The following is a summary, mostly attributable to Peter Kwan (Co-chair, Home Sharers Democratic Club), of a study on the perceived trustworthiness of an Airbnb host profile and the associated host choice.Improve your Airbnb by improving your host profile. Check out this Stanford + Cornell research paper on the trustworthiness of Airbnb host profiles. Click To Tweet
Summary: A strong Airbnb profile is around 55-72 words in length and covers a diverse range of topics including interests and tastes, work or education, personality, relationships, origin or residence, travel, and hospitality.
Improve your Airbnb listing performance by improving your Airbnb profile.
In a recent Stanford and Cornell Tech research paper (“Self-Disclosure and Perceived Trustworthiness of Airbnb Host Profiles”) the researchers concluded the following:
Insight #1 – How You Describe Yourself Is Important
How a host describes herself in her profile reduces uncertainty and signals to the guest whether the host is trustworthy.
Trust is tied to ratings and reputation, although one study suggests that since Airbnb ratings are skewed high: “the number of reviews received is predictive of room sales even when controlling for scores.” Another study showed that “profile images were linked to perceived trustworthiness of hosts and higher prices.”
OptimizeMyBnb Notes: Remember that many reservations on Airbnb are from brand new guests. They’re not as familiar with how secure and safe the platform is. Give them some comfort by filling in completely your Airbnb host profile. And, it’s my recommendation you add a photo of a human, not a company, to your profile. I believe a professional company logo as your Airbnb profile photo increases the guests’ expectations without conferring any benefit to the host.
Insight #2 – “Profile as Promise” Approach
The researchers suggest a “Profile as Promise” approach “for understanding how hosts and guests produce and evaluate disclosures in Airbnb profiles.
Hosts disclosed information about themselves that they perceived as relevant and of interest to potential guests, and their promises were evaluated based on their trustworthiness, as predicted by signaling theory and URT” (uncertainty reduction theory).
OptimieMyBnb Notes: Keep your FPG in mind when filling in your profile. For example, do most of your guests come from Japan? Have you visited Japan? Add this to your profile: “I’m a world traveler, so I know what you need for comfort. My favorite countries are Japan, Germany, and Turkey.”
Insight #3 – Onsite Versus Offsite Airbnb Hosts
The research showed on-site hosts had longer profiles than off-site hosts, and are more likely to write on topics related to personality and tastes, and less likely to write about origin and residence. This helps guests to reduce the uncertainty factor when deciding to book a place where the host is also present.
There is a clear relationship between longer profiles and perceived trustworthiness scores but with diminishing returns with longer profiles (increasing the mean word count from 6 to 13 increased trustworthiness scores by 18.9%, but an increase from 106 to 188 only increased trustworthiness by 2.5%).
OptimizeMyBnb Notes: As always, respect the guests’ attention. Add enough, but not too much information to your profile. Focus on the necessities. Put on your marketing hat. How can you communicate trust and excitement to your FPG?
Insight #4 – Variety Of Topics In Your Airbnb Profile
Researchers also looked into the variety of topic choice on trustworthiness disclosed in the host profiles and separated them into: Origin or Residence, Work or Education, Interests & Tastes, and Hospitality.
The study showed that as the number of topics increased in a profile, so did the trustworthiness of the profile. The most successful three-topic combination was profiles that contained topics related to Hospitality, Origin or Residence and Work or Education.
OptimizeMyBnb.com Notes: You should always have your work and education filled in as it’s part of the basic requirements to complete your Airbnb host profile. If you are retired or don’t want to share your profession, add ‘Airbnb Host’.
Insight #5 – Bare Minimum Threshold
Finally, the “so what?” question: does a higher trustworthiness score for text-based host profiles predict the likelihood of guest choice?
The study concluded: “when profiles are short, perceived trustworthiness almost perfectly predicts choice, whereas when the profile length increases, other factors appear to influence the choice. This may suggest a nuanced role of trust in decision making – there is a threshold that is needed to pass muster, but other factors … may weigh in once trustworthiness is no longer an issue.”
OptimizeMyBnb.com Notes: Remember, this is just one of many factors working for or against your favor. Optimize your Airbnb profile, but don’t overthink or overdo it. Giving a little bit of conscious thought to a lot of the parts of Airbnb hosting sets you apart from most Airbnb hosts.
Additional Noteworthy Insights From The StudyAirbnb Superhosts have longer profiles (72 words compared to 57 words for non-Superhosts. Click To Tweet
- “onsite hosts cover more topics and write more overall” – this makes sense because they will be directly interacting with their guests.
- “on-site hosts (M=66.12, SD=59.66) on average wrote longer profiles (measured by word count) compared to remote hosts (M=55.85, SD=52.09)”
- “Superhosts wrote significantly longer profiles (a mean of 72.13 words compared to 57.74 words for non-Superhosts)”
- “quantity and diversity of information increases the perception of trust”
- “Perceived trustworthiness increases with profile length”
- “perceived trustworthiness score is a significant predictor of host choice—especially for shorter profiles that show more variation.”
Conclusion: Optimize Your Airbnb Profile
The difference that separates good from great Airbnb hosts is typically how much time they’ve thought about how to improve. Host A sets up their Airbnb profile and listing without much additional thought as to how to use the platform best for their situation. Host B does the same except with a marketing mindset.
If you’re reading this blog post, I know a lot more about you than you think. For one, you’re smart. All you really have to do is use your brain and you’re going to optimize your Airbnb listing and hospitality to the point of being the best in your market.
However, don’t over-optimize one thing. This is just one piece to the puzzle. Think about how you can optimize it, try that, and move on. Test. Repeat. Good luck. See you in the comments.
For further reading, I’ve written a blog post on how best to complete your Airbnb host profile.