Peer-to-peer accommodation: drivers and user profiles
Juho Pesonen, PhD
Head of Research (eTourism)
Centre for Tourism Studies
University of Eastern Finland
Kuninkaankartanonkatu 7, P.O.Box 86
57101 Savonlinna, Finland
Phone: +358 40 184 2698
Iis Tussyadiah, PhD
Associate Clinical Professor
Hospitality Business Management
Carson College of Business
Washington State University Vancouver
14204 NE Salmon Creek Ave, CLS 308T
Vancouver, WA 98686 USA
Phone: +1 (360) 546-9109
Fax: +1 (360) 546-9037
Juho Pesonen is the head of eTourism research at the Centre for Tourism Studies in the University of
Eastern Finland. In his research Juho focuses on how information and communication technologies are
changing tourism with the emphasis on consumer behavior. In particular, he studies market
heterogeneity and possibilities it creates for different tourism stakeholders. He has published in
numerous academic journals including Journal of Travel Research and Journal of Travel & Tourism
Iis P. Tussyadiah is associate clinical professor with the School of Hospitality Management in the
Carson College of Business at Washington State University Vancouver, USA. She investigates the
roles of information technology in shaping traveler behavior and experiences and transforming the
travel and tourism industry. In particular, she focuses on the use of information technology for
behavioral design in various tourism contexts. She has published her work in Annals of Tourism
Research, Journal of Travel Research, and other tourism and hospitality journals. She has received
several best paper awards in international conferences such as ENTER, ADM, and I-CHRIE.
This is an author version of the paper and is subject to change. For final version please see:
Pesonen, J. & Tussyadiah, I. (2017). Peer-to-peer accommodation: drivers and user profiles. In
Dredge, D., & Gyimóthy, S. (Eds.) Collaborative Economy and Tourism. Perspectives, Politics,
Policies and Prospects. Springer. pp. 285-303. http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319517971
The tourism industry is currently dealing with the impacts of collaborative consumption, with tourists
increasingly using peer-to-peer (P2P) services such as Airbnb and Uber. This study aims to extend our
knowledge of why P2P accommodation services are not just succeeding, but thriving, from the
consumer perspective, and it contributes to an understanding of the reasons for the popularity of P2P
accommodation services and how consumer heterogeneity affects consumer choices. In this study, the
drivers of P2P accommodation services are examined in order to better understand consumer
characteristics and behaviour. Based on a survey of Internet users in Finland, the major drivers
affecting the use of P2P accommodation services are the age of consumers, active use of the Internet
and online technologies, and the frequency of international travel. Cluster analysis identified two user
profiles corresponding to consumer motivations for using P2P accommodation services. The first
consumer group uses P2P accommodation services to make their trips more convenient, while the
second uses them mostly for social reasons.
Keywords: Peer-to-peer accommodation, segmentation, motivations, sharing economy, drivers
Collaborative consumption is becoming more prevalent in many industries and having a profound
impact on consumer behaviour. With more and more consumers using peer-to-peer (P2P) services such
as Uber and Airbnb, collaborative consumption is becoming increasingly important and is expected to
transform the tourism industry in the next years. However, information regarding who the consumers
are, why they are attracted to these services and what their scale of use is remains unclear. Indeed,
Sigala (2015) has called for more international research on the numerous personal and contextual
factors that influence collaborative consumption, highlighting the need for a better understanding of the
increasing popularity of this consumption behaviour and the drivers behind it. Additionally, Guttentag
(2013) has specified several topics of importance for future research regarding Airbnb, including the
demographic and psychographic characteristics associated with its use. P2P accommodation services
can be regarded as a type of collaborative consumption in which anyone can rent out their property
(e.g., houses, apartments, cabins, rooms) for guests to stay in. With this definition, the focus is on a
market-mediated sharing economy, one which involves the monetary element (i.e., renting) in
collaborative consumption. This is congruent with Belk's (2014, p 1597) definition, which states that
“collaborative consumption is people coordinating the acquisition and distribution of a resource for a
fee or other compensation”.
Marketing literature regards segmentation and customer profiles as one of the cornerstones of
understanding consumer behaviour (Pesonen 2013). Consumers are heterogeneous in their behaviour,
characteristics, motivations, needs and wants; different people prefer different things for different
reasons. In particular, motivations have been regarded as an efficient way to analyse and understand
consumer behaviour in travel and tourism (Bieger and Laesser 2002; Pesonen 2013; Park and Yoon
2009). Therefore, researchers assume that those engaged in collaborative consumption are not a
homogenous group and that the reasons for using P2P services differ from one person to the next.
