How Vacation Rentals Can Win Over Chinese Consumers

While already quite popular among travelers in the West, the vacation rental and home-sharing market is still in its early stages in China. The trend is catching on more quickly among China’s middle-class yet luxury hotels still remain the first choice for China’s luxury travelers, however this may not last for long. As Chinese tourists are attaching more importance to privacy and comfort, renting an entire villa has become increasingly popular, especially for family vacations or travel to island destinations in Asia Pacific.

Although villa rentals and home-sharing are relatively new to Chinese consumers there are already hundreds of smaller vacation rental companies in the APAC region looking to attract Chinese travelers, and a couple big players are moving in as well. Over the past several months home-sharing giant Airbnb has been ramping up its efforts in the Chinese market dramatically increasing the size of its Chinese workforce.

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Actually, Airbnb has been operating in China for a couple of years already, but it hasn’t really taken off. The recent decision to focus on and invest more in the China market may be due to the intensified pressure they are feeling from local-players such as China’s homegrown home-sharing platform Tujia, which has been growing rapidly within China and the Asia region.

Previously, Tujia focused on providing services to young travelers with limited budgets, however, in September this year they expanded their product portfolio launching a high-end product called Tujia Mansion, targeting the affluent Chinese consumer. Their advantage over Airbnb and other international players lies in their understanding of Chinese customers whose home-sharing and vacation rental preferences are notably different than consumers in other markets.

What can villa companies do to attract Chinese travelers?

No matter whether it is Airbnb, Tujia, or another company, rental providers seeking to attract Chinese travelers need to take extra measures to understand what elements have the most sway over Chinese travelers’ planning decisions. Three key factors include services, style, and price. 

  1. Provide the same services as a hotel

Until recently, Chinese travelers have been more comfortable staying in a hotel. One of the main reasons they do not choose a vacation rental is because they do not want to give up the conveniences and services that come with a hotel stay. 

Home sharing and villa rentals that are more professional and provide the services that customers are used to in a hotel will have an advantage in the market. Free Wi-Fi is a must and room cleaning services are very important too. Most vacation rentals and home shares do not provide cleaning services during the stay and will require the guest to tidy up a bit before they leave. This is a big turnoff for Chinese travelers who don’t want to spend their vacation time cleaning.

On top of that, Chinese travelers will be more likely to choose a vacation rental if they can pay for it using Unionpay or Alipay. And having Mandarin speaking staff available and Chinese language written materials are also a huge plus.

Although this is more than what many villa rental companies are used to providing, these added services could be the extra push that the Chinese consumer needs to choose a rental property over a hotel.

  1. New and Modern Style Accommodations are Best

While many Western travelers are seeking rentals with traditional architecture for a more local experience, Chinese travelers tend to go for recently built villas with a modern style and modern amenities including air conditioning and closing windows. And while ratings and reviews usually play a large role in Chinese consumers’ purchasing decisions, to their surprise, vacation rental companies have found that Chinese travelers will even choose a newer villa with fewer reviews over an older one with many positive reviews.

  1. Offer a Discount

Chinese travelers, even affluent ones, pay a lot of attention to rates. On average the length of a long-haul trip is seven days and oftentimes they will rent the villa or home share for several days at a time. Offering a special rate for a longer stay or during a specific time of year might convince them that a vacation rental is not only convenient but also cost-effective.


Hotels & Accommodation, Travel Trends

  • This is good information and a great start to understanding how to approach marketing to China for vacation rental owners!

  • gabrielle bonheur

    As the owner of an appartment in Paris rented on Airbnb, I am now joining a growing chorus of hosts who would prefer NOT to rent to Chinese vacationers as they are so used to hotels that they tend to leave the appartments disgusting, food in bed, more guests than allowed etc… very demanding and entitled as the price is the same for someone considerate… I used to be happy with them choosing my house and communicate in Mandarin etc… Now I try to get them to pick someone else’s house… too many bad experiences and too many questions. Not worth it.

    • Lauren Hallanan

      Thanks for sharing your experiences! It will be interesting to see whether the rental industry will start conforming to Chinese travelers preferences by offering more “hotel-like” services or whether Chinese travelers will be forced to change their behaviors as the industry matures.

  • Julia Maslo

    Giving opportunity for vacation rental business is a healthy business competition among all others who has the same type of business. Somehow, general statutes of the state have to be reviewed to determine the applicable laws and regulations as it relates to leasing vacation property. Regulations on vacation rentals like follow a state standard for occupancy, set up a system for permitting and enforcement, and provide renters with a code of conduct that covers issues like noise, trash and parking are only some that has to be considered in setting up rules in which it will bring favors to both the vacation rental business and to that who has the same line of business. Please check Dormis to learn about vacation rentals.