Young and Xie receiving the Best Paper Award at the 2018 International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education Conference.

New research wins best paper award at International CHRIE Conference

Businesses like Airbnb and Uber are considered pioneers in the shared services space. But what if the financial success of individuals working in this arena hinges on whether they market their services by using attributes associated with traditional vendors?

We can’t speak for Uber drivers, but new research from two University of Denver faculty at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management found that Airbnb listings that mimicked traditional hotel attributes were more profitable than those that didn’t.

Assistant Professor Karen Xie and Associate Professor Cheri Young note that Airbnb has conformed to norms by adopting hotel-like practices such as “instant booking” and “business travel ready,” a designation for listings that meet certain criteria deemed appealing to business travelers.

Thanks to the generous support of a Faculty Research Grant by the University of Denver’s Office of Associate Provost of Research and Faculty Senate, Xie collected a massive amount of data—more than four million data points from 330,365 Airbnb listings and their historical monthly performance from Oct. 2014 to July 2017. The listing population is in 798 neighborhoods of 10 major Airbnb markets, including San Francisco, New York, Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Boston and Seattle.

“We found hotel-like Airbnb listings tend to enjoy higher revenue premiums than regular listings,” Xie and Young report. “Specifically, Airbnb listings that are instant bookable and business travel ready obtained $257 and $339 more, respectively, in monthly revenue than counterpart listings that don’t allow these features.”

Their study also shows that the competitive advantage of instant bookable is so salient that it magnifies the revenue even more when the density of Airbnb counterparts in the same neighborhood continues to increase, suggesting a successful learning of Airbnb from hotels that can be used to compete with and differentiate from other peer Airbnb listings for higher performance.

Their paper, “Conformity vs. Differentiation: The Effects of Hotel-like Attributes on Airbnb Listing Performance,” won the Best Paper Award at the 2018 International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (I-CHRIE) Conference in Palm Springs in July.

“We appreciate our work being recognized by our peers,” the two say. “Our research addresses an innovator in the lodging industry and its evolution. It’s especially gratifying to be recognized for doing innovative data-driven research in an emerging area through the lens of analytics.”

H.G. Parsa, professor of hospitality management, and Vijaya Narapareddy, associate professor of management, also took home an award from I-CHRIE. The two were awarded second place for the Best Case Research Award for their case, “Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Campaign and the Indian Tourism Industry: Strategic challenges and cultural impediments.”