Donald Trump Never Slept Here

What Hotel Marketers Shouldn’t Learn From People Who Think We Have Something to Learn From Donald Trump - By Dave Eagle

Trump Tower
What Hotel Marketers Shouldnt Learn From People Who Think We Have Something to Learn From Donald Trump


Donald Trump’s quite the hot topic these days, what with his largely improvised and frighteningly successful (so far) run for president of the United States. It’s not that wealthy businessman without experience have never entered the race for the nation’s highest office (I miss you, Ross Perot), it’s that none of them have done it on a violent platform of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia.

Also, when someone from the business world enters politics, they usually bring with them a track record of success that they can point to, but Trump’s record is pretty long on colossal failures. Sure, he’s richer than you or I may ever be, but that’s what happens when you mix a sizable family inheritance with laws of incorporation that shield business owners from personal liability.

So why, then, do business magazines like Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, and others continue to point to this man as a model of success while publishing pieces on their websites detailing lessons that marketing people can learn from him? Because people are searching “Donald Trump” on Google quite a bit these days, and greater web traffic means higher advertising revenue for them.

Frankly, it’s annoying to keep putting this man up on a pedestal, but it’s downright scary that some people might follow the advice being doled out on these websites. What’s even scarier is that his involvement in hospitality businesses over his career—casinos, hotels, and luxury resorts—means there’s a possibility that marketers and managers for hotels all over the world might read some of this stuff and take it seriously. With his egging on of violence at political rallies to his penchant for personal attacks against people who oppose him, Trump might be the world’s least hospitable man. What makes him happy ought to make you happy, and if it doesn’t? You’re a loser, or a pig, or a basket case. This is not who you want to learn anything from.

To be fair, Trump does do a lot of things right, marketing-wise. But these are things any marketer worth her salary didn’t already know: be authentic, because the audience can sniff out insincerity; keep the message simple (e.g. “Make America Great Again”) and make it the basis for everything else you do; know your audience, and give them what they want; stand out from your competitors. Trump neither invented nor perfected these techniques, but he knows how to wield them effectively. But then there are the more extreme and unique aspects of Trump’s campaign, and some are highlighting them as instructive. I’ve compiled a list of some of the most egregious “lessons” listed on some of the dozens of websites I read with articles around this topic. To avoid any Trump-style attacks on the writers specifically, I’m not going to source anything I quote here. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can find them all easily enough on your own.

1. Winning is Everything. The writer here goes on to explain, “Trump never sets out to be a participant, in anything. He’s going for the win in the election.” He says this despite it actually not being true, at all. Sure, the information I’ve linked here wasn’t written till after the Winning is Everything lesson was published, but this demonstrates the folly of going all in on something without thinking it through. When it comes to hotel marketing, what does it mean to have this all or nothing “Win at all costs” mentality? It could be as benign as filling all your beds each night, or as aggressive as trying to shut down the competition. Either way, when you make winning “everything,” that means everything else—including the happiness of your customers—isn’t as important. This doesn’t mean you should settle for a simple “participation trophy,” nor is there something inherently wrong with winning. But in hospitality, happy customers are your product. Focus on that, push that kind of message, act on it, and the wins will start to pile up.

2. Always Be Confident. Consider these two quotes about Trump’s confidence:

“Is Trump confident? Very. If you tell him this or that plan won’t work or that he himself will fail, he will laugh.”

“When Trump says he will build a wall—an amazing wall and the Mexicans are going to pay for it—he says it with such conviction that it seems plausible.”

Even in the clickbait world of internet articles, this is just really terrible advice. Like, the worst. Being confident and speaking with conviction doesn’t mean that you can bend reality to your will. Trump has been talking about his wall for almost a year now, and it only took John Oliver 20 minutes to explain why the whole idea is utter nonsense. Apply that kind of confidence to a marketing campaign for a hotel—We have built the most amazing hotel you’ve ever seen, and you will sleep the sleep of Keith Richards in an Ambien factory when you stay with us—and you’re going to leave a lot of people disappointed. If you want to project confidence, commit to the sorts of messages that you know you can deliver on. Four-star ambience at a three-star price? Totally do-able. Personalised attention to details in your guest rooms? That can happen. And when you start marketing these ideas to your customers, you’ll be amazed at how much confidence you’ll project not only in your marketing, but in the staff who work at the hotel. They’ll know the mission, and they’ll know their parts in it. And guests won’t be disappointed.