However, while attempts have been made to better understand consumer motivations for engaging in
collaborative consumption (e.g., Tussyadiah 2015; Hamari, Sjöklint and Ukkonen 2015), the users of
P2P services are typically regarded as a homogenous group. Several recent studies have sought to
explain in more detail consumer heterogeneity within the sharing economy. Ozanne and Ballantine
(2010) identified four groups of toy library users who share different characteristics. Stokes, Clarence,
Anderson and Rinne (2014) found regional and socio-demographic differences between users and non-
users of sharing services. Finally, Tussyadiah and Pesonen (2015) identified minor differences with
respect to the drivers of P2P accommodation use between consumers in Finland and the United States.
Due to the limited findings presented in previous research, there still exists a gap in the field with
regard to market heterogeneity as well as the factors influencing the use of collaborative consumption
services. To that end, this study compares users and non-users of P2P accommodation services and
identifies how they differ from each other, especially in terms of the personal and behavioural factors
that drive collaborative consumption. Furthermore, this study explores further the profiles of P2P
accommodation users to uncover the different reasons for participating in collaborative consumption
among different user profiles.
2 Literature review
2.1 Drivers of collaborative consumption
Collaborative consumption services are growing fast and becoming more and more popular all over the
world. This phenomenon is driven by a large number of different factors: societal, economic and
technological factors (Owyang 2013). The societal drivers of collaborative consumption identified in
the literature include consumer concerns about sustainability and social relations. According to
Botsman and Rogers (2010), people are becoming more and more aware of the negative impacts of
their consumption habits and are starting to shift their preferences towards more eco-friendly
consumption patterns. The sharing economy makes efficient use of existing resources and reduces the
need to invest in buying new products or building new infrastructure, such as hotels, thus reducing the
environmental impact of travel. This, in turn, also allows for cost savings. Indeed, Belk (2014) has
identified consumer attitudes towards consumption as one of the major drivers of the sharing economy.
Buying and owning are losing importance as technology enables more and more efficient sharing.
Consumers are willing to pay for temporal access to goods and services instead of buying and owning
them outright (Bardhi and Eckhardt 2012).The increased financial flexibility that non-ownership
provides is the primary economic driver of the sharing economy (Owyang 2013). Finally, technology is
regarded as the third major driver behind the sharing economy. Mobile technologies, online
communications, social media and developments in ICT, including payment systems, have all made
possible the wider adoption of a sharing economy on a global scale (Belk 2014). Indeed, Guttentag
(2013) states that Airbnb's innovative business model is enabled by Web 2.0 technologies.
Some scholars have argued that people do not participate in the sharing economy just for the sake of
sharing, but for the benefits it provides. The benefits that consumers receive from consumption have
been identified as a major driver of their consumption choices (Haley 1995). However, in many cases
the benefits are inseparable from or else very hard to distinguish from motivations (Pesonen 2012). The
very question that motivations and benefits aim to answer in this case is why consumers are using P2P
accommodation services instead of other options. In this study, the benefits that a consumer receives
and the motivations that drive a consumer to seek such benefits are treated as one and the same.
While the extant literature on the sharing economy generally suggests these three drivers—economic,
societal and technological (Owyang, 2013)—there is limited information on the relative importance of
each driver. For example, Hamari et al. (2015) studied the adoption of collaborative consumption
services and identified factors such as sustainability, enjoyment of the activity and economic gains as
motivations for using collaborative consumption services. Their results also suggest that sustainability
is not an important motivation for everyone, but those for whom ecological consumption is important
are more likely motivated by the sustainability aspect of collaborative consumption. Tussyadiah and
Pesonen (2015) examined how the social and economic appeal of P2P accommodation services
contributes to changes in the travel patterns of tourists due to the use of such services. They found that
both social and economic factors have a significant influence on increases in the length of stay,
participation in various activities, selecting from a wider range of destinations and the frequency with
which people travel. Despite becoming a prominent research field, there needs to be more empirical
research to confirm and estimate the effects of different drivers of collaborative consumption, including
how they affect the use of P2P accommodation services.
2.2 Choice of accommodation and reasons for choosing P2P accommodation
Modern tourists have a wide range of accommodation types available to them, including hotels, hostels,
friends and relatives, chalets and cottages, or free accommodation services such as Couchsurfing. With
all these different options available, it is important to better understand the reasons for why P2P
accommodation services such as Airbnb are thriving in a marketplace with a high level of competition.
