ramblings & exploration

Original Index of Airbnb’s Most Hospitable Cities, Explained

Superhost to the rescue! That’s the Airbnb designation of an extraordinary host. They know better than anyone that bad reviews can kill you.

From my experience in booking an Airbnb (or hotel or any other accommodation) one of the things at the top of my checklist is a highly-rated experience from previous stays. If given a choice between a host with low average reviews or a newbie host with no reviews, I would likely roll the dice and stay with the unknown…and cross my fingers he or she is not a looney.

So where can you go to have the best luck with a stay? Read on, sister.

Back in 2013, and with just under one million trips completed in the United States (four million worldwide), Airbnb set out to find which cities contained the ultimate hosts. For reference, as of 2017, Airbnb guests have completed more than 150 million stays in over 65,000 cities worldwide.

Dessert first. Then the unexciting methodology will follow.

US Most Hospitable Index:

  1. Tampa, FL
  2. Mendocino, CA
  3. Eugene, OR
  4. Bend, OR
  5. Raleigh, NC
  6. Memphis, TN
  7. Madison, WI
  8. Nashville, TN
  9. Tucson, AZ
  10. Lake Tahoe, CA

Whattya’ see? Most are concentrated to a few regions across the U.S.

Maybe it’s the favorable weather in places like California, Florida and Arizona. Or perhaps it’s the proximity to outdoor activities in Tahoe, Eugene and Bend. Does sand-castle-making-access equal pleasant hosts, from Mendocino or Tampa? As pointed out by Airbnb, perhaps a college town like Madison, Raleigh or Nashville make for great reviews with laid back undergrads—host or guest. Are small towns friendlier? Four of the ten cities had populations in 2013 of under 160,000 and all cities are outside the top-20. Mellow hosts? By 2013, half the cities’ states allowed medical marijuana, which could make for a pretty easy-going host.

Those are just my fun facts mixed with an ounce (up to 8 in California) of speculation.

I posted Airbnb’s methodology in pretty lay terms below for the curious.

Index Methodology:

  • Used reviews to assist in determining most hospitable cities in U.S. (to quantify data)
  • The reviews are made up using the following categories:
    • Cleanliness
    • Check-in
    • Communication
    • Value
    • Accuracy
  • However, all reviews (1-5 stars) are NOT what make up the index*
    • The Index is determined by the percentage of trips which resulted in a 5-star review for all the previously mentioned criteria
  • Cities are limited to those which hosted a minimum of 500 trips in last two years
  • Only stays in which a guest booked a private room were used
  • The index also tried to control for guests by taking into account the guest’s origin

Airbnb Host Predictive Factors:
Airbnb tried to figure out which factors might be able to reliably predict a host’s score. To do this, they came up with a model based in probability. The full charts are interesting to see, but I’ve tried to cover a few highlights:

  • Younger guests (age 25-29) gave the most favorable reviews; older hosts (age 50-69) provided the best experience to guests
  • Guest factors based on gender weren’t much different, but female hosts tended to score a bit higher than the guys did
  • Stays under 2 nights or over 10 nights reviewed less often than the stays in the 3-9 range
  • The smaller the group, the more favorable the review
  • The further in advance a trip was booked, the more positive the review

Yes, the data was analyzed about 3.5 years ago. Things have definitely changed since then, as more cities have become available and Airbnb’s accommodations continue to outpace the growth of hotel chains.

The ten most hospitable is a great indication of where to stay, but it does leave me wondering where NOT to stay. A top-10 Least Hospitable Index would be perfect in order to avoid a disastrous weekend away.

You can read through the original data set that Airbnb provided here and draw your own conclusions.