Despite Marriott’s status as a hotels behemoth, its homesharing options are limited compared to Airbnb and Booking.com, which both claim well over five million home listings.
When competing for rental bookings, hotels fall at the mercy of Airbnb and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). On search, luxury hotel brands struggle to capture the shrinking organic real estate that remains on Google search results pages. During the study period for Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury Hotels, seven of the ten most visible sites organically surfacing against nonbranded keywords (e.g. “beach vacation” or “miami hotels”) were either OTAs or metasearch sites (Booking.com appeared for nearly half of relevant searches). Only titular brands of major hotel parent companies break the top ten, and just barely: Hilton, InterContinental, and Marriott.
As a result of the diminishing available real estate from the expansion of the Google Hotels tool, the increase in paid ads, and the influx of OTAs, luxury hotels are fighting a losing battle. Only Four Seasons lands in the top ten when it comes to paid visibility against unbranded keywords, closely followed by Airbnb.
In order to compete with Airbnb, hotels are trying to marry in-room services with out-of-room experiences. Thanks to its large footprint and extensive content, Airbnb drives more traffic to its site than hotel brands. Of the brand’s top 100 keywords driving site traffic, 50% of unbranded keywords were “things to do” in various popular American cities, and another 14% of results included “restaurants near me.”
Airbnb and OTA platforms have been blurring the lines between hotels and homesharing and Marriott is certainly not the first hotel group to dip its toes in the rental space; AccorHotels’ Onefinestay rental platforms has been well underway. However, if hotels want to compete head-to-head with veteran homesharing platforms, they need to step up their digital marketing strategies.