Human interaction, profit and industry awareness have a significant impact on whether a person becomes an Airbnb host and what type of host they will be, says new study from Brunel University London.
Sharing economy platforms like Airbnb and Uber use assets, such as cars and properties owned by the public, and put customers in contact with these assets, creating profits all round. Dr Oksana Gerwe, a Researcher at Brunel, has investigated how these platforms could maximise their appeal and get more people to sign up.
The study looked at 63 cities in Spain with the greatest touristic demand from 2010 to 2015. It revealed that property type and level of face to face contact is linked to a person’s main motivations for becoming an Airbnb host – the more face-to-face contact, the more important social motivations were to the host. However, when the host is less likely to meet the consumer, they are less concerned with social incentives and driven more by economic factors.
“We find that industry growth and the availability of underused assets increase the entry onto the platform of hosts who offer entire properties and have little face-to-face interaction with guests, while the strictness of regulation decreases their entry.
“By contrast, the entry of hosts that want high face-to-face interaction with guests are not affected by industry growth and the availability of underused assets”, said Dr Gerwe.
The results can help platforms like Airbnb design the geographic expansion strategy of sharing economy platforms and tailor the experience to suit the type of host they want to recruit.
“Globally, individuals are becoming more conscious about their consumption habits and economic behaviour. Social, sustainability and other non-economic motivations will play an increasingly important role in our economic lives,” said Dr Gerwe.
The research says it is important for Airbnb to understand people's motivations for joining the platform and tailor their communication, PR campaigns and service offerings based on the diversity of providers, to fulfil host’s expectations.
“We would like to better understand the role of social motivations in entrepreneurial behaviour. Our findings show that they are important for micro-entrepreneurs (suppliers) in the sharing economy,” said Dr Gerwe.
“But what about social motivations of those who start for-profit companies? How important is social interaction for them? Does it affect the design of a venture? Does it affect growth expectations? All of these are important questions for entrepreneurship research.”
The full study, Entry of Providers onto a Sharing Economy Platform: Macro-Level Factors and Social Interaction, can be found here.
Read Dr Oksana Gerwe's article for the Network for Business Sustainability, on the sustainability of sharing platforms, here.
Simone McNichols-Thomas, Media Relations
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