir Kossovsky, president and chief executive of Steel City Re, a Pittsburgh firm that analyzes reputational risk for public companies.
And, he added, whether he wins or loses, Trump may be wise to avoid his hotels on election night.
“There are two outcomes, and either would be bad for his brand,” Kossovsky said. “If he wins, there’s a real risk that demonstrators would gather outside his hotel, causing his brand to suffer. And if he loses, he’d have to deliver a concession speech with his brand name in the background. Either way, it would be risky.”