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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Trump, name now awash in controversy, readies Scion as new brand

The Trump International Hotel, formerly the Old Post Office Pavilion, in Washington, on Sept. 16, 2016. (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)
By Hui-Yong Yu and James Nash Bloomberg

Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has promoted his namesake business, holding events at Trump-branded hotels and golf courses from Scotland to Florida. As the race approaches its conclusion amid a torrent of controversy, his company is launching a new brand that won’t carry his name.

Scion, a line of hotels that will target younger clients, was unveiled last month in a news release that quoted three different Trump Organization executives, but not the candidate.

Since entering the race last year, Trump has offended groups including Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled and veterans. A video from 2005 that showed him bragging about making lewd advances on women prompted almost a dozen to say he’d harassed them – claims that he strongly denies.

Those associations will make corporate clients less likely to book Trump-branded properties, said Bruce Himelstein, a former chief marketing officer for Loews and Ritz-Carlton hotels.

“He’s now a polarizing figure. When he was putting his hotels together, he wasn’t,” said Himelstein, now a consultant. “There’s definitely an impact.”

His campaign has already reeled. A candidate who as recently as three weeks ago was in a close race is now waging an uphill battle to close a gap that’s grown to 5.9 percentage points nationally, according to a RealClearPolitics poll average.

Enter Scion. The new brand is planned for use at city and resort locations, Trump Hotels said when Scion was announced Sept. 28. The new hotels are intended to appeal “to a new and different type of guest in more locations around the globe,” Trump Hotels said. The first Scion location is scheduled to open in 2017.

The Scion flag won’t replace the Trump brand, according to Trump Hotels.

“We chose this name as a nod to the Trump family and their tremendous business successes, including Trump Hotels,” Eric Danziger, chief executive officer of Trump Hotels, said in an email. “We want to acknowledge the association with Trump in a genuine way, while allowing the new lifestyle brand to stand on its own.”

Scattered evidence suggests travelers are choosing to check in elsewhere. It’s hard to measure the campaign’s impact on Trump Hotels. The Trump Organization doesn’t disclose occupancy rates.