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My name is Linda and I am a Masters student at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute. I am conducting a research project on outsourcing practices among Airbnb hosts for a course I am undertaking this term. I am interested in understanding why Airbnb hosts choose to use third-party services for tasks such as booking management, listing management, cleaning and interior design. I have been reading some other posts on this forum, but there are some things that I would like to understand better, with your help.
Some questions to start discussion:
Why have you chosen to use or not use outsourcing services?
Are there particular services that you think are better outsourced or not (i.e. some tasks that you would never choose to outsource)?
Why do you think other people use outsourcing services? Do you think it’s more common in certain locations, or for certain services?
Do you think outsourcing services offer value for money?
Please remember that as this is a public forum, your responses will be public and associated with your username, from which you may be able to be identified. Alternatively, if you would like to provide a comment privately, please PM or email me (below) with your thoughts.
Anything you say will be reported only in a general way in my final paper and will be fully anonymised. This research has been approved by a research ethics committee at the University of Oxford. If you have any concerns or questions about this research, please PM or email me at linda.ma [at] oii.ox.ac. uk, and I can provide you with an information sheet with further detail.
Those of us with only one listing won’t outsource because it costs too much and cuts into our small profit margin. Why should I pay someone to do what I should be doing as a good host?
Airbnb was not originally intended to be millennial investors buying up properties and becoming mega-listing STR management companies. That sort of behavior is what IMHO is ruining the STR image and business and the relationship with local governments.
The people who choose to do that sort of thing – be remote hosts, and especially those who manage (I will not call them ‘hosts’) more than one property – are the ones who must outsource services because they cannot do it themselves. And frankly, IMHO since they’re ‘being greedy’ they should charged top dollar for outsource services. If they want to compete against hotels they have to be willing to pay the price.
They do it because (in their mind) it’s quick and easy, and also cheap.
When you choose a pretty narrow topic for an academic research project it’s often useful to make sure that you have sufficient sources available for data. Given that Airbnb hosts are probably only contactable directly on social media, and that traditional Airbnb hosts rarely outsource, it makes me question the decision to go for this particular topic.
My little focus group that I utilised during my masters cost me a fortune. Had to feed and water them for three hours, and to be frank, the data collected towards the end was somewhat tainted
Hi Helsi, thank you for taking the time to reply. This is a pilot project using digital ethnographic methods that will develop into a wider project that will involve in-depth conversations with hosts. My hope is that the broader project will contribute to the debate about outsourcing on Airbnb. Please do get in touch if there’s anything else I can clarify about the project.
I host a suite attached to my home. I started off doing all the cleaning myself, but with working a full-time job, that meant leaving at least one day between bookings so I had an evening to clean. Now I outsource the cleaning. As good as my cleaner is, I still end up tweaking things before guests arrive.
Cleaning is the big time-suck in hosting. The rest (communication, pricing, scheduling cleaners) is a relatively small time investment and I can’t see the need to outsource them unless I were an “investor-style” host trying to manage dozens of properties.
My place is also a reflection of my personality and outsourcing things like décor and communication would diminish the personal touch guests appreciate. Investor hosts, the ones who destroy housing markets by turning apartment complexes and condo buildings into de-facto IKEA-furnished hotels, will never replicate the warmth of a home-hosted listing.
I agree with others. This site provides good background info, but absolutely piss poor value in terms of a representative group of hosts. This forum is skews more to small-time (fewer than 5 listing-hosts), not mega-investor-hosts (which is the large money-making sector on Airbnb).
Who knew digital ethnography meant posting on forums to get un-demographically representative feedback from stakeholders.
When I have commissioned market research Digital Ethnography is where researchers used technology such as smart phones and tasks such as video diaries and photo uploads to be able to peak into the target audiences lives, without the researcher physically being there, in order to understand audience behaviour and motivations.
But what would I know? I just head up communications and engagement for a national organisation and regularly commission surveys and audience insight
I’m happy to contribute to a research project I host an apartment behind my home. I used to use a pricing service, but once I got a handle on the market, started doing it myself. I don’t see any need to outsource reservation or communication management - it takes very little of my time. My original plan was to outsource cleaning every once in a while, but turns out no one does it to my standards, so I still have to spend time cleaning…now I just do it myself and it helps my bottom line.
Outsourcing is expensive! Everybody wants a bite of the pie. I do everything I can to reduce costs. If I up my prices to try and cover these costs I would price myself out of the market. Labour is expensive in Australia.