Marriott takes on Airbnb with new home sharing website
Marriott International, the largest hotel company in the world, is attempting to take on Airbnb with its own offering for the homeshare market.
Launching Tributeportfoliohomes.com on 23 April, Marriott has a selection of more than 200 specially selected homes in London to choose from.
The service is initially a six-month pilot scheme in partnership with Hostmaker, a London home rental management service.
Guests can expect added extras such as a guaranteed in-person check-in and 24/7 phone support should there be any issues.
They will also receive loyalty points for Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest schemes.
Unlike other hotel chains which have dipped their toes in the homestay market, Marriott isn’t creating a new brand or relying on the Hostmaker name to sell its product, but is instead using one of its existing brands – Tribute Portfolio, a collection of 28 independent hotels around the world.
Marriott says guests should get a similar experience in a homestay property as they’d get at a Tribute Portfolio Hotel.
“Hostmaker already does an incredible job of curating a great portfolio of homes, and we added other types of design, safety, and security criteria that meet our standards,” Marriott chief customer experience officer Adam Malamut said to Skift of how they selected the 200 homes for the pilot.
“Through curation among curation that already exists within Hostmaker, and our serious experience and amenities, and earn-and-redeem capabilities, all of that comes together in creating, maybe not an exclusive home, but an end-to-end exclusive brand experience for the customer.”
The average nightly rate for a one or two-bedroom home in the pilot is between £200 and £250; more upscale than budget.
The Marriott offering differs from Airbnb in several ways, the main one being quality control. Hostmaker offers on the ground maintenance and regular checks to ensure homes continue to meet its standards, whereas even Airbnb’s Plus model – a curated collection of verified homes – only has one initial check. After that, the system relies on consumer reviews.
Hostmaker is particularly exacting when it comes to design. “We will not take a home unless it meets the design criteria that we have,” said Nakul Sharma, founder and CEO of Hostmaker. “We help design the homes and we have relationships with the homeowners. We offer this up front to owners if they are looking for it, and we advise them on how their home would even more attractive if they were setting it up for a homestay.”
As Tributeportfoliohomes.com is in its beta phase, the website, although attractive, doesn’t quite have the functionality of bigger homestay brands yet. For example, there’s no way of filtering by price, and users have to click through to the property to view pictures (unlike Airbnb, where you can scroll thumbnails before opening the listing in full).
However, if the pilot is successful, Marriott will no doubt tweak and improve, plus consider expanding into other markets.