Last week saw Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson write an open letter to his fellow hotelier and president-elect Donald Trump in which he proffered some five star words of wisdom. The letter, published on atavistic networking platform LinkedIn, urged Mr Trump to create a mandate that was inclusive and representative of all Americans.
Not being one to hide his light under a bushel, Sorenson went on to deliver some leadership advice to the future president and author of The Art of the Deal, it’s unknown what Mr Trump thought of this advice and indeed, if he had read the letter at all, as there was no mention of it on his Twitter feed @realDonaldTrump.
Meanwhile those nosey parkers over at The Washington Post were asking all manner of difficult questions pertaining to the Trump Organisation and the mind-boggling conflict of interest that this will create for an organisation that has some pretty high profile hotels and resorts in its portfolio.
Historically presidents emptied their pockets before entering the White House and interests were either sold or held in blind trust, although not legally obliged it was more of a case of them having their hands full. Those nuclear missiles won’t launch themselves you know. The Donald has signed everything over to his offspring The Eric and The Ivanka, while he gets on with the job of fixing the country.
The problem here lies in the fact that Trump is not your average CEO, he IS the brand. Arne Sorenson doesn’t have his own network TV show, snappy catchphrase and a centrefold wife; nobody calls him The Arne, apart from maybe Arne himself in the shaving mirror every morning.
While it’s nice to think that Americans will go to sleep each night with a chocolate on their pillowcase and wake up to an origamied napkin, the reality of this conflict of interest really does extend to the actual real estate of this hotel group. Trump Tower is, in essence, a direct conduit to the president himself. Terrorists, foreign or domestic, will view the brand as a soft target. You want to hit the president then walk into one of his hotels or casinos with whatever gripe you’re harbouring.
The level of security required to protect his assets would be similar to that required by US Embassies abroad. This runs to billions. Trump has billions, but it’s unlikely he’ll want to spend more money protecting a venue than the venue can possibly match in revenue. It could also be that the presidential seal will add even more glitter to the Trump gold. You’ll literally be sleeping in the presidential suite, there’s a lot of mileage in that. How does that song go; you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave? Welcome to Hotel America.