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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 3 February 2022

Simon Lind Fischer and Maartje Roelofsen

This paper explores how Airbnb hosts' experiences with and responses to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) health crisis may differ according to their motivations to…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores how Airbnb hosts' experiences with and responses to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) health crisis may differ according to their motivations to host and to the type and spatial layout of their Airbnb accommodation. Based on these insights, the paper reflects on the lessons that are learned for the future of short-term rentals.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a qualitative multi-method small-scale case study, which relies on in-depth interviews and a focus group discussion carried out with a group of hosts affiliated to the Airbnb Host Community in Aarhus, Denmark. Informed by an interpretivist approach, the study aims to make sense of people's subjective experiences with hosting on the Airbnb platform, and how they have continued and adapted their hospitality practices during the pandemic.

Findings

Participants' adaptive practices vary according to their motivations to host and the type of accommodation that they rent out. Although all hosts in this study now implement more intensive cleaning practices, hosts who stay with their guests onsite tend to take stricter preventative measures to avoid contamination and transmission of the virus in their social interactions with guests. On the contrary, hosts who rent out their entire properties and have minimal contact with their guests found themselves less affected by the pandemic's impacts and have had a continued demand for their properties.

Social implications

The COVID-19 pandemic has unevenly affected Airbnb hosts. Hosts who share their homes with guests require different adaptations to their daily behaviour and cleaning practices at home than hosts who do not stay with their guests and rent out entire properties. However, unlike professional hosts who largely or solely rely on Airbnb for their income, occasional home-sharing hosts tend to be more flexible in coping with cancelled or fewer bookings.

Originality/value

This study provides novel insights into the uneven impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on participants in the platform economies of tourism. It contributes to existing literature on the impacts of the pandemic on Airbnb's operations by showing how hosts' adaptive practices are informed by their subjective living conditions and the type of accommodation they can offer their guests.

Details

Journal of Tourism Futures, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2055-5911

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