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Unraveling the diverse nature of service quality in a sharing economy: A social exchange theory perspective of Airbnb accommodation

Constantinos-Vasilios Priporas (Department of Marketing, Branding and Tourism, Middlesex University Business School, London, UK)
Nikolaos Stylos (Department for Marketing, Innovation, Leisure and Enterprise, University of Wolverhampton Business School, Wolverhampton, UK and Department of Management, School of Economics, Finance and Management, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK)
Roya Rahimi (Department of Marketing, Innovation, Leisure and Enterprise, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
Lakshmi Narasimhan Vedanthachari (Department of International Management and Innovation, Middlesex University, London, UK)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 11 September 2017




This paper aims to investigate customers’ perceptions of the service quality facets of Airbnb accommodation using social exchange theory as a suitable conceptual framework to explain aspects of interactivity between guests and hosts.


A self-administered questionnaire consisting of 25 accommodation-specific service quality attributes, structured according to Akbaba’s (2006) measurement scale and based on the service quality hierarchical conceptualization described by Brady and Cronin (2001) and Cronin and Taylor (1992), was distributed to Airbnb international guests visiting Phuket, Thailand. The sample was chosen through a two-stage sampling process and the PLS-SEM technique was used for data analysis.


The results showed that convenience and assurance are critical contributors to the measurement of service quality in remote Airbnb lodgings. The findings further revealed that Airbnb guests are mainly interested in lodgings which have access to certain tourist sights, and in easily accessible information and efficient resolution of problems during their stay. The authors also found that guests greatly value the convenience and flexibility offered by Airbnb, and that they particularly appreciate the warm hospitality provided by the hosts. Finally, Airbnb guests have very low expectations of the amenities and services available at the lodgings.

Research limitations/implications

Airbnb is one of the most well-known examples of hospitality in the sharing economy, and results cannot be generalized to similar accommodation providers in sharing economies. Despite the appropriateness of using the measurement tool provided by Akbaba (2006), it is only one option among others for measuring service quality.

Practical implications

The current study can assist hosts in gaining better knowledge of guests’ decision-making processes and in designing effective marketing strategies by focusing on guests’ requirements in terms of service quality. The effective use of competitive strengths and the prioritization of business resources would potentially enhance guests’ positive experiences at the accommodation and at the destination.


Limited numbers of studies have focused on the sharing economy and hospitality and in particular on Airbnb, and this is the first study with a focus on service quality issues in terms of Airbnb accommodation.



Priporas, C.-V., Stylos, N., Rahimi, R. and Vedanthachari, L.N. (2017), "Unraveling the diverse nature of service quality in a sharing economy: A social exchange theory perspective of Airbnb accommodation", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 29 No. 9, pp. 2279-2301.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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