7 Airbnb in China – before, during and after COVID-19

Yixiao Xiang, School of Management, Shandong University, China

Lan Liu, School of Management, Shandong University, China

Sara Dolnicar, Department of Tourism, UQ Business School, The University of Queensland, Australia

Unlike most other countries around the world, China has not embraced Airbnb. The main reasons for this unique reaction include the resistance of Chinese tourists to using trading platforms that operate in languages other than Chinese, and the perception that Chinese peer-to-peer accommodation trading platforms cater better to Chinese tourists. When it first entered the Chinese market in 2015, Airbnb struggled. After a change in strategy, Airbnb survived competition from local platform providers and demonstrated strong growth in the first and last quarters of 2019 (Sohu News, 2019, Xiong et al., 2020). COVID-19 significantly disrupted the business of Airbnb China and local Chinese peer-to-peer accommodation platforms. The key challenges for Airbnb China during COVID-19 were: a shortage of cashflow, loss of listings, a low occupancy rate, booking cancellation refunds, uncertain loyalty of hosts and guests, and a crisis of confidence among hosts in the future of Airbnb China.

 

Please cite as: Xiang, Y., Liu, L. and Dolnicar, S. (2021) Airbnb in China – before, during and after COVID-19, in S. Dolnicar (Ed.) Airbnb before, during and after COVID-19, University of Queensland DOI: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.14195930

 

 

Airbnb in China before COVID-19

China represents a unique market for tourist accommodation in general, and for peer-to-peer traded accommodation in particular. Chinese residents have a strong sense that one’s home is not intended for sharing beyond family and friends (Xiang & Dolnicar, 2018). Chinese tourists prefer using China-specific online trading platforms operated by Chinese people, prefer to search for accommodation in the Chinese language, and trust their own social network verification processes (such as Ctrip.com) more than those of foreign companies. Not surprisingly, therefore, Chinese tourists – especially young tourists (Xiang & Dolnicar, 2018) – have not fully embraced Airbnb as an accommodation option when travelling domestically or internationally.

Airbnb initially launched its operations in China shortly after the company was founded in 2008 (Douban Group, 2009). The Chinese population learned about this new platform in 2009, primarily via a social media platform popular with young people in China called Douban Forum. The potential economic benefits from peer-to-peer accommodation platforms such as Airbnb – additional income tax, new employment opportunities, and contribution to GDP (Cai & Li, 2016) – ensured the support of the Chinese government (Analysis, 2016). Soon, policies and regulatory frameworks were put in place to facilitate the peer-to-peer trading of space among ordinary people (Iresearch, 2017), referred to as minsu. This term originates from Taiwan and refers to a “civil house rented for short-term accommodation”.

Rather than embracing Airbnb as the global market leader, the Chinese tourism industry reacted by implementing its own versions of online peer-to-peer accommodation trading platforms (Cai & Li, 2016). Airizu, for example, was set up in June 2011 and operated by Chinese entrepreneurs with the financial support of Rocket Internet Ltd., a German venture capital firm. This initial attempt at copying the Airbnb model failed in 2013 because the Chinese market was not yet familiar with the concept of peer-to-peer accommodation. Renting one’s home for money felt strange and foreign to Chinese people. Buying and selling real estate was perceived as more lucrative than engaging in the short-term rental market (Lei, 2013). Consequently, Airizu was unable to attract the number of listings and guests required to make a multi-sided platform business successful (Reinhold & Dolnicar, 2018).

The Airizu failure drew the attention of online travel agents to the potential of peer-to-peer accommodation trading. They entered the market and competed directly with peer-to-peer accommodation platform facilitators (Lei, 2013). In addition, Chinese entrepreneurs – familiar with the Chinese market – set up their own online peer-to-peer accommodation trading platforms, initially without depending on international venture capital. The top ten providers in China before COVID-19 were: Airbnb, Tujia, Xiaozhu, Mayi, Muniao, Youtianxia, Meituan, Onehome, Zizaike, and Locals (CNPP, 2020).

