BigNameBnb? In a classic case of “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ’em,” Marriott appears to have thrown down the gauntlet to Airbnb by launching its own homeshare program. And while the Marriott program is currently being offered on a pilot basis in England, it has the potential to be a boon to event owners in the future, particularly in cities where more lodging is needed.
According to an article in Conde Nast Traveler, Marriott has launched a six-month trial period with U.K.-based home rental company Hostmaker, adding some 200 homes across London to its offerings. The article notes, The article characterizes them as “beautiful homes (or at least they photograph well)” which have been handpicked by Marriott and Hostmaker for their "safety, design, security, and service," reports Skift. (You judge them for yourself at TributePortfolioHomes.com)
Conde Nast notes the new program appears to function similarly to Airbnb, including setting up rules for home use.
We’ve already witnessed the viability of such programs in the sports world, such as the way Airbnb was able to unlock hotel rooms in Rio during both the World Cup and the Olympics. In Naples, Florida, Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) properties received rave reviews from those who journeyed down for the Minto U.S. OPEN Pickleball Championships. Airbnb officially kicked the door down in 2015 as the title sponsor of the 2015 Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon. In fact, Airbnb went on to make a name for itself (in a good way) by offering free lodging in Boston to anyone affected by the bombings at the Boston Marathon.
With major hotel chains setting up homeshare platforms, it may be that event owners are able to better track lodging and economic impact as an increasing number of participants choose this form of lodging over a traditional hotel. In addition, it may be something participants find more palatable if offered as part of a stay-to-play arrangement.
But Marriott isn’t the first to cave to the new business model, according to the New York Times, which recently featured an article on the trend. The article, which includes a summary of various organizations offering homeshare space, notes:
Companies like VRBO and HomeAway have long worked with travelers looking for vacation homes ranging from ski condos in Vail, Colorado, to beach houses in Tulum, Mexico. But the biggest growth has been in cities. “Urban rentals have grown really because of Airbnb, and also online travel agencies like Booking.com getting into rentals,” said Douglas Quinby, the vice president of research for Phocuswright. “Travelers are increasingly cross-shopping against hotels, and often finding cheaper rates.”
Other aspects of the sharing economy have also made their way into the sports travel industry; the AACR Philadelphia Marathon lists Lyft as one of its major corporate partners and rideshare services as a whole are wildly popular around large sports events where parking is unavailable.
At the same time the sharing economy was making its presence known in the sports market, it was rolling out the welcome mat for specific demographics. Examples include the LGBT-friendly Mister B&B and Noirbnb, for travelers of color.
It’s a trend that can be counted on to grow. According to an article in Curbed.com, a recent study by Morgan Stanley underlined the long-term threat of the sharing economy: 25 percent of leisure travelers and 23 percent of business travelers were expected to have used Airbnb by the end of 2017, with 49 percent of Airbnb users reporting having used the service as a substitute for a standard hotel.