By: Nick Gambino
Airbnb is essentially the Uber of short-term home rentals. Up until a few years ago, hotels and motels were the only option when you were out of town and needed a place to stay. Airbnb changed that by offering a platform where users could list their homes for rent.
Unlike Uber which has a competitor in Lyft, nobody has really challenged the model set forth by Airbnb, at least nobody of note. Marriott International is looking to change that. It looks as though the global hotel chain is throwing its hat in the short-term home-rental ring.
They intend to launch their platform, called Homes & Villas, as early as next week in 100 markets across the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. They will start with some 2,000 rentals including an Irish castle from the 18th century, a four-bedroom cottage in California wine country and a luxurious six-bedroom townhouse in London. So, you know, rentals for the common folk.
“The launch of Homes & Villas by Marriott International reflects our ongoing commitment to innovation as consumer travels needs evolve,” Global Chief Commercial Officer, Stephanie Linnartz, said in the company’s announcement. “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.”
While I can’t imagine their platform is going to differ very much from Airbnb, one of the advantages Marriott has is its ability to integrate this platform into their current hotel loyalty program. Imagine being able to book an “Airbnb” and having that booking earn you Starwood points or other things you can use toward future hotel stays.
It also would make sense that Marriott would seek to make your stay as comfortable as possible and without incident, as this would reflect on the Marriott brand. We’ve all heard horror stories from those who’ve stepped into the 9 levels of hell when booking a stranger’s home through Airbnb. It’s unlikely this kind of situation wouldn’t be pounced on by the hotel chain and made up for far beyond what Airbnb has shown they’re willing to do.
We’ll have to wait and see if Airbnb is capable of being dethroned by the very king it has sought to overthrow.