Arguably the most successful Chinese platform provider is Tujia. Tujia was founded in 2011 and then it absorbed Mayi (Sina.com, 2016). In 2016, it purchased the short-term rental divisions of major Chinese online travel agents (Ctrip & Qunaer), leading to a powerful strategic alliance (Ifeng.com, 2016; Iresearch, 2017). In 2019, Tujia was home to over 1,400,000 listings and employed 4,000 people at 1,347 destinations globally. Of all listings, 1,200,000 were in China and 200,000 were based outside China. In comparison, Airbnb – at the same time – had over 6,000,000 listings globally, but only 150,000 in China (Qianzhan, 2019; Fastdata, 2019). To gain market share in China, Airbnb put in place several targeted initiatives (Xiang & Dolnicar, 2018), including the launch of a Chinese language site in 2014, a China-based Airbnb company, a partnership with Alipay targeting young travellers (Guan & Wang, 2017), and travel stories on the Airbnb webpage to facilitate the sharing of information among travellers. Airbnb also introduced a Chinese name, Ai-bi-ying (爱彼迎), which means ‘Love (enables us) to welcome you’ (Xiang & Dolnicar, 2018), or – as Airbnb translates it – ‘Let love embrace each other’ (Airbnb, 2017). By the end of 2019, just before COVID-19 forced the global tourism industry into hibernation, Airbnb had succeeded in increasing its Chinese domestic market share to more than 50% (Xiong et al., 2020).

In 2019, despite having substantially fewer listings in China than other platform facilitators (150,000 compared to: Tujia 1,200,000, Meituan 700,000, Mayi 350,000, and Xiaozhu 340,000; Fastdata, 2020), Airbnb topped the list of online short-term rental platform providers in China in terms of overall brand quality and reputation (Sohu News, 2019). Airbnb’s Chinese market report for the first quarter of 2019 showed a three-fold increase of its business in China. Between January and February 2019, the number of active monthly Airbnb users of its iOS and Android apps in mainland China ranked first among all such platforms in the country (Sohu News, 2019). One of the reasons for this success is that Airbnb focused strongly on marketing efforts in second and third tier cities in China.

Another key opportunity for Airbnb in relation to China was outbound Chinese travellers. In 2013, 109 million Chinese tourists spent more than $100 billion on international travel. The number of Chinese people travelling outside of China had been showing continuous growth until COVID-19: 107 million in 2014, 117 million in 2015, 122 million in 2016, and 310 million in 2019 (China Tourism Academy, 2017; 2020). Airbnb bookings increased by 700% from 2012 to 2013 alone while Ctrip.com bookings increased even more (Qiu et al., 2016).

Airbnb in China during COVID-19

The unprecedented global travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders caused by COVID-19 resulted in a super-shock to peer-to-peer accommodation network facilitators (Dolnicar & Zare, 2020). Travel restrictions due to COVID-19 caused a drastic drop in Airbnb China’s revenue. In Wuhan, travel restrictions were in place as early as 23 January. Other provinces followed shortly thereafter, causing mobility within China to be effectively frozen. The transportation and accommodation sectors were most severely affected (Zhu & Kang, 2020). As a result, during the seven-day Chinese New Year holiday, more than 22% of minsu businesses lost RMB¥200,000-500,000. Another 8.7% lost more than RMB¥500,000 (Zhu & Kang, 2020). Airbnb was not spared. Airbnb’s revenue in Beijing dropped by 43% in March 2020 compared to March 2019 (Statista, 2020), and its occupancy rate was lower than 10%.

Hosts experienced cash-flow shortages because of the suspension of new bookings and the booking cancellation compensation policy announced by Airbnb in early February 2020. These measures complied with local regulations intended to curb the COVID-19 outbreak, and were subsequently extended in May 2020 (Fortune, 2020; The Business Times, 2020). As early as 21 January – in response to the sudden outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic – Airbnb China officially launched a special protection policy for booking cancellations to help those planning to travel to Wuhan (Travel Weekly China, 2020). Airbnb also refunded the service fee for those bookings.

To better understand the reactions of hosts, we conducted online and telephone structured interviews with 11 Chinese Airbnb hosts (between 20 July and 2 August 2020) and two unstructured face-to-face interviews with two medium-sized rural minsu owners on 19 November 2020. Details of study participants are included in the appendix. We asked the following questions: How many years have you listed your property on Airbnb? Has your perception of and preference for Airbnb changed over the years or not, and if so, in which way and why? Do you list your property on other peer-to-peer platforms such as Tujia or Xiaozhu? What advantages/disadvantages does Airbnb have over those competitors? How has COVID-19 affected your business on Airbnb over the past 6 months? How did Airbnb support you to survive? Do you have confidence in your future short-term rental business with Airbnb in the long run? How would you like to see Airbnb improve its operations?

