Perhaps the biggest existential threat to the hotel business isn’t the delayed return of business travel, it’s homesharing sites like Airbnb. Those sites allow nearly anyone to compete with hotels with inventory as small as a single room.
This increases the supply of rooms for rent, it increases the number of competitors in the marketplace (along with product diversity), and it does these things without nearly the kind of capital outlay required to open a hotel property.
Some hotel chains differentiate themselves through better service, but major chains are cutting back on services like daily housekeeping and room service to cut costs. That cuts into the unique selling proposition of a hotel versus an Airbnb. Other chains are buying into or starting their own homesharing platforms. Marriott has its Homes & Villas program.
But given the threat that Airbnb poses to the traditional lodging model, I was surprised to read a review of the Moxy Portland Downtown that included this,
The Moxy Portland Downtown contains just 197 rooms. Though the website advertises a “Forest Park Suite” with two bedrooms, I couldn’t find any available dates to book. Interestingly enough, I found the suite on Airbnb bookable for $377 per night (excluding occupancy taxes and cleaning fees).
The Moxy Portland Downtown is selling rooms through Airbnb, and indeed selling rooms through Airbnb that it isn’t selling through Marriott.com? Why yes that does seem to be the case.
Not only is this suite available through Airbnb, it does not appear to be available through Marriott’s Homes & Villas either. Hotels usually have to offer their ‘best rates’ through a chain’s booking platform, but it seems it’s alright – since it’s been going on around six months, based on reviews – for hotels to undercut Marriott channel pricing as long as the price they give to Marriott channels is infinity.
For Marriott customers this wouldn’t be a suite they’d be entitled to an upgrade into if available. The price on it though doesn’t seem bad at all, and it’d nice to be able to earn Marriott Rewards points for booking it. However there are various statement credits available on Airbnb bookings, so perhaps having that channel – no matter how odd – is more pro-consumer than being able to book it with Marriott.
I reached out to Marriott to see whether this is something they condoned, and haven’t yet heard back. Surely they prefer customers booking Marriott hotels through Marriott, and to be able to say at a minimum that it’s always possible to do so.