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Data Darwinism: Reviews and Survival of the Bestest

Author: Kaleel Sakakeeny
Published: July 23, 2013 at 11:52 am

Reviews do matter, but what seems to matter more is who writes them, and the question, can they be predicted?

And it seems Airbnb is saying, "yes."

Booking an Airbnb place anywhere can be a 50-50 proposition, but it's the very unpredictability and rich individuality of each place that makes the stays (and the site) so undeniably attractive.

In a delightful comment, GigaOm, a data science and social web site, says reviews do indeed matter more and more because we are in an age of "Data Darwinism," where "those who get the best reviews thrive."

So what did Airbnb discover? Blog post author Riley Newman reports that youngish guests and males give better reviews.
• Older hosts and female hosts get better reviews
• Earlier booking correlates with better reviews
• Smaller groups tend to give better reviews
And the best city to stay in according to positive reviews is Tampa, Florida.

Does this data matter? Should, as Om asks, Airbnb hosts begin to chose potential guests based in part on factors like gender, age, group size?
While it's true that analyzing reviews is not an exact science, or a science at all, given the role data is playing in today's travel marketing world, we suspect all sites with anything to offer will offer them to targeted groups...like those who write the best reviews.

But post author Newman does a good job in nuancing the results.
Older hosts may be more hospitable because they have more free time, he says. Younger guests maybe be more generous and have lower expectations, since they live in a review-populated world.

Still, we believe the analysis will find its way quickly into targeted marketing. And why not?


About this article

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Article Author: Kaleel Sakakeeny

Kaleel Sakakeeny is the CEO of New Media Travel (NMT) providing timely travel news and information for consumers and the travel industry as Travel Video PostCards, Audio PostCards, and posts. Twitter follow: @newmediatravel http://www.newmediatravel.com …

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