Marriott wants you to think that they’re in the homesharing business, and that Homes & Villas By Marriott is an Airbnb competitor. Despite the tag line, “Private Homes With The Assurances Of Marriott,” that’s not at all what it is.
Marriott Homes & Villas isn’t actually a competitor to Airbnb. In fact, it’s not a homesharing platform. It’s a booking site that advertises homes listed elsewhere and takes a commission. It’s better thought of as an affiliate marketing site or more like a third party travel agent or reseller.
This is especially ironic given the ‘book direct’ push that Marriott and other hotel chains have pushed in recent years. The problems that come adding a third party in between the guest and the actual booking site with hotels creep up with vacation rentals as well.
For instance Marriott’s site promises that all of its listings include wifi, but lists properties that do not include internet – as indicated on the underlying listing.
Here’s a property on the Marriott website – Arcadian Gardens in Sequim, WA. By virtue of it being listed on the Marriott site it should have wifi – since Marriott promises that all the properties listed on their site offer it.
But this property is being sourced from Vacasa and if you drill down into the underlying listing, wifi isn’t offered.
I asked Marriott about this property in particular, and they attributed it to Vacasa removing the amenity from the property due to complaints about signal quality, and that Marriott removed the property as a result. A spokesperson explained,
The property you reviewed did have WiFi. Vacasa had just removed that amenity from its site because the signal was substandard. When this happens, home management companies report properties not in compliance for removal from our platform. We no longer offer this property.
However the internet issue isn’t just limited to this one property, although I expect any that I flag will get fixed, perhaps even by the time you read this. Here’s a property that shows no internet on Vacasa but that is nonetheless listed by Marriott and here’s another nearby property on the Vacasa site that is offered by Marriott Homes & Villas.
It’s actually not hard to identify properties on the Vacasa website without internet. You can toggle the amenity on and off, and see the properties that disappear. Then search for those properties on the Marriott Homes & Villas site. Just like failing to police hotels selling their rooms through Airbnb, Marriott isn’t paying a lot of attention or doing quality control on the site’s included listings, it seems.
And it’s not just internet. Marriott Homes & Villas promises TV service. They don’t explicitly say what constitutes that service, I guess, but I think it sort of implies cable TV or a streaming subscription, not just a coat hanger-as-antenna. Here’s a property with a TV but no cable that’s available through Marriott. There are many more like this.
The Marriott spokesperson shared that the third party management company is “required to inform guests before arrival if an amenity is no longer available and work with the guest to resolve the issue.” Put another way, though, if something goes wrong with the stay you’ve booked through Marriott it’s not Marriott that’s supposed to make it right.
One reason to book through Marriott is the ability to earn and burn points, though
- In the times I’ve searched the homes available via Marriott have either been less desirable at the same price point than others in the same complex (e.g. near the beach rather than directly on the beach) or more money for a comparable place compared to Airbnb. Your mileage may vary.
- Marriott’s redemptions are revenue-based and were devalued during the pandemic to $0.006 per point.
In fact Wyndham points are a often better deal for many Marriott Homes & Villas properties than Marriott redemptions are. Marriott Homes & Villas sources properties from several providers like Vacasa. Vacasa partners with Wyndham Rewards, and Wyndham charges juts 15,000 points per night per bedroom in most cases. In most cases the more expensive the property, the better the deal Wyndham points are (the whole idea of points!).
Maybe ‘Homes & Villas’ is just another Marriott brand that they sell to customers. Marriott brands usually come with brand standards. But they’re enforced at Homes & Villas about as well as elite benefits are enforced at their other properties?