Here’s How One Hotel Giant Plans to Compete with Airbnb

While sharing-economy kingpin Airbnb isn’t yet eating the hotel industry’s lunch, they’re certainly at the table with utensils readied: an ongoing report out of Boston University suggests that the peer-to-peer rental company is responsible for up to a 10% loss in hotel revenue in some cities.

Now it seems at least one hospitality giant has taken notice.

In classic “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” fashion, Hyatt just announced the Unbound Collection, which “connects independently branded hotels with the strength of Hyatt’s resources.”

Basically, you’re getting the thrills-seeking power of the boutique hotel backed by the marketing power of the Hyatt brand family. Also: loyalty points.

Currently, the roster includes the Driskill Hotel in Austin, the under-construction Coco Palms Resort in Hawaii, the Hôtel du Louvre in Paris and the Carmelo Resort & Spa in Uruguay.

Like some of the more unique properties you’ll find on Airbnb, each destination offers something travelers can’t find anywhere else. The Driskill is thought to be haunted, the Coco Palms was a hotspot for Hollywood A-listers in the ‘50s, the Louvre was the first “grand hotel” of Paris and the Carmelo is located in a eucalyptus forest.

“From historic urban gems to striking new builds, these are distinctive upper-upscale to luxury properties where every stay is extraordinary,” according to the company. If the collection takes off, Hyatt could consider adding options like a cruise down the Nile, a safari camp, a polar expedition and renting out rooms on a barge.

“We’re not limiting ourselves just to hotels,” says Hyatt Hotels CMO Maryam Banikarim. “It’s a collection of stays.”

Whether Unbound will help Hyatt penetrate the home-stay market (versus, say, the equally nascent boutique market) seems a more dubious proposition. Airbnb’s biggest draw — value — is not a front that luxury hotel chains can compete on.

Then again, great value comes with its concessions as well.