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The big picture: Airbnb has proven to be a disruptor in the traditional hotel market. Marriott is hoping to challenge that disruption by starting its own home sharing division that looks to merge the freedom of having your own kitchen with the services and safety of a hotel.
Marriott, the world's largest hotel chain, will be launching its own home sharing division according to reports from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. This new division will be called 'Homes & Villas' and compete directly with the likes of Airbnb.
Homes & Villas will offer about 2,000 luxury properties around the world ranging from one bedroom homes to an Irish castle with the latter costing upwards of $10,000 per night. Marriott seems to be targeting a more high-end audience as even the aforementioned one bedroom would start at $200 per night.
Unlike Airbnb, customers who use Homes & Villas will have to stay three nights at minimum. Also, instead of simply getting a key from a home owner, Marriott will partner with rental management companies to ensure quality, consistency, and most importantly, safety.
Airbnb is no stranger to privacy and security issues. In 2015, an Airbnb guest was locked into the apartment he was staying and subjected to sexual assault by the host. Just earlier this year, a family discovered a hidden camera in their Airbnb rented home. Marriott's partnership with rental companies should help ensure that these horror stories don't happen while adding hotel-level services like housekeeping and Wi-Fi.
A 2018 study conducted by Chiara Farronato and Andrey Fradkin for the National Bureau of Economic Research found that among the 10 U.S. cities with the largest Airbnb market share, hotel revenue dropped 1.5 percent and resulted in 1.3 percent fewer booked hotel rooms. This proves that Airbnb has a measurable influence on the hotel market and could factor into Marriott's entry into the home sharing business.
Last year, Marriott partnered Hostmaker, a London-based rental management company, to conduct a pilot in 340 properties across Europe that will also serve as a model for the United States. Marriott found that people tended to stay much longer than a typical hotel and the idea of a larger living quarters with kitchens and laundry facilities was appealing.
There hasn't been an official announcement from Marriott so specific launch dates aren't available. While the prices will likely be higher than Airbnb, Marriott's strategy of merging hotel niceties with the space and freedom of a home may be enough to sway many potential guests.