New Purdue Hospitality and Tourism Management research center analyzing Airbnb trends on a global scale

Soocheong (Shawn) Jang, left, and Dohyung Bang pose with an award at a conference in Seoul, South Korea

Soocheong (Shawn) Jang, Purdue University professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) and left, and HTM PhD candidate Dohyung Bang pose with a “best paper” award at a conference in Seoul, South Korea.

Written by: Tim Brouk,

Airbnb is now a global force in vacation lodging with about 5.6 million active listings in 220 countries. About 150 million people have the app on their phones.

That’s a lot of data points to dissect for the researchers in Purdue University’s Center for Hospitality and Retail Industries Business Analytics (CHRIBA), which is housed in the White Lodging-J.W. Marriott, Jr. School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM).

Since its activation in 2022, the center has featured work by HTM graduate students under the direction of HTM professor SooCheong (Shawn) Jang, publishing several analyses of Airbnb use in cities and regions around the world. From New York City to Seoul, South Korea, numerous trends in hospitality can be found when studying tourists’ use of the short-term rental app, especially when compared to hotel use, rates and availability.

“Providing various options for lodging is a good thing for visitors — at a certain level,” Jang said. “I think allowing (Airbnb operators) to do their business freely is one strategy, but if it becomes a share of 10% or higher, then it starts to take a substantial portion of the market share.”

Recent analytical reports show major growth of Airbnbs in some regions but a leveling off in major sites such as New York and London. A May 2023 report, “The Airbnb Landscape of New York City,” found 42,926 listings for 54,646 total rooms. This added up to a whopping 27.4% share of available lodging for tourists wanting to experience Broadway, Central Park or the Empire State Building.

The CHRIBA researchers concluded Airbnb poses stiff competition for “economy, midscale and upper midscale hotels” and is already making “a notable impact on the lodging industry.”

In 2024, CHRIBA’s work on Airbnb’s effects on real estate prices in Seoul was picked up by several South Korean newspapers. A 2024 study by CHRIBA researchers won “Best Paper” at the recent Asia-Pacific Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education conference in Seoul.

By the numbers

While even the newest Airbnb users know rental rates fluctuate depending on the day, CHRIBA crunched prices on the thousands of available listings in New York City to find a mean of $163.55 per stay. This included entire homes and apartments, private rooms within a house or condo, hotel rooms that are managed under Airbnb, and shared rooms like a hostel.

Broken down, the rates averaged to $210.18 per entire house or apartment, $100.20 per private room, $286.95 per hotel room and $92.16 to share with another Airbnb user.

CHRIBA also investigated who hosts all these Airbnbs. While the names were omitted, one rental agency ran 526 homes or apartments while one individual controlled 394 private rooms around New York. However, these were outliers because 82.1% were single listings from single hosts. Only 0.6% of the hosts have more than 10 listings.

Most of the New York City listings were in the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. A map shows both areas almost blanketed in listings. Jang said this is atypical for other cities because most listings appear around tourist attractions. Even London, with an astounding 40% of the market share and the only other city in the world with more Airbnb listings than New York, has clusters of heavy Airbnb listings around tourist destinations, such as Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

Beyond the Big Apple

In late 2023 and early 2024, Jang and his graduate student Dohyung Bang, both natives of South Korea, put their lens on Seoul, a city of 9.8 million, as well as other major cities in the Asia-Pacific Region. Even large cities like Tokyo and Bangkok don’t come close to New York’s Airbnb market share. Still, Airbnb is on a rapid rise in these cities, according to CHRIBA’s findings.  

“The increasing rate in Seoul is faster than other cities like New York and London, even though the actual number of listings is smaller,” Jang explained. “But we are seeing this increasing trend still going on. In London and New York, it’s a little saturated, but other major, international cities are growing in Airbnb rentals.”

Jang said Airbnb has a role in some international cities’ recent concerns of “over-tourism,” which occurs when there are too many visitors to a particular destination, and therefore, they overcrowd certain tourist sites. Historic cities in Italy are prime examples of the over-tourism phenomenon. This also results in higher hotel rates, according to Jang.

“(The tourist destinations) can manage a certain number of visitors, but since visitors can find very cheap options (on Airbnb), there can be more people than they can hold in the city because of Airbnb,” Jang added.

Airbnb stigma

CHRIBA found significant negative qualitative data in some cities. One divisive issue is Airbnb’s knack for increasing real estate prices, which often shuts out first-time homebuyers. Airbnb is essentially insuring a seller’s market in some U.S. cities. However, that means more property tax, and if your neighbors are renting out their home as an Airbnb, that means strangers hanging out on your block several nights of the year.

West Lafayette has been vocal about limiting the amount of Airbnb listings due to housing shortage struggles, according to Based in Lafayette news Substack.

“The West Lafayette City Council was a unanimous vote behind asking for a proposed ban on new short-term rentals in single-family zones,” Dave Bangert wrote.

The story added that Lafayette is investigating putting a cap on Airbnb rentals as well.

One European trend found that some castles can be rented via Airbnb. Yes, Airbnb users could spend the night in a 500-year-old castle for less than $1,000 a night. However, Jang found most castles struggle with upkeep, and the rental fees help keep the old structures standing.

“From a municipal government point of view, it’s very difficult to maintain those facilities,” Jang said.  “You spend many dollars to maintain those but if you use them as Airbnb facilities, people enjoy the castles, and those dollars will go to the municipality’s pockets to maintain all of those facilities, so all those cities are proud of their heritage and those facilities as evidence of their history. It’s kind of win-win in that sense.” 

Whether it’s a castle in Spain or a shared room in Brooklyn with a German DJ on holiday, Airbnb is here to stay. CHRIBA will continue to monitor Airbnb’s global expansion and its effect on hotels and the hospitality and tourism fields through extensive research.

“We’re focusing on data-driven decision-making on hospitality and retail industries, and we also try to add more importance to data analytics to our school (HTM),” Jang said. “If I am a tourism market supporter, I am welcoming many visitors. We need to invite many people to our city, that way our residents and business operators can enjoy this benefit as well. If Airbnb cannot survive here, from the visitor’s perspective, you have a lot fewer options to stay in West Lafayette or any other city, which results in a loss overall.”

Discover more from News | College of Health and Human Sciences

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.