Putting the rhetoric, bipartisanship, and all that is political aside, I’m reminded that Donald Trump and his family are successful, luxury hoteliers. Given that luxury hospitality is my business, I was left to wonder: if the pundits and critics were silenced, and Mr. Trump and company were simply business people, what lessons could be learned from The Trump Hotel Collection?
Lesson #1 – Invest in the Best
The leaders of The Trump Hotel Collection understand the importance of quality. From location and architects, to materials and staff, Trump Hotels only invest in “the best.” Even in his earliest projects, Trump used top designers, paid close attention to grand scale and luxurious details, and “attracted all the right people and stores.”
In 1974 Donald Trump obtained an option on one of NYC’s Penn Central’s hotels, The Commodore, which was unprofitable but in an excellent location adjacent to Grand Central Station. The following year, Trump signed a partnership agreement with the Hyatt Hotel Corporation, and put together financing and a set of tax concessions for the company, to develop The Commodore for Hyatt.
When the hotel, renamed The Grand Hyatt, opened in 1980, it was instantly popular and proved an economic success. Around the same time, Trump also purchased a commercial site on Fifth Avenue, where he built the mixed-use complex known as Trump Tower.
With the creation and success of The Grand Hyatt and Trump Tower, Donald Trump undeniably became New York City’s most successful and celebrated real estate developer, whose stamp would come to symbolize luxury, elegance, grandeur, and indulgence.
Lesson #2 – If It Works, Do It Again… Only Better
More than 35 years later, The Trump Hotel Collection shines as one of the world’s best chains of high-end hotels, consistently raising the bar on what “luxury hospitality” means.
The Collection includes 12 hotels with locations in New York, Chicago, Miami, Rio, Bali and Panama, along with two estate properties in Aberdeen, Scotland and Charlottesville, Virginia. In the 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best Hotels Ranking, four Trump Hotels received the prestigious Gold Badge.
Lesson #3 – The Trump Hotel Collection: Emphasize Exclusivity
The style and scope of The Trump Hotel Collection has a very distinct philosophy when it comes to it’s guests. Travelers are invited to “live life without compromise.” Trump offers guests exclusivity and individuality, the opportunity to indulge and “live the life.”
The Trump Hotel Collection has mastered this feeling of belonging, yet being uniquely distinctive. Be pampered, but get things done. Enjoy privacy, yet be looked after. Know exactly what you want, and have it there waiting for you.
This feeling creates the luxurious heart of every property in The Trump Hotel Collection. Amenities, which the brand prefers to call details, are always custom, high-end and designer brands.
No feature is considered too insignificant to give hotel guests an experience that exceeds their expectations – even when their expectations are to experience the best of the best.
The Trump Hotel Collection has deliberately built a legacy curated with specific standards in mind. Taking that idea of curating slightly further: what is seen are the gems, and what is not seen did not make the cut. This balance of presence and absence creates a feeling of excellence, thus making The Trump Hotel Collection an example of luxury hospitality excellence.
Lesson #4 – The Trump Touch: Create a Legacy
It is safe to say that part of the reason The Trump Hotel Collection has successfully identified the “gems” in properties, investments, and clients, is due to the business and design acumen of Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
Ivanka Trump, as Executive Vice President of Development & Acquisitions of The Trump Organization, is now the major creative force behind Trump Hotels’ high standards and commercial success. Ms. Trump is charged with the domestic and global expansion of the company’s real estate interests. Along with her father and her siblings, Donald Jr. and Eric, Ms. Trump, who joined the organization in 2005, “directs all areas of the company’s real estate and hotel management platforms.” She is involved in all decisions from property acquisition to interior design.
Trump Hotels make it look effortless, in the way that only organizations that are best in class can do. However, a key take-away for any business owner is that it wasn’t always this way for Donald Trump. He has experienced miserable failures like most people who take risks. The secret to success is in the recovery.
Lesson #5 – If Ventures Fail, Know How to Re-Group and Re-Launch
Trump Hotel properties have emerged through a tested balance of what succeeds and what does not.
Trump served as chairman of Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts from 1995 to 2009. During Trump’s 13 years as chairman, the casino empire lost a total of $1.1 billion, and declared bankruptcy twice, according to Fortune.com. But an IPO of Trump Hotels in the mid-90s boosted Trump’s profile, along with anchoring his comeback.
Trump Hotels and Trump Entertainment filed for Chapter 11 once again in 2014. The company is now a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises, run by Trump’s close friend Carl Icahn.
Trump himself has said that he’s not alone among entrepreneurs who have used corporate, not personal, bankruptcy “to restructure debt, free up capital and improve their businesses.”
Long-term success is all about how a business recovers from short-term failures, keeping your goals in mind. Collect yourself and your business, reorganize, and in the case of The Trump Hotel Collection, create beautiful spaces where people, including staff, want to be.
Every employee is considered part of the global team, as outlined in the Trump Hotel Collection mission:
“We believe that by creating an unsurpassed regard for our associates, our associates will, in turn, create an unparalleled guest experience that will ultimately translate into the success of all of our stakeholders.”
The Trump Hotel Collection embodies a sense of style, an ideal of living the life you know you deserve, and the determination to make a dream a reality.
What lies ahead is a mystery, with Mr. Trump running for the highest office in the land, Ivanka has undeniably taken the helm.
The Final Lesson: Completely Reinvent Yourself
Just this week, Ivanka and her siblings announced a new boutique hotel brand that will be launched this coming fall. The catch? It won’t be Trump branded. Therein lies the mystery. Only the family – and Eric Danziger – knows what is to be, but one thing can be for certain: no detail will be overlooked.