When Airbnb hosts describe themselves, they often talk of love.
They tell potential guests that they love to travel, that they love to meet new people, that they love to share their home with others.
This talk of love isn't just me waxing poetic. It's what I learned after analyzing thousands of listings in North American cities, using data from Inside Airbnb. I found that by far, the most common three-word phrase hosts used to describe themselves was that they "love to travel." Perhaps it's their way of saying to their traveling guests, "Hey, I am also a nomadic spirit." Hosts also often talked about places they've lived, what they do, and where they grew up.
Everything is in "the heart of" something
Hosts have to describe the space they are renting, which is a more familiar activity since it's basically a real estate listing. And again, they talk of love, or at least the symbol of love. The most common three-word phrase was to say that the room or place they're renting was in "the heart of" some location in which humans like to congregate. But the problem is that virtually every neighborhood is "in the heart" of something, and hosts tend to take advantage of that. "In the heart" is the most common three-word phrase used to describe both Midtown Manhattan and a handful of neighborhoods in the middle of Brooklyn, which, to be fair, would put them in the heart of Brooklyn.
The exceptions are places where being near a specific location is better than being "in the heart" of something. In New Orleans, a huge number of hosts mention their proximity to the French Quarter. In San Diego, talking about how close the beach is quite common, and only a handful of dense, urban neighborhoods are described as being "in the heart" of anything.
Which places have the "coziest" or "spacious" rooms?
The word "cozy" can be construed as a synonym for "closet," but surprisingly the places you would expect cozy rooms don't use this word often. Listings in Seattle, Oakland, and San Diego used the word "cozy" more than 10 times for every 1,000 words. Meanwhile, it was only 2.4 times per 1,000 words for New York listings — similar to the Nashville rate.
But listings in Seattle, Oakland, and San Diego also used the word "spacious" the most often — and New York had the fourth highest frequency of the word. This makes me think size is just a bigger problem in some places, while other places like Nashville don't make it as much of an issue.
From Seattle to New York, everyone says the same things on Airbnb
When I first approached this data set, I expected each city have its own quirks. I thought a host in Portland would use different descriptions than one in New York. After all, there are regional differences, and they are describing different places. But much like other social places on the internet, it appears the culture on Airbnb coalesced into one without too many geographic boundaries, at least within North America. So people from various cities talk on Airbnb using the same strategies — like saying they love traveling or that the apartment is in the heart of something.