Marriott International Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) will be rolling out a new Airbnb-like rental service, called Homes & Villas by Marriott International. Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott’s chief commercial officer, said in a release announcing the project, “The launch of Homes & Villas by Marriott International reflects our ongoing commitment to innovation as consumer travel needs evolve.” The service is expected to launch as early as June, according to sources that requested to remain anonymous.
The new property rental service will reportedly focus on upscale properties in more than 100 cities, including about 40 cities where Marriott doesn’t currently have hotels. The prices will range from about $200 per night for a one-bedroom apartment to $10,000 to rent a full Scottish castle. Each of the “premium and luxury homes” will have premium amenities and will be managed by rental companies.
The company previously started a pilot home rental program in four European cities that will most likely serve as a model for the service launching in the U.S. As part of the program, Marriott members can earn loyalty points for renting from a selection of upscale homes and redeem them for future rentals of other homes. Marriott currently operates 7,000 properties, including W Hotels, the Ritz-Carlton and Courtyard brands, at locations in 130 countries.
Entry into the short-term property rental business is a bit of a departure from the company’s previous stance on the industry. In recent years, Marriott and other large hotel chains have worked aggressively behind the scenes in several major cities to slow the growth of home-sharing platforms like Airbnb. Their efforts have succeeded in getting local lawmakers in places like Washington D.C., New York City, and New Orleans to adopt more strict regulatory requirements for the platforms.
Despite the legislative actions and enforcement efforts against Airbnb, the home-sharing platform continues to expand. The company is currently working on a project to develop new, hotel-like properties exclusive to its proprietary platform in a partnership with New York City real estate developer RXR Realty. Airbnb has also purchased Hotel Tonight Inc., a platform that specializes in last-minute hotel rentals. The acquisitions are helping Airbnb diversify its business before it goes public, which is expected to happen next year.