Tourists are looking for variety when choosing between different types of accommodation and some
selection factors are more important than others. In terms of hotel choice, the topic has been relatively
well researched, with a number of studies explaining the different factors influencing accommodation
selection (see, e.g., Sohrabi, Vanani, Tahmasebipur and Fazli 2012; Kim and Perdue 2013). For
example, Wong and Chi-Yung (2001) identified price, quality, location, brand and room type as the
most significant factors affecting hotel selection. However, these studies focus on why consumers
choose one hotel over another instead of why they prefer hotels over other accommodation options.
Guttentag (2013) states that the demand for P2P accommodation services such as Airbnb is not a given,
as Airbnb lacks many benefits that traditional options such as hotels provide, including service quality,
brand reputation and security. However, guests in P2P accommodations benefit from better price,
amenities, local experience and the possibility to stay in a 'non-touristy' area. Indeed, one of the
growing tourism trends is the search for authenticity (Wang 1999; Yeoman, Brass and McMahon-
Beattie 2007). There is less and less space to accommodate mass tourism in the modern world. Modern
tourists are increasingly seeking genuine, authentic, local, unique and, especially, memorable
experiences (Cohen 2010; Sims 2009; Tung and Ritchie 2011). Ritzer (2007) argues that commercial
hospitality is inhospitable because commercial advantage is driving hospitable behaviour instead of
genuine motives such as a desire to please others through feelings of friendliness or through enjoyment
in providing a pleasant experience. Tourists want human contact that is both local and real (Yeoman et
al. 2007). Indeed, Week (2012) has analysed individuals who view themselves more as travellers than
(traditionally defined) tourists, individuals who desire more local and authentic travel experiences. P2P
accommodation services can provide tourists with authentic experiences by creating opportunities to
form meaningful relationships with local hosts. Furthermore, P2P accommodation services enable
tourists to tap into destination resources through the local hosts. These meaningful host-guest
interactions are what make P2P accommodation services unique compared to other types of
The literature also recognises sustainability as an increasingly important factor for consumers when
making accommodation decisions and that consumer concerns about the environment are become more
and more important (Kalafatis, Pollard, East and Tsogas 1999; Han, Hsu and Sheu 2010). For example,
the green marketing of hotels has been a topic of interest in hospitality literature in the last decades
(Han and Kim 2010; Kim and Han 2010; Manaktola and Jauhari 2007; Lee, Hsu, Han and Kim 2010).
Researchers have suggested that consumers are increasingly placing greater levels of importance on
sustainability and, consequently, considering the potential environmental impacts of their travels when
making accommodation choices. Indeed, sustainability, as one of the drivers of collaborative
consumption, manifests itself in the form of reselling, renting, co-owning or gifting practices (Owyang
2013), all of which reduce the need to invest in new products, facilities and infrastructures.
P2P accommodation services require interaction between hosts and guests, implying that the culture of
each plays a central role in the creation of customer experience. Plog (1974) presented a tourist
typology based on motivations, demonstrating that some tourists prefer exotic experiences whereas
others prefer more familiar destinations. Thus, some tourists might avoid P2P accommodation services
when travelling internationally (i.e., to minimise interactions with unfamiliar cultures), but use them
when travelling domestically. On the other hand, others might prefer P2P accommodation services in
international travel precisely because they want to experience new cultures and local customs. Prior
travel experiences influence a person’s degree of familiarity with particular tourist destinations.
Tourists who often travel internationally, and who are exposed to different cultures, might be more
familiar with and interested in local customs in faraway destinations. Therefore, travel frequency might
be reflected in the use of P2P accommodation services. This suggests that the novelty of the host
culture could be one of the drivers of (or barriers to) P2P accommodation services. This issue has not
been examined before.
In previous studies, P2P accommodation users are often regarded as a homogenous group of people.
For example, Guttentag (2013) has suggested that the users of P2P services are often young,
technology savvy, budget conscious consumers because of the unique attributes of P2P accommodation
services and reservation process, which involve lots of interaction with the host. Likewise, Stokes et al.
(2014) have stated that people who are employed either full- time or part time, managerial, professional
and administrative workers, and people with children in the UK are more likely to take part in the
online collaborative economy than others. Tussyadiah and Pesonen (2015) have also identified
differences between consumers in Finland and the US in terms of how P2P accommodation services
ultimately lead to changes in travellers' behaviour. However, as researchers obtain more information
about the users, it is becoming obvious that different motivations and reasons for using P2P
accommodation services are important for different people. Specifically, motivations are often used to
segment and profile tourists since they provide a stable and actionable base for marketing purposes
(Pesonen 2015). In the context of P2P accommodation services, consumer motivations can provide an
excellent base for user profiling (e.g., Tussyadiah 2015).
