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UK Residents’ Opinions of Peer-to-Peer Accommodation Impact on Quality of Life

  • Jason L. StienmetzEmail author
  • Anyu Liu
  • Iis P. Tussyadiah
Conference paper

Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore UK residents’ opinions of how peer-to-peer (P2P) accommodation listings within their communities impact upon their quality of life (QoL). Seven hundred and eighty open-ended questions were collected across the UK and content analysis was conducted to investigate the textual data. It is found that 13% of UK residents held positive opinion on P2P accommodation whereas another 13% expressed negative attitude and the rest kept neutral opinions. More people believed P2P accommodation brought positive economic and negative environmental impacts on the QoL, while the social influence was neutral. Opinions of London residents on P2P accommodation are different from those of non-London residents. Practical implications are provided to policymakers based on the empirical findings.

Keywords

Peer-to-peer accommodation Quality of life Tourism impact Host-guest relationship 

1 Introduction

The fast-growing peer-to-peer (P2P) accommodation has generated significant economic contributions [1] and provided new employment opportunities [2] in tourism destinations. However, there are concerns that the rapid growth of P2P accommodation results in such issues as gentrification [3], increased housing prices [4], discrimination [5], avoidance of government regulation [6], and threats to traditional tourism and hospitality businesses [7]. While several studies have investigated socio-economic characteristics of areas with P2P listings [8], little work has been undertaken to understand how this disruptive innovation has affected the overall well-being of community residents from a holistic (social, economic, and environmental) perspective [9, 10]. The delicate balance between tourists and residents has long been a topic of interest for tourism scholars [11, 12] and the increase of tourists in residential areas brought by P2P accommodation will continue to place a strain on this important relationship. Under the framework of Social Exchange Theory (SET), numerous studies show that residents who perceive positive benefits from tourism will be more likely to support tourism development [13, 14, 15]. Studies have further shown that the local community’s support for P2P accommodation is also dependent on perceived social and economic impacts [16].

Therefore, using a holistic community well-being framework, this study aims to provide important insights into how the development of P2P accommodation services can influence the well-being of local residents. The findings of the study will complement the literature on impacts of P2P accommodation, help practitioners to anticipate the range of benefits and externalities from P2P accommodation more comprehensively, and provide academic support for policymakers and other stakeholders to ensure the growth and impacts of P2P accommodation will align with sustainable development goals in the tourism industry and across destinations.

2 Theoretical Foundation

By matching unmet demand with untapped supply in the accommodation marketplace, P2P accommodation platforms such as Airbnb have enjoyed increasing popularity and thus phenomenal growth. It has been suggested that guests choose P2P accommodation to satisfy their cost-saving and social needs [17]. Interactions with hosts, the local culture, and personalisation were found to be the most attractive features of P2P accommodation appreciated by guests [18, 19]. As a result, the expansion of P2P accommodation has affected the traditional hotel industry. As customers tend to use P2P accommodation as a substitution of traditional hotels [20], studies have evidenced the negative impacts of P2P accommodation on hotel performance. In particular, using data from Texas, US, it was found that the influence of P2P accommodation is stronger on lower-end hotels [21] and that these effects are moderated by the price gap between P2P accommodation and hotels [22]. However, as P2P accommodation and hotels are penetrating into their counterparts’ markets, the impact of P2P accommodation needs to be further investigated beyond that on hotels.

Indeed, the influence of P2P accommodation development goes beyond the tourism and hospitality industry. The emergence of P2P accommodation is said to potentially boost the housing rental rate in the US [23, 24]. Evidence of race discrimination in P2P accommodation was also revealed [3]. Based on a field experiment, it was identified that guests with African American names experienced a lower booking acceptance rate than White Americans [25]. Finally, as P2P accommodation develops, numerous challenges to current regulations were also reported [26].

The impact of P2P accommodation development on destinations is not unique. Intensive studies have shown the influence of tourism development on the destinations from economic, social, and environmental perspectives [10, 15]. According to SET [27], if the positive impact of tourism is larger than the negative one, residents will support further development of tourism in the future; or else, they will show no interest in tourism development. The attitude of residents toward tourism development has been widely examined by scholars in a number of destinations in various time periods [28]. Most empirical findings support the propositions in SET. More recently, a utility maximization model was adapted to explain residents’ support for tourism from a conceptual perspective [12].

