Home-Sharing Market Battle Heats Up

This Just In

Marriott jumps into the fray as Airbnb seeks a slice of the business events action.

Marriott International has stepped into the home-sharing market with a six-month pilot programme, marketing carefully selected homes under its Tribute Portfolio Homes brand. The move comes as Airbnb, along with its Airbnb Plus brand, is entering the meetings and events industry ¬— with its Airbnb for Events — and is listing big-chain hotel rooms on its site.

Airbnb for Events is a free plug-in tool for event organisers to add to their sites. Organisers provide details about their event so Airbnb can then create a customised webpage that helps attendees find a place to stay nearby. It’s another opportunity for Airbnb to encroach on the hotel sector.

Marriott, meanwhile, has teamed with Hostmaker to promote 200-plus homes in London’s sharing market. Although the homes are already available to book through Hostmaker and other online services, including Airbnb, Marriott is promising to provide a superior experience to travellers who use its service. It is choosing homes based on design, functionality, location, and safety. And it’s including tie-ins with other aspects of the Marriott brand, such as its loyalty programme.

“As some of these platforms have grown into millions and millions of units, there is an almost paralyzing array of choices and a lack of branding,” Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call earlier this month, according to Skift. “The lack of real attributes of quality around service and product, makes this an area where we think we can bring our brands, we can bring our service and product focus, and deliver something which is simply a better product than much of what is out there.”

The Marriott-Hostmaker pilot is not entirely unique. Airbnb Plus selects, curated collections of verified homes. However, the Marriott programme includes Hostmaker’s on-the-ground teams who can implement quality-control measures and maintenance, whereas Airbnb Plus homes receive only a one-time inspection, supported by a guest-host review system.

With this new venture, Marriott is playing catch up to AccorHotels, which purchased home-sharing service onefinestay — offering “an unprecedented level of service” for stays in “the finest homes” according to its website — in 2016. Accor’s onefinestay has more than 2,500 homes in London, Paris, Rome, New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.

All this home-sharing activity adds up to the conclusions that travel and event accommodation are changing, the lines between traditional and alternative accommodation are blurring, and the big players in the hotel market don’t want to be left behind.

For more on the topic, check out this April PCMA article: Will ‘Air Venues’ Become the Next Big Thing?

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