The summary immediately below and the additional noteworthy quotes at the end of this post are original content.
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 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:
- 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.”
- 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 signalling theory and URT” (uncertainty reduction theory).
- 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%).
- 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.
- 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 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.”
Additional noteworthy quotes from the study:Airbnb 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”
- “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.”