What Makes a Good Image? Airbnb Demand Analytics Leveraging Interpretable Image Features
75 Pages Posted: 31 May 2017 Last revised: 2 Jul 2021
Date Written: May 25, 2017
We study how Airbnb property demand changed after the acquisition of verified images (taken by Airbnb’s photographers) and explore what makes a good image for an Airbnb property. Using deep learning and difference-in-difference analyses on an Airbnb panel dataset spanning 7,423 properties over 16 months, we find that properties with verified images had 8.98% higher occupancy than properties without verified images (images taken by the host). To explore what constitutes a good image for an Airbnb property, we quantify 12 human-interpretable image attributes that pertain to three artistic aspects—composition, color, and the figure-ground relationship—and we find systematic differences between the verified and unverified images. We also predict the relationship between each of the 12 attributes and property demand, and we find that most of the correlations are significant and in the theorized direction. Our results provide actionable insights for both Airbnb photographers and amateur host photographers who wish to optimize their images. Our findings contribute to and bridge the literature on photography and marketing (e.g., staging), which often either ignores the demand side (photography) or does not systematically characterize the images (marketing).
Keywords: sharing economy, Airbnb, property demand, computer vision, deep learning, image feature extraction, content engineering
JEL Classification: M3
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