Marriott’s Stephanie Linnartz is Pushing the World’s Largest Hotel Chain to Be a Little More Like Airbnb – CNN

Not long ago, traveling to another city generally meant selecting a hotel to spend the night. But then Airbnb made it fashionable to stay in people’s luxury villas, city-center condos, rustic cabins and any number of unique accommodations around the world.

The concept of home rentals isn’t new; Vacation Rentals By Owner, or VRBO for short, has been around since 1995. But technology has advanced significantly, and Airbnb’s startup spin on the idea has made it mainstream — posing a threat to traditional hotel stays. (Airbnb cut hotel profits by as much as 3.7% in 2014, according to a study from researchers at Harvard Business School and the MIT Sloan School of Management.) In response, some hotel companies have focused on making traditional stays more attractive, beefing up loyalty programs and incentives. But Marriott decided not to try to beat Airbnb. It’s joining them. In April 2019, the company unveiled its Homes & Villas program, which now offers 5,000 rentable “premium and luxury homes” in 190 locations around the world. It was a marked departure for the company, which has been offering hotel rooms for nearly 100 years. But Marriott says the move didn’t feel like a risk; instead, it says, it’s more of a natural extension of its core business.

“This is part of the whole sharing economy — bikes and scooters and homes,” Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott’s global chief commercial officer, told CNN Business in an interview. “Home rentals and B&Bs have been around for decades, so the core idea itself isn’t that new. The new part is technology platforms bringing it to consumers at scale, so it’s democratized and affordable.”

Still, as the world’s largest hotel chain, Marriott has enjoyed success through its traditional hotel business. But the company and Linnartz are moving the brand outside of its comfort zone to evolve with the times — and they’re doing it faster than most.

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