Analysing online reviews to investigate customer behaviour in the sharing economy: The case of Airbnb

C.K.H. Lee, Ying Kei Tse, Minhao Zhang, Jie Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
424 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose – This paper aims to investigate attributes that influence Airbnb customer experience by analysing online reviews from users staying in London. It presents a text mining approach to identify a set of broad themes from the textual reviews. It aims to highlight the customers’ changing perception of good quality of accommodations.

Design/methodology/approach – This paper analyses 169,666 reviews posted by Airbnb
users who stayed in London from 2011 to 2015. Hierarchical clustering algorithms are used to
group similar words into clusters based on their co-occurrence. Longitudinal analysis and
seasonal analysis are conducted for a more coherent understanding of the Airbnb customer

Findings – This paper provides empirical insights about how Airbnb users’ mind-set of good quality of accommodations changes over a 5-year timespan and in different seasons. While
there are common attributes considered important throughout the years, exclusive attributes are discovered in particular years and seasons.

Research limitations/implications – This paper is confined to Airbnb experiences in London.
Researchers are encouraged to apply the proposed methodology to investigate Airbnb
experiences in other cities and detect any change in customer perception of quality stay.

Practical implications – This paper offers implications for the prioritisation of customer
concerns to design and improve services offerings and for alignment of services with customer expectations in the sharing economy.

Originality/value – This paper fulfils an identified need to examine the change in customer expectation across the timespan and seasons in the case of Airbnb. It also contributes by illustrating how big data can be used to uncover key attributes that facilitate the engagement with the sharing economy.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalInformation Technology and People
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2019


  • online review
  • consumer behaviour
  • text mining
  • sharing economy
  • Airbnb


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