In a world where urbanization is growing, cities become the key nodes for the development of social interactions, because they are poles of attraction for people and they accelerate the exchange of information and ideas producing innovation. The advent of the Internet has also led this process to a further boost, and in a few years has created a virtual mantle of data surrounding the physical structure of the city. This process, however, has negative effects arising from the consumption of resources from such
a large number of people. A solution can be glimpsed in the sharing economy, which promotes an economic model based on sharing rather than on possession, helping to decrease the negative effects, both economic and social, that the "fully equipped individual" brings with himself. In addition, the sharing economy can be seen as a significant opportunity for the city and its inhabitants as it helps to create new job opportunities as well as to encourage the establishment of reliance and trust between people.
[ The numbers refer to the amount of shared units in the year 2015, and aggregate more sharing platforms ]
Airbnb is currently one of the main platforms for sharing, which allows you to rent private accommodations all over the world. The amount of airbnb apartments in Milan is very high:
talking about numbers it is the most important sharing platform of the urban area. Milan is collaborating with airbnb in order to regulate the relationship between host and tourist.
Inside the historic city walls, the east side and San Vittore zone have few apartments. The areas with the highest concentration are China Town / Isola and Porta Genova / Navigli. Corso Porta Romana and Buenos Aires zones have lots of apartments, but the density is lower. Airbnb
apartments are distributed until the borders of the province, except for the Lorenteggio zone, that has no apartments in its area. The prices decrease from the center to the suburbs. The most popular areas usually have higher prices, with few exceptions outside the city center.
As can be seen in the previous visualization, Airbnb range of prices is very wide. The aim of this comparison is to confront Airbnb prices with hotel prices from Booking, a very common hotel aggregator. As it’s easy to see, in both Airbnb and Booking, average prices are higher in the city center and lower as you move away from it, but Airbnb has a greater variety of prices within each Nil.
This can be seen as a great opportunity for the hosts in terms of cost saving or even earning from sharing a spare room. Airbnb is creating entrepreneurship among ordinary people, allowing a more rapid economic growth after the crisis. Problems emerge where these private apartments enter in competition with existing hotels, because regulation still doesn’t exist concerning Airbnb’s policy.
The main goal Airbnb reached in the last years is not related to economic issues: the merit that should be attributed to the platform is to establish a credible system of trust between strangers. People trust what other users say. We analyzed apartments description extrapolating the most common words used to describe Milan: fashion, shopping, design and so on, and we mapped the results. The following is then a visual synthesis of Airbnb descriptions of Milan.
Generally speaking, the areas that are more nominated are Navigli, Sempione, Buenos Aires, Loreto and Porta Romana, but the most nominated one is Tortona zone, which is also the one with the highest concentration of apartments. Descriptions generally reflect quite well the reality, except for the Expo, which is nominated pretty much everywhere despite being located in Rho Fiera. Design and Fashion are mostly attributed to Tortona zone,
even if they are nominated in many areas of the city. Navigli zone is the best one if we are interested about nightlife and “aperitivo”, followed by Corso Sempione and Porta Romana. Talking about shopping, the highest rate of apartments concentration is in Viale Monza, Buenos Aires and Loreto, while the famous “Quadrilatero della Moda” is not nominated, probably because of the lack of Airbnb apartments in that expensive area.
The main innovations that run Airbnb and the sharing economy in general are reputation and trust. In a small country people know each other, and they know who can be trusted; but with the advent of urbanization people probably do not personally know their neighbors anymore. This fact has changed with the Internet, because it seems possible to know people through their online reputation. This fact works very well on Airbnb because users
can read reviews from other people about apartments and hosts, so the more reviews a user has and the higher his reputation is, the more people will trust him/her. Rating on Airbnb platform is expressed through the number of stars, from zero to five. It is common for the apartments to have a high rate, even if they have few reviews from the users. Next we will confront ratings from Airbnb website and from an hotel aggregator website.
As it’s easy to see from this visual comparison, Airbnb star ratings are much higher than the hotel evaluations. Might this fact be due to the pervading goodism of the sharing platforms
where users have their real faces? Is this online reputation system credible? Is the relation between appreciation and reputation effective, or is it only a social convention?
We decided to analyze Airbnb to investigate the sharing phenomena that is taking place in the main world cities to contrast effects related to the urbanization process. Since cities can be considered like “social reactors”,
accelerating interaction between people, the sharing economy helps the community improving trust, profits and development. Sharing exists because of the community, and its goals emerge in the social impact.