3. Forget Political Correctness. Trump, a wealthy white guy in a country run by wealthy white guys, has been able to fashion himself as an outsider in the political arena. Even more spectacularly, the man whose skin tone matches the gold plated bathroom fixtures on his yacht has been able to convince millions of middle- to low-income people he’s one of them. He does this by eschewing political correctness, that nasty habit people have of trying to treat people with respect by not insulting them in hateful ways. Trump doesn’t have time for it, and neither should you, according a guy who wrote a thing I read so you don’t have to. First, he quoted a CEO as saying that consumers “are sick of people equivocating”; brands would do well to adopt a stronger voice, one which essentially mirrors that of their core demographic. That in and of itself isn’t such bad advice, but the author who cites Donald Trump as the model to emulate clearly hasn’t thought things through. “PC is passe,” he says, but what does that look like in the world of hotel marketing? Will high end properties advertise to their high-income clients by mocking those who can’t afford to stay there? Or maybe a mid-range chain that caters to traveling businesspeople can craft an ad that shows some colleagues leaving a conference center, cheerfully stepping over a homeless person before settling in to the good night’s sleep in a clean hotel room that they worked so hard to earn. This is not a good idea in general, but it’s especially problematic in hospitality, for obvious reasons.

4. Fan the Flames of Hate. I’m not kidding that this is something recommended in an article about what marketers can learn from Trump. He riles up hatred in his fans by appealing to their implicit and explicit biases, creating a villainous “them” on whom people can focus their anger. These people echo that hate in their passion for his message. Meanwhile, those of us who know better still can’t help but hate the guy, and we write things on the internet (like this, say) that still keeps him at the forefront of a discussion. “In Trump’s competitive strategy is a lesson for harnessing hate,” concludes the same guy declared political correctness (read: treating people with respect) a waste of time. Can we all just agree this is very bad advice? How would one even harness hate for a marketing campaign?

If there’s any one lesson to be learned from this, it’s that it’s easy to bring out the worst in people. Trump has done it effectively, with both his supporters and detractors. And his ability to dominate the news cycles makes him seem much more of a force on the political scene than he actually is. I’m not saying he isn’t making an impact, but I will say with Trump-like confidence that his detractors far outnumber his supporters, within and outside of the United States. I’m saying this because I just figured out how to harness hate for a hotel marketing campaign. It’s an authentic, simple message that has demonstrated favorability in most of the world. It’s one simple slogan: Donald Trump never slept here.

About the Author

Dave Eagle is a writer and photographer, but necessarily not in that order. For the past few years, he’s been writing about POS for Kounta. He lives in Vermont, USA, but has prose in different area codes.

About Kounta

Kounta is a revolutionary cloud based point of sale app that does more than just a basic iPad POS. It’s a fully-functional mobile platform that rivals any legacy point of sale system. Kounta features built-in tools to track and restock your inventory, build relationships with customers, and manage all your locations and employees from low cost devices like tablets or smartphones. Advanced reporting and analytics help owners to make data-driven decisions that boost revenue. Designed with hospitality in mind, it integrates with scores of third party apps to extend its use even further with loyalty rewards programs, online/mobile ordering, accounting, kitchen management, and more. Here are a few of its many uses:

  • A Hospitality POS system that lets you build customer profiles, including sales history, making it easier than ever to offer personal and exceptional service.

  • A Retail Point of Sale that automates purchase ordering and stock management, ensuring you never run out of items or buy too much.

  • A Restaurant POS system that tracks menu items down to the individual ingredient and manages your dining room with a graphical layout of your tables.

  • A Cafe Point of Sale with wireless printing to food and drink stations, increasing accuracy and efficiency.

  • A Bakery Point of Sale that stores all your specialties as recipes.

  • A Bar POS that’s detailed enough to monitor liquor consumption down to the milliliter.

A Coffee Shop POS that knows the difference between a Small, Medium, and Large drink, while giving your customers the flexibility to customize their orders in anyway they choose

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