The analysis of responses led to the following key findings:

Loss of bookings: All study participants confirmed that they experienced a dramatic loss of bookings following the official COVID-19 warning and announcements of travel restrictions. Interviewee #10 reported losing all bookings between 23 January and the middle of March. Interviewee #2 reported that her friends who also operate short-term rentals and list them on Airbnb suffered similar losses as she did, noting that revised refund policies caused a lot of confusion and communication difficulties during that period, which ruined her business performance during the 2020 Chinese New Year holiday.

Loyalty to the platform: Despite COVID-19-related challenges, none of the 11 interviewees expressed an intention to stop making their spaces available for short-term rental on Airbnb China. Interviewees #3, #4, #6, and #7 indicated that their attitude had changed towards Airbnb China; they initially felt suspicious, but over years of doing business with Airbnb they now fully trust it. Four study participants have been working with Airbnb for between two and five years – a relatively long period of time. Interviewee #1 expressed disappointment in the efficiency of Airbnb China’s customer service. 5 of the 11 study participants indicated that Airbnb is the only platform they currently use. The remaining interviewees also used other Chinese apps to list their properties.

Platform reaction and support during the COVID-19: 7 of the 11 participants reported having received support from Airbnb. Four benefitted from preferential policies offered by Airbnb China, such as discounted commission. The hotline for cancellation and refund enquiries was also mentioned by two participants, but they noted perceiving the hotline as inefficient and ineffective.

Confidence in the future business with Airbnb: All study participants expressed positivity about future business with Airbnb as an international booking platform. They all expressed confidence in and expectations for the forthcoming revival of the business once COVID-19 is completely under control around the world.

Suggestions for improvement:Improving the quality of staff service of the platform will help the host to hold the guest a lot easier” said Interviewee #1. Two study participants hoped for discounted commission and more platform promotions. One participant suggested that the platform should organise more activities and training for hosts. Three interviewees suggested making the booking app more user-friendly.

Overall, the key challenges for Airbnb China during the COVID-19 were shortage of cashflow, loss of listings, a low occupancy rate, booking cancellation refunds, host and guest loyalty, and maintaining confidence from both the hosts and the guests in the future of Airbnb China.

Airbnb in China after COVID-19

The substantial losses suffered by both the Airbnb platform and its hosts in China during the period of COVID-19 travel restrictions have put Airbnb under tremendous pressure to find an effective solution to secure its business in China after the pandemic. Dolnicar and Zare (2020) hypothesise that the proportion of hosts renting out space on Airbnb primarily for the reason of earning money will decline as a consequence of the business uncertainties caused by COVID-19, while the proportion of hosts making space available to travellers for other, more idealistic reasons, will increase again. This appears to describe the situation in China as well. Although no statistics have been officially released, several media articles noted that listing rates on platforms such as Airbnb, Xiaozhu, and Meituan minsu were all plummeting. People abandoning their peer-to-peer space trading operations were mainly people who rented other people’s properties to run online short-term accommodation businesses; they suffered the worst losses (Shen, 2020; Xu, 2020; ThePaper.cn, 2020).

The 11 Airbnb hosts we interviewed did not depend solely on Airbnb income, which explains why they were still listing spaces on Airbnb and were accessible to conduct interviews. Even among these hosts, their standard procedures changed because of COVID-19. Interviewee #10, for example, stopped hiring a cleaner to save costs, and cleaned the space herself instead. She explained: “Although I know this pandemic will go away, I have to prepare to get over the hard times.”

On the platform side, Airbnb China saw a three-fold business increase in the first half of 2019 (year-on-year basis) and ambitious objectives for the first quarter of 2020 (Peng, 2019). COVID-19 shifted Airbnb’s original development plan in China from expansion to survival. At the time of writing, Airbnb China had taken the following steps:

Kept losses to a minimum and protected brand credibility and sustainability: Airbnb cut its staff by 25% globally, affecting 85 staff at Airbnb China (CTNEWS, 2020). Airbnb also stopped all recruitment activities, halved CEO salaries, and ceased all marketing activities (Eastday.com, 2020a).

To comply with Chinese regulations regarding travel restrictions, Airbnb China announced a check-in suspension and developed a cancellation policy intended to protect the guests who booked and prepaid accommodation on Airbnb’s platform in China, the Chinese hosts listing their properties on the platform, and the platform facilitator itself.

