What is Airbnb’s Superhost Status Really Worth?

Scott Shatford | April 2, 2018

Airbnb launched their Superhost program in 2016 to reward their most devoted hosts with a special VIP status. Beyond just a feather in the cap, They stated that hosts who achieved Airbnb Superhost status would reap benefits such as improved search placement, better booking conversions, and at the end of the day, more revenue.

In this post, we’ll dissect the program and provide insights into what, if any, performance lift Airbnb Superhosts receive.


Why Airbnb Launched the Superhost Program

The creation of the Airbnb Superhost program was a response to the lack of consistent experiences on the ‘alternative lodging’ platform.

Previously, Airbnb’s rating system proved an inadequate way of deciphering between professional quality operators and novice hosts. With 80% of Airbnb properties achieving at least a 4.5-star rating, how can a guest more confidently select a premium property? The Superhost program fills this void by creating a more comprehensive quality metric that takes into account a host’s entire portfolio of properties.


How to Qualify for Airbnb Superhost Status

The four criteria that hosts must meet to become an Airbnb Superhost are:

  1. Host a minimum of 10 stays in a year
  2. Respond to guests quickly and maintain a 90% response rate or higher
  3. Have at least 80% 5-star reviews
  4. Honor confirmed reservations (meaning hosts should rarely cancel)

The logic behind the Superhost program is sound. Hosts who provide a predictable level of service should be rewarded with a status that could potentially lead to more bookings and increased revenue.

Have guests paid attention to this class of host and rewarded them for their superior service? Has Airbnb, as the arbitrator of this deal, rewarded its top-performing hosts for their superior product?

Let’s dive into the data and see what we can find.


Why Hosts Aren’t Qualifying for Airbnb’s Superhost Status

We began this analysis by filtering out part-time hosts with properties available for rent less than six months in 2017, leaving us with a total of 2.2 million hosts in 2017. Of these, just 19.4% (392,000) achieved Superhost status in 2017. What exactly led to the disqualification of the remaining 1.6 million hosts from joining the Superhost program?

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Seventy-eight percent of hosts did not qualify for the Superhost program simply because they did not receive enough reservations within the year.

Quality of reviews was the second biggest impediment to achieving Superhost status. Of the 345,000 hosts with sufficient bookings in 2017, only 37% (129,000) had a rating of 4.8 or above.

The remaining 112,000 hosts did not qualify due to either a low response rate or canceled bookings.

Cleanliness and value are the biggest differentiators between Superhost and non-Superhost.

There’s an often overlooked aspect of what makes a customer happy. Most people think that a good review is driven by an easy check-in, a comfortable bed, or clean bathrooms. While they all play a part, getting a perceived “good deal” has been proven to be the biggest contributing factor.

Take a second for that to sink in. If you’re struggling to get to 90+% occupancy, adjusting your rate down can create a virtuous cycle. Guests that believe they received a good deal are much more likely to leave a 5-star review. More people read those glowing reviews and book your property. Higher occupancy over time will easily make up for your lower Average Daily Rate.


Effect of Superhost Status On Listing Views, ADR & Occupancy

Airbnb has the ultimate power over the success of its hosts. One of the promises Airbnb makes to hosts willing to jump through the Superhost hoops is more listing views. Appearing on the first page of the search results for your market is a fantastic incentive. While AirDNA doesn’t collect data on every search result, we do have data on the weekly views a property receives.

The impact of achieving the Superhost status appears to be minimal, with only 5% improvement in listing traffic for Superhost properties. The assumption that the Superhost status by itself guarantees better search placement appears to be false.

But, even without additional eyeballs, are Superhosts able to drive higher Average Daily Rates, Occupancy, and Revenue?

Surprisingly, Superhosts are charging less on a nightly basis. Superhosts’ Average Daily Rate (ADR) is about 11% lower than the global average, but they far and away make up for it with increased occupancy, with an 81% higher Occupancy Rate It appears that Superhosts are better able to find the delicate balance between occupancy and nightly rate. The conclusion that can be made is that dynamic pricing is a critical component of not only maximizing revenue, but also for achieving Superhost status.

Anyone with experience in the hospitality industry knows that everything boils down to RevPAR (Revenue per Available Rental) impact. RevPAR is the single best metric for comparing property performance. Our data shows that Superhosts globally earn 60% more revenue per available day, fueled by their ability to be booked nearly twice as often as their non-Superhost peers.



Where Superhost Status Matters Most

Our assumption was that Superhost status would matter most in large markets where hosts needed every advantage possible to stand out from the crowd. We were surprised to discover there is no correlation between Superhost performance and the number of short-term rentals in a city.

What we did find that was particularly interesting, however, was a clear difference in Superhost performance in markets dominated by leisure travel. A detailed look at the Caribbean/Latin American market illustrates this trend.

RevPAR Delta by Country

The RevPAR for Superhosts that manage mostly resort properties in the Caribbean is significantly less than the global average of a 60% increase. On the other hand, the average RevPAR for Superhosts with Airbnb properties in Latin America is 110% higher than the global average. These are emerging tourist destinations with larger metropolitan areas where safety can be a bigger concern for guests.


When Superhost Status Doesn’t Matter

In addition to Superhost status, there are different niche statuses that hosts can obtain for each individual property, such as Family/Kid Friendly and Business Travel Ready. Our recent Business Travel Ready analysis showed that properties with a Business Travel Ready accreditation earn an average of $10,000 more in top markets. We wondered if the performance benefit of Superhosts holds up for other types of statuses such as Business Travel Ready?

Interestingly, for Superhosts with a Business Travel Ready accreditation, there’s only a 6% RevPAR increase. Since Business Travel Ready is more than just a list of amenities and has to be approved by Airbnb, it’s possible that this nod of approval from Airbnb is performing a similar service as Superhost status.

Guests know they will be receiving a basic level of service and amenities and the property is kept up to certain standards. All-in-all, if you have a property that’s Business Travel Ready, don’t worry about chasing after the Airbnb Superhost status since it won’t boost your profits significantly.


Key Takeaways

Our findings are clear that hosts earn significantly more revenue on Airbnb when they receive the Superhost stamp of approval.

The uptick can be seen in these key performance indicators:

  • Experiencing an 81% higher occupancy rate
  • Earning 60% more revenue per available day
  • A 5% improvement in listing traffic
  • Putting in the necessary time, effort, and strategy toward elevating your host status makes a difference in your short-term rental profitability. This is further validated by Airbnb’s recent announcement regarding the launch of Airbnb Plus. The company is making a continuous effort to classify and reward hosts who provide consistent and exceptional experiences.

Do you know how your short-term rental property stacks up to the competition? Benchmark your ADR, Occupancy, RevPAR, and Revenue with MarketMinder.


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