The real threat to hotels from Airbnb: research results - Insights

The real threat to hotels from Airbnb: research results


Since the entry of Airbnb into the hospitality industry in 2008, media attention has largely focused on the disruptive nature of the service. Industry reports, as well as lively debates at hotel, travel and tourism conferences, have kept the spotlight on Airbnb’s growth and success. But despite all this attention, we still know little about its real impact on hotel sales.

In our recent publication in the International Journal of Hospitality Management, we examined how Airbnb supply, price, and perceived quality affect the sales performance of incumbent hotels in the San Francisco market. In particular, we explored the impact of the development of Airbnb supply and users’ satisfaction on hotel sales patterns, and whether different hotel segments have been affected by Airbnb’s entry.

The findings – our analyses revealed that:

Total Airbnb volume does not impact RevPar

Total Airbnb listings (i.e., total inventory) do not impact the growth trajectory of hotel RevPAR, which confirms the argument that Airbnb’s offering a supplementary service. These results are also consistent with a 2017 report on the Airbnb effect in Boston, and with an STR 2017 study of 13 global markets. However,

The average price of an Airbnb offer can have an impact on RevPAR

And that impact varies across different segments of the industry. Airbnb property prices had a positive effect on hotel RevPAR:the higher the price of the rentals posted on the platform, the higher the RevPAR of the hotels. Also,

  • The increase in the quality of the Airbnb service has a direct adverse impact on hotel performance. The higher the average satisfaction score of an Airbnb property, the lower the RevPAR for the hotels in the sample. More specifically, every increase in the review score of an Airbnb property had a negative impact of -$25.54 on hotel RevPAR for hotels in the sample. Finally,
  • This last effect varies across segments. Airbnb rental prices had an effect on hotels’ RevPAR in the luxury segment, with an increase in RevPAR of $0.651 for every dollar increase in the average rental price of the Airbnb units.

In conclusion

Not just a supplement: The study reveals that Airbnb’s listings/offers do not merely supplement the lodging market, but rather show substitute characteristics in their long-term effects on hotel sales’ patterns.

Customers make comparisonsThe effect of Airbnb on hotels sales is intricate and appears to be based on customers’ dynamic comparison of the price and value offered by the two products.Ê The research results imply that guests do consider both products when booking rooms and compare the benefits of each through user reviews.

Signs of disruptionThe results provide empirical evidence that Airbnb will disrupt the hotel business, and that the more Airbnb users are satisfied with their experience, the more likely it is that demand for hotel rooms will decrease. Hotel managers , therefore,need to be aware of the level of service and price offered by Airbnb and other sharing platforms in their market.  Airbnb offers in their locality can no longer be ignored and should be considered when developing revenue management strategies.

Airbnb is slowly disrupting the lodging industry, going beyond the supplemental role claimed by its founders. The impact of the sharing economy is not related so much to the volume of the offers on the platform, but rather on the pricing and price-to-value proposition as perceived by guests.


In conducting this research, we estimated a series of mixed models on data collected from 101 hotels in San Francisco neighborhoods. Our sample totaled 1,111 observations. In this analysis, we measured the trend of change in hotel sales performance as Airbnb developed its supply in the city.

Our EHL partner, STR, anonymized data for the 101 hotels for the period December 2013 to February 2016. Hotels in the sample ranged from economy to luxury. We included in our study hotels’ total revenues, total supply, number of rooms, years since opening, and renovation, as well as brand information.  We also analyzed the impact of rates and customer satisfaction (a proxy for perceived benefits) on the pattern of RevPAR (revenue per available room).

Access the full study:

Airbnb’s effect on hotel sales growth, International Journal of Hospitality Management. Blal, I., Singal, M., & Tempal, J. (2018)

About the authors

The first woman and youngest person to hold the position since the creation of EHL in 1893, Dr. Ins Blal assumed the deanship in August 2017. Ins holds a PhD in Strategic Management in Hospitality and Tourism from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, an MBA in Hospitality Administration from EHL, and a bachelor’s degree in International Business from the INSEEC Group.

Ins joined EHL in 2006, as a lecturer, while she was completing her doctoral dissertation. She designed and taught undergraduate, graduate, and executive courses and managed multiple applied research and consulting projects for the hotel industry. During her eleven years of experience in research and teaching strategic management for the hospitality industry, Ins served as the co-director of Graduate Studies and held an active role in the steering committees overseeing EHL programs. She gained expertise in curriculum development, implementation of innovative teaching practices, academic governance, and program accreditation in Europe, North Africa, and the United States.

Her research and consulting works focus on the asset light model, the execution of expansion strategies, the financing possibilities for small and medium hotels, and the effect of distribution choices on sales performance. Ins publishes in the leading hospitality journals, collaborates with executives and presents at industry conferences.

Ins was named Best EHL Researcher of the Year in 2013 and is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society. Prior to her academic career, Ins worked in the catering business and joined the board of a hotel group in 2004.


Dr.Manisha Singal is an Associate Professor of Hospitality Management in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech University.

Her research interests relate to antecedents of firm financial and social performance. She also examines how ownership structures, like family ownership, impact strategic outcomes in hospitality business organizations.

Manisha received her doctoral degree in strategic management from Virginia Tech, and master’s degree in Economics from Eastern Michigan University.


Dr. Jonathan Templin is Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Kansas.

Dr. Templin received his Ph.D. in Quantitative Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2004, where he also received an M.S. in Statistics.

The main focus of Dr. Templin’s research is in the field of diagnostic classification models psychometric models that seek to provide multiple reliable scores from educational and psychological assessments. He also studies Bayesian statistics, as applied in psychometrics, broadly.

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