Trust and Reputation in the Sharing Economy: The Role of Personal Photos on Airbnb

Tourism Management, 55, 62-73, 2016 Forthcoming

43 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2015 Last revised: 14 Feb 2016

See all articles by Eyal Ert

Eyal Ert

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dept. of Environmental Economics and Management

Aliza Fleischer

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Agricultural Economics and Management

Nathan Magen

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Agricultural Economics and Management

Date Written: January 2016

Abstract

'Sharing economy' platforms such as Airbnb have recently flourished in the tourism industry. The prominent appearance of sellers’ photos on these platforms motivated our study. We suggest that the presence of these photos can have a significant impact on guests’ decision making. Specifically, we contend that guests infer the host’s trustworthiness from these photos, and that their choice is affected by this inference. In an empirical analysis of Airbnb’s data and a controlled experiment, we found that the more trustworthy the host is perceived to be from her photo, the higher the price of the listing and the probability of its being chosen. We also find that a host's reputation, communicated by her online review scores, has no effect on listing price or likelihood of consumer booking. We further demonstrate that if review scores are varied experimentally, they affect guests’ decisions, but the role of the host’s photo remains significant.

Keywords: sharing economy, Airbnb, trust, attractiveness, reputation

Suggested Citation

Ert, Eyal and Fleischer, Aliza and Magen, Nathan, Trust and Reputation in the Sharing Economy: The Role of Personal Photos on Airbnb (January 2016). Tourism Management, 55, 62-73, 2016 Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2624181 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2624181

Eyal Ert (Contact Author)

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dept. of Environmental Economics and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 12
Rehovot, 76100
Israel

Aliza Fleischer

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Agricultural Economics and Management ( email )

P.O.Box 12
Rehovot 76100
Israel

Nathan Magen

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Agricultural Economics and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 12
Rehovot, 76100
Israel

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