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Bridging cultural differences in Airbnb

Alumni News

Australian and Indonesian Airbnb hosts and guests are the focus of a new research project aiming to improve tourist accommodation.

Couple on a beach in Bali.

The research, by Curtin PhD candidate and Master of Commerce (Marketing) graduate Aji Cahya Nusantara, will analyse how host-tourist interactions on the popular home-sharing platform compares with hotels or other traditional lodging.

Based on his findings, Nusantara will formulate recommendations the Airbnb hosts can use to understand their guests’ cultural needs, improve their guests’ accommodation experience and encourage more international tourists to visit their listing.

“We are living in a globalised world where there are very few boundaries. Australia and Indonesia are geographically close, but our cultures are completely different. I would like my research to contribute to an increased understanding of each other’s culture,” says Nusantara, who was raised in Indonesia.

His research outcomes could eventually be presented to Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism, to help new Airbnb hosts become financially viable and to prepare the country for the disruption Airbnb may bring to the hospitality industry.

As of late 2017, there were just 43,700 Airbnb hosts across Indonesia – the majority being located on the resort islands of Bali and Lombok – and this figure could rapidly increase in the near future.

“I want to ensure Indonesia is prepared for the possibility of a growth in number of Airbnb listings.

Aji Cahya Nusantara, holding a traditional Javanese shadow puppet of Bhima, a character from Mahabharata.

Aji Cahya Nusantara, holding a traditional Javanese shadow puppet of Bhima, a character from Mahabharata.

“The introduction of budget airfares and Airbnb has completely changed travel patterns: many tourists are now travelling in large groups of family and friends, and they want to stay together on their holiday.

“If you’re part of an Australian family visiting Bali, for example, you might not want to constrain yourself by booking different rooms in a hotel. Instead, you might want to book out an entire house on Airbnb and split the cost between family members, which will be much cheaper.”

During his research, Nusantara will interview Australians and Indonesians about their international Airbnb experiences as well as trialling tourist accommodation himself. His research will be supported with a Research Training Program Stipend scholarship and supervised by Professor Christof Pforr and Dr Michael Volgger from Curtin’s Tourism Research Cluster.

Pforr and Volgger have expertise in the sharing economy, having investigated the effect of Airbnb on the WA tourism sector as part of a 2017 Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre report.

“As an Indonesian living in Australia, Aji is perfectly positioned to look at the Airbnb phenomenon from a cross-cultural point of view,” Volgger says.

“He’s adding a valuable international dimension to our ongoing work on the sharing economy and Airbnb.”

Nusantara says he is proud to be studying at Curtin University.

“I wanted to study at a university ranked in the top one percent in the world and that was in close proximity to both Indonesia and Australia.

“My supervisors are really pushing me to dig beneath the surface with my research.”


Are you interested in conducting research at Curtin? View our research courses.

Graduate snapshot

Name: Aji Cahya Nusantara

Studied: Master of Commerce (Marketing)

Related: Master of Marketing

Graduated: 2018

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