Apr 28, 2016

    Chinese rival goes to 'war' with Airbnb


    AIRBNB may be the leader but a Chinese lodge booking site is taking the game to the next level.

    Shenzhen-based is not only offering Chinese outbound travellers a stay in private apartments but also providing value-added services, including airport pickups, car rentals and tickets to local attractions.

    It made its debut on Friday on China's New Third Board for small and medium-sized enterprises.

    "After going public, we want to focus on providing more value-added services to Chinese outbound travellers to make sure they can have a hotel-like experience despite staying in private apartments," said Jimmy Ruan, co-founder of Zhubaijia.

    He noted that unlike other overseas travellers who look forward to a do-it-yourself experience, their Chinese counterparts do not want uncertainty.

    The difference is what makes Zhubaijia stands out in the increasingly crowded sharing-economy market in China.

    Compared with the United States-based Airbnb, which operates on a peer-to-peer model, Zhubaijia puts a lot of effort to make sure its apartments are of high standard.

    "We have 15 key overseas destinations - including Seoul, Tokyo and Rome - each equipped with 100 part-time overseas Chinese to vet the quality of apartments and offer tailor-made services locally," he said.

    The company, founded in 2012, started to see its business take off in 2014 after it repositioned itself as a site dedicated to serve the lodging needs of Chinese outbound travellers.

    It has more than 200,000 listings in some 650 cities.

    In comparison, with more than 1.5 million listings in 34,000 cities, Airbnb is the world's largest provider of accommodation.

    Last year, Zhubaijia's revenue grew 68 times to 45.69 million yuan (S$9.5 million) from the previous year, with 79 per cent coming from the lodging business and 21 per cent from value-added services.

    Statistics from the China National Tourism Administration showed that Chinese travellers made 120 million outbound trips last year.

    About 80 million of the journeys were made by self-guided individual travellers.