The shared accommodation industry has taken a heavy hit from the outbreak of COVID-19. According to a report published by China’s State Information Center, the country’s transaction volume of shared accommodation market has suffered a year-on-year decrease by 72.1% in the first five months of 2020.

But it is encouraging that the market is recovering at great speed now. The report shows that shared accommodation industry in China started to recover since March. The transaction volumes in March, April and May respectively saw month-on-month increase of 78%, 199% and 35%. And the bookings in those three months also enjoyed month-on-month increase of 141%, 152% and 50% respectively.

To have a closer look at what really happened to the shared accommodation industry in the first half year, Travel Link Daily interviewed a few Airbnb hosts in China.

Feng Zhang, manager of an Airbnb accommodation: Never forget why you started and never stop improving staying experience for your guests

Blanco Hotel

Zhang’s renovation project was already in the final stage when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. But because of the pandemic, the project was delayed until the end of April. “The operation and management of B&B business were brought to a standstill. While we were dealing with a drastic increase in operation cost, a price war has begun in the industry. For us, it is more important for our partners to remember why we started and keep a balanced investment.” Zhang said.

She also stated that the current occupancy rate has improved a lot after government informed that they could resume operation since March. “But still far from where we were before the outbreak. We are still under great pressure at this moment.”

After the outbreak, most travelers are more willing to reserve high-end B&B as now they prefer relatively secluded spaces that are closer to the nature and away from the crowd. Zhang pointed out that in order to offer their guests a more intimate stay, they remodeled the accommodation to have less guest rooms and tripled public area. They also started to offer vegetarian menus and activities like tea ceremony and Yoga to enrich the experiences for guests.

Wenxuan Zhang, Airbnb Host: Cherish our works and focus on the people

Suzhou Ancient House

Wenxuan Zhang’s B&B accommodation is hidden away in the Yuhua Building in a famous scenic area of Suzhou. Significant increase was recorded in the number of bookings since mid-April. And by June, the number of bookings has recovered to the level in same period last year. Zhang said, “If it was not impacted by the long rainy season, the booking and room occupancy rate might even enjoy year-on-year increases.”

He said, “We have been idled for too long because of the pandemic. Now every one of us seems cherish our works more than ever before. ”

According to the introduction by Zhang, the Yuhua Building has been listed as a national architectural heritage and was renovated into a b&b accommodation with approvals from authorities. ‘’We created a space and a chance here, for you to meet and get familiar with the strangers. We need this kind of product. It’s a kind of need that beyond time, architecture, and even the pandemic,” said Zhang.

Airbnb:Promote ‘Online Experiences’; Extra private B&Bs near cities are popular

The pandemic did not stop Airbnb. The company launched ‘Online Experiences’ globally to recall the consumers’ travel memories. Statistics shows that, nearly half of the hosts tried ‘Online Experiences’ and their families are from small and micro-sized companies. Airbnb’s ‘Online Experiences’ enabled them to continue to earn money amid the pandemic. Some of hosts even earned more than USD20,000.

Along with the restart of domestic travels in China, Airbnb China also resumed their marketing activities. Currently, Airbnb joint hands with the popular beverage brand HEY TEA and launched rooms in Shanghai themed with ‘Cheese and Mango’ (a popular drink of HEY TEA). Tao Peng, President of Airbnb China, stated that through the collaboration with HEY TEA, Airbnb is aiming at exploring the interest points of younger travelers and encouraging consumers to discover new and fun ways to experience short excursions and short-haul travels.

According to the latest figures released by Airbnb, on 8 July, guests booked more than 1 million nights’ worth of future stays at Airbnb listings around the world. It’s the first day in more than four months, since 3 March, that the 1 million nights threshold has been reached.

And around 50% of the bookings on 8 July were to destinations within 300 miles. And about two thirds of the bookings were outside cities. This means t that people are ‘escaping from cities’ and looking for destinations like small towns and villages. “In comparison to hotels with more public spaces, the listings on Airbnb offers guests more privacy,” said Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb.

Airbnb China’s research also found that in the new normal with pandemic prevention and controls, Chinese travelers attached more importance to the sanitary conditions and quality of rooms. This is a good news for the b&b industry. The outlook of China’s shared accommodation industry after pandemic remains bright.

Source: Travel Link Daily