Why are online reviews in the sharing economy skewed toward positive ratings? Linking customer perceptions of service quality to leaving a review of an Airbnb stay

Jeroen Meijerink*, Emma Schoenmakers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Purpose: This study aims to explain why online reviews in Airbnb are skewed toward positive ratings. The authors examine customer perceptions of the service quality of an Airbnb stay as a relevant antecedent of whether customers leave an online review of that Airbnb stay. To this end, the authors test the hypothesis that the relationship between service quality and leaving an online review is linear and positive. Design/methodology/approach: To test the hypothesis, the authors rely on primary survey data from 177 Airbnb customers combined with secondary data coming from their personal online Airbnb accounts. The authors conducted a binary logistic regression analysis to test the hypothesis. Findings: The results show that customers’ service quality perceptions are positively and linearly related to leaving an online review of an Airbnb stay. In other words, satisfied customers are more likely to leave a review after an Airbnb stay than those who are dissatisfied. Originality/value: The study is original in two respects. First, it reconsiders the role of customer experiences in explaining online customer reviews. In doing so, it empirically shows that the conventional wisdom of a U-shaped relationship between customer experiences and online reviewing does not hold in the context of the sharing economy. Second, by relying on primary survey data, the authors reveal the risk of dissatisfied customers creating an underreporting bias in online reviews, which ultimately make online reviews of Airbnb skewed toward positive ratings.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Tourism Futures
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 2 May 2020

Keywords

  • Airbnb
  • Online customer reviews
  • Service quality
  • Sharing economy
  • Word-of-mouth

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