The development of tourism may not only affect the attitudes of hosts, but also the communities’ quality of life. A positive relationship between tourism development and communities’ quality of life (QoL) was found using one-off survey data [29, 30]. In contrast, using six waves of the European Social Survey data in 2002–2013, it was evidenced that as the tourism industry developed, the QoL of local residents increased at the beginning, but started to decline after the tourism development passed a certain level, indicating the negative impact of over-tourism [31].

Although the impact of tourism development on the QoL of the local community has been intensively investigated, the examination of SET in this emerging sector, P2P accommodation, has been overlooked. A one rare case [32] indicated that residents could perceive both positive and negative impacts brought by P2P accommodation in economic, social, and environmental realms. More efforts should be paid into this field to investigate the relationship between P2P accommodation development and the QoL of local residents. The answer to this question is not only important to the sustainable development of P2P accommodation industry, but also could provide empirical support for the development of initiatives by government and stakeholders in order to achieve a win-win situation for both the industry and local residents.

3 Method

The aim of this study was to explore UK residents’ opinions regarding how P2P accommodation listings within their communities have impacted their QoL. For this purpose an online questionnaire methodology was used where study participants were first provided with a working definition of P2P accommodation (“the short-term rental of private residences that is available through companies such as Airbnb and HomeAway”) followed by an open-ended question “please share with us your opinions of how peer-to-peer accommodations have impacted the quality of life in your community.” An academic definition of QoL was not provided to participants as doing so may have influenced their responses. Rather, respondents’ own interpretation of “quality of life in your community” allowed for an unbiased expression of issues related to P2P accommodation. The online survey was distributed via Survey Sampling International (SSI) and targeted SSI panel members residing in the UK (including England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland). Because issues surrounding P2P accommodation are particularly salient for urban communities and because London is one of the cities with the highest number of P2P listings, a purposive sampling strategy required 50% of the sample to reside in the Greater London area. Data were collected in June 2018 and resulted in a total of 780 valid responses, 390 of which resided in Greater London and 390 living elsewhere in the UK.

Survey respondents were also asked demographic questions regarding region of residence, gender, age, and education, number of years they have lived in their current community, and whether they had experience staying in P2P accommodation or listing a P2P accommodation. Responses to the open-ended question were then coded manually into three categories: (1) those reporting a negative impact on QoL in their community, (2) those reporting neutral impact on quality of life, and (3) those reporting a positive impact on QoL in their community. Responses describing both negative and positive impacts were coded as neutral. The open-ended responses were also processed using KH Coder content analysis software [33].

4 Results

Characteristics of the UK sample are reported in Table 1. The distribution of region of residence for the outside London subsample was similar to that of the UK, and there was a representative distribution of gender, age, and education levels for the sample. The level of education of Greater London residents was significantly higher with 52.1 reporting at least a bachelor’s degree compared to 34.6% of non-London residents reporting the same levels of education. The Greater London area subsample could also be described as generally younger (40.3% were less than 45 years old) compared to the non-London subsample (71.3% at least 45 years old). Overall, nearly half (49.1%) of the sample had lived in their current community for 20 years or more, and only 12.4% of the sample had lived in their community less than five years. Interestingly, about a fifth of the total sample (21.4%) reported having previously stayed in P2P accommodation, with the share of London residents using P2P accommodation slightly higher than non-London residents (26.9% compared to 15.9%). Only a minority of the sample (6.2%) listed accommodations on P2P platforms.
Table 1.

