How Does Airbnb Appeal to Seattle Visitors?

Queen Anne, Seattle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Anne,_Seattle)

Whether to soak in the fresh coffee scents at the original Starbucks, drown your ears in Nirvana and Soundgarden, watch Pete Carroll coach like a bumbling idiot, or even attend tech interviews in hopes of landing a job out of college, Seattle has a lot of culture and attractions to offer for tourists year-round. This makes being an Airbnb host in the city very lucrative, especially as an alternative option to overpriced hotels that also gives visitors a better glimpse of life in the city.

Thus the need arises for Airbnb to look for patterns in the data they have collected on their listings in Seattle, namely what types of listings stands out more compared to others in various metrics so that their business practices can be better informed in finding more and better hosts. Using publicly available data from Kaggle, I can observe what features best distinguish Seattle’s Airbnb listings in terms of different measures of popularity.

Part 1: What are the most expensive and cheapest neighborhoods and property types?

First I wanted to understand how the price of an Airbnb listing is determined by its location in Seattle and by the type of property, as I figured that since those factors normally are major determiners of real estate value, they would also likely affect the listing price.

Below is the plot of average listing price by neighborhood:

It’s clear that the most expensive listings are in Queen Anne and Downtown at more than $150. Meanwhile, the cheapest listings are in Beacon Hill, University District and Rainier Valley at more than $90. This could signify that hosts in the former two neighborhoods would be more profitable for Airbnb, especially if their listings are well-reviewed and popular.

Below is a bar chart showing average listing price by property type:

The most expensive property type is the condominium at around $150, while the apartment at around $120 is the cheapest.

The fact that apartments are very common yet not significantly less expensive than condos shows how a listing’s property type is likely not as determinative of its price as its location in Seattle. Therefore, Airbnb ought to place more value on the host’s neighborhood and promote listings in the more expensive areas.

Part 2: What are the characteristics of the best and worst overall rated listings in Seattle?

Next I want to do some deeper examination of the listings data using machine learning techniques. I started off with a linear regression model comparing the overall ratings data to the other features I guessed may have some impact on how Airbnb users may rate their stay. Those features include such examples as number of amenities, location, price, whether or not the host is a superhost, etc.

These were the most definitive characteristics I found in my analysis:

  1. When comparing the overall ratings to more specific review scores, I found that the scores on location correlated much more strongly with the ratings than scores on other aspects, as shown in the linear fit plots below.
  2. Being a superhost made hosts much more likely to receive higher ratings for their listings.
  3. Location mattered strongly to Airbnb users, with properties outside University District being rated much higher than those in that neighborhood group. This is consistent with the first finding based on review scores.

Below are bar plots showing the average rating by neighborhood group and by superhost status.

The average rating for all neighborhood groups except University District was 93 to 96 out of 100, while that for listings in University District was 88. The average rating for superhosts was about 3.5 points higher than that for non-superhosts.

Part 3: What are the characteristics of the most and least reviewed listings?

I conducted a similar analysis as above, but this time looking at the number of reviews for the listings in Seattle. These were my findings.

  1. Just as I found in the previous part, being a superhost made a host much more likely than anything else to get more reviews.
  2. The other major feature that determined review count was property type, with listings in lofts getting much higher review counts than other types.

Below are bar plots showing number of reviews by property type and superhost status.

Listings in lofts got about 45 reviews on average while condos only got about 8 reviews. Meanwhile superhosts got 24 more reviews on average than non-superhosts.

Part 4: What months of the year are most common for bookings in multi-bedroom listings?

Finally, I looked at the reviews data in conjunction with the listings data used above to determine what months saw the most bookings for 2–5 bedroom listings, ie. for traveling groups like families and friend groups. Below is a bar plot showing this breakdown, based on review counts:

It’s clear that the summer months, especially August and September, are the most popular times for bigger groups like families and friends to visit Seattle. Two-bedroom listings also fare much better than those with more bedrooms.

Conclusion

In summation, the takeaways from this analysis of Seattle’s Airbnb listing and review data are as follows:

  1. Location in the city, and to a lesser extent property type, are important factors for pricing listings, with Queen Anne and Downtown being more expensive neighborhood groups and condominiums being the most expensive property types. This could likely point to a strong source of revenue and profits as well.
  2. Location and property type can also impact overall rating and the number of reviews for a listing. University District listings fare much worse in approval than those in other locations, and lofts tend to get much more attention from Airbnb users through reviews.
  3. Being a superhost is perhaps the most determinative characteristic for both rating and number of reviews of a listing, with superhosts doing significantly better in both measures than non-superhosts.

So if one is looking to become an Airbnb host, definitely consider doing so if you’re in a hotter area like Queen Anne or Downtown or have a unique property like a loft, but it pays off much more to put in the work to be labeled a superhost. Airbnb should promote superhosting more in the city’s most attractive locations to encourage visitors to use their lodging and make their stay more relaxed and memorable.

See Github link here.

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