|Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago // Photo by Paolo Rosa via flickr|
The recent decision by Pleasant Holidays and Apple Vacations to suspend sales of all Trump International Hotels due to statements made by Donald Trump about Mexican immigrants during his presidential candidacy announcement has touched off a lively discussion on our Facebook page.
Many agents criticized the decision, citing concerns regarding free speech. Jennifer Belanger Hand said, "I have no time for travel suppliers who think they are more important and significant than free speech. I will not book with either anymore."
At the same time, others pointed out that the companies were also free to make their own decisions regarding who they would and would not do business with.
"They aren't taking away Donald Trump's freedom of speech, but they are not supporting someone they don't agree with and thank goodness we are all free to do the same," said Amanda Ogle-Jordan.
Others worried about the impact the boycott would have on employees at Trump's hotels. Sharon Emerson said, "Why will you punish the hotel's employees? That is just stupid. Guess I won't use Pleasant or Apple any more. How does that feel?"
Some agents argued over whether or not politics should enter in to business decisions at all. Nicky Peterson said, "Apple and Pleasant need to stay out of politics. If my clients want a Trump-owned hotel, I as the agent do NOT have the right to refuse to sell it to them because I don't agree with their political stance…"
"Many of you are stating it is not a good idea to mix politics and business, although that is exactly what Trump recommends, practices and kind of, preaches?" said Lori Bean. "Yet you all stand against a travel company choosing to not carry a few hotels in order to support countries and people on which they do business with every day? I agree that this may hurt employees at these properties that have no control over what their boss chooses to say and stand for. That's a sad circumstance for sure."
The uproar stems from controversial comments Donald Trump made during his presidential candidacy announcement on June 16, when, as part of his remarks, he said, "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best ... They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists."
"Mr. Trump never made any derogatory or disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants ... He was talking about Mexico," Cohen said to CNN. "They're allowing people to pour through their borders and that's a problem for our national security."
Apple Vacations initially responded to Trump's comments by changing the venue of its 2015 Golden Apple Gala from the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago.
"As you know, Apple Vacations is the largest Mexico-bound tour operator with close ties to the government and the tourism industry of Mexico, and our annual event has a very strong focus on Mexico," Apple Vacations President Tim Mullen said a letter announcing the decision. "We have heard loud and clear from many prospective attendees about their opposition to attending the event at any Trump branded property."
Later, Pleasant Holidays and Apple Vacations announced that the companies would suspend sales of all Trump International Hotels, including Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk, Trump International Hotel Las Vegas and Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower Panama. All current bookings for these hotels will be honored, but no future bookings will be taken until further notice.
Pleasant is asking travel agents who want more information to visit www.pleasantagent.com or call 1-800-448-3333.