When asked whether they encountered complaints from guests regarding cancellations or whether they made complaints to the Airbnb platform, two of the study participants (Interviewees #10 and #11) replied that with the guidelines provided by the platform they did not have a problem with cancellations. However, they noticed that there were some complaints posted online reflecting conflicts among guests, hosts, and the platform (BlackCat Complaints, 2020).

Secured sufficient cash-flow to maintain healthy operation of the platform: Budget-cutting measures were not enough to ensure sufficient cash-flow. Airbnb required cash to run its day-to-day operations, to take care of the host community, and to protect its brand reputation. Airbnb raised USD $1 billion in a new round of funding led by Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners (Bosa & Batchelor, 2020), increasing confidence from its stakeholders and providing a lifeline for it to survive the turbulence of COVID-19, without losing too many of its listings.

Retained hosts and their listings: The most impressive initiative Airbnb China took to protect their host community was to dedicate RMB 70 million to supporting Chinese hosts. Airbnb China also formulated the Ten Commitments in February 2020 during the initial coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan (Chen, 2020; Airbnb, 2020; Eastday.com, 2020b).

Airbnb China’s Ten Commitments to support its host community

  1. Refund Hubei hosts’ service fees
  2. Provide resource support and financial compensation
  3. Give priority to helping “heart-warming hosts”
  4. Empower landlords for long-term growth
  5. Strengthen various types of host training
  6. Reward the host community
  7. Extend the time for free cancellation
  8. Fully match employee donations
  9. Care for front-line pandemic professionals
  10. Strengthen the development of Chinese communities

Table 7.1: Airbnb China’s Ten Commitments to support its host community (source: Airbnb, 2020)

These measures demonstrate that Airbnb is acutely aware of the importance of retaining hosts and their listings. The Ten Commitments aim to protect and retain Chinese Airbnb hosts. They are summarised in Table 1 and shown in full detail in the appendix. As well as helping the host community, the Ten Commitments serve as a strategy to project a positive image of Airbnb in the Chinese market. Findings from the interview data show that Airbnb China’s efforts to retain hosts and listings have been effective: all 11 interviewees gave positive answers when asked about their overall perception of the future of Airbnb in China, eight talked positively about their hosting experience with the platform, and all expressed confidence in the future of Airbnb in China.

Airbnb in China after COVID-19

Based on the investigation of Airbnb China before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer a few observations which have implications for the post-pandemic period:

Focus on younger travellers: Airbnb may want to consider redirecting its efforts toward the younger generation of travellers, especially those born in the 1980s and 1990s. Fastdata (2020) notes that the millennial and post-95 generations will be major forces influencing the Chinese travel market over the coming decade. Understanding their consumption behaviours and travel and accommodation needs – and catering to these needs – will strengthen Airbnb China’s competitive position. Peer-to-peer accommodation (online short-term rentals, or minsu) is popular in this market segment, which enjoys independent travel and experiences with special value and meaning. The post-95 generation make up 20.7% of the minsu market, compared to 16.7% among post-90s and 12.3% among the post-80s. Fastdata (2020) predicts: “Win the post-95 users, and you will win the future market”.

Focus on the countryside: To increase post-pandemic supply, Airbnb may need to direct its efforts towards expanding its business from the cities into the countryside in China and integrating its products with rural tourism. Tujia launched its countryside minsu initiative as early as 2016 (Jiemian.com, 2016). Its countryside accommodation business grew by 300% in 2018 and another 200% in 2019, generating a revenue of RMB 500 million in 2018 and RMB 550 million in 2019 for minsu hosts (Tujia, 2019). In 2019, Tujia had 70,000 countryside minsu listings (rural lodgings), many catering to high-end customers with high turnout. The COVID-19 pandemic further fuelled market demand for accessible natural or rural destinations for weekends or short holidays, making rural accommodation the number one post-pandemic growth opportunity. Airbnb had already reached out to rural areas before the pandemic. By November 2018, 22% of all Airbnb China listings were in the countryside, with a 257% increase in listings and a 203% increase in hosts (Tang, 2018). However, considering the full picture of Airbnb’s listings in China compared to those of local Chinese platforms such as Tujia and Xiaozhu, Airbnb China still has a long way to go.

