If you’re looking for the best hosts on Airbnb the most efficient way to find them is to count user reviews, according to a new study.

Everbooked and LearnAirbnb, two sites that provide hosting tips and pricing insights to Airbnb hosts, released a joint State of Airbnb Hosting study that looked at booking and listing activity in the top 200 markets in the United States. The study is in two parts, a data dive that looks at activity in these markets between October 2014 and 2015 and an attitudinal study taken in December of over 1,300 hosts in 82 countries.

This study did not look at all activity over the year-long period. Rather, it took a sample of 20% of U.S. activity — about 430,000 listings, 250,000 hosts, and nearly six million bookings — to create its market snapshot.

In addition to information about Airbnb that would be beneficial to hosts — from pricing to review management insights — it added to the growing body of work that looks at the business of Airbnb. It’s billed as an independent study, but the sponsors are a mix of third-party services that provide insights to Airbnb hosts and other services seeking to profit from Airbnb-related activity.

The Highlights

One consistency across all studies of Airbnb (including ours) is that nobody likes a shared room. This one pegs the number of listings as 3% of the total. “We see that with the exception of Bed and Breakfast listings, most of the listings are for an entire unit regardless of the property type,” the report states. Like hotel guests, Airbnb guests like their privacy.

Superhosts, which this report defines not as a host with multiple properties but as those who “have hosted 10 trips within the last year, maintain a 90% + response rate to guests, and have 80% 5 star reviews,” make up nearly 7% of listings on the site and have nearly four times the number of reviews as the average host.

The length of stay by guests varies widely by market, with New York City at an average of 5.2 nights. This is consistent with other recent studies, including one by CBRE Hotels showing longer stays in the city.

The new study is consistent with previous ones as well when looking at the average nightly rate (or ADR in industry terms). Across all markets the rate in the new study is $141 versus the $148 seen in the CBRE report.

One telling figure from the new report is that occupancy has a clear relationship with the number of reviews on a listing. Between 1-50 reviews, a host can expect less than 50% occupancy. Above 250 reviews he or she will see 80% occupancy, which is more in line with traditional hotels. The report states, “There is the possibility of a mutually reinforcing relationship here between higher occupancy and higher numbers of ratings—more guests equals more ratings and more ratings equals more guests.”

airbnb-study

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More takeaways:

  • The top 1% of Airbnb hosts significantly out perform the bottom 99% by earning 19% of the overall rental revenue.
  • As the rating of a listing goes up, so does its overall rental revenue.
  • Top 1% of hosts make 19% of the overall bookings revenue while owning 8% of the listings.
  • Only 7 out of every 1000 hosts have 10+ units and only 1 in 1000 hosts have 40+ units.
  • Superhosts on average make almost twice that of a regular host, but own the same number of listings as regular hosts.
  • Most listings (3 out of every 4 listing) earn modest total rental revenues of approximately $10K or less in a year.
  • Most hosts (8 out of every 10 hosts) have just 1 listing and earn a very modest extra income from hosting on Airbnb.
  • The number of reviews a listing has is a significant indicator of its occupancy rate. Even 1-3 star rated listings outperform unrated listings.
Photo Credit: Promotional image from Airbnb. Airbnb