Academics on Airbnb

While many well-researched and written news articles about Airbnb and its impact on housing have been published (some of them linked on my Airbnb timeline), so far there seems to be a bit of a dearth of scholarly writing on the topic. That’s not surprising since academia moves at a much slower pace than media and pop culture (and fittingly so). Below is what I’ve found so far in the way of academic research on Airbnb specifically. I will try to update this list or write more posts as I come across work that is relevant to Airbnb’s impact on rental housing.

*Note: You might need to access some of these articles through a public or university library.

Defining the Price of Hospitality: Networked Hospitality Exchange via Airbnb, by Tapio Ikkala and Airi Lampinen (Poster at the 17th ACM conference on computer supported cooperative work & social computing) Feb 15-19, 2014.

These two Finnish researchers with the Helsinki Institute of Information are interested in social exchange theory. They interviewed 11 Airbnb hosts with the goal of “shed[ding] light on the behaviors and norms in play in a socio-technical system that fosters monetary transactions as a part of exchanges that require coordination and trust between the exchange partners.”

The researchers reached two main conclusions: It’s common for hosts to increase the price of their listing as they accumulate positive reviews, and hosts may choose to offer their listing at a lower price so as to allow them a wider choice of guests. No surprises there, and these patterns seem consistent with landlords in the long-term rental market act.

The Rise of the Sharing Economy: Estimating the Impact of Airbnb on the Hotel Industry, by Georgios Zervas, Davide Proserpio and John W. Byers (January 22, 2014)

This study from the Boston University School of Management looks at the one question that many in the hospitality industry are burning to know the answer to: How is Airbnb affecting their sector’s revenues? The authors (including two computer scientists) created a dataset of all Texas Airbnb listings between 2008 and 2013 (22,000 stays) and compared that to a panel of quarterly tax revenues for ten years. Based on their results, they estimate that “a 1% increase in Airbnb listings in Texas results in a 0.05% decrease in quarterly hotel revenues” and that lower-end hotels and those that don’t cater to business travellers were most adversely affected.

Our work is among the first to provide empirical evidence that the sharing economy is significantly changing consumption patterns, as opposed to generating purely incremental activity, as argued in prior work. Studying the case of Airbnb…we identify that its entry into the Texas market has had a quantifiable negative impact on local hotel revenues.

The authors include a lot of technical detail on their methodology in the paper.

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