New York (CNN Business)Airbnb is disrupting the hotel industry, but the online rental site could be getting some unexpected competition from the world’s biggest hotel chain.
Marriott (MAR) International is reportedly close to rolling out a new Airbnb-like rental service, according to the Wall Street Journal. The 92-year old company is hoping to gain a foothold in the growing sector, which includes other companies like HomeAway and Vrbo.Airbnb’s popularity has soared in recent years, as travelers increasingly seek accommodations with kitchens and laundry during long stays. Although the hotel industry has long claimed Airbnb does not pose a threat, Marriott’s new service could be something of an admission that travelers’ desires are changing. In addition to letting people rent homes or apartments for short-term stays, the new Marriott service would let customers earn and redeem the company’s Bonvoy loyalty points at the rentals. The newspaper said the service could be unveiled as early as next month. Marriott declined to comment on the Journal’s report. Marriott operates 7,000 properties, including W Hotels, the Ritz-Carlton and Courtyard brands. It has locations in 130 countries, which amounts to more than 1 million rooms. Airbnb has 6 million listings in more than 190 countries spanning 81,000 cities, according to the company.Read MoreMarriott has a smaller-scale home-sharing program in four European cities, including London, Rome and Lisbon, Portugal. The program, which lets Marriott members earn and redeem loyalty points in the selection of upscale homes, would be the basis of the upcoming service, the Journal said.Airbnb cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky said on “CBS This Morning” that Marriott’s plan is an “incredible testament” to its brand. “We welcome them to the space,” he saidOpposite Marriott’s strategy, Airbnb is getting into the hotel space. It bought startup HotelTonight last month, a booking app for last-minute travelers. Airbnb, which is worth about $31 billion, previously said it is on a mission to build a platform that helps people with all aspects of travel, including where to stay, what to do and how to get there. It also invested as much as $200 million in OYO, an Indian hotel company that wants to become the world’s largest chain within the next five years. The company also announced Sunday it’s partnering with RXR Reality in New York to soon open a full-service hotel in ten floors of 75 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan. The rooms include Airbnb-like features, like kitchens and living rooms and will be staffed by “hosts” to help guide guests around the city. The acquisitions and investments help Airbnb diversify its business as it gears up to go public. Chesky told the CBS morning show that could happen “later this year.”