Thanks to Airbnb, apparently, we now no longer have a “hotel industry.” what we have is an evolving “hospitality ecosystem.” Nowhere is this evolution taking place more quickly than in China.
Hotel brands – and their offerings – have been diversifying beyond the traditional rankings of luxury. Local brand Orange and Starwood’s W, and boutiques like Opposite House introduced lifestyle choices to that mix. Expect to see more of that as we see greater consolidation among global brands and increasing competition for domestic tourist dollars.
Two trends to watch in hospitality in China this year: shared and recreational. Shared lodging services like Xiaozhu and Airbnb look set to take off this year for both domestic and outbound travelers as these services begin offering fapiao for business guests and usage moves beyond early adopters.
Recreational lodging, specifically camping, is the second trend to watch. We are seeing the rapid growth of legitimate, licensed campgrounds this year, primarily front-country sites that allow guests to drive up to their unimproved sites and camp. In addition, the growth of the RV industry in China is driving growth in campsites designed for Airstreams and Winnebagos as China’s prosperous are learning the joys of the road.
Finally, we’re witnessing the birth of what can be best called “nostalgia hospitality,” where lodgers are offering boutique lodgings reminiscent of earlier and simpler times in China. This deliberate step backward in time is a sort of bed-and-breakfast with Chinese characteristics, an experience designed for urbanites looking for a true getaway from the complexities of daily life. This is beginning as a part of the shared lodging trend, but will become a sub-phenomenon of its own in the next two to three years.