Enrich the host experience: Host community development has always been one of Airbnb China’s strengths and has helped to develop host loyalty. Our study participants described host community activities organised by the Airbnb platform as attractive and of benefit to them, and requested even more community activities in the future, such as online training, creative programs, and offline meetings and events (Interviewees #1, #3, #4, #8, #10, and #11). These requests offer an excellent opportunity for Airbnb China to further strengthen its links with hosts and, in doing so, increase the likelihood of them continuing to list their spaces on Airbnb in future.

Enrich the guest experience: Tujia and Xiaozhu introduced pick-up and drop-off services for guests at airports and train stations. Tujia also collaborated with Jingdong Express to provide an express luggage service for its guests (Sohu News, 2018, 2020). These services add substantial value to bookings for guests who are not travelling by car. During and after COVID-19 this value has further increased as these pickup services imply reduced human contact compared to taking public transport. Similar value-adding services could be introduced and maintained by Airbnb in the post-pandemic era, offering a competitive advantage, strengthening brand image, and encouraging market demand for Airbnb in China. Another alternative could be coupons or subsidies given to hosts by Airbnb to encourage them to provide pick-up and drop-off services for guests. This approach would allow Airbnb to maintain its asset-light strategy (not requiring any investment on its part) while encouraging increased host-guest interaction and enhancing host loyalty to the platform facilitator.

Collaborate: After its initial public offering and with sufficient available capital, Airbnb may wish to consider mergers and acquisitions. According to the latest unstructured interviews with two successful minsu owners in Shandong, the localisation of Airbnb in China could be facilitated by teaming up with or acquiring local players with growth potential. Although neither of the two interviewees are currently Airbnb hosts, both have previous negative hosting experiences with Airbnb China. According to them, Airbnb is favoured by hosts in first tier cities in China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. In second tier cities such as Qingdao and Jinan in Shandong, or even in rural areas, local platforms are much more successful in attracting domestic tourists. Airbnb could reach properties and domestic tourists by merging with and acquiring local peer-to-peer accommodation businesses, instead of competing against them. It should be noted, however, that there is a strong trend of monopolisation through mergers and acquisitions currently emerging in China, which is driven by domestic and international venture capitalists in the Chinese minsu (short-term rental) business. It is likely that this process will result in most minsu resources and businesses being acquired and controlled by a small number of large companies (similar to the process that led to the strong market position of Didi Taxi in China). Determining how to integrate local resources and strengths to gain competitiveness without straying from its original ethos – peer-to-peer accommodation offered by community members to community members – is perhaps one of the key future challenges for Airbnb in China.

Conclusions

The Chinese tourist market is unique. Airbnb learned this lesson quickly. Although Airbnb entered the Chinese market shortly after starting its operations as a peer-to-peer accommodation platform facilitator, it was not as successful there as it was in other markets around the world. The main reason for this is that local Chinese platform facilitators were quick in realising the potential of Airbnb’s business model and in successfully copying it. Chinese platform facilitators – in those early years – catered better to the needs of the Chinese tourists, giving them a competitive advantage over Airbnb (which was not as intimately familiar within this unique marketplace).

Over the years, Airbnb China learned to operate successfully in the Chinese marketplace and, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, ranked first for perceived brand quality and reputation in China in 2019 (Sohu News, 2019). It also increased its Chinese domestic market share to more than 50% (Xiong et al., 2020).

COVID-19 significantly disrupted the business of Airbnb China and curtailed its ambitious development objectives. Key challenges for Airbnb China during COVID-19 include: a shortage of cashflow, loss of listings, a low occupancy rate, booking cancellation refunds, host and guest loyalty, and maintaining confidence from hosts in the future of Airbnb China.

For the post-pandemic era, Airbnb has a number of strategic options for rebuilding and growing its business, including: focusing on younger, educated Chinese tourists (the post-80s and post-90s generations); growing supply in the Chinese countryside and integrating their accommodation offerings with rural tourism products; further developing its host community to secure its loyalty into the future; introducing value-added services to match – or even surpass – those of its local Chinese competitors; and considering mergers and acquisitions with local peer-to-peer accommodation providers to facilitate its localisation efforts and its expansion into second and third-tier cities and rural areas.

Acknowledgements

This chapter is based on Xiang, Y. and Dolnicar, S. (2018) Chapter 13 – Networks in China, in S.Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-Peer Accommodation Networks: Pushing the boundaries, Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers, 148–159.

