Home Business Marriott constructed its ‘Airbnb’ earlier than coronavirus crash. Did it assist?

Marriott constructed its ‘Airbnb’ earlier than coronavirus crash. Did it assist?


Marriott Resorts launched its Houses & Villas different lodging service a number of years in the past. It has grown to 10,000 listings and has grow to be fashionable with Marriott Bonvoy rewards members, however stays solely a minor vibrant spot within the Covid-19 crash.

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Marriott International started its push again in opposition to the success of Airbnb in Spring 2019 with Marriott Houses & Villas, a luxurious property lodging service that provided clients a personal residence different to lodge rooms. Bookings are up, by loads, throughout Covid-19, as extra vacationers flock to particular person properties. That is made the Airbnb rival a uncommon vibrant spot in enterprise outcomes for the lodge big, which like its friends, has seen a large falloff in conventional room bookings as enterprise journey, journey to city facilities, and worldwide trip journey dwindled through the pandemic. 

From Could to August, Marriott noticed document performances in high reserving days, as much as 2x historic highs, in line with information the corporate offered to CNBC. This summer time has been highest in gross income since launch, with bookings up by 700% over final summer time, and income growing by greater than 800%. For the reason that launch, the variety of properties on the platform has grown 5x from about 2,000 to greater than 10,000 in 250 markets. 

“We knew it was an providing that our clients needed however we did not have,” Stephanie Linnartz, group president of Marriott’s client operations, expertise and rising companies, had stated in an interview with CNBC shortly earlier than the Covid outbreak.

The house sharing program began as a pilot in 2017 after Marriott realized that near 30% of its members had stayed in residence leases up to now 12 months. The pilot began with only a few properties in Europe.

Combating Airbnb will not transfer the lodge needle

However for Wall Avenue analysts — and even for Marriott administration — Houses & Villas is a small silver lining in relation to the large decline in enterprise for the normal accommodations concentrated in city areas and abroad journey locations. Pre-Covid, it may simply seem to be Airbnb was the existential risk to the lodging sector. Now, getting the core accomodations again on monitor, and getting the normal portfolio of properties aligned with a modified world, is the problem that calls for their full consideration.

“It is tiny. It does not transfer the needle for these corporations,” stated Patrick Scholes, managing director of lodging and experiential leisure fairness analysis at Truist Securities. “They should make important additional investments to maneuver the needle.”

“It is an afterthought,” stated Dan Wasiolek, senior fairness analyst at Morningstar masking the journey business. “We’re speaking about 10,000 properties versus 7 million listings on Airbnb. And Booking Holdings has an analogous quantity. … Even earlier than the pandemic Marriott was simply dipping its toes and doing it from an natural foundation, utilizing its boutique Tribute model to facilitate high-end properties and experiences,” he stated.

Marriott administration has not stated something on the contrary, telling Wall Avenue up to now that Houses & Villas stays insignificant so far as its earnings outlook, and so small in relation to the remainder of the enterprise that analysts shouldn’t “get too hung up on it,” Scholes recalled of earnings name commentary. 

Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson informed analysts on the corporate’s current August earnings calls that the Houses & Villas enterprise has benefitted from three developments: leisure, drive-to and “complete residence” preferences.

“In case you can provide me a trip residence on the seaside or in New England or someplace I can drive to, then I do know that I can management my setting, I can management my transportation and it fits my function as a result of it is a leisure journey anyway. And so typically that has been a constructive factor, though to state the plain, it’s a very small a part of our enterprise,” the Marriott CEO stated.

“They’ve greater fish to fry proper now than rising out Houses & Villas,” the Truist analyst stated. “Marriott and others had important layoffs and the workers left are as much as their eyeballs with present work and never new initiatives. So they might need to hit the pause button on new concepts.”

The corporate has needed to furlough 1000’s of workers through the pandemic and likewise is within the midst of company layoffs.

After the March 2020 decline on account of Covid-19 issues, trip leases rebounded heading into the normal peak summer time journey season, and by mid-summer the holiday rental occupancy elevated and approached 2019 ranges. Whereas trip rental occupancy rebounded to 62%, accommodations trailed with occupancy of 37.6%, in line with lodging advisor Amadeus Hospitality information.

There have been simultaneous March 2020 declines on account of Covid-19 impacting trip leases and accommodations, however trip leases rebounded heading into the normal peak summer time journey season.


The guess on an “Airbnb-like’ mannequin could but repay for the lodge big, however proper now, Marriott administration has its palms full simply making an attempt to determine tips on how to come out financially safe on the opposite facet of Covid.

