A Brand Problem? Donald Trump’s Newest Hotel Line Won’t Use His Name

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Trump at a campaign rally in Newtown, Pennsylvania on Friday  (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)
Trump at a campaign rally in Newtown, Pennsylvania on Friday (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)

Claiming his personal brand is worth billions, real estate mogul and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has put his  name on everything over the years, from hotels to neckties. That’s about to change with Trump’s new line of lifestyle hotels, which will not bear the Trump name.

Trump Hotels announced late last month that its newest millennial-focused hotel brand will be called “Scion,” according to a press release. The name means “descendant of a notable family” and is intended to be a subtle reference to Trump–without mentioning his name. The hotel line will be aimed at lifestyle, rather than luxury, customers, the announcement said.

“We wanted a name that would be a nod to the Trump family and to the tremendous success it has had with its businesses, including Trump Hotels, while allowing for a clear distinction between our luxury and lifestyle brands,” Trump Hotels CEO Eric Danziger said in the announcement.

This may be a smart move, given the increasing signs that Donald Trump’s contentious presidential run is becoming toxic for his brand. FORBES, which estimates Trump’s net worth at $3.7 billion, does not assign any value to Trump’s brand, or to the brands of any other billionaires. (Click here for a detailed look at Trump’s assets.)

In January 2016, a survey from BAV Consulting showed that the value of Trump’s brand was “collapsing” in the eyes of people making over $100,000 per year. In May 2016, a survey conducted by media and research firm Skift found that 57% of those surveyed were less likely to stay in one of Trump’s hotels because of his presidential run. In August, Foursquare found that foot traffic to Trump properties had decreased since he announced his presidential bid in June 2015, especially in Democratic-leaning states.

An August report from travel website Hipmunk showed that bookings at Trump hotels on the site were down 59% in the first half of 2016 as compared to the first half of 2015. A week after the Washington Post released the Access Hollywood tape of Trump making lewd comments about women, New York Magazine reported that Trump’s new Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. had to reduce its rates during peak season.  A New York Times story on Monday described how some customers actively choosing to avoid patronizing anything with the Trump brand as a form of protest in the wake of Trump’s comments about women, minorities and immigrants.

At Fortune’s Most Powerful Women conference on Wednesday, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, who has her own brand tied to to the Trump name, tried to address these concerns. She dismissed the New York Times story–and the media in general–as being biased against her family business, saying the evidence of brand decline was anecdotal. “We’re one of the fastest growing luxury hotel companies in the world,” she said. (Many of the hotels just pay to use Trump’s name.) She also tried to distance her women’s empowerment brand from her father. ”I’ve always tried to maintain complete separation between [my brand] and the campaign,” she said.

The long-term effects of Trump’s campaign on his brand–and his net worth–won’t be clear until after Americans pick their next president on November 8, 2016. But the Trump Hotels’ choice of its new brand does raise questions about the ongoing value of Trump’s name as a brand.

By Kate Vinton Courtesy Forbes

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