Sample characteristics, n = 780

  

All UK residents (n = 780)

Greater London (n = 390)

Outside London (n = 390)

Region

England

93.1%

100%

86.2%

Scotland

3.3%

0%

6.7%

Wales

2.4%

0%

4.9%

Northern Ireland

1.2%

0%

2.3%

Gender

Male

50.5%

53.8%

47.2%

Female

49.5%

46.2%

52.8%

Age

18–24 years

5.8%

7.7%

3.8%

25–34 years

13.2%

15.4%

11.0%

35–44 years

15.5%

17.2%

13.8%

45–54 years

19.2%

17.7%

20.8%

55–64 years

23.8%

18.7%

29.0%

65 years or older

22.4%

23.3%

21.5%

Education

No qualifications

5.6%

4.1%

7.2%

GSCE or equivalent

20.6%

16.2%

25.1%

A levels or equivalent

21.8%

20.0%

23.6%

Apprenticeship

2.3%

1.8%

2.8%

Bachelor’s degree

30.8%

36.9%

24.6%

Master’s degree

9.0%

10.8%

7.2%

Other qualifications

6.3%

5.9%

6.7%

Doctorate degree

3.6%

4.4%

2.8%

Stayed in P2P

No

78.6%

73.1%

84.1%

Yes

21.4%

26.9%

15.9%

Listed with P2P

No

93.8%

92.8%

94.9%

Yes

6.2%

7.2%

5.1%

Years living in community

Less than 5 years

12.4%

13.3%

11.5%

5–9 years

15.3%

15.6%

14.9%

10–19 years

23.2%

21.8%

24.6%

20 or more years

49.1%

49.2%

49.0%

Opinion of P2P on community QoL

Positive impact

13.1%

14.4%

11.8%

Neutral impact

73.7%

67.7%

79.7%

Negative impact

13.2%

17.9%

8.5%

Manual coding of the open-ended responses reveals a balance of opinions, with three quarters (73.7%) of UK residents having a neutral opinion of the impact of P2P accommodations, and the remaining one quarter almost evenly split between positive (13.1%) and negative (13.2%) opinions. Importantly, there are significant differences between the subsamples. In London, where P2P listings are more prevalent, fewer residents have a neutral opinion and there is a larger proportion of negative opinions towards P2P accommodation. Outside of London there are more positive than negative opinions of P2P accommodation’s impact on QoL (11.8% compared to 8.5%). These differences in opinions towards P2P accommodation between Londoners and the rest of the UK are statistically significant (χ2 = 18.1, df = 2, p < .001).

Chi-square analysis (see Table 2) was also conducted to identify additional factors that might influence the valence of opinion towards P2P accommodation. Results indicate that perceptions of the impact of P2P accommodation on QoL vary significantly by age (χ2 = 33.4, df = 10, p < .001), with younger generations perceiving more positive impacts on QoL, while older generations perceive more negative impacts. Neither gender (χ2 = 4.2, df = 2, p = .12), nor education level (χ2 = 22.5, df = 14, p = .07) were found to have a statistically significant relationship with opinion towards P2P accommodation.
Table 2.

Chi-square analysis Peer-to-Peer accommodation’s impact on community quality of life, n = 780

  

Negative opinion

Neutral opinion

Positive opinion

Gender (χ2 = 4.2, df = 2, p = .12)

Male

14.0%

75.4%

10.7%

Female

12.4%

72.0%

15.5%

Age (χ2 = 33.4, df = 10, p < .001)

18–24 years

6.7%

60.0%

33.3%

25–34 years

14.6%

67.0%

18.4%

35–44 years

14.9%

66.9%

18.2%

45–54 years

14.0%

75.3%

10.7%

55–64 years

10.8%

79.6%

9.7%

65 years or older

14.9%

78.3%

6.9%

Education (χ2 = 22.5, df = 14, p = .07)

No qualifications

11.4%

81.8%

6.8%

GSCE or equivalent

13.7%

78.9%

7.5%

A levels or equivalent

11.8%

75.3%

12.9%

Apprenticeship

5.6%

83.3%

11.1%

Bachelor’s degree

13.8%

68.8%

17.5%

Master’s degree

17.1%

61.4%

21.4%

Other qualifications

16.3%

73.5%

10.2%

Doctorate degree

7.1%

89.3%

3.6%

Stayed in P2P (χ2 = 46.8, df = 2, p < .001)

No

12.1%

78.8%

9.1%

Yes

17.4%

55.1%

27.5%

Listed with P2P (χ2 = 44.0, df = 2, p < .001)

No

13.1%

75.8%

11.1%

Yes

14.6%

41.7%

43.8%

Years living in community (χ2 = 14.7, df = 6, p = .02)

