Back in November, Airbnb released a massive data set on the status and characteristics of its hosts in New York in an attempt to better detail what kind of people put their rooms or entire homes for rent on the platform. While Airbnb’s statistics looked like it had a significantly smaller population of multiple-listing hosts than single-home hosts, the company admitted in a letter on Wednesday that it had purged around 1,500 listings before compiling the report.
Airbnb outlined the purge, which occurred before the release of the December report:
Throughout November, and consistent with our Compact commitments, we removed roughly 1,500 of the 37,000+ Airbnb listings in New York City in an effort to remove listings that appeared to be controlled by commercial operators and did not reflect Airbnb’s vision for our community. 622 hosts were impacted, including 375 (60%) that had 2 or more listings removed.
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The hubbub surrounding the purge of “bad actors” on the platform was ignited by an independent critic of Airbnb, Inside Airbnb that indicated the company was intentionally misleading people into believing that it had its multiple-listing owner numbers under control. These kinds of people are the target of regulators, who fear illegal hotel circuits and mass evictions as more people who own properties decide to list them as full, available homes on the platform.
By eliminating a large number of them (which did show up in the previous data report listed as ‘Former Hosts’), the problem appeared to be alleviating itself rather than a concerted effort by the company to look better.
But Airbnb contends that the purge didn’t have lasting effects on the overall host base: the company told New York State legislators in a letter that 94 percent of hosts in the city have a single listing. This is one percent lower than the November report indicated.
But it’s not so much volume as it is proportion of income. As I noted earlier in my previous analysis of the data initiative, it’s still apparent that hosts with multiple listings reap a considerable share of revenue in New York City, which runs counter to Airbnb’s positioning as a good neighbor just trying to pick up extra income. Even if people who own multiple listings comprise less than five percent of the Airbnb population, they do net 38 percent of overall revenue. That is still an important issue to consider.
Regardless, it’s clear that Airbnb wants to brand itself as for the communities. Now it’s up to legislators and the people to buy what they’re selling.