Concept “Airbnb” and “Booking.com”
Core Value of Online Accommodation Platform
In the future, we will all be planning our trips online; for accommodations in Europe, we have Airbnb and Booking.com.
In China however, it is under doubt if “Living with the Host” is the preference of most people.
Why do people book on Airbnb?
Indeed, officially, the Core Value of Airbnb is to Live with Locals. We then have two other questions, Who are the desirable targeted guests, and Who are the possibly desirable targeted hosts? If you are travelling with your families, or a group of friends, do you want to live with the “Landlord” in the same apartment? Further, what does it mean by “Living with Locals”? In other words, who are the “Hosts” that someone books from Airbnb would expect? If going to the farmers’ market and sharing food together are in your expectation, then a host who leaves for work early in the morning and comes back home late probably won’t be the the most desirable.
There is not just one domination of “Airbnb” or “Booking.com” in China, there are several. Nevertheless, for most of them, the accommodation supply of “Sharing an Apartment with the Host” is negligible.
Taking two of them as examples, 途家 and 小猪: 小猪 has more “Individuals” as owners of a whole apartment, a whole house for rent, while 途家 plays a a bigger role as an online platform of “Hotels”. Still, none of them could be seen as the Airbnb of China.
That does not mean the Idea of Airbnb does not work!
Even on 途家, Hotels should definitely not be core value of its business. In other words, both 小猪 and 途家 should aim at winning over traditional hotels with the “Accommodation Offers one CANNOT find with Hotels”, because this is the True Advantage of Online Platform.
What is the Core Value of Online Booking Platform?
It is indeed the idea of Airbnb, “Not travelling as a tourist, but Living as a Local”, to put this into work in China, it means Providing “Local Experience” and “Customarized Housing”.
The first obvious thing that a normal hotel cannot offer is a kitchen, a garden, even a swimming pool, in other words, a Home rather than a room. A house near by the sea for sunset, or an apartment for Karaoke, these are things that one cannot not find by staying in hotels. When travelling with several friends, one could possibly opt for a private house. When the whole family is together, an apartment might be cheaper than hotel rooms. If traveling in large groups is a more common phenomenon in China, we online accommodation platform should have a strong demand.
People might prefer not to live with a stranger, but a Tour with Locals, for example Tasting Local Drinks and Street Food, Discovering Bars and Music in the City, or even just a Bike Trip across the Town, indeed, an Experience as a Local, though with a stranger, should have its market. In this sense, online booking platform should start to move their core value from providing accommodations to Providing Experiences.
Not just accommodations, 小猪 and 途家 should have search centered on PEOPLE, searching for a Local with Stories to tell, with an Unique Tour to offer.
Building the Core Value
Still, how do we find these “Customized Housing”? How to persuade them not to put their houses on other platforms? How do we recruit these “Locals” with unique experiences to share? Should this be their part-time jobs? or Should we make this their professional careers?
In the end, if “Customary Housing” and “Local Experience” is really to be the Core Value, then the competition is all about who’s better at “Securing” and “Discovering” the supply of Accommodations and People.