Less than 5 years

12.4%

70.1%

17.5%

5–9 years

19.3%

68.9%

11.8%

10–19 years

9.4%

72.4%

18.2%

20 or more years

13.3%

76.8%

9.9%

Community Location (χ2 = 18.1, df = 2, p < .001)

Outside London

8.5%

79.7%

11.8%

Greater London

17.9%

67.7%

14.4%

Previous experience, however, is found to have a statistically significant relationship with opinions, with those having stayed in P2P accommodation (χ2 = 46.8, df = 2, p < .001) and those listing accommodation on P2P platforms (χ2 = 44.0, df = 2, p < .001) exhibiting much more favourable opinions than those that have not. Finally, years living in the community is also found to have a statistically significant relationship with opinions towards P2P accommodation and QoL (χ2 = 14.7, df = 6, p = .02), though the relationship does not appear to be linear. The dominant negative opinion is observed among those residents having lived in the community between five to nine years and those living in the community 20 years or more. Dominant positive opinions are observed among those living in the community less than five years and those living in the community between 10 and 19 years.

Content analysis of the open-ended responses was next conducted to determine factors that influence opinions towards P2P accommodation. Only responses indicating a non-neutral impact of P2P accommodation on QoL were included in the content analysis (n = 211). Using KH Coder, responses were first pre-processed in order to eliminate stop words (e.g. “a”, “an”, and “the”), extract the root form of words (i.e., lemmatization), and determine the part-of-speech (i.e., noun, verb, adjective) of each word. Word co-occurrence networks based on the top frequency words were then created in order to further understand patterns in the ways people communicate their opinions of P2P accommodation and QoL and to identify overall themes in the opinions of respondents. Separate analysis was conducted for the responses indicating positive opinions (n = 108) and negative opinions (n = 109). Figure 1 illustrates the word co-occurrence networks, where size of the nodes indicates word frequency, the thickness of lines (edges) connecting nodes indicates the strength of the connection between word pairs, and shades of nodes indicate the different communities or themes within the text of the responses that were identified using the random walk method [34].
Fig. 1.

Word association networks describing opinions of Peer-to-Peer accommodation and quality of life

Words such as “people”, “community”, “local”, and “visitor” were the most commonly used and are an indication that social issues related to QoL were most prevalently discussed among respondents. Less frequently used words such as “rent”, “money”, and “income” related to economic factors, and words such as “area”, “noise”, and “place” related to environmental factors. Examining the word association network for positive opinions of P2P accommodation, themes such as the opportunity to generate extra income, improve the cultural diversity, support local businesses, create jobs, and encourage the development and/or improvement of community facilities are revealed. Similarly, the word association network for negative opinions of P2P accommodation reveal themes related to increases in housing prices, increases in noise, litter, and traffic congestion, and the disruptive behaviour (e.g., parties and crime) of strangers to the neighbourhood.

Based on the patterns observed from the word co-occurrence networks, the response data was manually coded to further categorise the data into themes of social, environmental, and economic factors leading to both positive and negative opinions of P2P accommodation. Table 3 reports the frequency with which each of the themes is observed for the overall sample and the London/non-London resident subsamples.
Table 3.

Peer-to-Peer accommodation factors influencing community quality of life, n = 211

 

All UK residents (n = 211)

Greater London (n = 131)

Outside London (n = 80)

Positive economic impact

18%

17%

20%

Positive environmental impact

4%

4%

4%

Positive social impact

25%

24%

26%

Negative economic impact

9%

8%

11%

Negative environmental impact

16%

18%

14%

Negative social impact

29%

32%

24%

Among all groups, social factors related to P2P accommodation’s influence on QoL are the most frequently mentioned. Quotes such as “…it helps everybody to be friendly…” and “…meet people from diverse cultures and learn something from them…” illustrate the positive social impacts of P2P accommodations on quality of life, while quotes such as “…I have a very acute awareness for my personal safety, I maybe a bit paranoid” and “…no community feel. No children playing or living in my flats. Over pricing pushing up costs in the area” illustrate the perceived negative social impacts of P2P accommodation.

