The chief executive of the world’s largest hotel company sees plenty of reasons to get into the short-term rental market. But going directly head-to-head with Airbnb isn’t part of the plan.
Marriott entered the short-term rental sector last year with Homes & Villas, a homesharing brand offering only entire high-end homes for rent. The platform went from 2,000 listings in 2019 to around 12,000, as of October. Despite the rapid growth, Marriott leaders frequently mention on quarterly earnings calls that Homes & Villas remains a very small part of the company’s total revenue.
“It was clear to us the homesharing space included a business that was attractive to us and a business that was not attractive to us,” Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said Tuesday during a Morgan Stanley webinar.
Short-term rental platforms like Airbnb offer true homesharing options where guests simply rent out a spare bedroom in a home that is still occupied by the owner. That was not a business Marriott wanted to get into.
But the high-end, entire home rentals were an attractive business line. Marriott’s competitors already in that space have tended to succeed, Sorenson said. Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts’ Private Retreats offering performed well throughout the pandemic and has been a division of the company for roughly 20 years.
Sorenson saw upside in launching a Marriott-branded product, as it would be a way to cater to larger groups needing multiple bedrooms and who would be difficult to accommodate in a traditional hotel. But if Marriott was going to get into the space, it would be with a product that could live up to company standards.
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