“Liquidity-wise, till there’s visibility on transferring previous Covid, the main target must be on the stability sheet,” Wasiolek stated. “And visibility does not enhance till there’s herd immunity or a vaccine.”

Resorts had been wholesome earlier than the pandemic, however AirBnB’s speedy progress from 2013 to 2017 did “cannibalize” some lodge business progress, stated Kevin Kopelman, senior analyst at Cowen, in an interview from earlier than the coronavirus decimated accommodations. As AirBnB’s progress moderated, that cannibalization had slowed, however some cannibalization continued within the interval main as much as Covid.

Houses & Villas was not the one newer providing Marriott pursued because the journey panorama shifted, some much less well-positioned within the present second.

Marriott invested in PlacePass, a Boston-based platform that lists excursions and actions, in 2017. Marriott additionally stated final August that it was entering into the all-inclusive resort area. As well as, the corporate unveiled the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Assortment, which affords cruises on one in every of three 190-meter luxurious yachts. Some newer efforts got here on account of the merger with Starwood, which had the Moments platform providing entry to occasions like live shows and cooking courses.

Amid the pandemic, it is no shock that the Moments platform just isn’t a spotlight, and the cruises aren’t but prepared to begin reserving passengers.

There’s a want to journey ingrained in human nature and other people will wish to journey, and as soon as they’ll from a security and cash perspective, they are going to return.

Dan Wasiolek

Morningstar analyst

Marriott additionally invested in start-ups and incubators lately. Two years in the past, it partnered with Accenture and 1776 to incubate journey and hospitality start-ups in hopes of quick monitoring innovation. Concepts ranged from loyalty packages to higher reserving processes to methods to maximise native actions throughout a lodge keep, although that program is now closed. 

Some investments in expertise must be made to outlive in a tech-centric period, when situations do return to regular. A current examine from Google Journey and McKinsey discovered that buyers in search of a lodge now peruse 45 digital touchpoints when researching a lodge, up from 39 touchpoints in 2017. That analysis takes place in 60 periods over 36 days on common. The analysis additionally discovered that 70% of vacationers do not have a model in thoughts when beginning a Google seek for a lodge.

The journey business wants to supply extra of an expertise, not simply searching for three nights in a lodge and the longer term will nonetheless be about personalization and expertise, stated John Hach, senior business analyst with consulting agency Amadeus Hospitality. Corporations are utilizing looking information and different info to ship personalised suggestions and higher perceive each the context of the search and the buyer.

“Begin-ups have loads of momentum, pace and agility but additionally totally different challenges. We’re discovering methods for a much bigger firm and startup to work collectively to drive superb buyer expertise…that is a key purpose why we do what we do,” Linnartz stated within the interview earlier this 12 months. 

Not all accommodations wish to be Airbnb

Some Marriott rivals turned away from making an effort to problem Airbnb straight years in the past. In 2016, Hyatt divested a stake it had taken in One Positive Keep, which was acquired by French lodging firm Accor

Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta, who for years has dismissed any existential risk posed by Airbnb, stated on the time of Marriott’s Houses & Villas launch in 2019 that it remained uninterested within the concept. “We have spent loads of time speaking to our clients, and what our clients, in the meanwhile, inform us is that they do not want [homesharing] from us,” Nassetta stated through the 2019 Hilton Q1 earnings name. “They’ve locations they’ll get this, and in a way, they do not need it from us. … I am an enormous believer in focus. We’ll preserve doing what we’re doing.”

Hospitality business advisor John Hach is much less pessimistic than the Hilton CEO, and the fairness analysts. 

“Inside current years and all through coping with Covid-19, hoteliers are offering trip rental entry on their model web sites. This rising observe permits main lodge manufacturers to actively compete with trip rental websites and have interaction their massive loyalty membership base with the choice of choosing prolonged keep stock,” he stated.

In fact, Covid has modified the equation, however Wasiolek stated it doesn’t imply that the strategic pondering from lodge administration has modified. “It is a complete totally different sort of providing,” he stated, and it features a danger of the visitor having a nasty expertise that’s more durable for a lodge model to regulate.

Not like AirBnB or VRBO, which is owned by Expedia, the properties in Marriott’s Houses & Villas program are all professionally managed by housing administration corporations. Marriott CEO Sorenson confused this as a bonus within the current earnings dialogue, telling analysts, “What persons are drawn to by way of residence sharing notably in a Covid-19 setting is, ‘do you’ve gotten a spot the place I can take all people and the place we may be on our personal? … I do not really need an house that any person lives in recurrently. I do not need the previous fashion residence sharing as a result of I am unable to make sure in regards to the cleanliness or consolation of that.”

