Marriott has a solution for those who’d rather not stay in icky Airbnbs by offering them luxury homes instead.
The hotel group’s latest attempt at catching up with the biggest accommodations platform in the world is its Homes & Villas venture, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Marriott, which operates a portfolio of hotel chains like Sheraton, W Hotels and Ritz-Carlton, will list these high-end vacation home rentals starting at $200 a night, and going all the way to $1,000. The group currently operates 1.3 million rooms, making it the biggest hotel chain in the world. In comparison, Airbnb operates approximately five million rooms in 191 countries, so competition to scale up to its level will be fierce.
The Homes & Villas division is based on a pilot program that Marriott ran in Europe last year, with plans to officially launch in American cities come May. But just as the traditional hospitality conglomerate is looking to offer guests online-booked “homes,” Airbnb’s strategy is to go the opposite route by listing luxury boutique hotels.
For Airbnb, their strategy is to accommodate its existing millennial-based customer base with budget-friendly listings, as well as cast the net wider to attract higher-end clients. Earlier this year, the San Francisco-based company bought last minute hotel booking app HotelTonight. The acquisition will likely help Airbnb—which is expected to go public soon—to offer more “luxury” listings on top of its current boutique hotel offerings.
“Working with the incredible team at HotelTonight, we will offer guests an unparalleled last-minute travel experience that provides unique, memorable hospitality on every trip, on any schedule, at any time,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder and CEO, of the acquisition back in March. Marriott’s timing to enter the home share market is tricky, as Airbnb’s rental listing practices have ignited a nationwide crackdown on the platform’s use. Within the last year alone, cities like New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. have all passed strong laws that will hinder Airbnb hosts’ plans to rent out their private homes.
By launching Homes & Villas, Marriott can expect to pay lodging taxes the hotel industry has accused Airbnb of being able to avoid by allowing users to list their homes directly on the site.