3 Aim of the study
Based on the literature review, we identified two central themes for research. First, the drivers of
collaborative consumption need to be examined in order to establish what particular factors drive the
use of P2P accommodation services in general. Then, to challenge the assumption that those who use
P2P accommodation services comprise a homogenous group, we provide a more detailed examination
of the users of P2P accommodation services. Assessing the various groups of people who use P2P
accommodation services allows us to understand heterogeneity in the market place and how the drivers
of collaborative consumption are manifested in the different market segments. This study analyses at a
deeper level the factors that drive user participation in collaborative consumption and, therefore, it
contributes to our understanding of the adoption and use of P2P accommodation services from a user
4 Data and methods
To achieve the goals of this study, an online survey was created to solicit responses from Internet users
in Finland. To examine the reasons for using P2P accommodation services, items prepared by
Tussyadiah (2015) and Tussyadiah and Pesonen (2015) were used. These survey items were derived
from relevant previous studies in the existing literature (see Botsman and Rogers 2010; Gansky 2010;
Guttentag 2013; Kohda and Matsuda 2013; Owyang 2013) and reflect the motivations and benefits for
consumers to use these services (see Figure 1). The items were measured using a 5-point scale with
agree–disagree anchored statements (ranging from -2, “Disagree Completely”, to 2, “Agree
Completely”). Additionally, nine items were used to measure respondents’ opinions of the
environment, use of the Internet and travel behaviour. The items were part of a larger study on Finnish
lifestyle choices and were based on studies conducted by Mustonen and Lindblom (2013). The
measurements were deemed valid for the purpose of this study via principal component analysis (Table
1). The questions were also presented in a similar 5-point Likert scale. Personal annual income was
measured using seven categories, and respondents were also asked to state how often they take
domestic and international holidays per year on average.
Drivers of Collaborative
Source: Owyang 2013
Motivations for Staying in a P2P
Source: Tussyadiah and Pesonen 2015
Increasing population density
Drive for sustainability
Desire for community
Obtain insider tips about local
Meaningful interactions with hosts
Know people from local
Sustainable business model
Monetise excess or idle
Increase financial flexibility
Access instead of ownership
Influx of venture capital
Reduces travel costs
Supports local residents
Obtain higher quality
accommodations at less cost
Not supporting hotel enterprises
Mobile devices and platforms
Saves time on searching for an
Enjoy finding a rental
Figure 1 Reasons for using P2P accommodation based on collaborative consumption drivers
First, we collected a representative sample of Finnish residents using an online panel survey (N =
1026). The sample represents Finnish consumers both in terms of geographic location and gender.
Also, different age groups among the population are well represented, but the mean age of the sample
was higher than the mean age of the Finnish population (50 years in the sample compared to 41.5 for
the general population). This data was used to respond to the first research question about the drivers
motivating the use of P2P accommodation services among the general population in Finland. Since
only 70 users were captured in the first survey, additional data were collected using the same panel
survey and targeting only those who had used P2P accommodation services before. The additional
survey was conducted by directing the survey at the national population and asking whether or not
people had previously used P2P accommodation services. All of the respondents who agreed with the
statement were regarded as P2P accommodation users. This resulted in an additional 220 responses just
from the P2P accommodation users.
Data analysis was divided into two parts. To obtain more knowledge about the drivers of P2P
accommodation services among the general public, a principal component analysis (PCA) with
Varimax rotation was conducted using all of the collected data on the lifestyle items, including
travelling, Internet use, and environmental friendliness. PCA identifies the underlying shared
dimensions of the various constructs and group items based on participant responses (Hair, Black,
Babin and Anderson 2010). Regression scores of each principal component were saved for further
analysis, with the aim being to compare the importance of these principal components. Then, we used
discriminant analysis to explain the differences between users and non-users of P2P accommodation
services in terms of three consumption behaviour factors identified via PCA. During this particular
phase of the analysis, only one sample from the first round of data collection was used (n=1026).
