Marriot To Launch Airbnb-Like Online Rental Platform With Premium Listings

Logo of Marriott hotel is seen in Vienna, Austria (Photo: Reuters)

To fight against its growing online competition, Marriot has announced that it will be launching its own online rental app. The world's biggest hotel chain revealed that it will be launching the new platform to compete against apps such as Airbnb, which have so far greatly disrupted the global hotel industry.

Marriot recently confirmed that it will soon be rolling out its new online home rental service, which it calls Homes & Villas by Marriott International. Unlike its competition, Marriot's service will be focusing more on upscale properties such as swanky mansions, villas, and high-end condominiums.

According to the company's chief commercial officer, Stephanie Linnartz, the service will initially be offering up to 2,000 premium and luxury homes in over 100 cities worldwide. These homes will all sport luxury amenities such as high-end linens, furniture, free Wi-Fi, and professional cleaning services. The hotel chain further elaborated that the launch of the new app reflects its commitment to adapt to its consumer's evolving travel needs.

Marriot's new service will likely be directly competing with Airbnb's "Plus" service, which also offers high-end properties in locations such as Italy and Switzerland. However, Marriot still has a long way to go if it hopes to directly compete with the veteran online home rental service with its vast listings. Airbnb currently has around 6 million listings on its platform, which are located in more than 190 countries worldwide.

Marriot previously attempted to offer a similar service through its home-sharing program, which it launched in Europe. The company offered Marriot members loyalty points, which they could then use to rent out homes in places such as Rome, Portugal, London, and Lisbon. The firm's upcoming new app is likely based on that same system. 

In response to Marriot's recent announcement, Airbnb's CEO Brian Chesky mentioned in an interview that his company fully welcomes Marriot into the budding new industry. Chesky praised the company's bold move and exclaimed that it was an incredible testament to their brand.

With Marriot now getting into the online home rental game, Airbnb is apparently doing the opposite. The company recently bought a startup booking company called Hotel Tonight, which essentially enters Airbnb into the hotel industry. The firm also recently invested over US$200 million in the Indian hotel company OYO, which is aiming to become the world's largest hotel chain within the next decade.

Airbnb is currently valued at around US$31 billion. That number is likely going to jump up as the company prepares to go public later this year. The firm's various acquisitions and investments have helped it diversify its business, which should attract more investors to its upcoming IPO.

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