Sammy Nickalls
September 23, 2015 9:56 am

Airbnb has totally changed the traveling game. No longer must you pay a ridiculous amount for a hotel or bug all your friends asking if you can crash on their couch; now, there’s a super simple tool to link those with the traveling bug to those with an available home. But if you’re among the latter group, and you’ve noticed that no one seems to be terribly interested in crashing at your place as of late, you might want to check your home’s Airbnb listing and see if it’s missing one crucial element: a red pillow.

Airbnb vice president of engineering Mike Curtis recently spoke to Mashable about their data science team and their efforts to figure out how effective photos are. Based on a number of factors — lighting and composition, for example — the company tries to give tips on what will make your home more desirable on the site. The ultimate goal? To measure individual taste. “It’s kind of a new area for us, but we’re starting by observing what people do on the site,” Curtis told Mashable. “It’s like making a dating site.”

The observations the company has made have to do with behaviors on the site — for example, owners that tend to accept last-minute bookings will be more likely to show up in search results for a date in the near future — as well as physical and decorative tastes. Recently, after analyzing their photo algorithms, Airbnb discovered that photos of red cushions or pillows in apartments actually tended to get more clicks than those without the specific decoration.

So why red? Here’s where a bit of color psychology could come into play. As BBC noted in its “Life of Colour” special series last year, red is often linked with power, vitality, and higher decisiveness — so maybe a hint of red in a photo subconsciously makes Airbnb users think that their trip will be more exciting. In studies, red has also made people bet more in poker games, perhaps leading to more rash actions (like booking an Airbnb listing before looking at other options!).

Fashion experts have also suggested that red ties reflect authority and dominance in the workplace, so perhaps Airbnb users view those with red in their homes to be more experienced on the site.

Either way, if you want your home to get more hits, consider hitting up your local homegoods store and picking up a nice, red pillow to toss on that couch. Your wallet will thank you.

(Image via iStock.)

Related:

Airbnb shows us what LGBTQ couples deal with when traveling 

If Disney characters used Airbnb, here’s where they’d stay

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