Marriott is pushing more heavily into home-sharing, confident that its combination of luxury properties and loyalty points can lure travelers away from rivals like Airbnb.
The world's biggest hotel company will soon start taking reservations through its website for 2,000 homes in 100 markets in the United States, Europe and Latin America. It plans to expand its Homes and Villas program to other locations.
For its part, Airbnb is encroaching further into hotels. On Monday, the San Francisco-based company said it's working with a New York real estate developer to establish a hotel with 200 suites in Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. Airbnb, which plans to go public but hasn't made clear when, also acquired Hotel Tonight, a last-minute booking service, in March.
Marriott is targeting families and groups, and the homes skew toward luxury, with prices ranging from $200 per night for a one-bedroom apartment to $10,000 for a full Scottish castle. Nearly 40 of the markets are in places where Marriott doesn't currently have hotels, like Bar Harbor, Maine, and Bordeaux, France.
Marriott is a long way from matching home-sharing behemoths like Airbnb, which boasts 6 million listings worldwide, or Booking.com, which has listings in 220 countries. The homes in its program aren't even exclusive Marriott properties. Marriott is partnering with rental management companies to handle the maintenance and cleaning.
But Marriott believes it has advantages. Unlike its home-sharing rivals, it has a loyalty program that lets travelers earn and use points on its hotels and homes. Business travelers can accumulate points at Courtyard hotels, for example, and use them for a week at a beach house. Airbnb is working on a loyalty program of its own, but the rollout has been delayed.
Marriott says it also guarantees hotel-like standards that are often missing in home-sharing, such as Wi-Fi, crisp white sheets, bath amenities, baby cribs and smoke alarms. Airbnb has tried to tackle that problem with user reviews and its Plus program, which highlights rentals that meet higher quality standards. But the sheer volume of properties makes it difficult to police them all.
Hotels have struggled to determine the right path into the home-sharing market. Hyatt invested in Oasis, a luxury home-sharing site, in 2017, but said the company was struggling to grow because of regulatory hurdles. The companies parted ways last year.
AccorHotels bought home-sharing site Onefinestay in 2016 but has struggled to make money on it. Choice Hotels, like Marriott, partnered with property management company RedAwning and gets a cut of every property booked.