Airbnb is disrupting the hotel industry, but the online rental site is getting some unexpected competition from the world’s biggest hotel chain.
The move was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The service will offer 2,000 “premium and luxury homes” in more than 100 cities. The homes will be managed by rental companies and are equipped with Wi-Fi, premium amenities, such as linens and professionally cleaned after each stay.
“The launch of Homes & Villas by Marriott International reflects our ongoing commitment to innovation as consumer travel needs evolve,” said Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott’s chief commercial officer, said in a release.
Judging by the focus on upscale properties, Marriott’s new service is more of a competitor against Airbnb’s “Plus” service, which offers similar properties to rent in ritzy places like Italy’s Almafi Coast.
Marriott operates 7,000 properties, including W Hotels, the Ritz-Carlton and Courtyard brands. It has locations in 130 countries, which amounts to more than 1 million rooms. Airbnb has 6 million listings in more than 190 countries spanning 81,000 cities, according to the company.
Marriott has a smaller-scale home-sharing program in four European cities, including London, Rome and Lisbon, Portugal. The program, which lets Marriott members earn and redeem loyalty points in the selection of upscale homes, would be the basis of the upcoming service, the Journal said.
Airbnb cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky said on “CBS This Morning” that Marriott’s plan is an “incredible testament” to its brand. “We welcome them to the space,” he said
Opposite Marriott’s strategy, Airbnb is getting into the hotel space. It bought startup HotelTonight last month, a booking app for last-minute travelers.
Airbnb, which is worth about $31 billion, previously said it is on a mission to build a platform that helps people with all aspects of travel, including where to stay, what to do and how to get there. It also invested as much as $200 million in OYO, an Indian hotel company that wants to become the world’s largest chain within the next five years.
The company also announced Sunday it’s partnering with RXR Reality in New York to soon open a full-service hotel in ten floors of 75 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan. The rooms include Airbnb-like features, like kitchens and living rooms and will be staffed by “hosts” to help guide guests around the city.
The acquisitions and investments help Airbnb diversify its business as it gears up to go public. Chesky told the CBS morning show that could happen “later this year.”