Airbnb gets a rival

By | Category: Travel news

Airbnb has been the travel phenomenon of the last decade.

Hundreds of thousands of properties around the world are available to book on its website. Unlike the vast bulk of hotel rooms, Airbnb offers something different and it has proved very popular for both householders looking to make an extra pound or two and for canny travellers who want something different to the bog-standard hotel room with its sameness and lack of character.

The success of Airbnb caught governments and hotel chains on the hop. What they considered to have been a niche service has mushroomed so that governments complain that the company is not paying its way and residents complain that it is difficult to rent in particular destinations because of the housing supply being taken over investors.

Up until now Airbnb hasn’t had much competition. There have been some small rivals but now a big – indeed huge – player has announced that they will move into this market.

The hotel chain Marriott International which owns such brands as W, Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton and St Regis plans to push further into home-sharing after testing home rentals in Europe last year. It will soon begin taking bookings via its website for 2,000 home rentals in 100 cities across the U.S, Europe and Latin America.

Initially it is focusing on higher end properties starting at about $200 per night for a one-bedroom apartment. The service will expand its footprint in many new markets with rentals in 40 cities that do not currently compete with an existing Marriott brand hotel.

But in a year or two it might be looking at a wider spread.

Airbnb should be concerned unlike potential guests might see a wider of properties and rooms to rent and some pricing competition between the two. But what they will notice is probably the customer service. Marriott has proved to be one of the smartest hotel chains in tracking customers and modelling what they want resulting in the fact that they manage to get inside your wallet for additional spending. That they forecast what guests want makes them popular with guests as well.

Can Airbnb compete with this in the years ahead?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

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