There was quite a bit of anticipation during the second day of the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) in Los Angeles earlier this week. Many of the nearly 2,500 delegates on hand filed through the metal detectors at the famed Nokia Theater to hear a half-hour keynote address by Donald Trump. But if you were expecting fireworks—especially the political kind—from the normally brash-talking real estate and development mogul and star of the TV show “The Apprentice,” you were probably a bit disappointed.
Once considering a run for the White House, the often outspoken critic of President Obama’s Administration, as well as other members of government, dashed those discussion subjects nearly immediately after taking the stage. “It’ll be nice to speak about hotels rather than politics,” he proclaimed at the beginning of his speech. “Those political speeches were fun, but I love this business.”
Oh, he made no bones about the fact that he isn’t a fan of the government right now, and took a shot at the President’s Health Care initiative. “Obamacare will be disastrous for the hotel industry,” he said on stage. When I followed up on that point during a brief presser, asking Trump to expand, he simply pointed out that smaller hotels won’t be able to afford the costs of providing the health plans to their employees.
For the most part, Trump gave the delegates at ALIS—and this shouldn’t come to a surprise to anyone who has followed his press coverage over the years—a taste of what it’s like to be Donald Trump.
He also—in the brash and straightforward way that we’ve come to expect from Trump—let the banks have it. “Banks have let the hotel industry down, in case you haven’t noticed,” he chided. “They’re not there when you want to do a hotel project. They’re just not there for you. Even developers with good records can’t get lending.
“Banks only lend money to people who don’t need it, which is true more now than ever,” he continued. “The banks took the government’s money. They got bailed out. You’re nothing compared to what they’ve done to residential people. People have houses coming due, where they’ve paid their mortgage like religion for 20 years, then the bank demands it be paid off otherwise they’re going to foreclose. The banks have not been good.”
He said that it is true that if you are in need of lending for a great project that will put a lot of people to work, the banks won’t give the lending. “The only way they are going to give you money is if you have in the bank many, many times what it costs,” he said.
Later at the presser, Trump said, “Unless the banks start loaning money to developers who have good projects, you won’t see much happening.”
Trump also discussed the growth of Trump Hotel Collection, which will open its second international property next week in Toronto. He said the company has around 10 deals being negotiated in foreign countries at the moment, but declined to specify those locations saying “I like to talk about deals after they are done.”
I also asked Trump how he would be able to maintain the “Trump experience” at those international hotels as the company grows. “We are setting a very high standard and we have partners who are very wealthy people and they are very strong within their community,” he told me. “And we have great management and we’re able to watch it very carefully.”
Did you attend Trump’s speech at ALIS? If so, what are your thoughts?