Ethnic Discrimination On Airbnb

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Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. AirBnB guests are giving lower ratings to ethnic hosts. Those lower ratings force ethnic hosts to lower their rates to stay competitive. The article is not saying ethnic guests being disadvantaged.

  2. Without being able to read what’s behind the paywall, the airbnb reference looks somewhat unconvincing. A differential of 3.2% seems like a pretty small number to work with in trying to identify causes. Could it be that some minority hosts are simply less greedy or more hospitable?

  3. Regarding BA, split the trip into two bookings and you’re there.

    AUS-JFK-LHR r/t business class = 40+140+140+40= 360 TP.

    Vacation package LHR-ATH r/t business class = 2*(80+80)= 320 TP.

  4. Or maybe the gap exists for a reason. When it comes to lodging, political correctness goes out the window and safety/cleanliness/quality are paramount. If there is a gap in ratings or quality assessments, it’s certainly possible that it’s objective and unbiased. Equality doesn’t exist in nature and reality. Nothing is equal. No one performs equally. It’s why Olympic swimmers who win tend to be White and Olympic runners who win tend to be Black. I know Middle Eastern hospitality is rated very highly and maybe that group provides more hospitable reception and service than other groups. The Japanese run clean airlines which is why Ana is rated very highly. As a White guy, why should we pretend every group on average runs things the same. Why can’t we just tell the truth that the Japanese ethnic group on average runs clear airlines and trains. I’m not offended.

  5. @Jackson Waterson

    That’s fine, as long as we can agree that white-run businesses and airlines are greedy and most likely to spread contagion. I’m not offended.

  6. Perhaps I’m missing something obvious, but how does *pricing* (a variable set by the host) demonstrate prejudice on the part of potential renters? That might bear out on an auction or “best offer” pricing model, but the authors concede that “Hosts can revise the price of their properties at any moment.” (Laouenan.Rathelot at 6).

  7. Air New Zealand isn’t the only airline taking that approach on domestic flights. TG is doing the same on their WE flights (at least within Thailand as far as I can tell). We flew BKK-HKT-BKK last week “up front” (they have an intra-European style middle-seat blocked “Smile Plus” class in the first 3 rows of an A320) and we were told that no eating or drinking- even your own stuff – was permitted on board, and we were handed a snack bag upon deplaning in both Phuket and in Bangkok. For a flight blocked at 1:30, it is tolerable (especially if you know in advance so you can have some water in the airport before boarding), and Thailand certainly has a far lower COVID case rate than even the best parts of the USA right now, so something is working!

  8. Andy, guests are rating non-white hosts lower than white hosts. Those lower ratings translate into lower demand. Lower demand translates into lower prices. Basic microeconomics.

    And, Jackson Waterson — who has advocated for national socialism in other comments — aka Nazism — is right on cue.

  9. Andy, there is a statistical test called Chi-Squared that examines such relationships. The authors certainly had statistically significant findings. The cited article was published in the peer-reviewed journal of the American Economic Association — one of the top economic journals in the world. In years past, I regularly read that journal. The article would never have seen the light of day unless it passed intense scrutiny of several reviewers. Political hack pieces are dismissed out of hand.

  10. @Reno Joe – “There are three kinds of lies – lies, damned lies, and statistics”

    I know just enough about statistics to know I know nothing about statistics. And I also know that most people who think they know how to do statistics, don’t know how to do statistics.

    In years past, academic journals could be trusted, but perhaps without enough skepticism. The replication crisis is rife across disciplines, with incorrect statistical analysis often at the heart of it. Given the ideological capture of most of academia, I’d withhold my judgment on any paper that claimed a 3.2% difference as significant, regardless of political bent, and wait for a more widespread critique than just the journal prepublication review. Too many things are getting through that just confirm preexisting biases rather than demonstrate actual cause and effect.

  11. @Reno Joe Not a bad idea, but if the idea is to minimize the cost of Silver status while flying in style, then using points to book the Singapore Airlines 5th Freedom flight from Houston to Manchester is the way to go – then book your vacation via Manchester.

    I haven’t dug into it, but I think the lowest cost way to do it on American metal would be to fly to Dublin, then catch a cheap flight to somewhere in the UK other than London to start your trip, or catch the bus to Belfast and start there, since Northern Ireland is still the UK.

  12. C_M, you offer reasonable thoughts and suggestions. My comments were to clarify what the journal article was saying and not necessarily to advocate its position.

    To differentiate, reader Jackson Waterson has a history of smug comments that are expressly or impliedly neo-Nazi, racist, etc. He seems to write with the affect of a macaroni.

  13. C_M, assuming one was already going to take a trip and one was willing to use points . . . use Chase points to book the trip. To BA, it’s a revenue ticket. Certainly, there’s a value per point differential to be determined but . . .

    My wife and I — with an over-abundance of points — use them for pseudo-revenue tickets to maintain BA Gold.

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