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The Hotelier in the White House

(January / February 2017) posted on Tue Feb 14, 2017

Trump’s 2012 ALIS appearance offered a preview of what’s happening now.

By Matthew Hall

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The first and only time I’ve seen Donald Trump in person was five years ago, at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) in Los Angeles. Trump’s surprise (at least in some quarters) election to the presidency last fall caused me to dig into my personal archives to review the specifics of what the then-developer/hotelier talked about in his keynote address at that event, as well as at a subsequent press conference later the same day.

It took some serious spelunking in the nether regions of my desk, but I did find my notebook from that event (complete with its own coffee stain from a long-ago spill). Some snippets from those appearances:

• Trump, who had previously expressed interest in running for president in the 2012 election, spent a considerable amount of time bashing President Barack Obama, Congress and banks during his speech. On our elected officials, he said the U.S. has “tremendous potential” but is being held back by a “bad president and bad decision makers.” On the financial institutions: “Banks have let the hotel industry down, in case you haven’t noticed. You’re nothing compared to what they did to the residential people.”

• “If someone tells you [a hotel] renovation is more expensive than new construction, they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

• Trump said he believes star and diamond ratings bring people to properties, and that design is also important in doing so. “I really insist on premium architecture.”

Based on the above comments, here’s what I wrote in the margins of my notes on Trump’s speech: “sift thru the bombast—some useful information.” I’ve decided that will be my mantra for the foreseeable future (or at least the next four years). It certainly applies to the features in our current edition, where we do some serious sifting on such timely topics as what it takes to be an influencer in hospitality design; which new brands are worth watching; and how technological innovations may impact hotel design. Read ’em and reap.


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