Hotelier giant Marriott International is aiming to take on Airbnb with a new home rental business that it hopes will offset pressure from the emerging short-term rental sector.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Marriott will launch its Homes & Villas business next week, offering up to 2,000 home rentals in 100 U.S., European and Latin American cities. The hotel firm will partner with various property management companies, and vet each property it lists to ensure it meets its high standards.
Guests who use the platform can earn and redeem loyalty points much as they do with other Marriott brands, which include Sheraton, W Hotels, and Ritz-Carlton.
“What started out as a pilot a year ago is now a global offering,” Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott’s global chief commercial officer, told the Journal.
That pilot project involved Marriott partnering with a home rental management company called Hostmaker, and saw it offer 340 properties for rent in Lisbon, London, Paris and Rome. Marriott said the average guest in that pilot stayed for almost three times as long as guests at its hotels did.
Airbnb of course needs no introduction, having emerged as one of the main threats to the hotel industry. The company didn’t seem too concerned about one of its rivals fighting back.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and we welcome them to the party and wish them bon voyage,” Airbnb spokesman Chris Lehane told The Los Angeles Times when asked about Marriott’s entrance into the home-sharing business.
Last month, Airbnb acquired HotelTonight, a company that collects bookings from hotels and offers them at a discounted price. Airbnb has also invested recently in Oyo Hotels & Homes, an Indian hotel-booking company, and it has partnered with RXR Realty, a New York City developer, to launch its first Airbnb-branded hotel. Airbnb officials say they’re readying for an initial public offering sometime this year.
The home sharing market has rapidly emerged as an alternative to staying at traditional hotels and resorts. Airbnb now counts more than 5 million rooms listed on its site worldwide, whereas Marriot has just 1.3 million guest rooms available.
Marriott isn’t alone in looking at muscling into Airbnb’s territory. Other hotel chains such as Hilton and Hyatt have also considered the same. Hyatt for instancehad owned a minority stake in a firm called onefinestay, which offers upscale rentals, before it was acquired by Accor.