Being attractive has its perks – even when it comes to renting out your place through Airbnb.
A new study entitled “Trust and reputation in the sharing economy: The role of personal photos in Airbnb,” examined the impact of different headshots on the popular accommodation-sharing website.
Confirming that we live in a society that’s just as shallow as ever, the study found that those Airbnb hosts who post attractive photographs of themselves are more likely to get bookings than less attractive hosts with similar listings, even if they had negative reviews.
For a platform that places such importance on the reviews of the hosts, it’s pretty surprising that Airbnb guests are more influenced by their host’s appearance than their reviews. Taking their review process a step further, this month the company even rolled out a new feature that allows neighbours to rate Airbnb guests.
“A host’s reputation, communicated by her online review scores, has no effect on listing price or likelihood of consumer booking. We contend that guests infer the host’s trustworthiness from these photos, and that their choice is affected by this inference,” say the authors in their summary of the study.
It’s not just about having good looks, but also a distinctively trustworthy aura; a more honest-looking photo leads to a higher price and increased chance to purchase.
Based on the stories from my online dating and dating app-using friends, however, judging someone from their (likely edited) photo alone can lead to utter disappointment at best, and a total nightmare at worst.
But hey, at least you can now screen your online date for sex crimes.