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Big Data in Practice by Bernard Marr

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25 AIRBNB How Big Data Is Used To Disrupt The Hospitality Industry

Background

Airbnb, the website that connects travellers with available accommodation around the world, launched in 2008. Since then, the company have collected a huge amount of data – around 1.5 petabytes – on people’s holiday habits and accommodation preferences.

What Problem Is Big Data Helping To Solve?

With 1.5 million listings across 34,000 cities, and 50 million guests, Airbnb’s biggest challenge is to connect large volumes of guests with those who have accommodation to offer (whether it’s a room or a whole apartment/house). Doing this successfully requires an understanding of hosts’ and guests’ preferences so that the right sort of properties are available in desirable areas at key times – and for the right price.

How Is Big Data Used In Practice?

Writing on Airbnb’s ‘Nerds’ hub, Riley Newman, head of data science, says: “A datum is a record of an action or event, which in most cases reflects a decision made by a person. If you can recreate the sequence of events leading up to that decision, you can learn from it; it’s an indirect way of the person telling you what they like and don’t like – this property is more attractive than that one, I find these features useful but those… not so much. This sort of feedback can be a goldmine for decisions about community growth, product development and resource prioritization… we translate the customer’s ‘voice’ into a language more suitable for decision-making.” ...

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