Fieldwork was conducted by the Chinese authors of this book chapter who are from Shandong University, China. Fieldwork was approved via the human ethics approval process at Shandong University.

References

Airbnb (2017) Airbnb announced its latest plan for Chinese travellers, retrieved on August 21, 2017 from https://press.atairbnb.com/zh/airbnb-announces-new-plans-to-serve-chinese-travelers-zh

Airbnb (2020) Airbnb China has invested 70 million yuan as the special fund to fight the epidemic and to set up “10 Commitments” to restore confidence, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from https://news.airbnb.com/zh

Analysis (2016) The AMC model of Chinese online holiday renting market 2016, retrieved on August 21, 2017 from https://www.analysys.cn/analysis/22/detail/1000430

BlackCat Complaints (2020) Airbnb’s full refund policy during the COVID-19 is just a cover to cheat its guests, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from https://tousu.sina.com.cn/complaint/view/17349289141

Bosa, D. and Batchelor, L. (2020) Airbnb is raising $1 billion amid fallout from coronavirus, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/06/airbnb-raising-1-billion-amid-fallout-from-coronanvirus.html

Cai, D. and Li, X. (2016) Research on the development prospect of China’s hotel sharing platform, Jiangsu Review, 5, 10-12.

Chen, C. (2020) Airbnb China sets up 70-million-yuan special fund to restore confidence during Coronavirus outbreak, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from Panda daily: https://pandaily.com/airbnb-china-sets-up-70-million-yuan-special-fund-to-restore-confidence-during-coronavirus-outbreak

China Tourism Academy (2017) Tribute to the Chinese tourists – 2016 China outbound tourist large data, retrieved on August 21, 2017 from http://www.chinacloud.cn/show.aspx?id=24838&cid=6

China Tourism Academy (2020) Tribute to the Chinese tourists – 2019 China outbound tourist big data, retrieved on August 2, 2020 from http://www.ctaweb.org/html/2020-3/2020-3-10-16-48-64712.html

CNPP (2020) Top 10 short-term R&B brand names, retrieved on August 2, 2020 from https://www.cnpp.cn/china/list_6309.html

CTNEWS.com (2020) Airbnb laid off 25% of its workforce, possibly affecting 85 people in China, retrieved on August 2, 2020 from http://www.ctnews.com.cn/jdzs/content/2020-05/07/content_75134.html

Dolnicar, S. and Zare, S. (2020) COVID-19 and Airbnb – Disrupting the disruptor, Annals of Tourism Research, 102961, DOI: 10.1016/j.annals.2020.102961

Douban Group (2009) What can start-up companies learn from Airbnb? retrieved on August 21, 2017 from https://www.douban.com/group/topic/8962285

Eastday.com (2020a) Airbnb China invested 70 million yuan to set up a special fund and launched a green channel for free cancellation on Airbnb China, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from http://n.eastday.com/pnews/1580891764010112

Eastday.com (2020b) Airbnb has suspended recruitment and marketing due to the pandemic outbreak, retrieved on August 2, 2020 from http://n.eastday.com/pnews/1585618746019035

Fastdata (2019) Analysis Report on 2019 online minsu booking industry development in China, retrieved on August 2, 2017 from http://www.199it.com/archives/975961.html

Fastdata (2020) 2020 China online travel industry – Post 95s user data report, retrieved on August 2, 2020 from https://www.shangyexinzhi.com/article/2107954.html

Fortune (2020) Airbnb suspends all check-ins in Beijing amid the coronavirus outbreak, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from https://fortune.com/2020/02/10/airbnb-beijing-china-coronavirus

Guan, Z. and Wang, S. (2017) Can Airbnb make a breakthrough in the Chinese market by joining hands with ‘Alipay’?, retrieved on August 21, 2017 from http://www.bbtnews.com.cn/2017/0705/200384.shtml

Ifeng.com (2016) Tujia announced M&A of Mayi; Lightspeed China Partners was highly positive about ‘Internet +’, retrieved on August 21, 2017 from http://finance.ifeng.com/a/20160622/14515164_0.shtml

Iresearch (2017) Research report on the online short-term renting industry in China 2017, retrieved on August 21, 2017 from http://www.iresearch.com.cn/report/2944.html

Jiemian.com (2016) Optimistic about the rural vacation rental market, Tujia wants to go to the countryside, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from https://www.jiemian.com/article/586941.html

