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Chapter 7 Consumer perception of service quality The case of Airbnb and Couchsurfing

DOI: 10.23912/9781911635765-4840

ISBN: 9781911635765

Published: April 2021

Component type: chapter

Published in: Sustainable and Collaborative Tourism in a Digital World

Parent DOI: 10.23912/9781911635765-4477



Recent economic, social and environmental concerns have drawn attention to the necessity to rethink our consumption patterns (Barnes & Mattsson, 2016) and call for alternative forms of consumption. In parallel, digitalization dramatically changes the way we live, work, consume and travel (OECD, 2020). As a result, new consumption practices have emerged in the last years, privileging access over ownership (Botsman & Rogers, 2010). Those practices, labelled as sharing economy or collaborative consumption (Belk, 2014; Benoit et al., 2017; Botsman & Rogers, 2010), involve most of the time peer-to-peer exchanges (for a fee or for free) that are coordinated through community-based online services (Hamari, Sjoklint & Ukkonen, 2016). Such collaborative services have recently boomed, impacting many sectors, including the hospitality and tourism industry (Sigala, 2017), with well-known initiatives such as Airbnb or Couchsurfing. Peer-to-peer accommodation services are transforming the tourism industry (PWC, 2015) by enabling consumers to share and access goods escaping traditional services like hotels and travel agencies. According to Hotrec (2014), peer-to-peer accommodation is twice bigger than the conventional tourism accommodation industry in Europe. The World Bank Group estimates a 31% annual growth of this new accommodation type between 2013 and 2025, which is six times bigger than the annual growth of the conventional bed and breakfast and hotel industry. In total, peer-topeer accommodation makes up about 7% of accommodation worldwide (Bakker & Twining-Ward, 2018). Two of the most sucessful sharing economy unicorns, AirBnB and Couchsurfing, have very different business models. Airbnb is an online peer-to-peer marketplace that matches hosts wishing to share their home with travelers (i.e. guests) who are looking for accommodation. Valued at 38 billion USD (Forbes, 2018), Airbnb has more than 60 million customers and around two million accommodations in the world (OECD, 2016). At the opposite, Couchsurfing is a free online hospitality exchange network that connects travelers looking for a place to sleep with people offering their ‘couch’ for a couple of nights. The community gathers around ten million members around the world.

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  • Marie Dewitte, University of Namur (Author)
  • Jérôme Mallargé, University of Namur (Author)
  • Alain Decrop, University of Namur (Author)

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Dewitte, Mallargé & Decrop, 2021

Dewitte, M., Mallargé, J. & Decrop, A. (2021) "Chapter 7 Consumer perception of service quality The case of Airbnb and Couchsurfing" In: Decrop, A., Correia, A., Fyall, A. & Kozak, M. (ed) . Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers http://dx.doi.org/10.23912/9781911635765-4840


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Published in Sustainable and Collaborative Tourism in a Digital World

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