Airbnb and a tech incursion into the hotel industry remain a threat to company's like Marriott (MAR) .
The nearly 100-year-old company has been slow to react to privately held Airbnb and its democratized, tech-based business model has come to reach a $30 billion valuation, only 25% smaller than Marriott.
"It's always something in the back of investors' minds," Sanford C. Bernstein senior equity analyst David Beckel told Real Money.
To be sure, Beckel was quick to point out that it has not constituted the hotel-crusher that it was once feared to be.
The broader tech sector could certainly pose that risk, however.
That risk is something that Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson expounded on during the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference in June.
"I think less about Airbnb than I do about Google and Facebook (FB) and all these other digital empires who own all of us," Sorenson said.
Sorensen ramped up the fiery rhetoric in his discussion of war with competition from tangential industries.
"We are in an absolute war for who owns the customer," he said. "We have disruptors that are without a doubt trying to take ownership of our customers."
Beckel said that he expects Alphabet (GOOGL) is the most likely company to cause trouble for Marriott.
"It's about prioritizing company goals," he explained. "Google is already heavily invested in booking sites, so they'd be much more likely to disrupt than Amazon (AMZN) ."
The deep pockets of Alphabet could certainly crowd out the existing middle-men in Marriott and Airbnb, which essentially only take fees from owners leased to by the overall company.
The search giant's blog posts suggest an accelerated push into hotel search which of course could threaten companies like TripAdvisor (TRIP) , but could very well threaten companies like Marriott in the neat future.
Rewards to the Rescue
In order to stave off the threat, Marriott will look to its rewards program that has been the subject of much conversation and debate following its acquisition of the rewards-rich Starwood Hotels.
"The Starwood integration and weeding out weaker hotels will be important to touch on," Beckel said.
The Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program was a subject of contention amid the integration of the over $13 billion purchase. On the last earnings call it was noted as a vital way to keep customers under the company umbrella. This confidence comes even amid the emergence of Airbnb and other alternative lodging options.
"We did a couple of things to the Marriott Rewards Program to send the message to the SPG loyalists that we were going to protect some of their benefits," Sorenson said on the most recent earnings call. "While it would be too much to say that every single Marriott Rewards or SPG member has stood up and applauded, I think what we've heard from the bulk of that community is you've made a collection of decisions that caused us to feel very good about that program."
He noted that the company will soon approach 100 million rewards members from its approximately 75 million current members as a result of its generosity.
The 100 million rewards members would make up one quarter of Airbnb's all-time arrivals.
Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em
The company has even made its way into Airbnb's home market in home-sharing, possibly heading off further incursions.
The effort, called Hostmaker, started with a simple pilot in London and has since expanded significantly to a number of major European capitals.
"Following the positive customer feedback from our pilot in London, we are excited to extend Tribute Portfolio Homes to new markets together with Hostmaker," said chief customer experience officer Adam Malamut in a statement. "We are always innovating to meet the evolving needs of travelers, and expanding into homesharing is an opportunity to deepen relationships with our most loyal guests by delivering new experiences designed to reflect how they travel."
The statement adds that SPG and Marriott rewards will also be redeemable from Hostmaker stays, helping the upstart challenge Airbnb as a value proposition.
Investors will be keen to hear about the expansion of the partnership program that brings together Hyatt (H) and Accor Hotels (ACCYY) in order to stave off the advance of 21st century tech disrputors.
Such explanations are likely to be available in the earnings presentation available here Tuesday morning.