Airbnb: Why Tourists Choose It and How They Use It

This report presents a summary of the key findings and implications from a study entitled “Why tourists choose Airbnb: A motivation-based segmentation study underpinned by innovation concepts.”

It was found that the vast majority of Airbnb guests use the service for a leisure trip, and although it is sometimes perceived as appealing to “backpacker” travellers, only a relatively small percentage of guests describe themselves as backpackers.

Also, most Airbnb guests rent an entire home, rather than staying together with a host, even though entire home rentals are somewhat divergent from classic “sharing economy” activity.

Additionally, most guests stay from two to four nights and stay with at least one other guest, most commonly a spouse/partner. Moreover, most Airbnb guests still have relatively minimal Airbnb experience and began using the service only quite recently.

Airbnb guests are most strongly attracted to its practical attributes (e.g., cost, location, and amenities), and somewhat less by its experiential attributes (e.g., novelty and interaction).

The comparative importance of Airbnb’s practical benefits contrasts with it’s advertising, which focuses almost exclusively on authentic local experiences and interaction with locals, with no mention of cost and limited mention of other practical benefits.

The majority of guests use it as a substitute for hotels, whereas very few use it to take a trip they would not have otherwise taken. Nonetheless, staying with Airbnb leads many guests to increase the time they spend in a destination. In other words, it does not stimulate significant additional visitation, as some figures it reported suggest, but it may nonetheless bring benefits to local tourism economies.

Traditional word-of-mouth and electronic word-of-mouth are the primary communication channels driving awareness and initial use. Guests generally feel high levels of satisfaction with their stays, and likewise exhibit high levels of loyalty towards the company.

The report was produced by Dr. Daniel Guttentag, Assistant Professor in Hospitality and Tourism management at Ryerson University (Totonto, Ontario, Canada)

Click here to see the full report