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Marriott CEO Concedes Airbnb Does Local Better


Jul 07, 2014 12:30 pm

Skift Take

Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson says he is having “fun” watching the development of Airbnb. He adds that Millennials will be a “massive” portion of Marriott’s customer base in a decade. It won’t be too much fun, though, if Millennial travelers stray from hotels as their best options for a stay.

— Dennis Schaal

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Marriott CEO concedes that Airbnb can do some things for travelers looking for local experiences that Marriott can't, or doesn't want, to do.

Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson says Airbnb “is a very interesting experiment and something that is really fun to watch,” and he admits that travelers and others who really want to experience a neighborhood might be better off trying Airbnb than a hotel.

“They do some things we can’t do,” Sorenson says, comparing Marriott with Airbnb, in a CBS This Morning interview. “Something like 10% of their business or something in New York is people trying out neighborhoods — people moving to Manhattan thinking I want to live in the East Village for awhile or I want to live on the Upper West Side for a while and see what it feels like. So let me see if I can get an apartment. That’s not something you’d use a hotel for.”

Although Marriott International’s lifestyle collection of brands, including Edition, Autograph Collection, Renaissance, AC Hotels and Moxy Hotels are designed to skew toward local sensibilities, it isn’t the same as a guest embedding herself in a neighborhood with Airbnb to live like a local.

Airbnb isn’t just for Millennials, but Boomers like it, too, Sorenson says.

“They say, I want to experience a neighborhood, even if I’m on vacation,” Sorenson says, referring to Boomers. “But I think there are folks who say I also don’t want the creepiness of not knowing who my host will be. I want some safety. You’ve got job implications, you’ve got housing implications.”

Airbnb does enable potential guests to view host profiles, but the experience certainly isn’t as safe as staying at a hotel.

In other matters, Sorenson says that Marriott is reinventing guests’ technology and lobby experiences. He says that Millennials will be “a massive part of our business in 10 years.”

Here’s the CBS This Morning interview:

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