Young Chinese travelers are increasingly opting out of traditional hotels in favor of shared accommodation. Yang Feiyue reports.
Wang Haining, a seasoned traveler, who has visited many cities both at home and abroad, chooses to avoid conventional hotels and instead opts for homestay, as he says it is more costeffective and his host can introduce him to the local culture.
“It’s a convenient way to get useful tips and gain a firsthand experience of local life,” says Wang, who began using house-sharing platforms, such as Airbnb, Xiaozhu and Tangguo, on the recommendation of a friend.
“This way of traveling allows me to interact with local residents and get a better understanding of local culture and customs,” he says.
There are a growing number of Chinese travelers opting for peer-topeer accommodation when traveling.
According to a report jointly published by Airbnb and the China Tourism Academy, Chinese travelers have become big consumers of sharing accommodation overseas, and their footprint extends from Asia to the United States, Europe and Australia.
Airbnb tracked 1.6 million users abroad by Chinese travelers last year, up 142 percent over the previous year.
Those who were born in the 1980s and 1990s account for 83 percent of all users.
Travelers on sightseeing and leisure tours are the main sharing accommodation consumers, and most of them travel with friends and families, the report says.
Travel periods span four to seven days.
More meaningful social interactions with locals and unique experiences, as well as reduced costs that allow travelers to enjoy destinations and tourism activities that would otherwise be out of reach because of the cost were the major reasons cited for Chinese traveler’s choosing of shared accommodation.
Sharing accommodation has helped to stimulate tourism spending, utilize idle resources and boost rural development and cultural exchanges, the report say.
The top overseas destinations for shared travel include Japan, the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Australia and Italy.
Chinese travelers made 1.22 trillion trips overseas last year, and 47 percent of them had travel-sharing experiences, says Dai Bin, head of the China Tourism Academy.
“Compared with other fields, the tourism industry has been greatly influenced by the sharing economy,” says Dai, adding, “It is creating a new mode of travel.”
The huge potential of the sharing travel market in China has also caught the eye of some like Jin Dongzhe, the founder of Tangguo, an internet company that matches private house renters with tourists.
He noticed the great potential in the private rental business when he entered the market in Liaoning province’s capital Shenyang in 2007.
“There are many idle houses in China, especially in the third- and fourth-tier cities, and they can satisfy travelers’ accommodation requirements,” he says.
The government’s decision to support bed-and-breakfast and shortterm rentals in 2015 also encouraged Jin to launch his new company.
Tangguo now has more than 3.5 million registered users and covers villas, homestay venues, and apartments in 218 Chinese cities, and it is making inroads in 30 countries, including Thailand, Singapore, France, the US and Italy.
More than 6,000 Chinese visitors to Thailand booked through Tangguo during December 2016 to March 2017.
“I started as a private room broker between house owners and individual travelers, and I know what both sides want,” Jin says.
Travelers can interact with the landlords to get information on the nearby attractions and local history and culture, and Tangguo provides a cleaning and maintenance service, so landlords and renters don’t need to worry about the upkeep of the properties.
Jin has a broad vision for the sharing leisure experience.
“In the future, if you want to go to the countryside and have a barbecue, for instance, you won’t need to buy all the equipment,” Jin says. “All you will need to do is find the grill and things you need online and they will be there when you arrive.”
Last but not least, he says, it means everyone can act as a tour guide and offer their own distinctive services.
“When travel stops being just sightseeing and becomes immersion in local life, we’ ll create a new travel lifestyle” Jin says .
This way of traveling allows me to interact with local residents and get a better understanding of local culture and customs.” Wang Haining, traveler from Beijing
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have become big consumers of shared accommodation overseas, with their footprint extending from Asia to the United States, Europe and Australia. Travelers on sightseeing and leisure tours are the main consumers, and most of them travel with friends and families.