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Poster child and guinea pig – insights from a structured literature review on Airbnb

David Dann (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany)
Timm Teubner (TU Berlin, Berlin, Germany)
Christof Weinhardt (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 17 December 2018

Issue publication date: 30 January 2019




A growing body of research from various domains has investigated Airbnb, a two-sided market platform for peer-based accommodation sharing. The authors suggest that it is due time to take a step back and assess the current state of affairs. This paper aims to conflate and synthesize research on Airbnb.


To facilitate research on Airbnb and its underlying principles in electronic commerce, the authors present a structured literature review on Airbnb.


The findings are based on 118 articles from the fields of tourism, information and management, law and economics between 2013 and 2018. Based on this broad basis, the authors find that: research on Airbnb is highly diverse in terms of domains, methods and scope; motives for using Airbnb are manifold (e.g. financial, social and environmental); trust and reputation are considered crucial by almost all scholars; the platform’s variety is reflected in prices; and the majority of work is based on surveys and empirical data while experiments are scarce.

Practical implications

Based on the present assessment of studied topics, domains, methods and combinations thereof, the authors suggest that research should move toward building atop of a common ground of data structures and vocabulary, and that attention should focus on the identified gaps and hitherto scarcely used combinations. The set of under-represented areas includes cross-cultural investigations, field experiments and audit studies, the consideration of dynamic processes (e.g. based on panel data), Airbnb’s “experiences” and automated pricing algorithms and the rating distribution’s skewness.


This study provides a comprehensive overview of work on the accommodation sharing platform Airbnb, to the best of the auhtors’ knowledge, representing the first systematic literature review. The authors hope that researchers and practitioners alike will find this review useful as a reference for future research on Airbnb and as a guide for the development of innovative applications based on the platform’s peculiarities and paradigms in electronic commerce practice. From a practical perspective, the general tenor suggests that hotel and tourism operators may benefit from: focusing on their core advantages over Airbnb and differentiating features and aligning their marketing communication with their users’ aspirations.



Dann, D., Teubner, T. and Weinhardt, C. (2019), "Poster child and guinea pig – insights from a structured literature review on Airbnb", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 427-473.



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