Additional responses collected just from P2P accommodation users were thus not included during this
phase of the study. The sample was randomly divided into two groups, namely an analysis group and a
validation group. Regression scores from the PCA were used for the discriminant analysis to examine
the discriminatory power of the factors of P2P accommodation use. The analysis also included
additional explanatory factors from the literature, such as number of annual trips abroad, number of
annual domestic trips, personal annual income, and age. Age was explained via the logarithmic
During the second phase of the analysis, we assessed at a deeper level those who user P2P
accommodation services. During this particular phase, all of the respondents who had reported using
P2P accommodation services during both data collection rounds were included, resulting in a total of
290 responses. In order to examine whether the users form a homogenous group or whether different
kinds of user segments can be identified, we used hierarchical cluster analysis with Ward's method and
squared Euclidean distances for the group users based on the reasons they provided for using P2P
accommodation services. This is a very popular approach to addressing market segmentation in tourism
literature (Dolnicar 2002). Hierarchical cluster analysis groups the observations into a treelike
structure, with similar observations being grouped together. With Ward's method, the similarity of
clusters is measured using the sum of squares within the clusters summed for all of the variables (Hair
et al. 2010). Different cluster solutions, ranging from two to five, were compared and, based on the
dendrogram and interpretability of the results, two cluster solutions were chosen. The two clusters were
then compared with respect to the importance of lifestyle factors.
5.1 Drivers of P2P accommodation
The principal component analysis of lifestyle factors identified three underlying dimensions:
“Environmental Friendliness”, “Travelling” and “Active Use of the Internet” (see Table 1). The Kaiser-
Mayer-Olkin MSA test yielded a score of 0.760, with a significance of p < 0.001. The three
components explained 68.96 per cent of the total variance. The item “I often shop online” was removed
from the analysis because it decreased the reliability of the principal component that it was associated
Table 1 Principal component analysis of lifestyle items
Principal component and items
Environmental reasons have
reduced my consumption
Environmental reasons have
affected the choices I make
I take environmental factors into
account when making
Environmental reasons have
reduced my travelling
Active use of the Internet
I do daily grocery shopping
I actively follow blogs
Travelling is an important way
for me to spend my leisure time
I am interested in culinary
cultures in other countries
The main results of the discriminant analysis are presented in Table 2 and Table 3. Box's M statistics
for discriminant analysis proved to be statistically significant (p < 0.001). The results show that users
and nonusers of P2P accommodation services differed the most with respect to their “active use of the
Internet”, whereas they did not differ much statistically in terms of the sustainability component
(“environmental friendliness”) of the analysis. In terms of travel frequency, the frequency of
international leisure travel clearly differentiated P2P accommodation users from non-users more so
than did the frequency of domestic travel. Also, age significantly differentiated users from one another,
with younger respondents being more prone to use P2P accommodation services. Additionally, those
who reported that they regard travelling as important are more likely to be P2P accommodation users.
Table 2 Discriminant analysis classification function coefficients
Active use of the Internet
Personal annual income before taxes
Frequency of international travel
Frequency of domestic travel
The coefficients were generally lower for those who reported not having used P2P accommodation
services, except with respect to age, travelling and personal income. The variables with the greatest
differences in Table 2 best explain the differences between users and non-users. Table 3 shows that
“environmental friendliness” and personal income do not significantly affect whether or not someone
used P2P accommodation services. Tests on the equality of group means (Table 3) measure each
independent variable’s potential before the model has been created. Additionally, the structure matrix
provides information regarding how well each variable correlates within the function. Coefficients with
large absolute values correspond to variables with a greater ability to discriminate between users and
non-users. This means that age, travelling abroad and “active use of the Internet” discriminate between
users and non-users the most, whereas frequency of domestic travel, “environmental friendliness” and
personal income are poor indicators of P2P accommodation use. The mean age of P2P accommodation
users was 39.7 years, whereas it was 49.5 years for those who reported not using such services.
Table 3. Tests of the equality of group means and structure matrix
Tests of Equality of Group Means
Active use of the Internet
Personal annual income
Frequency of international
Frequency of domestic travel
5.2 Heterogeneity of P2P accommodation users
We randomly divided the data into two samples to test the discriminant function. The function
presented in this study managed to group correctly 71.4% of the unselected original group cases when
the prior probabilities were calculated using equal group sizes.
To analyse the heterogeneity among P2P accommodation users, users were profiled based on their
reasons for using P2P accommodation services in order to better understand the structure of the
markets. We used hierarchical cluster analysis with Ward's method and squared Euclidean distances.
