Much more than bed and breakfast
The flourishing B&B segment is giving China’s hospitality industry the power of a sharing economy
from 30,231 in 2014 to 53,852 by the end of June, and are expected to surpass 55,000 by the end of the year.
Some pick their favorite B&B as a venue for significant days such as anniversaries, birthdays or even weddings, according to a CHA report, which surveyed more than 20,000 consumers across China.
Typical guests are those who travel a long distance to neighboring cities and villages frequently. They are usually married or have steady partners. They like to travel in pairs or in groups, and focus more on feelings and experiences than cost, the CHA report says.
About 57.5 percent of guests at B&Bs are women; 52.5 percent are between 25 and 39 years old; and about 52.4 percent expect the average cost of a Chinese B&B to be about 500 yuan per night, which is above the average spending at a budget hotel and equal to that of a four-star hotel in a typical second-tier city.
The trend of rising consumption among the increasingly affluent middle class is driving B&B growth in China, says Xie Yun, deputy head of the tourism and hospitality management faculty of Guangxi Normal University.
He compares China’s B&B segment to “private banquets” in the dining industry. “As residents’ purchasing power rises and consumption diversifies, it’s not surprising that B&B is getting popular.”
Yu Minliang, 23, a graduate student in Shanghai, prefers B&Bs over other types of accommodations when traveling. “B&B meals are cooked by the host. Very often, vegetables are homegrown. The hosts share their garden harvest with you.”
Yu says sharing marks almost every aspect of a B&B stay. Unlike hotels, B&B enables guests to be social.
“At a B&B, you eat grapes from the vines in the backyard garden. Hosts and guests chat over a meal, and play with the pets like cats together. If you are not driving, fellow guests can give you a ride to nearby scenic spots,” says Yu.
In many ways, B&Bs in China offer much more than just bed and breakfast.
The B&B concept emerged in Europe centuries ago, and came to be known as places for travelers for paid overnight stay at a stranger’s spare room, with breakfast thrown in for good measure.
In China, however, B&B is about entertainment, leisure, experiences, new friendships and even social networking.
Chen Zhuo, head of Jinshe Hospitality Management, summed up the trend that most guests care more about what happens between bedtime and departure after breakfast. And in China, much happens during that time, so B&Bs are thriving.