By Robert McGarvey
Twice in recent weeks I’ve been asked a question unlike any other I have heard from business travelers in the decades I’ve been involved in the field: Can my boss make me stay at a Trump hotel?
In both cases the company had scheduled a mid-sized meeting in a Trump property and, as is the norm, attendees were booked into the hotel too.
Room bookings of course figure into the price a meeting organizer pays for the meeting space. When attendees go off property it can impact the cost of the meeting room.
Industry data show that some 34% of booking for events in the US are “outside the block,” to use the industry jargon.
The usual reasons for booking outside the block are finding a lower rate elsewhere – which may result in a booking in the same hotel, incidentally – and also, as has happened to me many times in Las Vegas, the host hotel block has sold out. That latter reason is why I have attended many events at the Aria, but always stayed across the way at Vdara, not counted in any block.
But now we have the Trump factor and for various reasons – no need to itemize them – some people tell me they just aren’t comfortable staying in a Trump hotel.
How widespread is this? Hard to say. The Telegraph has reported – citing data released by Democrats – that the Trump Washington DC hotel is awash in red ink.
A Toronto Trump hotel apparently also is in a financial mess.
In Azerbaijan, a Trump hotel project apparently has sputtered out, according to New Yorker reporting.
But what about the other US Trump hotels?
In the LA Times, reporter Hugo Martin – who noted it was unknown what impacts the Trump presidency had had on occupancy – said in a February story that third party booking sites are under increasing attacks by Trump critics who want the hotels with his name purged from the databases.
To my knowledge, no site has done so.
But – frankly – we just don’t know how the hotels in the US are doing and we aren’t likely to find out. Trump’s company of course is private and it generally doesn’t own the hotels anyway, it manages them for a fee. So it would not typically divulge how an individual hotel is faring.
But back to the question at hand.
There are Trump supporters of course and also those who want to soak up a little of the Trump glitter and, for them, a stay in a Trump branded property is a quick path to showing support and experiencing Trumpness.
Can your boss make you stay there?
I am not a lawyer, nor am I an HR expert, but what I am told is that – yes – a boss can insist that you stay at a Trump hotel.
Just as companies have insisted for some time that their employees stay at hotel chain XYZ (usually due to negotiated corporate rates).
You still don’t want to?
My advice is quietly and calmly ask your boss. Find a nearby hotel – preferably at a lower rate – and make your case.
Even if he/she says okay, you will still have to attend the meeting. Just sayin’.
You still don’t want to go?
There is no literature on the impacts of refusing Trump related travel. But, for most employees in most states, refusing business travel requests is an offense that can lead to firing with little opportunity for the employee to successfully challenge.
By all means if you don’t want to go, consult an employment lawyer. At least ask HR in your company.
But don’t expect cheery news.
Just by the way, the Washington Plaza Hotel – a personal favorite when in DC – is 1.1 miles from the Trump hotel in the District. I know where I would stay if attending a meeting in DC at Trump’s hotel. Even if I paid for the modestly priced Washington Plaza out of pocket.
I would do likewise if I were sent to Washington DC on a business trip and booked by my client into the Trump.