This resulted in a clear two-cluster structure in the data with respect to motivations for using P2P
accommodation services, as presented in Table 4. The first cluster rated all motivations as being lower
than the second cluster. Only three types of motivation received positive scores for cluster 1: location,
saving money, and reducing travel costs. The members of the second cluster rated all reasons as
important, especially insider tips, the enjoyment that comes from finding a rental and meaningful
interaction with the hosts.
Based on the results, we labelled the first cluster Pragmatists. The main reason that they reported using
P2P accommodation services is that such services offer a convenient way to travel, providing cheaper
and better accommodation at a more suitable location. They are not interested in the social or
sustainable aspects of P2P accommodation services. The second cluster consists of Idealists. They
reportedly embrace all aspects of P2P accommodation, but especially the community aspects of the
service, such as interaction with the hosts. They reported that using services such as Airbnb to find the
rental is an enjoyable experience. These results suggest that Idealists might actually consider what type
of people they will meet when they are choosing to use a P2P accommodation service and do not just
look at price, location and quality of the accommodation itself, as the Pragmatists do.
Table 4 Motivation scores among clusters
I chose to stay at a P2P vacation rental because…
…it saved me time in searching for accommodations.
...I wanted to get insider tips on local attractions.
...the location was convenient.
...finding the rental was an enjoyable experience.
...it saved me money.
...I wanted to have more meaningful interactions with
...it helped lower my travel costs.
...I wanted to support local residents.
...I wanted to get to know people from the local
...it was a more sustainable business model.
...I wanted to have higher quality accommodations while
spending less money.
...I did not want to support hotel enterprises.
Regarding lifestyle (Table 5), members of the second cluster reportedly regard “environmental
friendliness”, “food and travel” and “consumption and shopping” as being more important than do
members of the first cluster. We found no statistical differences in terms of “active use of the Internet”.
The only socio-demographic difference between the clusters was gender, with the first cluster having
considerably more men than women, whereas in the second cluster the gender balance was equal (see
Table 6). It also seems that members of the second cluster have been much more satisfied with their
P2P accommodation experience, reporting that they are much more likely to use P2P services in the
future and will also use them more often than members of the first cluster when travelling abroad. The
clusters were also compared with respect to other profiling items, but statistically significant
differences were not found in terms of the following items: age, how many times they have used P2P
accommodation services overall, travel frequency, education, phase of life or personal income. The
mean age of the first cluster was 39 years, whereas it was 41 years for the second cluster, with medians
of 37 years for both groups.
Table 5. Lifestyle differences among clusters
Active use of the Internet
Table 6. Differences in socio-demographics and P2P accommodation experiences
Overall, how satisfied are you with your stay
at P2P accommodation rentals?
How likely are you to use P2P vacation
rentals in the future?
The results of this study confirm the assumptions presented in previous studies regarding the drivers of
collaborative consumption in the context of peer-to-peer accommodation services. We identified three
aspects of Finnish lifestyles (i.e., travelling, environmental friendliness and active use of the Internet)
and examined how they affect people’s willingness to adopt and use P2P accommodation services. We
also included income, age and frequency of international and domestic travel in the analysis. The
results show that those who are younger, who actively use the Internet who travel abroad more often
are more likely to be P2P accommodation users. These findings confirm the assumption that the
consumers of P2P accommodation services are younger and technology-savvy people who travel more
often and earn more than the general population. The most important drivers are “active use of the
Internet”, age and how often a person travels abroad. Travelling in general is an important factor in
explaining the use of P2P accommodation services, as those people who travel more frequently are also
the ones who are more likely to use P2P accommodation services. However, even though P2P
accommodation users are younger than non-users, most of them, at least in Finland, are well over 30
years of age, with the median age being 37. However, a standard deviation of 15 years demonstrates the
fact that users come from many different age groups and generations. Income proved to be a non-
significant factor in accounting for P2P accommodation use, meaning that people from all income
categories are likely users of P2P accommodation services. Finally, contrary to suggestions made in
previous studies, “environmental friendliness” is not a driving force behind the use of P2P
We identified two different user profiles with respect to P2P accommodation users. We labelled the
first group Pragmatists. This group of people reported that they use P2P accommodation services only
because such services are convenient. They can find accommodations at relatively affordable prices
when using P2P services. Still, they reported being generally less satisfied with the P2P
accommodations and less likely to use them in the future than the members of the other group. In terms
of demographics, the pragmatist primarily consisted of men. Regarding lifestyle, they reportedly are
not active users of the Internet, as are the members of the other segment, nor are they as
environmentally friendly in their opinions. We called the other group Idealists. This group had an
almost equal number of men and women. They reported appreciating all aspects of P2P
accommodation services, but especially the interaction with hosts and the booking process itself, which
includes the chance of interacting a great deal with the hosts. For them, the convenience offered by P2P
accommodation services was the least important motivation. They reported being quite satisfied with
P2P accommodation services and highly likely to use them again in the future. The groups were of
almost equal size, thus the P2P accommodation market in this study could be divided quite evenly.
