Summer rentals: “It is the one who dares to give a bad rating who is perceived as a deviant user”

Summer rentals: “It is the one who dares to give a bad rating who is perceived as a deviant user”

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“Thanks to Marie for her welcome and her kind attentions! », “Gauthier was very kind and responsive”… On the Airbnb site, through which a third of seasonal rentals in France pass, comments of this type, positive, even enthusiastic, are very frequent and give rental candidates a sense of security, which is not they feel the same way. competing platforms.

The mean scores are also very different. Half of Airbnb listings earn a perfect 5/5 rating, while only a quarter of those featured on TripAdvisor exceed 4.5/5. So how is it possible that so many tenants who pass through Airbnb are so satisfied? Are the mediocre accommodations drastically removed here, or are the harsh reviews masked with a gimmick? This is the starting point of our research, which led us to study in detail the online evaluation system implemented by the platform.

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Like any accounting system, this evaluation is based on options: what to count, how to count it, and how to report it publicly (or not). It is Airbnb, of course, who chooses here the rating criteria (cleanliness, value for money, etc.), the weighting of these criteria, and the fact that they appear publicly, as value prisms of the owners’ privacy, of what really matters in terms of 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 cleverly manages to maximize the number of favorable and very favorable opinions, which increases the overall attractiveness of its offer, while minimizing the cost of controls.

Very problematic accommodations, in fact, are quickly detected in the midst of satisfied evaluations. To achieve these goals, Airbnb uses various techniques based on 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.

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Both must publish their photos, introduce themselves personally, comment on their tastes, their hobbies, describe their habits. This presentation is intended to assure 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 client who can complain without complexes about an owner/provider who would also be anonymous.

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