Choice Hotels International has launched
a vacation-rentals division to compete with companies such as Airbnb and
Vacation Rentals by Choice
Hotels is partnering with vacation-rental management companies such as Magical
Memories, Sterling Resorts and Bluegreen Resorts, and has launched with
inventory in eight locales: Orlando, Destin and Panama City Beach, Florida;
Aspen, Colorado; Williamsburg and Shenandoah, Virginia; Phoenix; and Big Bear
Choice says it’s working with
management companies with “established reputations for great service and high
quality product portfolios.” It is touting the new division’s listings for its
customer reviews, images, detailed descriptions and guest access to live
operators for assistance.
Choice Privileges loyalty program
members will be able to earn points for stays at vacation rentals.
The U.S. vacation rentals and
peer-to-peer accommodations sector generate about $23 billion in annual revenue
last year according to Phocuswright, or about one-sixth the revenue generated
by domestic hotels. Choice’s vacation-rentals division appears to differ from
those of companies such as Hilton Worldwide and Starwood Hotels & Resorts
(which is spinning off that division) because those companies control the
inventory and sell the units via timeshare agreements.
Choice Hotels CEO Steve Joyce,
speaking at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles last month,
said at the time that his company was making plans to take on HomeAway and Airbnb
by way of a new division, though didn’t offer specifics at the time. Expedia in
December acquired HomeAway for $3.9 billion.
“It’s time for brand
companies to take back control of our distribution and our destiny,” Joyce said
at one of the conference’s keynote speeches. “We’re poised to surf this very
crest of this disruptive wave.”
Choice franchises more than 6,400
hotels totaling more than 500,000 rooms worldwide. Its brands include Comfort,
Quality, Clarion, Sleep Inn, EconoLodge and Cambria.
The company said last week that
2015 net income rose 4% from a year earlier to $128 million, as revenue rose
13% to $859.9 million. U.S. revenue per available room advanced 6.5%, primarily
on room rate increases.