June 19, 2019
By any measure, the cost to stay at Trump International Hotel around the 4th of July is extraordinary. The hotel, which almost never sells out, is unavailable to book for individual nights on the 3rd and 4th of July. On the 5th, the prices are double the average for the cheapest room available in comparable luxury hotels. The rate on the 5th is also more than double the average for comparable Fridays at the Trump Hotel. The only way to book a room for those dates as is by spending thousands of dollars on a minimum three night package, due to a “high level of activities in the city over this special holiday” according to an advertisement following the original publication of this post.
While the cost is extraordinary, it is not a complete mystery–President Trump plans to hijack and politicize the Washington D.C. 4th of July celebration this year, and his namesake hotel is just blocks away from the National Mall, where the festivities will take place. It’s likely that his supporters and political allies plan to descend on his hotel around the holiday, which would come as no surprise, given that no modern president has so blatantly profited from his political position before, or centered the 4th of July celebration so squarely around himself.
The Trump Hotel is known to be more expensive, and more vacant than other comparable DC hotels, but it has also been one of the only bright spots in Trump’s financial portfolio. In 2018, he made more than $40 million from his DC hotel alone, which is known to be a social center for the president’s supporters and popular destination for those looking to curry favor with the president.
This July 4th presents a unique opportunity for the President to both promote himself politically, and to increase his bottom line. He has not been restrained about using his platform to make the holiday about him, and tweeted on February 24th that he would be making an address at the Lincoln Memorial. The New York Times reported earlier this month that the Trump administration “ordered major changes in the traditional Fourth of July celebration that draws hundreds of thousands of people to the National Mall each year,” noting that Trump’s decision to personally take a “starring role” is one that “no other president has in modern times.”
Based on the unusually high price on the 5th, and the fact that the hotel is unavailable to book for the night before and the night of the event, it appears that he also stands to profit massively by driving tourism to the area around his DC hotel.
Individual nights at the Trump Hotel were already sold out for the 3rd and 4th of July by June 14th. On that date, the price for a one night stay on the 5th was going for $1,166, compared to the hotel’s typical nightly cost of around $477. That makes the nightly cost for the 5th nearly two and a half times as much as the hotel’s standard going rate. By June 18th, the cost of a one night stay on the night of the 5th had declined to $757 per night, compared to an average rate of $408.
The high price of a room cannot be explained by the day of the week. As of June 18th, stays on the surrounding Friday nights went for $357, on June 28th, and $370 on July 12th. That means on average a room on July 5th costs at least double what it would be on other comparable weekends.
As of June 18th, other DC luxury hotels near the White House had not experienced the same surge in price around the holiday. The Willard was not sold out on the 3rd or 4th and on the 5th, a room was $168, while their average rate was $252. The Ritz Carlton in Georgetown was not sold out on the 3rd or the 4th and on the 5th, a room was $369, significantly below their average rate of $526. The Hay Adams was sold out on the 4th, but the price on the 5th was only $469, $100 more than their average rate, but still far below the cost of a room at Trump Hotel that night. The Four Seasons was $615 on the 5th, but it was not sold out on the 3rd or 4th, and that was comparable with their typical rate ($585).
The cost to stay at the President’s hotel around the 4th of July cannot be explained by normal market logic. This surge may be the result of the president’s blatant self promotion on a federal holiday, as his supporters may be acting on what has become obvious over the past two years: the way to celebrate with the president is to patronize his properties. Now, apparently the President’s preferred way to celebrate America includes lining his own pockets as well.
Update: After the publishing of this post, the Trump International Hotel began advertising “Independence Day specials” which requires a minimum 3 night stay to book a room for July 3rd or 4th, due to “high level of activities in the city over this special holiday.”