At Foursquare, we understand foot traffic trails from more than 50 million monthly global users of our consumer apps (Foursquare and Swarm) and our websites, which people use to explore the world and check in. These location-based apps help us to see — always anonymously and in the aggregate — trends and other notable shifts.
To analyze foot traffic patterns to the dozens of Trump-branded hotels, casinos and golf courses in this study, Foursquare looked at explicit check-ins as well as implicit visits from Foursquare and Swarm app users who enable background location and visit these locations in the U.S.
Like pollsters and data scientists have been doing for decades, we normalize our data against U.S. census data, ensuring that our panel of millions accurately matches the U.S. population to remove any age or gender bias (though urban geographies are slightly over-represented in our panel). Foursquare's proprietary understanding of Place Shapes and our ability to detect when mobile phones enter or exit over 100 million businesses and places around the world is the foundation of Place Insights, our product for analysts and marketers.
In this analysis we looked at "market share," measuring how visits to Trump properties changed over time relative to competitive properties in the same area. We do this so we can best understand shifts within the hotel, casino, and golf course markets. For example: Trump Soho's visits are reviewed alongside visits to all hotels in the New York City DMA, so when there's a seasonal dip, we're not attributing it as a dip in absolute visits. We frequently look at market share in our Place Insights product for marketers, to understand how a company, such as a fast food chain or a hotel group, is winning or losing against its competitive set.
In our research, we also cross-checked our market share analysis against absolute visits, to ensure that the dip in foot traffic share was not due to a sudden increase in traffic to non-Trump venues for reasons unrelated to the Trump properties. In this view, again we see the same decrease in visits to Trump properties by about 10% overall this past year as compared to the previous year. So there's a clear indicator that visits to Trump properties are, indeed, down.
Whether the loss in visits is coming from sightseers versus paying hotel guests is unclear. Traffic does not always equate with revenue. We do not claim to know the relationship between reduced walk-in visitors and and reduced revenue to the properties, especially since these Trump properties do not publish their historical financials to establish correlations over time.
The next several months will be telling for so many reasons. Trump International Hotel opens in Washington, D.C. in September 2016, just before the presidential election follows in November, and the impact of Trump's campaign on its opening success is yet to be seen.
Commentary by the team at Foursquare, edited by Sarah Spagnolo, a travel expert and Foursquare's editor-at-large. For 10 years, she was an editor at Travel + Leisure, most recently as special correspondent & new media editor. She was also previously a VP at Lou Hammond & Associates. Follow her on Twitter @sarahspagnolo.
If you're interested in further analysis from Foursquare's Place Insights, visit http://enterprise.foursquare.com/insights.
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