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Tujia rides tech, underlines rules to up the ante in vacation rental segment

By Fan Feifei | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-24 10:44
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The owner of a guesthouse (left) in the ancient town of Wanzai county, Jiangxi province, chats with guests on June 6. [Photo/Xinhua]

Tujia, a Chinese online platform for vacation rentals, will continue efforts to bring its short-term lodging services under the purview of local regulations, improve the quality of its listings, and enhance its customers' experience, in a bid to meet diversified demand in the booming sector.

Concentrating on the needs of users and taking technological innovation as the core driving force, Tujia has witnessed its revenue increase 15 times in the past two years, with 1.4 million online home listings around the world.

Li Zhenni, chief business officer of Tujia, said the company's trading volume accounted for more than half of the industry's total turnover last year.

It has established a subsidiary called Anban Intelligence, which is dedicated to providing intelligent door lock hardware and security management solutions, reducing the operational risks of landlords, Li said.

The clients could just use their identification cards to open the short-term rental houses, instead of obtaining the keys from landlords. The company will check the identities based on the data provided by the Ministry of Public Security.

By virtue of intelligent door lock hardware equipment, face recognition, artificial intelligence, internet of things and other advanced technologies, Anban Intelligence will quickly check and verify the real identities of the occupants, and upload the related information to the public security management system for record.

"For landlords, the use of smart door locks can bring the houses under the supervision of the public security system, and for tourists, their security would be ensured. For the public security department, it not only strengthens the supervision and management of travelers' information but facilitates the effective tracking and information analysis of online housing resources," said Tu Qiang, chief technology officer of Tujia.

Tu said Anban Intelligence's solutions have been in trial operations in small and big cities such as Sanya, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Chongqing. The company will assist the authorities to promote lawful operation of home-sharing services.

Yang Changle, CEO of Tujia, said the accommodation-sharing industry will maintain high growth this year, and hoped it will receive the status of a legal business, although it is not deemed illegal in China now.

For instance, owners of short-term rental houses will have a valid identity, and the safety standard of shared homes will be on a par with that of hotels.

"However, there is no law to regulate vacation rental services at present, which is the biggest challenge we face," Yang said, adding that the Chinese government has a positive attitude toward the sharing economy.

Launched in 2011, Tujia lists 1.4 million online homes, including apartments, homestays and villas across 400 Chinese cities and more than 1,000 overseas destinations.

Liu Junhai, a business law professor at the Renmin University of China, said short-term vacation rental websites can help promote optimal utilization of existing resources like rental housing.

"The market is not mature yet. The quality of management should be improved. Online platforms need to strengthen their self-discipline," said Liu.

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