However, Wards method tends to form clusters of an equal size (Hair et al. 2010), and the segment
sizes obtained via cluster analysis do not necessarily represent the actual marketplace; this fact should
be kept in mind when interpreting the results (Pesonen 2014). There were no differences between the
segments regarding the phase of life, income or age.
This study identified several drivers of collaborative consumption and their effect on differentiating
between users and non-users. The results clearly demonstrate that the sharing economy thrives on the
use of the Internet, just as an important prior study suggests (Belk 2014). Without the Internet and its
users, there would be no sharing economy at a global scale. As Sigala (2015) states, collaborative
consumption fulfils the requirements for it to be considered a disruptive technology, one which appeals
to enthusiastic early adopters. Also, travel behaviour significantly influences this consumption practice,
as those who travel abroad more frequently are more likely to embrace P2P accommodation services.
This study in part challenges the assumption that sustainability is a driving force behind collaborative
consumption, especially in the case of P2P accommodation services. When comparing the driving
forces that account for why some people choose to use P2P accommodation services and others do not,
we found that environmental friendliness does not play much of a role. Airbnb (2014), for example,
differentiates itself from hotels based on sustainability arguments. However, the results of this study do
not confirm the assumption that environmentally friendly consumers choose to use P2P
accommodation services in greater numbers. When looking at the two user segments, we found that
Idealists are more environmentally friendly than Pragmatists and also regard P2P accommodation
services as a more sustainable business model compared to other accommodation alternatives.
However, for Idealists sustainability only ranked as the fourth most important reason for choosing to
use P2P accommodation services out of the 12 reasons measured in this study. This also confirms the
assumption made by Hamari et al. (2015) that sustainability indeed is important only for those whom
ecological consumption is likewise important. We can conclude that at least in Finland, the
environmental sustainability, or ecological footprint, of the accommodation is not a major concern for
consumers when choosing a holiday. However, this study does not tell the whole story regarding the
topic, as sustainable consumption can already be an organic part of the Finnish lifestyle and only
manifest itself when terrible sustainability practices are witnessed, or else perhaps tourists just want to
take a break from sustainable practices during their holidays (Barr, Shaw, Coles and Prillwitz 2010).
The division of P2P accommodation users into Idealists and Pragmatists suggests that collaborative
consumption has a different appeal for different people. Idealists are looking for social connections.
They use P2P accommodation services not only to find a place to stay, but also to connect with local
people and engage in positive social interaction. For them, the host can be even more important than
the rental accommodation itself. Pragmatists, on the other hand, do not seek to interact much with the
hosts. For them, a P2P accommodation is just a way to find conveniently located places to stay with a
good price-quality ratio. This means that Pragmatists probably compare P2P accommodation options
with other possibilities, such as hotels, to find the optimal location-price-quality combination with
respect to an accommodation. Idealists, on the other hand, prefer to say in P2P accommodations
because the social aspects of such stays are something that hotels struggle to provide. Idealists are
much more likely to use P2P accommodation services in the future as well and are considerably more
satisfied with their previous P2P accommodation experiences than Pragmatists.
Tussyadiah (2015) identified economic drivers as one of the most important reasons for choosing to use
P2P accommodation services and argues that users consider such accommodations to be less expensive
than other accommodation options. The results of this study also provide insights into the role of
economic benefits as a driving force in collaborative consumption. This study found that people who
have a higher level of personal income are more likely to use P2P accommodation services. However,
collaborative consumption services such as Airbnb are not just for low-income and budget-conscious
people (Guttentag 2013); actually, many people are willing to pay prices that are equal to hotel prices
just for an alternative experience. For Pragmatists, the main reason for using P2P accommodation
services is that such services help them save money, and so for this segment of the population the
findings presented in previous studies are quite relevant.
