by Michael J. Shapiro | March 21, 2017
Marriott International has invested in PlacePass, an online metasearch platform for tours and activities in more than 180 countries. PlacePass collects the experiences from various tour-operator sites and provides brief descriptions and per-person prices. From there, one can click through to the partner site to book. Maximum group sizes vary, depending on the selected activity.
 
While the terms of the investment weren't disclosed, Marriott plans to incorporate PlacePass into its loyalty-program benefits, allowing members to book the experiences directly from marriott.com, SPG.com or the programs' respective apps. The more than 100,000 local experiences across more than 800 destinations will be available via Marriott sites later this year. More details will be available at members.marriott.com.
 
"The addition of PlacePass activities and tours beginning later this year reflects Marriott's commitment to giving our guests a complete travel experience, whether they are in planning mode, staying in our hotels and even in-between stays, when they're thinking about travel," said Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott International's global chief commercial officer. "We want our guests to count on Marriott to give them access to more of the destinations and things they love to do when they travel."
 
Some of the more unique experiences on the platform include a VIP guided tour from London of the "Downton Abbey" filming locations, including Highclere Castle, above; the opportunity to wrestle a retired sumo wrestler in Tokyo, and a sunrise mountain-biking tour of Cambodia's iconic temples. 
 
Marriott has surpassed 100 million members in its loyalty programs, which include not only Marriott Rewards but also Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. The PlacePass experiences will complement the collection of activities already in place for members via Marriott Rewards' Experiences Marketplace and SPG Moments. 
 
The investment in PlacePass not only provides members with more unique experience rewards, it also speaks to the increasing demand among travelers and attendees for authentic local experiences -- something that home-sharing companies like Airbnb tout as a major benefit of their platforms. Last fall, Airbnb began offering the opportunity to book local experiences as well as lodging.