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How sites like Airbnb can attract more hosts

Dr Nick Baker Chief Research Officer 22/10/2019

Sharing the responsibility

For the sharing economy to work, it needs willing parties on both sides – those who need something and those who can provide that something. Airbnb, Uber and Deliveroo are all examples of this.

Almost half (47%) of the 2,000 UK consumers we spoke to would consider hosting via a platform like Airbnb."

We’ve done a lot of thinking in this area, partnering with brands like Deliveroo to understand the rise of these platforms and how they are revolutionising the hotel, transport and takeaway industries for consumers.

But what about the flip side of this? What about the hosts, the drivers and the restaurants? They are also essential for the sharing economy to thrive. When demand increases it’s not simply a matter of ramping up production.

Using our expertise working with clients in the sharing economy, we have explored strategies that could improve recruitment of hosts for accommodation sharing companies like Airbnb.

“Come in, just don’t touch anything”

On the surface, the concept of hosting sounds appealing, with almost half (47%) of the 2,000 UK consumers we spoke to saying they’d consider hosting via a platform like Airbnb. However, with only 168,000 UK listings, less than 1% of the UK population are doing this. So, what’s stopping them? Our research shows that trust is key.

Which of the following would be the main reasons why you would be reluctant to list your property on [a site similar to Airbnb]?

  • Uncomfortable with strangers (59%)
  • Personal items going missing (44%)
  • Possibility of property damage (44%)
  • Fearing for my safety (29%)

Tackling these concerns means communicating the measures in place for a smooth guest and host experience. Property protection, guest reviews (from other hosts), or encouraging more detailed guest profiles can help put new or potential hosts at ease.

This could mean finding ways to identify groups that fit a typical host’s profile and appealing to emotions rather than logic by changing the threatening image of a stranger to that of a fellow traveller or new friend.

Assurances can go a long way

It’s no surprise that for these hosting considerers, the primary incentive that could convince them to take the next step is the provision of a fully-paid-for insurance policy in every rental agreement. This is followed closely, of course, by making some extra money on the side.

Which of the following benefits would make you MORE likely to list your property on one of these sites?

  • A fully paid for insurance policy included in every rental agreement (34%)
  • Making extra money (34%)
  • In-depth guest profiles (27%)
  • A fully managed service including cleaning / maintenance (27%)
  • Flexibility on what days to rent out my place (24%)
  • An estimate of how much I could make (23%)
  • Visitor / guest ratings (23%)

It seems that prospective hosts want to make money while keeping the entire process at arm’s length to protect themselves and their belongings.  Many of these benefits are already provided by sites like Airbnb but the question is whether people are aware of them. Third-party services such as Airsorted and Hostmaker are also stepping in to fill this gap providing fully insured property management services. There are more and more options for people looking for a hassle-free approach, which helps to share the responsibility for the maintenance and management of their property.

What can we do to convince potential hosts?

These findings point towards some potential messaging and comms strategies.

  • Ramping up communications of services like host protection insurance
  • Broadening knowledge of these benefits e.g. using the renter side of the platform to raise the brand’s profile for hosts
  • Focusing messaging strategy around safety, convenience and potential income
  • Adding an emotional element by redirecting the image of guests away from ‘strangers’ and towards ‘fellow travellers’ or ‘new friends’
  • Considering a premium offer for desirable properties that can only be rented by members with the most ‘mileage’ (rental history)

Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about this research. Savanta helps clients navigate a world of ever-changing consumer behaviour. Using data, we can help you identify and prioritise the right opportunities and strategies to help grow your brand and business.

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