Lei, J. (2013) Airizu founder: Why it took two years to burn tens of millions of dollars but still go bankrupt? retrieved on August 21, 2017 from http://www.cyzone.cn/a/20131204/247502.html

Peng, T. (2019) Airbnb: The local strategy is effective, the monthly number of App users ranked first in the domestic industry in the first 8 months, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from https://zhuhai.ihouse.ifeng.com/news/2019_09_17-52316698_0.shtml

Qianzhan (2019) Understanding the growth trend of the unicorn in 2018 China – Tujia, the biggest flow inlet of minsu (P2P accommodation), retrieved on August 2, 2017 from https://www.qianzhan.com/analyst/detail/220/190212-79a2b4b9.html

Qiu, R., Ou, S., Jiang, J. and Huang, L. (2016) The current situation and its countermeasures of Airbnb in China, Value Engineering, 31, 176-178.

Reinhold, S. and Dolnicar, S. (2018) Airbnb’s Business Model, in S. Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-Peer Accommodation Networks: Pushing the boundaries, Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers, 27-38, DOI: 10.23912/9781911396512-3601

Shen, A. (2020) Under the epidemic, city homestays will face a major reshuffle, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from https://www.sohu.com/a/376435908_100191062

Sina.com (2016) Tujia announced M&A with Ctrip and Qunaer of their business sectors of apartment short-term rent and minsu, retrieved on August 21, 2017 from http://finance.sina.com.cn/chanjing/gsnews/2016–10–20/doc-ifxwzpsa8266027.shtml

Sohu News (2018) Tujia first launched the home stay platform airport business upgrade to ensure new travel experience, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from https://www.sohu.com/a/272442138_376259

Sohu News (2019) Three-fold increase of Airbnb business with localized “operating system”, retrieved on August 2, 2020 from https://www.sohu.com/a/308445727_202972

Sohu News (2020) Worry-free for family travel luggage with the help of Jingdong Express, Tujia minsu makes your travel and stay easy, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from https://www.sohu.com/a/366509353_100059725

Statista (2020) Year-on-year change in monthly revenue of Airbnb affected by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Beijing, China in 1st quarter 2020, retrieved on August 2, 2020 from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1110445/china-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-impact-on-airbnb-monthly-revenue-in-beijing

Tang, Y. (2018) Tujia rural loading is growing rapidly but still faces challenges from platforms such as Airbnb, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from https://www.chinaventure.com.cn/cmsmodel/news/detail/337048.html

The Business Times (2020) Airbnb extends Beijing suspension to May, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/technology/airbnb-extends-beijing-suspension-to-may

ThePaper.cn (2020) Airbnb: Many started to book accommodation for 1 May holiday, retrieved on August 6, 2020, from https://3g.163.com/house/article/F8Q6CFBE000782A4.html

Travel Weekly China (2020) Airbnb officially launches special protection policy for cancellation of bookings in response to the new coronavirus epidemic, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from https://www.travelweekly-china.com/81976

Tujia (2019) Tujia 2019 rural lodging data report, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from http://www.199it.com/archives/1040175.html

Xiang, Y. and Dolnicar, S. (2018) Networks in China, in S. Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-Peer Accommodation Networks: Pushing the boundaries, Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers, 148-159, DOI: 10.23912/97819113965123611

Xiong, Y., Zhu, M. and Zhao, Y. (2020) Study on ethical risks of P2P accommodation platform -the case of Airbnb, Economy and Management, 1, 63-67.

Xu, C. (2020) Portraits of the accommodation hosts: Small entrepreneurs discouraged, while Ctrip and Airbnb struggling to saving themselves, retrieved on August 6, 2020 from https://finance.sina.cn/2020-04-03/detail-iimxyqwa4905492.d.html?from=wap

Zhu, K. and Kang, L. (2020) Research on the development of minsu business in the context of COVID-19, Journal of Beijing Vocational College of Agriculture, 34(3), 32-38.