“There’s a want to journey ingrained in human nature and other people will wish to journey, and as soon as they’ll from a security and cash perspective, they are going to return,” Wasiolek stated. For Marriott, or any main lodge model, to make an enormous shift now, “can be shortsighted,” he added.

Company journey turns into work-from-home journey

The brand new Houses & Villas enterprise has 40% of properties in places the place Marriott doesn’t have a presence, but additionally has its personal Covid-related points. At the same time as listings develop, it’s Caribbean and worldwide in portfolio combine, and the current journey development has been staying near residence. “Many individuals are involved about hopping on airplanes,” Scholes stated, including that within the short-term, the seasonality of the lodging sector now turns to being way more depending on enterprise journey.

And there are core points that Marriott might want to first handle. As company journey goes via what could also be long-term structural adjustments, its weak point in “drive-to demand” properties — a winner as vacationers keep nearer to residence and work-from-home doubtlessly turns into a type of home work tourism — places it at a aggressive drawback versus some friends. A bit of over half of its portfolio suits that evolving dynamic, in line with analysts, versus a Wyndham, for instance, which is as excessive as 90% concentrated in drive-to properties.

“One factor that can completely change is the propensity for working from residence. I haven’t got to go from residence to metropolis or workplace. I can spend two months in Vermont and you will not discover too many Marriotts there,” stated Scholes. 

Within the near-term, and for doubtlessly longer, lodge manufacturers concentrated in city areas are in a tricky spot.

“Company journey recovered from previous demand shocks, however possibly this time is totally different,” Wasiolek stated. “Video conferring has superior sufficient. And that is one thing that can impression higher-end gamers greater than the decrease finish. That is extra of a structural query: how do you alter now to get the next leisure combine In city accommodations?”

I do not suppose accommodations should make extra investments in non-traditional properties, however they are going to take into consideration evolving to cater to, technically not enterprise journey, however business-related journey the place staff wish to work remotely.

Patrick Scholes

Truist analyst

Even inside conventional lodging, there are winners on the present panorama that replicate this rising development, resembling prolonged keep properties, that are considerably outperforming the market, however are much less of a “major model” for Marriott.  

Choice Hotels has a powerful presence in prolonged keep. That is a market the place even earlier than the pandemic it was underserved. There was demand, and provide approach under demand, and it’s one thing doing properly within the present setting,” Wasiolek stated.

Increased-ended accommodations are having extra bother with occupancy ranges. The income per room (revpar) measure via the top of August was down 44.5% for the lodging business and, on the very excessive finish, down 67.3%. “There is a massive divergence,” Wasiolek stated.

For a corporation with as lengthy a historical past as Marriott, wholesale adjustments to the portfolio of properties would require many years to finish, and even acquisitions won’t be sufficient to advantage the associated fee. “I do not suppose accommodations should make extra investments in non-traditional properties, however they are going to take into consideration evolving to cater to, technically not enterprise journey, however business-related journey the place staff wish to work remotely. They might purchase prolonged keep lodge manufacturers and transfer the needle a little bit, however I do not suppose it’s within the playing cards for them. It is type of like, you made your bets,” Scholes stated.

Constructing new loyalty with visitors

Marriott has to make use of benefits it already has, in line with analyst, resembling loyalty promotions.

“They’ve the most important loyalty program within the business, 140 million-plus, and plenty of information,” Wasiolek stated.

Whereas that information has posed a headache for Marriott lately when it turned the target of customer hacks, the Morningstar analyst says it will likely be a bonus in charting a course within the new journey panorama. “In a everlasting hybrid work setting, individuals will take extra weekend journeys, work from a vacation spot. They simply have to shift tips on how to use advertising and marketing {dollars} and loyalty information,” he stated.

In accordance with Marriott, greater than 90% of Houses & Villas bookings come from Marriott Bonvoy members. “This tells us our most loyal clients have a necessity for the sort of journey expertise and till launch had been staying at properties from competitor platforms,” Marriott spokesman John Wolf stated.

Bonvoy combines the Marriott Rewards Program, Starwood Most well-liked Visitor Program and Ritz-Carlton Rewards Program after Marriott’s acquisitions. 

Marriott and different main lodge teams resembling Hyatt and Hilton had been all stepping up their recreation with loyalty packages pre-Covid, ensuring they’ve aggressive advantages and recognizing their most loyal clients.

