Shared accommodation industry can boost housing market: tech CEO

The shared accommodation industry should follow a "platform plus" model to inject new impetus in China's pre-owned housing market, said the co-founder of Beijing home-sharing company Xiaozhu during the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan.

'Platform plus' is a reference to China's Internet Plus strategy to integrate new technologies, such as AI, big data, and cloud computing, in traditional industries.

Chen Chi, also the company's CEO, made the remarks while discussing future trends in China's sharing economy with founders from other industry players, such as Booking.com, Grab, and VIPKid.

"The 'platform plus' strategy is to complete the missing links in the service industry chain," Chen said.

"Xiaozhu has been offering numerous value-added services, ranging from housekeeping, home interior photography to smart devices, so as to provide shared home users with a more convenient living environment."

"According to our data, the demands for housekeeping and photography are growing fast. The house keeper with most orders on our platform earns more than 160,000 yuan a year and the best photographer can rake in 60,000 yuan monthly," said Chen.

Considered China's answer to Airbnb, Xiaozhu has listed more than 500,000 shared houses in 650 cities and other destinations on its platform since its foundation in 2012. Many are fitted with smart locks, smoke detectors and alarms.

According to Chen, with the Chinese economy entering the phase of "new normal", the sharing economy will face multi-layered challenges, including innovating its business model, adopting intelligent technologies, and offering standardized services.

Advances in new technologies such as 5G and internet of things will bring huge potential for the home-share market, which is still in its early stages, according to Chen, who said that the company will accelerate its expansion to non-first-tier cities and rural areas.

According to latest Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China data, over 3 billion tourists visited rural resorts last year, which collected revenues of more than 800 billion yuan.

To take advantage of rural tourism's potential Xiaozhu last year signed a strategic deal with the Tourism Development Committee of Hainan province to promote the rural homestay market while helping it alleviate poverty.

"The company will also further integrate its platform businesses with services including housekeeping, photography, house design and smart devices to boost a healthy, sustainable hospitality industry," Chen said.