Regulating Professional Players in Peer-to-Peer Markets: Evidence from Airbnb
Management Science, forthcoming
81 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2019 Last revised: 1 Aug 2022
Date Written: July 2022
We study professional players and their roles in peer-to-peer (P2P) markets. Most notably, P2P home-sharing platforms (e.g., Airbnb) consist of both professional hosts and nonprofessional individual hosts. What are the roles of the professionals? Should home-sharing platforms regulate their participation? Professional hosts may primarily offer properties that nonprofessional hosts would not supply and attract more guests—the differentiation effect. Or they may mostly supply similar properties and compete with the nonprofessionals—the competition effect. Using a unique dataset of Airbnb listings, we first find that professional hosts’ properties are more expensive and have superior characteristics than nonprofessionals’. Second, we capitalize on a quasi-experiment in which Airbnb capped the number of properties a host can manage in several cities in the United States to determine the roles of professional hosts. With different predictions (about the policy impacts) under the differentiation versus competition effects, we find evidence suggesting the dominance of the latter. In particular, the policy increased the supply from nonprofessional hosts, and the price level of nonprofessional properties as a group went up after the policy. However, our findings of heterogeneity in policy impacts suggest that the dominance of competition is less prominent in certain markets. Lastly, we find that the platform was not worse off in attracting reservations or securing revenue after the policy. Our findings contribute to both theory and practice as they reveal the roles of professional players and how P2P platforms can manage their participation.
Keywords: Peer-to-peer markets, Professional players, Competition, Differentiation, Platform economics, Airbnb
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