Sharing economy platforms are increasingly popular in Poland. Among the most successful firms based on new business models is Airbnb, a platform for accommodation provision: currently more than 3 million private flats, rooms or other types of accommodation (even castles!) are available via the service in 191 countries (Airbnb, 2016). These numbers show that Airbnb became a strong player in the tourism industry, with a larger network than traditional hotel chains.
Kristóf Gyódi, Analyst DELab UW
The Airbnb network in Warsaw is mainly based on the short-term rental of entire homes, flats and apartments. This may suggest that the owners of these properties opted for Airbnb instead of long-term rental on the housing market, as the expected income from Airbnb is higher. Furthermore, the majority of Airbnb listings are owned by hosts with multiple apartments and rooms.
Supporters of Airbnb and other major ‘sharing economy’ successes argue that such ventures are benefiting local communities by generating value from underused assets- e.g. by enabling to serve tourists in a free room in one’s flat. However, data in Warsaw shows that such situations constitute a minority, as:
- 78% of offers are entire homes. Therefore, hosts are not renting free space in their permanent residence, but providing accommodation in homes that could be potentially rented on a long-term basis for locals.
- 53% of offers are ‘multi-listings’. This may mean that many professional agencies are present on Airbnb, who provide business-to-consumer services.
- Airbnb listings are heavily concentrated in the city centre, instead of residential districts with potentially high free space in private flats.
The activity of Airbnb created a significant regulatory challenge, as private individuals are now able to compete with traditional accommodation providers. Besides the taxing and license related controversies, Airbnb may have a negative impact on the housing market, as it decreases the supply of available flats. Lately Berlin passed a law requiring a special permit for short-term house rentals, if more than 50% of property’s space is rented (Oltermann, 2016).
What is the scope of the Airbnb network in Poland? As Airbnb is revealing only partial information on its activity on a city or country level, the answer is not obvious. In order to analyse the potential impact of Airbnb, the DELab team has prepared a web-scraping tool to collect information on accommodation provided through the platform. This post presents the first, partial results of the project, focusing on Warsaw.
The overall number of Airbnb listings is currently 3457 in Warsaw: in comparison, there are around 100 traditional accommodation providers (hotels and hostels) on Booking.com, a popular platform aggregating hotel offers. Therefore, Airbnb managed to build a significant user base with a wide variety of overnight possibilities. How this number compares with other major European cities? According to a paper by Coyle and Yeung (2016), Paris had more than 65000 listings, Berlin and Barcelona around 25000, while Amsterdam below 20000.
The data shows that the overwhelming majority of Airbnb listings (78%) are entire homes in Warsaw: 2699 entire homes, 680 private rooms and 78 shared rooms are available on the platform. This potentially suggests that the Airbnb platform is used as an alternative for long-term flat renting in Warsaw.
Let us now examine the ownership structure of the listings. Only 47% of accommodation is provided by hosts with one listing, while 53% of the listings are ‘multi-listings’ (multiple listings belong to a single host). Furthermore, it is not uncommon to provide 5 or more rooms and apartments (27% of all listings). This result suggest that not only individuals are hosting guests, but also professional agencies use the platform.
Finally, we present a map containing all listings in Warsaw, which shows that they are strongly concentrated in the city centre. This is especially true in the case of entire homes: the median distance to the centre is under 2 kms, while private rooms are more stretched across the city (median distance is almost 4 kms). The map supports that Airbnb is primarily used by owners with real estate in the heart of the city, while they are less frequent in outer residential districts.
Click on the map!
Red: Entire homes; Blue: Single Rooms; Black: Shared Rooms