18 January 2020
An illustration photo used for Marriott's new home rental service Homes & Villas, which is launching next week. Photo: Marriott
An illustration photo used for Marriott's new home rental service Homes & Villas, which is launching next week. Photo: Marriott

Marriott expands into home rentals, taking on Airbnb

Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel company, is launching a home-sharing service, challenging Airbnb and other firms that are operating in that space.

Confirming a Wall Street Journal report, Marriott said its new home-sharing service will be launched next week. According to a statement, “Homes & Villas” will offer 2,000 premium and luxury homes throughout the US, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America.

“The launch of Homes & Villas by Marriott International reflects our ongoing commitment to innovation as consumer travel needs evolve,” Marriott’s global chief commercial officer Stephanie Linnartz said in the statement.

“What started out as a pilot a year ago is now a global offering, providing our guests with the space and amenities of a home backed by a trusted travel company, and the very best in loyalty benefits.”

Unlike Airbnb, which offers listings on its platform, Marriott is launching the home-sharing service with select property management companies that are already managing the homes, which provide guests a professionally cleaned home with 24/7 support, high speed Wi-Fi, and other conveniences upon request.

Marriott would allow guests using the platform to earn and redeem loyalty points as they do with other brands Marriott owns, including Sheraton, W hotels and Ritz-Carlton.

As the world’s biggest hotel chain Marriott operates 7,000 properties, including W Hotels, the Ritz-Carlton and Courtyard brands, across 130 countries, with about 1.3 million guest rooms. It has already piloted its home-sharing service in Europe, where it offered 340 properties and homes to customers in Paris, Rome, Lisbon and London.

During a test of its home rental service, Marriott said the average guest stayed three times as long as those who stay in hotels.

Going forward, Marriott expects to introduce the service in additional markets as well as increase the number of homes offered in the launch destinations.

Airbnb has 6 million listings in more than 190 countries, spanning 81,000 cities, according to the company. In recent months, the global home-sharing giant has been actively expanding into other businesses, including travel arrangements for business trips, local tours and experiences offerings.

In addition, Airbnb has established a foothold in the traditional hotel business. Last month, it acquired the last-minute hotel-booking app HotelTonight. It also recently invested in Indian budget hotel network Oyo Hotels & Homes. This week, Airbnb is partnering with a major New York real estate developer, RXR Realty, to launch its first hotel, which can be booked on Airbnb’s platform.

Marriott’s push into home-rental service comes as Airbnb readies for an initial public offering.  Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky told CNBC on Monday that his firm will be prepared to go public this year, but he did not give any firm commitments.

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