Being hot bestows an unfair advantage in many walks of life, it has long been acknowledged, but can it really affect how successful your airbnb listing is?
Well, yes, if the results of a new study into the impact of different headshots on the accommodation-sharing website are to be believed.
New research, which provides compelling proof of the shallowness of humanity, were any more needed, has found that airbnb hosts who post attractive photographs of themselves are more likely to get bookings than hosts with similar properties who are not so easy on the eye.
Amazingly, guests are more influenced by the appearance of their potential hosts are than they are by the reviews that the listing has garnered.
Airbnb lays great emphasis on reviews, automatically emailing both guests and and hosts after completed trips to urge them to provide feedback, and check, for example, whether the guests did anything unacceptable, like have an orgy.
Astonishingly, however, the study, entitled, “Trust and reputation in the sharing economy: The role of personal photos in Airbnb,” which was published recently in the journal Tourism Management, found reviews have no effect on choices.
“The prominent appearance of sellers’ photos on these platforms motivated our study,” say the authors in their summary of the study. “A host’s reputation, communicated by her online review scores, has no effect on listing price or likelihood of consumer booking.
“We contend that guests infer the host’s trustworthiness from these photos, and that their choice is affected by this inference.”
Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem had 600 people rate photos of Airbnb hosts in Stockholm.
Eyal Ert, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement reported by Forbes.com: “On Airbnb the focus is on the property and its attributes, but even so—we found that the profile pictures of the hosts are critical to their business success.”
In one study, they attached actor photos to listings in Stockholm listings and tested how much more participants were willing to pay for listings. As Forbes reports: “Being attractive helped, but looking trustworthy was even better.”