Tujia – China’s answer to Airbnb

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Tujia has succeeded by offering Chinese travellers a more ‘upscale’ version of Airbnb – that has helped to cut through unique concerns local owners and renters regarding short-term leasing.  This has helped Tujia offer a wider set of accommodation options to China’s burgeoning tourist market.

Tujia is a relatively new online travel platform for rental homes and properties for holidays, vacations, or business purposes. Tujia lists over 300,000 properties in China alone and around 15,000 overseas. These properties are available for rent online, and the properties also offer full services at the destination for travelers’ flexibility, convenience, and comfort.

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Tujia offers Chinese travellers new flexibility

Founded in just 2011 in Beijing by Jun Luo and Melissa Yang, Tujia has already grown exponentially in the tourism market, now valued at over $1 billion. The founders’ concept of Tujia was sparked by the fact that about 50 million homes in China are not being used. The supply of vacant homes is the perfect solution to the growing popularity of tourism in China.

So how does Tujia work? Travelers can visit Tujia.com to search and browse properties where they plan to spend their vacation, and then they can simply book their rental property online.

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Screenshot of Tujia webpage

On Tujia’s end, they have strict criteria to insure the properties are high quality. They do this by carefully inspecting the properties, taking photos, and connecting and outsourcing services for the properties before actually posting them on their website.

Tujia has been called the “Airbnb of China”, but it stands out against other competing travel agencies because its founders knowledge of Chinese culture, specific rental property criteria, and full service add-ons.

Identifying the cultural needs of Chinese travellers

Culturally, many Chinese people like to travel with their whole family, so a house or villa would be much more accommodating and affordable than booking several hotel rooms. Mainland Chinese are also somewhat unsure and uncomfortable staying in a home that’s not their own, and they need to feel a lot of trust in the travel agency system and property.

Tujia gains this assurance and ease of mind by only posting properties that meet specific criteria that deem them high quality, and the website does not allow private homeowners to post their properties for rent.

Third party managers are used instead to ensure credibility and quality of these privately owned properties. Amenities and services such as butlers, cleaners, cooks, and drivers complete the deal and make it a vacation experience, not just a place to stay.

Tujia has a great potential for expansion not only within China but also outside thanks to its distinguished full service component and its partnerships with some of the largest travel agencies in the world, including HomeAway and Ctrip.

Vacation homes have created a new need in the Chinese tourism market as travelers want to be more adventurous and trendy instead of staying at a somewhat boring and traditional hotel. Tujia has honed in on this new market and is definitely an up-and-coming business to watch as the Chinese tourism industry continues to grow every day.

About Author

Leah Basford

Leah is a researcher on the SMART@Resonance team. She originally hails from Centerville, Indiana, and as an avid foodie, Guangzhou naturally is the Chinese city she enjoys exploring the most.

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