If you were hoping to watch the U.S. election from a room at Donald Trump's new hotel in Vancouver, sorry, but you are going to have to make other plans.
The opening of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver has been delayed – again.
Long a point of controversy, the hotel was scheduled to open this summer. That date was pushed to October. Now, its developers say it will not welcome guests until the New Year, well after U.S. voters head to the polls on Nov. 8.
"The opening has been delayed due to the construction of the hotel and the associated properties," a spokesperson for the Holborn Group, the developer behind the project, said in an e-mail.
Marketing experts say that even if construction were on schedule, the developer would be wise to wait to open the hotel until well after voters cast their ballots because of Trump's unpopularity among so many different groups.
"It's opening [the hotels] up as a symbol for protest," says Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing and executive director of the Schulich Executive Education Centre at York University. "And the last thing that a hotel operator or a casino operator wants is people blocking the traffic, and even worse, making noises about the name on your property. There is no way they can afford to open a Trump property until after the election. Just no way."
At nearly every stop along the campaign trail, Donald Trump has promised crowds two certainties. One is that he will boast about his business acumen. He is, as he sees it, an empire builder without equal. The other is that he will probably say something offensive.
Though he never seems to worry that his words might hurt that empire – if he did, wouldn't he stop maligning so many different groups? – there are clear signs Trump's words are doing the kind of damage that would send many companies scrambling for cover, particularly when it comes to the Trump hotels that stand at the very centre of the Trump brand.
Occupancy rates are plunging at many Trump hotels, there are reports his luxury hotels are slashing rates to attract guests, openings are being delayed, protests are being held in front of hotels and the Trump name, once seen as a symbol of luxury that's been slapped on everything from steaks to vodka, is now for many people a tarnished symbol of the man's world view.
On Monday, a group of approximately 40 people protested outside the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Toronto to denounce Trump's 2005 remarks to then-Access Hollywood host Billy Bush, in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women.
One protester held a sign that said: "Trump is repulsive."
The 147-room Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver, which has already seen Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson send a letter to its developer asking that the Trump name be removed from the building and one construction worker fly a Mexican flag from the building to protest Trump's derogatory statements about Mexican immigrants, will likely avoid attracting any larger-scale protests in the lead-up to the election, thanks to its delayed opening.
According to the travel site Hipmunk, bookings for the Donald's hotels in Chicago, New York and Las Vegas through that site have plunged 59 per cent during the first half of this year, compared with the first half of 2015.
"We are very pleased with the performance of our businesses, and the data reported by Hipmunk is manipulated to appear meaningful, when, in reality, the information is inconsequential and does not provide an accurate representation of our performance," a spokesperson for the Trump Organization said in an e-mail. "As a company, we are in growth mode."
The Trump brand is "collapsing" in the eyes of people with a annual household income of more than $100,000, an analyst for the research firm BAV Consulting, which specializes in brand perception, told The Associated Press this week.
As well, a new poll released this week by Morning Consult, a polling firm, found that 46 per cent of 1,983 registered American voters surveyed said they would not stay at a Trump hotel, compared with 39 per cent who said they would, Fortune reports.
It's not only the Trump hotel business that is feeling the effects of the campaign. Nearly six in 10 women in the same survey said they would not be willing to buy clothes from Ivanka Trump's brand. On the travel website Expedia, there are still numerous rooms still available for election night at Trump's new hotel in Washington, as of Wednesday, when it held its grand opening.
With the Trump brand taking a beating, some people have assumed that a recent announcement from the Trump Organization for a new chain is a sign that he is stepping away from the brand. Last month, it unveiled Scion, a new hotel brand targeting millennials. In many people's eyes, not using the famous Trump name is evidence that the organization recognizes the brand has been tarnished.
But Trump would never take his name off a project as a sign of defeat, Middleton says.
"The man's got too much of an ego," he says.
Besides, it is hardly out of the ordinary. Many other hotel chains, including Marriott International Inc., Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Starwood all have different name brands for different price-point customers.
It's Trump's business partners that have been using the Trump name under licensing agreements who are likely hoping to disassociate themselves from it, Middleton says. "I can guarantee, all those who can get out of it are looking to get out of it," he says.
As for the Trump hotel in Vancouver, the Holborn Group has said it is contractually obligated to stick with the Trump name.