Marriott partners with Hostmaker on home-sharing pilot

Marriott is kicking off its homesharing experiment in London. Photo credit: Getty Images/Stewart Marsden

Marriott International, already the largest hotel company in the world, is joining Hyatt Hotels Corporation and AccorHotels Group in the world of home-sharing. 

In order to break into the sharing economy, Marriott is entering into a six-month trial with Hostmaker, a London-based homestay property-management company. By visiting TributePortfolioHomes.com, travelers will be able to book a stay in London homes that will be considered members of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio.

In a world where new brands seem to appear on a weekly basis, Marriott decided to stick with an existing brand to grow its homes-haring business. This is partly due to brand recognition and partly because the program is a hybrid of the hotel and homes-haring experiences. The Tribute Portfolio Homes experiment will retain its ties to both the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programs, and will also provide an in-person check-in and dedicated 24/7 support from Hostmaker. 

The check-in process at a Tribute Portfolio Homes property will be facilitated by Marriott’s “Welcome Wizards,” team members who ensure guests don’t encounter difficulty locating a property and provide assistance in setting up once they arrive. Welcome Wizards will also be trained in the local area to provide recommendations throughout London. This position has been implemented to bridge the gap between a traditional hotel welcome and the freedom that homesharing provides.

The other offerings included in the service should seem familiar. High-speed Wi-Fi, comfortable beds, full bath amenities, fully stocked kitchens, laundry machines and more. If anything is missing, guests can email for help, and the company is even including a link for homeowners to list their property (found here).

The properties will have to meet, in Marriott’s own words, “rigorous safety, security and design standards before they are accepted as part of Tribute Portfolio Homes,” but it is the experiential offerings are the true value proposition behind Marriott’s new program. Hostmaker already curates its own listings for homesharing, and competitors such as Airbnb, HomeAway and Booking.com are all offering robust homesharing experiences, but none of them offer a welcome experience such as Marriott at this time.

Currently there are roughly 200 Tribute Portfolio Homes properties on offer in London. Photo credit: Getty Images/topotishka

Currently the pilot is taking place in Hostmaker’s back yard, London, and when it ends in October Marriott could be looking to expand the program.

With the perpetual success of the homes-haring sector, it was only a matter of time before Marriott took steps to join in. It’s fitting then, that its home-sharing efforts retain the service element familiar with hospitality. However, the need to break into the sharing economy has never been greater. Airbnb recently has begun trying to divert hotel owners to its business with the promise of lower commission rates, and while this seems like welcome competition for online travel agencies, hoteliers already feel they have been burned once by these relationships.

Marriott has a few large advantages as it steps into the space. Right now, London’s home-sharing market is well regulated, and if Marriott wants to expand Tribute Portfolio Homes into the U.S. at the end of the trial period, it will be doing so in markets that already have rules for these kinds of operations. In fact, Marriott, through industry groups such as the American Hotel & Lodging Association, helped write these rules.

Lastly, Marriott’s decision to network its loyalty programs into this new home-sharing portfolio will be a boon. Early this year, Hyatt Hotels Corporation did the same thing, joining its World of Hyatt program with its serviced home-rental platform, Oasis.