Although Marriott International launched its Homes & Villas homesharing program, the company insists it doesn’t have any intention of competing with Airbnb and similar companies.
“We knew that we couldn’t outsmart or out-manage professional property managers,” said Jennifer Hsieh, global leader for Homes & Villas by Marriott International, according to Skift. “We didn’t want to be in that business.”
Instead, Marriott will offer the small set of professionally managed luxury properties to high-earning members of its loyalty program, Bonvoy.
Marriott loyalty members earn and redeem Bonvoy points when they book and stay in more than 2,500 properties. In fact, Hsieh said Home & Villa’s ideal customer is a repeat business traveler who then uses their points for a high-end leisure trip.
Property managers who work with the company reported that the sign-up process to work with Marriott takes between two and four months after they’ve made contact with the company via it’s preferred channel manager software tool, Bookingpal. From there, the property management companies must pass a vetting process to ensure they can effectively protect guest data, as well as obtain cyber insurance. A company representative will also pay a visit to some properties before closing a deal.
One possible sticking point: Marriott demands first pick on all inventory and availability.
In addition, Jeff Hurst, chief commercial officer at Vrbo, pointed out that this type of service might have the opposite intended outcome. Instead of encouraging customers to become regular hotel guests, they might opt to go the rental route more often.
“For someone to use a ton of points to experience a vacation rental potentially for the first time in a way that feels safe is likely to get them hooked on the idea that [rentals] are the only way to go [for a luxury vacation],” Hurst said. “That’s good for our sector.”
“You’ll probably run out of points faster than you’ll run out of enthusiasm for the rental experience,” he added.