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Abstract

In order to obtain a superhost accreditation, an Airbnb host has to meet a series of strict requirements, including a 90% response rate, 80% 5-star reviews, honor confirmed reservations, etc. However, is it worth the effort to get such an accreditation? How does the superhost status benefit the hosts? Based on signaling theory that effective information disclosure in markets can help provide positive encouragement and maintain benign market conditions, we assume that superhost status serves as a positive market signal, and thus can benefit the badge owner in some way. Choosing Chicago as our target city, where Airbnb hosts have earned tens of millions of dollars over the 5 biggest weekends in 2019, we take advantage of content analysis techniques, decision tree, random forest models, ordinary least squares (OLS) linear regression and further multilevel modeling to answer the question. Our findings confirm that superhosts do have significantly higher income in comparison with normal hosts. Nevertheless, such accreditation does not tend to bring up their rental price. One critical channel through which superhosts earn more consists in their capacity to maintain a relatively higher occupancy rate, which is achieved mainly through providing better accommodation services. Furthermore, even though Chicago has a notorious reputation for high crime rate and conspicuous residential segregation, neither the safety nor race issues reduce host revenues.

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