While positive social impacts are discussed only slightly less frequently than negative social impacts, the positive economic impacts of P2P accommodation are discussed with much greater frequency than the negative economic impacts. Examples of positive economic impact, such as supporting local business, increased employment, and secondary income opportunities are exemplified by quotes such as “…more people come into the community thus using the services provided and helping the economy…” and “…good way to earn extra money - some tenants might not be reputable.” The greater frequency of discussed positive economic impact compared to negative economic impact is somewhat surprising considering media coverage of housing price increases associated with P2P accommodation [6]. Examples of residents’ concerns about negative economic impact include “…the house prices have increased…” and “…worried that people who would otherwise sell are renting and hence reducing the supply of housing and driving up prices. And has the potential to destroy communities if only floating resident.”

Conversely, negative environmental impacts appear to outweigh any positive environmental impacts caused by P2P accommodation. Quotes such as “…constant bibs and loud music, untidy front gardens, too many cars belonging to one residence causing parking problems…” and “…more trash is left outside rented buildings…” illustrate concerns regarding litter, noise pollution, and increased traffic and parking congestion. Positive environmental impacts were seldom mentioned, but several quotes such as “…encouraged the local council to improve facilities…” and “…accommodations have had to be maintained to an acceptable standard…” suggest that some respondents perceive improvements to local infrastructure and services due to P2P accommodation in their community.

5 Conclusions

Based on the results, it is apparent that most UK residents do not feel QoL in their community has been significantly impacted by the development of P2P accommodation. However, there is also evidence that in the Greater London area P2P accommodation does have a greater impact on QoL compared to other parts of the UK. Indeed, throughout the UK, the amount of positive sentiment is roughly equal to the negative sentiment towards P2P accommodation, but the proportion of negative sentiment is larger in London while the opposite is true outside of London. Considering London is one of the highest growth major markets of Airbnb, the higher proportion of negative sentiment may be associated with the extent of P2P accommodation development in the communities of respondents. This calls for further studies to explore the link between growth and residents’ attitude over time. Drawing on a previous study showing evidence of increasing residents’ negative attitude after tourism development reaches a certain level [31], it is imperative that mechanism is built (e.g. regulatory framework) to anticipate an optimum level of development without sacrificing residents’ QoL. Age, experience with P2P accommodations, and time spent living in a community all influence residents’ opinions on the impact of P2P accommodation on community QoL.

Based on content analysis, factors influencing both positive and negative sentiment towards P2P accommodation have been categorised as social, environmental, and economic factors. This categorisation of impacts is consistent with previous P2P accommodation studies, such as [16] and [32]. Social factors encompass the most prevalent issues, while environmental issues seem to have the least impact on QoL. Different from the findings of [16] and [32], economic issues, which capture news headlines, are found to be of secondary concern to social factors. Further, negative economic factors (such as increased cost of living) is a more discussed issue outside of London, rather than within the Greater London area. Further, negative environmental factors seem to outweigh negative economic factors. The identification of social, environmental, and economic factors are consistent with existing theoretical frameworks explaining tourism’s impact on residents’ QoL. Further research is now needed to better understand the relative power each factor has in influencing the overall well-being and QoL for residents and to assess the optimum level of P2P accommodation development within a community. Future studies may also wish to investigate how residents’ satisfaction with current social, environmental, and economic conditions may influence attitudes towards P2P accommodation.

Several recommendations for decision makers can be made. First, it is essential to recognize that P2P accommodation in the eyes of residents appears to be a double-edged sword, with the number of residents supporting and opposing P2P accommodation in near balance. Support for P2P accommodation in part seems to be influenced by age and experience. Therefore, the public relations of P2P platforms may focus on communicating with older generations in order to win community support. Additionally, because of the particular importance of social issues revealed through this study, greater attention needs to be given to what might be described as the possible erosion of community identity as P2P accommodation is introduced. Policies and best practices should be devised which preserve and celebrate the unique social/cultural identity of communities, understanding that it is often this sense of community that attracts visitors in the first place, and which community members are most concerned with losing.

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the University of Surrey, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason L. Stienmetz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anyu Liu
    • 1
  • Iis P. Tussyadiah
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Hospitality and Tourism ManagementUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK

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