The typology of Idealists and Pragmatists also reflects divisions posited in earlier literature. For
example, Idealists are similar to Week's (2012) travellers in that they seek authentic experiences,
whereas Pragmatists are similar to the type of tourists that Week defines in his study (2012). The
results also reflect the tourists’ need for authenticity (Yeoman et al. 2007). In searching for authentic
experiences, tourists desire human contact that is both local and real (Yeoman et al. 2007). P2P
accommodation services are probably for many closer to the genuine hospitality experience (Ritzer
2007) than are hotels, especially for Idealists. The results also show that the more respondents claimed
to travel internationally, the more likely they reportedly are to be P2P accommodation users. However,
taking more annual domestic trips does not mean that a person is more likely to use P2P
accommodation services. It seems that P2P accommodation services are used especially when
travelling abroad, which means that especially for Idealists, the local culture is a significant factor
when choosing an accommodation and when choosing a P2P accommodation over other types of
A critical part of collaborative consumption, one that affects the tourism industry quite strongly, is how
to generate interest in using a particular product or service. The results of this study show that P2P
accommodation services are just beginning to become a thing, at least in Finland. Only a small
minority, less than 10 per cent of Finnish consumers, have used P2P accommodation services.
However, the average age of the users was 40 years, meaning that P2P accommodation services are not
just for young people; older age groups have also started using these services. The average age of the
respondents who reportedly do not use P2P accommodation services was almost 50 year. The fact that
more mature consumers are willing to use P2P accommodation services indicates that collaborative
consumption business models will likely be more widely adopted in the future.
The reasons presented and analysed in this study provide an answer to why people use P2P
accommodation services. For some consumers, they provide a way to find an accommodation that is
better located or of a higher quality than would have otherwise been possible on a more limited budget,
especially compared to such options as hotels. For others, a P2P accommodation provides opportunities
for social interaction that enable them to feel more like travellers (Week, 2012); they seek the chance to
mingle with locals instead of just being stuck in the typical tourist bubble. Guttentag (2013) argues that
Airbnb lacks many benefits provided by such traditional options as hotels, including service quality,
brand reputation and security. However, Airbnb has managed to create a brand for itself and offer a
level of service that earlier home stay services had not managed to provide. The Airbnb brand offers
customers the security and brand reputation that they value in major hotel chains.
The results are interesting for traditional accommodation companies such as hotels and hostels as well
as P2P accommodation companies. It can be suggested that approximately half of all P2P
accommodation users represent a potential market for hotels, as Pragmatists are not looking for
anything that the hotels could not provide. However, Idealists are clearly consumers who prefer P2P
accommodations over more traditional accommodation options, mainly due to the unique attributes of
P2P accommodations (for example, social interaction between the guest and host), attributes which the
various hotel chains may lack entirely. Idealists are also more likely to respond to green marketing than
Pragmatists, as they tend to be more environmentally friendly in their lifestyle choices. The results of
this study carry both positive and negative implications for hotels. The good news is that for many P2P
accommodation users, hotels are still a viable option when deciding on accommodations for a holiday.
Pragmatists compare different options and, given more convenient accommodation choices, are less
likely to use P2P accommodation services than Idealists. Idealists, on the other hand, are indeed a
difficult market segment for hotels. Idealists want genuine hospitality, contacts with local people and
also to feel less like tourists and more like travellers. On the one hand, small hotel chains and boutique
hotels have the possibility to cater to this segment of the market via more personalised marketing that
gives space to the people working in the hotels to engage more with guests; on the other hand, these
hotels are also probably the ones that lose the most customers to P2P accommodation services,
especially in the Idealists segment. According to Tussyadiah and Pesonen (2015), the availability of
P2P accommodation services expands tourists' destination choice sets and enables them to travel more.
Idealists are probably the consumers that especially enjoy additional travel possibilities because of P2P
Theoretically, this study contributes to our understanding of the driving forces behind the P2P
accommodation phenomenon by studying the importance of the different forces at play. The study also
challenges existing assumptions about sustainability being the determining factor, asP2P
accommodation users are homogenous in their motivations and needs. This study also provides insights
into collaborative consumption from the customer perspective. People use collaborative consumption
services for different reasons. The markets are most likely also heterogeneous regarding forms of
collaborative consumption other than just P2P accommodation services; rather than just focusing on
customers in general, there are possibilities for providing niche services if such niches and market
segments can be better identified.
In conclusion this is the first study to segment P2P accommodation users based on their motivations to
use P2P accommodation and also increases our knowledge on what factors drive the use of P2P
accommodation. The two segments identified, Idealists and Pragmatists, provide an interesting
viewpoint on the use of P2P accommodation for future research. The segment structure also helps
practitioners, both traditional accommodation providers as well as P2P accommodation providers, to
understand the users of P2P accommodation better and how customer motivations impact their
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