“Thank you to Marie for her welcome and her kind attentions! », “Gauthier was very friendly and responsive”… On the Airbnb site, through which a third of seasonal rentals pass in France, comments of this kind – positive, even enthusiastic – are very prevalent, providing rental candidates with a feeling of security, which they do not not feel the same way on competing platforms.
The average scores are also very different. Half of Airbnb accommodations get a perfect rating of 5/5, while only a quarter of those offered by TripAdvisor exceed 4.5/5. So how is it possible that so many tenants going through Airbnb are so satisfied? Are mediocre accommodations drastically eliminated here, or harsh reviews masked with a trick? This is the starting point of our research, which led us to study in detail the online evaluation system implemented by the platform.
Like any accounting system, this assessment is based on choices: what to count, how to count it and how to report it publicly (or not). It is Airbnb, of course, that chooses the rating criteria here (cleanliness, value for money, etc.), the weighting of these criteria, and the fact that they appear publicly, like value prisms of the privacy of owners, of what really matters in housing.
A detailed knowledge of consumer psychology
During our research, we analyzed the ways of communicating online in the Airbnb community (netnography), statistically studied the ratings received over several years in the largest “Airbnb cities” world, and finally conducted interviews with users in France. We have thus highlighted the way in which the platform manages, in a skilful way, to maximize the number of favorable and very favorable opinions, which increases the overall attractiveness of its offer, while minimizing the cost of controls.
The very problematic accommodations are, in fact, quickly spotted in the midst of the delighted evaluations. To achieve these goals, Airbnb uses several techniques based on a detailed knowledge of consumer psychology. First of all, the platform, much more than its competitors, carefully stages the human aspect of the relationship between landlords and tenants.
Both must post their photos, introduce themselves in a personal way, discuss their tastes, their hobbies, describe their habits. This presentation is intended to secure the owners, the identity of future visitors can be verified by the platform. But it also has a psychological impact. In this context, the tenant is not an anonymous customer who can complain without complex about an owner/provider who would also be anonymous.
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