Marriott International’s latest move has been a long time coming, at least as far as I’m concerned.
I called it. Marriott International’s entry into the home-sharing space? I called it, back in 2014. It was the Hotel Data Conference, and I participated on a panel of media members talking about the latest trends in the industry.
Airbnb was a huge topic, and I remember saying something like, “I haven’t stayed in an Airbnb and I’m not sure I would, because I’ve seen ‘The Craigslist Killer’ too many times on Lifetime” (I always remember my best one-liners).
Someone in the audience asked the panel whether Airbnb truly was a disruptor—2014 was probably when that gem of a word first started on its extreme overuse trajectory—and I predicted that hotel companies would watch the space, and then most likely enter it via branding partnerships, just like what we’re seeing with Homes & Villas by Marriott International. I remember saying something to the tune of, “We’ll see Marriott-branded vacation houses, that people can use their points to book.”
Now, clearly I’m not a visionary. If I had that thought back in 2014, then a million other smarter people did too. I bring it up because it’s interesting to look back and see that it took six years. Is six years a long time or a short time for that sort of thing to happen? I’m not sure. Going by typical hotel industry adoption timelines, it’s probably pretty quick.
For consumers, this move is genius. For Marriott, it’s probably genius. For certain Marriott owners, particularly those with products that could technically compete, maybe not so genius, but it seems like the program isn’t expanding at such a clip that it will impose too heavy of a burden on existing Marriott owners yet, at least.
HNN Senior Reporter Bryan Wroten covered this story earlier this month, and we had a great conversation in the newsroom about the differences between Marriott’s approach and other hotel companies that have explored the home-sharing space. The no-investment-but-rather-partnerships approach Marriott is taking can happen for them because they have relationships, scale and reputation.
It’s pretty much just like franchising, only with a few additional layers in the middle—and in this case, those layers seem like they’ll provide both Marriott and guests with a bit of added protection.
So I’m interested to see how this plays out, and how other companies dip into it—or stay out. Hilton’s Chris Nassetta essentially has said no for now. Accor has a piece of it of course with Onefinestay.
There’s certainly guest appetite for this type of product, but is that ever enough to move the needle? Companies of course also must consider investor pressure, worries about what it means to deviate from core business (after all, so many companies just got done spinning off timeshare businesses!) and franchisee pressure.
Regardless though, the train has left the station. We’ll see if it takes another six years to reach the next destination.
Oh, and registration for this year’s Hotel Data Conference is open, so if you want to hear me (and other much more important people) make more interesting predictions, register today!
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