Home-sharing websites, such as Airbnb and HomeAway, have been giving the holiday industry a run for its money of late, with many choosing to book through their easy to use online services rather than the more established holiday companies.
Marriott International have been piloting a home-sharing program which began in April. They ventured into the market on a six month trial, in collaboration with UK based home rental company Hostmaker.
Marriott already have 6,500 hotels and 110 million loyalty program members and are determined to grow even bigger by entering the home-sharing market.
Marriott have launched ‘Tribute Portfolio Homes’, which they describe as ‘Bringing exceptional hospitality to home-sharing’, providing peace of mind, easy travel and the comforts of home’. Members can earn points and elite nights with each stay. They also plan a ‘Pay with Points‘ scheme, which is to be launched soon.
Formulated with groups in mind, Marriott announced it’s partnership with London based home rental management company Hostmaker, which does still work with other services, including Airbnb and Home Away.
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said: “Increasingly, people are looking for places that groups can stay, think about a family group, or think about a college reunion, or a bridesmaid weekend.”
Airbnb remains popular amongst holiday makers and allows users to book short-term lodging in privately owned properties.
When discussing why Marriott have decided to venture into the home-sharing market, Sorenson said Airbnb’s initial model didn’t suit the market they wanted to cater for. “Airbnb’s first generation of home-sharing was really about an extra bedroom, or a sofa, in somebody’s house, that is not the kind of experience that we want to deliver. Marriott has something now that is curated, which has service attributes to it, which has got design function to it, has got key delivery, so you end up with something curated with services more like a hotel platform.”
Sorenson hinted that, so far, the trial was going well, “While only a test, we are integrating our home-share offerings into our loyalty programs. As some of these programs have grown into millions and millions of units, there is an almost paralysing array of choices and a lack of branding, and 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.”
Marriott is, for now, focusing its pilot program on London properties exclusively. They currently have around 200 properties listed on the Tribute Portfolio Homes website in and around central London and, on first glance, all appear to be high quality luxurious properties with prices ranging from £150 to £800 per night.
In comparison to other home rental sites, Marriott do seem to offer a few more luxury extras, like housekeeping and 24 hour concierge services.
So far, Marriott’s venture into the vacation home market looks promising and might actually give Airbnb a run for its money.