If you can't beat them, join them. Marriott, the world's largest hotel operator with over 1.3 million rooms worldwide is starting a new home-rental business with the intent of going head to head with Airbnb.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the hotel company could unveil details for the plan's first phase as early as next month. The plan would make Marriott the first major hotel company to offer a home-rental platform in the United States. Marriott has been piloting the concept in Europe, which is expected to serve as its model domestically.
Earn And Redeem Marriott Bonvoy Points
Perhaps the most interesting piece of this news is Marriott's intent to allow home-rental guests to earn and redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for stays. While Airbnb is currently the world's largest home-rental platform with nearly 5 million properties globally, there is no denying their lack of a loyalty program hinders them from capturing market share from road warriors and heavy business travelers.
While I think Airbnb will eventually add a loyalty program of their own, Marriott is in a great position to compete based on their current footprint, their brand recognition, and the fact that their loyalty program is already operating.
There is no doubt that Airbnb is making a serious dent in the large U.S. hotel companies business. Leisure travelers not concerned about loyalty can save some serious cash by using the platform, and Marriott is taking notice.
But Marriott will face a home rental challenge that Airbnb doesn't have to deal with. As is the case with all of the large hotel chains, they work primarily on management or franchise basis agreements.
This means they license their brands like Westin or Sheraton to hotel owners. By offering apartment style home rentals, they will most certainly risk alienating their hotel partners by creating new competition. Only time will tell how this shakes out.
Finally, Marriott’s home rentals will not be home sharing as we know it. But rather, they will be offering rentals managed by third-party rental companies and not individuals which makes up a large part of Airbnb's properties.
Marriott plans to roll out plans for phase one of their new home rental business as early as next month and we will provide more updates as they become available.
At the end of the day, more competition should bode well for consumers by driving prices down, whether that's for a hotel or full home rental.