Appendix

Demographic characteristics of interviewees

Location Gender Age Education Occupation before COVID-19 Occupation after COVID19 Annual income before COVID19 RMB Annual income after COVID19 RMB Years as an Airbnb host
1 Guangdong M B19-35 C Senior High B Part-time job plus Airbnb host B Part-time job plus Airbnb host G 150,000+ G 150,000+ 5
2 Zhejiang M B19-35 C Senior High C Full-time job plus Airbnb host C Full-time job plus Airbnb host G 150,000+ G 150,000+ 2
3 Hainan M B19-35 D Bachelor D Full-time Airbnb host C Full-time job plus Airbnb host D 60,001 -100,000 D 60,001 -100,000 4
4 Guangdong F B19-35 D Bachelor C Full-time job plus Airbnb host C Full-time job plus Airbnb host E 100,001 -150,000 D 60,001 -100,000 5
5 Hebei M B19-35 D Bachelor D Full-time Airbnb host D Full-time Airbnb host G 150,000+ E 100,001 -150,000 3
6 Yunnan M B19-35 D Bachelor B Part-time job plus Airbnb host B Part-time job plus Airbnb host C 40,001 -60,000 C 40,001 -60,000 2
7 Jiangsu M B19-35 D Bachelor C Full-time job plus Airbnb host C Full-time job plus Airbnb host E 100,001 -150,000 E 100,001 -150,000 4
8 Guangdong M B19-35 D Bachelor C Full-time job plus Airbnb host C Full-time job plus Airbnb host E 100,001 -150,000 D 60001 -100,000 0.75
9 Fujian F C 36-55 B Junior High C Full-time job plus Airbnb host C Full-time job plus Airbnb host C 40,001

-60,000

B 20,001 -40,000 2
10 Shandong F B19-35 D Bachelor B Part-time job plus Airbnb host B Part-time job plus Airbnb host D 60,001 -100,000 C 40,001 -60,000 2
11 Shandong M B19-35 D Bachelor C Full-time job plus Airbnb host C Full-time job plus Airbnb host E 100,001 -150,000 D 60001 -100,000 2

Airbnb China’s Ten Commitments to support its host community

Airbnb China’s Ten Commitments to support its host community
1. Refund Hubei hosts’ service fees: Promises to refund the host service fee for all Hubei listings. This policy applies to bookings made before 5 February 2020 for the check-in period 5 February 2020 – 1 May 2020.
2. Provide resource support and financial compensation: Promises to launch the Green Channel program, which streamlines the cancellation process for hosts and guests. This program applies to bookings made before 28 January 2020 for stays between 2 – 29 February 2020. Promises to provide hosts with more resource support and certain financial compensation for booking cancellations within the defined period.
3. Give priority to helping “heart-warming hosts”: Promises to give priority to tilting the flow of weekly and monthly rent orders to hosts identified as “heart-warming hosts” to reward their contribution to the host community. More incentives will follow for the “heart-warming hosts”.
4. Empower landlords for long-term growth: Promises to launch a landlord growth plan, including: giving high-quality hosts access to “high-quality listing” and “plus listing” badges, encouraging and helping hosts to upgrade their properties and to optimise their service capacity.
5. Strengthen various types of host training: Promises to expand the number and content of China’s host training programs to cover hosts in both urban and rural areas, to increase knowledge of safety, hygiene and operations, and to improve the host’s ability to deal with major public safety emergencies.
6. Reward the host community: Promises to put the host community at the core of its business development plan, and raise the global profile of the Chinese host community and its successes against the pandemic, through programs such as annual host awards, “host of the month” awards, community activities, and Chinese landlord incentive programs, story-sharing of Chinese host fighting against coronavirus pandemic, etc.
7. Extend the time for free cancellation: Promises to extend the “Special Circumstances Policy” until 29 February 2020 (until 1 April 2020 in Hubei Province). The booking date must be before 28 January 2020 (bookings from mainland China) or 1 February 2020 (bookings from outside China). Airbnb will continue to evaluate and adjust this policy in light of the pandemic situation.
8. Fully match employee donations: Promises to fully match donations made by the company’s global employees to the non-profit Give2Asia, for the purchase of masks, protection suits, and eye protectors for medical staff.
9. Care for front-line pandemic professionals: Promises that front-line medical workers and other professional staff who cannot complete their itineraries due to the pandemic may cancel their Airbnb bookings free of charge upon verification of relevant certification materials. Airbnb promises to provide targeted travel funds for outstanding front-line medical workers to thank them for their great contributions in the fight against the pandemic.
10. Strengthen the development of Chinese communities: Promises to increase marketing activities that are strategic to the Chinese market in the post-pandemic era, encourage more people to sign up as hosts and guests, and achieve the healthy development and sustainability of host community growth.

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Airbnb Before, During and After COVID-19 by The University of Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.14195930

Share This Book