On the campaign trail, President Trump's children rolled through dozens of small towns across the country, reveling in the adoration of the crowds. But they were less enamored of the budget-friendly hotels along the way, an assortment of run-of-the-mill offerings that were barely distinguishable from one another.
That led to a business idea.
On Monday, the Trump Organization announced plans for a new three-star hotel chain with a patriotic flair, echoing President Trump's campaign slogan about putting America first and reflecting the organization's promise to enter into new deals only in the United States. The intention is to differentiate the chain, called American Idea, by featuring artifacts of American culture in the hotels, such as an old Coca-Cola machine in the lobby or American-made sundries in the rooms.
And while the Trump Organization and its business partner say the down-market move is not about politics, the president's business is inherently viewed through that lens: The chain will make its debut in little-known towns in Mississippi, a state in the heart of Trump country that favored him over Hillary Clinton by a margin of 18 percentage points. The organization's business partner in Mississippi is a family-owned hotel company whose co-owner met Mr. Trump at a campaign event last summer and donated to his campaign.
This new chain is an unlikely venture for a company commonly associated with luxury accommodations in upscale locations, and it indicates that the Trumps see dollar signs in the vast support the campaign received from conservative areas well beyond major cities. The first hotels are expected to come online quickly because they will involve rebranding existing properties like Holiday Inns and Comfort Inns.
Eric Danziger, the chief executive of the Trump Organization's hotels division, said in an interview that the company had planned a hotel expansion for nearly two years, apart from the Trump campaign. During the campaign, the Trump children would report back about the thousands of supporters attending rallies and what they saw as a chance to build a line of hotels standing out from the cookie-cutter options in midsize and small cities.
"I said, 'That's brilliant,'" Mr. Danziger recalled. "The reality is we should have something in those kinds of locations."