Authenticity and Commodification: A Visual Analysis of P2P Tourism Accommodation Listing Page

DOI 10.14707/ajbr.190054

Yoon-Heng Lee
Department of International Business, University Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia

Shuang-Ying Low
Department of International Business, University Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia

Chiao-Hwei Low
Department of International Business, University Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia

Abstract

This study discusses the authenticity of local cultural experience afforded by the hosts of peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing economy through Airbnb. Authentic tourist experiences are frequently touted as the disruptive innovation that helps popularized P2P tourism accommodation. Past research on authenticity-seeking experience on peer-to-peer accommodation is scant; what’s more, studies focusing on the provider/host are few and far between. Viewing tourism as an international system of global exchange between space and experience, this article seeks to explore the use of authenticity in Airbnb’s host listings in attracting prospective travelers/tourists. Focusing on the top 20 Airbnb hosts of the two most popular tourist destinations in Malaysia, this study takes an innovative approach by employing visual analysis, in particular, the cover photo of the listing page. Initial findings suggest that both elements of authenticity and commodification are present in the host listing and thus blurring the differentiation between P2P accommodation experience and that of conventional hotel industry. The findings were enriched further revisit the problematic notion of tourism, and critically examine how the hosts market their offering. This article concludes that authentic tourist experience is crucial for the long-term sustainability and viability of the Airbnb hosts.

Keywords: Tourism, P2P Accommodation, Visual Analysis, Authenticity and Commodification

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