Vacation, business trip, discovering new horizons or just getting away for a breather... Although these all sound appealing, the idea of travelling brings along several concerns. “Where shall I stay?”, “Is it a safe place?”, “Hope it is not an overly touristic one!”, “Not too expensive please!”, “Will I be comfortable?”, etc...
At this very point, Airbnb appears as a lifesaver to untangle the gridlock. For those of you who wonder what Airbnb is all about, it is a system based on the simple principle of sublet. In a nutshell, you sublet your house or a part of it to visitors coming to your hometown. This way, travellers can adapt more easily to the town they visit, and enjoy experiencing its ambiance not as a tourist but as a local instead.
The selection of accommodations listed on Airbnb is way more comfortable and more elegant than many three star hotels. Foreseeing your needs, all kinds of details aimed at your convenience are provided by your landlord/landlady including a welcome treat or the best itinerary options in town. Besides, contrary to other options, such comfort is not costly at all. Airbnb, especially in terms of overseas accommodations, is a lot more favorable.
Airbnb is a globally rising value and has now become a source of income for many people who sublet their whole house or part of it - even if they don’t own it themselves. The popularity of the brand has widely increased by way of Gwyneth Paltrow renting a villa in Cannes via Airbnb last June, who also preferred Airbnb for her previous vacation in Mexico. Ad Age, in an article published last month, addresses the fact that Airbnb has become a more and more favorable choice of accommodation in Cannes with the festival hosting more than 13,000 people this year. Airbnb embraced a major turnout of festival attendees who might be left out in the cold because of the vast occupancy of the hotels, offering a wide range of options from $10,000 luxury villas to $40 tiny rooms per night.
The key sentiments of the brand, the motto of which is “Belong anywhere”, are hospitality and locality. Remarkably enough, Airbnb is the first US firm to do business in Cuba after decades of embargoe.
Airbnb’s most distinctive feature is that it allows you to specify and customize the conditions of your accommodation. In addition to the hygiene factors such as date range and location, the search engine can also narrow your search to the very specifics; from whether or not you want to rent the whole flat or just a room, to proximity to public transit, parking lot, air conditioning, wi-fi connection, blow dryer, and such... Individualization is so engraved in the DNA of the brand that recently it has even become possible for you to customize the logo to your liking.
Well, now that the holiday season has come and people are mostly preoccupied wondering where to go or where to stay for their vacations, we wanted to find out how consumers felt and thought about Airbnb. The research we conducted comprised of 300 men and women 18-45 years of age, who live in Istanbul and belong to ABC1 SES. First of all, we questioned their vacation habits :
• 96% of the participants stated that they went on domestic vacations.
• People who said they prefer to go overseas were only 11%.
• Half of the interviewees said that they go on a vacation once a year; 33% two-three times; 7% four-five times and 4% more than five times.
• Every 4 individuals out of 10 go on a vacation with their family.
• 17% go on a vacation with their spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend. Those fall into the age group of 25-34.
• 40% of those who go solo or with friends are mostly single.
Domestically, hotel accommodations are preferred the most in general. Bed&Breakfasts and hostels are secondary choices. Renting or staying at friends’ or families’ summer houses as guests appear as the third choice for a vacation. Overseas vacationers also tend to follow a similar sorting. Hotels are the most preferred option, followed by renting houses, bed and breakfasts/hostels and staying at family or friends’ houses.
52% of those who review accommodation options for vacation make decisions taking the “cost/budget” criterion into consideration. While “location and distance from downtown” is the secondary criterion, “points/stars” is the third. Apart from these, “proximity to the sea” is one of the considerable factors.
When we come to the sections of the research focused on Airbnb, we see that only 1 out of 10 people has ever heard of Airbnb. Most of those who know say that they have either heard about it from friends or on the internet.
Those who use Airbnb make up only 36% of those familiar with Airbnb. Domestic and overseas have the same percentage of usage. Majority of those who have heard about Airbnb but don’t use it gives not needing the services as the reason why.
When we asked the small audience using Airbnb about the main reason why they prefer Airbnb, the answer was the relatively lower cost of services in contrast to the hotels. Among other reasons of preference are “being trustworthy” and “providing a cosier environment with respect to the hotels”. Among the features that are liked the most by the users is its ability to arrange an accommodation “anywhere and under preferred conditions”.
When we asked about their opinions to those who have never heard of Airbnb upon briefing them on the platform, we found that the concept was highly regarded. It’s fair to say that Airbnb aroused curiosity and interest in the interviewees broadly after they were informed about it. (“This could be very useful if you’re going abroad and the financial means are limited!” “It’s a good one, actually. You can find the ambience you’re seeking for in a vacation. It’s a good application.”)
After being informed on Airbnb, 53% of the interviewees stated that they would consider using Airbnb in the future, while the remaining 47% said they would not.
We found that “affordability” is the most effective reason to make them consider using Airbnb. “Trustworthiness”, “facilitating a traditional home experience”, “being able to rent the whole residence” and “being cosier than a hotel room” are the other reasons. “Offering a wide span of alternatives” and “operating in 190 countries” are among the other reasons why these people consider benefiting from Airbnb in the future.
Majority of those who wouldn’t consider using Airbnb indicated that “as they already have a summer house they won’t be needing such a service”. Some said that “they would ‘not’ trust such a system”. Not to mention those “who go to a vacation to relax and do nothing, least of all cook” do not consider this system as a good fit for them.
Airbnb users supply other users with unbiased and detailed information by giving ratings and exchanging comments on the locations they have lodged in. When asked if the user comments on the Airbnb web site suffice to ensure safety, 75% responded affirmatively. Others who think otherwise state that with “publicity and advertisement” Airbnb can earn their trust. Additional safety precautions such as camera surveillances are thought to be helpful for the platform to become “more trustable”.
This research demonstrates that in the eyes of the potential users in Turkey, Airbnb is yet to overcome the “perception of safety” barrier. Clearly, in our country a motivation to use Airbnb has not developed yet. This may be due to the rate of travelling abroad being notably low compared to global tendency and people mostly preferring summer houses, hotels and bed and breakfasts when going on domestic vacations. And what’s more, because the idea of a vacation involves “getting away from domestic responsibilities” and ”expecting other people to attend to them”, going to a vacation and staying in a hotel are the two notions apparently intertwined together. So, according to a certain group of consumers the idea of staying at a house and doing housework during a vacation is not attractive at all.
Airbnb is appealing in theory, but for most of the Turkish people “staying in a stranger’s house, even for a short while” or subletting a house instead of staying in a hotel are not coded in their behaviour, yet. In order to be able to overcome these barriers, it seems that, Airbnb still needs more time and communications solutions focused on changing behaviour.