“The common particular person could keep only a few occasions a 12 months, however frequency drives engagement, and engagement drives loyalty,” stated Linnartz.

However the way in which these lodge chains go about constructing loyalty may have to alter from a previous concentrate on drawing heavy enterprise vacationers into their system, and turning them into loyal clients driving larger income per property, which is a crucial metric for lodge buyers when deciding whether or not to open a brand new lodge inside one of many main lodge chains.

“What any enterprise needs to do is to ensure they’re catering to their finest clients,” Kopelman stated. Having a profitable loyalty program makes a lodge chain very enticing to potential house owners and is among the explanation why main lodge chains have been taking market share from independents in the previous couple of years, he stated.

“Bonvoy members, in a typical 12 months, in contrast to this one, occupied 55% of rooms and spend greater than non-members and keep extra,” Marriott spokesman Wolf stated. “Something that advantages them or will get extra members into the member pool advantages us. They spend extra and so they value much less.”

The way forward for trip leases

Over the summer time, a rising tide lifted boats within the trip leases market, at the least domestically. One of many first indicators of that was when Airbnb stated in the midst of Could that U.S. home listings returned to constructive progress, at a time when lodge bookings had been cratering. However that statistic was home, and Airbnb income took an enormous tumble within the second quarter and noticed its personal market valuation — which had surpassed that of the most important lodge manufacturers — get diminished by roughly half, and it too had important layoffs.

Reserving Holdings will get roughly 20% of its income from different lodging; for Expedia, it’s about half of that at 11%. For TripAdvisor, it is “negligible,” Wasiolek stated.

By mid-summer 2020, the holiday rental occupancy elevated and approached 2019 ranges, at 62%, however accommodations trailed with occupancy of 37.6%.


Wasiolek stated trip leases and low-priced accommodations are essentially the most insulated components of the market proper now, and there’s going to be an incremental portion of staff taking longer weekends or every week “right here and there,” in a brand new vacation spot, and that might profit conventional accommodations and different lodging corporations.

Whereas it will likely be robust for lodge corporations to alter their mixture of leisure and company, staff caught at residence in search of weekend journeys could assist. “Tenting is harder when it is colder,” Wasiolek stated. So whilst occupancy may go down as a result of transition from trip to enterprise journey season, the brand new paradigm may assist hoteliers a little bit with “individuals in search of one thing to do,” the Morningstar analyst stated.

About two-thirds of Marriott Houses & Villas summer time bookings had been for stays inside 60 days, in line with firm information, and almost 50% had been for stays inside lower than 30 days, and it noticed nearly all of visitors reserving journeys for one week or much less and selecting properties with two to 4 bedrooms in drive-to locations.

Houses & Villas reservations for this Fall and Winter are exhibiting an expanded reserving window, with 75%-plus of the stays via the top of the 12 months being booked greater than 30 days out (27% of these had been booked 90+ days out). “We consider this reveals rising confidence amongst vacationers over the previous month and persevering with into future months,” stated Marriott’s Wolf.

“If individuals had been going to do journeys to accommodations they are going to nonetheless do accommodations, and individuals who like Airbnb will do this, and individuals who tried an Airbnb for first time, that may assist them extra if they’d expertise. However it advantages leisure journey normally, and that is the place Marriott has to get its combine away from company.” 

Resorts concentrated in “drive-to” demand areas and prolonged keep properties, like Wyndham and Selection, have rebounded extra strongly than Marriott, as has Reserving Holdings, a web based journey company with hundreds of thousands of trip rental listings.


“We do see that the bigger lodge chains with trip rental choices have a chance. As main manufacturers have entry to prolonged keep stock and might leverage the ability of their loyalty packages it’s affordable to foresee long-term alternatives for conventional lodge corporations to develop their share of this rising lodging sector,” business advisor Hach stated.

Analysts will consider it once they see it mattering on the stability sheet of an organization that has generated upwards of $20 billion in annual income. “It is by no means gonna be an enormous presence in our view,” stated Morningstar’s Wasiolek. “It’s extremely arduous to scale high-end different lodging. Airbnb is making an attempt too and there are simply not that many on the planet.”

If, or when, Airbnb does go public, the investor response to the deal will reveal an vital side of market sentiment main into the post-Covid world. Valuation will not be a direct learn on Airbnb versus accommodations as a result of it’s prone to be valued as hybrid of a web based journey company and lodging firm. However it can point out one thing extra elementary: whether or not buyers suppose the will to journey goes to return to some new model of regular. 


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