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Local hotel sector takes off

By Zhu Lixin in Wuzhen | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-17 07:25

Local hotel sector takes off

Local home inns, most of which are renovated houses, are common in Wuzhen. [Photo provided To China Daily]

Huang Lyuqiang sits at a table in the public area of a hotel based in a house on Ciyun Road in Wuzhen.

Sometimes he is seen chatting with his customers in the room which resembles a library, with his Porsche parked in front of the house, ready to take him to other places in the town.

The hotel has a floor space of about 480 square meters and nine rooms for business.

A house leased from a local resident, the hotel costs Huang 100,000 yuan ($147,100) for rental annually, and Huang is contracted to use the house for 10 years at least.

Outside, along the 1.5-kilometer road, dozens of hotels are located. As the street has been renovated from an old residential area in the past two years, most of the hotels are run in houses.

Huang owns five of the hotels on the street, in addition to five in other parts of the town.

"Each of the hotels is of a distinctive style from the others, and another six hotels are still being decorated", said Huang, adding that he has rented some more houses in Wuzhen and is now planning their decoration.

Huang said he has witnessed a flourishing hotel business in Wuzhen, his hometown, although it was only three years ago that he shifted to the business after quitting a real estate company in Shanghai.

Huang graduated from Zhejiang University, which is based in Hangzhou, in 2009 with a master's degree. Majoring in architecture, Huang was employed by the Shanghai-based firm after his graduation.

Wuzhen welcomed more than 6 million tourists in 2012, topping all the individual tourism spots across the country in the year.

Huang returned to his hometown the next year and decided to run private hotels in local houses. His hotels now have more than 200 rooms available.

In 2013, Wuzhen Families, an industry association for local home inns, was founded. Huang joined the association, which aims to regulate and standardize the sector, in the first year of his business.

"The association now has more than 400 members, while the whole town has twice the number of such hotels", said Huang.

In addition to the association, the local government has also taken multiple measures to improve the quality and safety of the inns, such as the recently issued regulations requiring that private hotels meet certain fire control regulations, according to the local officials.

When many of the local home inn owners were still doing the business in traditional ways, which means the geographical locations make much difference, Huang has been seeking to promote his business online from the beginning.

"At first, only around 30 percent of my customers were booking rooms online, while nowadays more than 70 percent of them book rooms online prior to their arrival in the town", said Huang.

Huang said the approach has being taken by more inns in the past three years. "As a result, the geographical locations don't count as much as they did, so that hotels remote from the scenic zone and those in secluded small lanes can also enjoy more business opportunities", said Huang.

"Another advantage of using the internet is the costumers can comment on hotels online, which will influence future visitors. In this way, hotel owners know better than ever that quality services are really important for their business", said Huang.

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