Couchsurfers get more than they bargain for

Updated: 2015-04-13 10:41

By Yu Ran(China Daily)

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Airbnb, another hospitality service that originated in the US, is gaining popularity in China and around the world.

Positioned between midbudget hotels and couchsurfing, the website offers short-term rentals at reasonable prices so travelers can enjoy a home-from-home experience.

"In the last four years I've stayed in apartments in European countries, mostly. I think it's a value-added experience," said a Shanghai woman in her 30s who gave her name as Amy.

Together with her husband and another couple, she offers five apartments for travelers to book on Airbnb. She said they are usually rented out for five or six days each week on average.

She charges her guests 500 yuan a night, plus a one-time fee of 100 yuan for housekeeping, for a one-bedroom apartment near the city's former French Concession. Her other apartments go for different prices and can each accommodate four to six people.

She and her husband pay 8,000 yuan per month to rent the French Concession flat but can earn double this in a busy month. They forked out 80,000 yuan to redecorate it, she said.

"I don't plan on making a fortune or lots of new friends but it's nice to get a bit of both," she said.

She said the two forms of vacationing attract different demographics.

"Couchsurfers are young singles looking for free stays and excitement, while those who choose Airbnb have a higher travel budget. They may come with the family and they usually want more privacy and cozier conditions," she said.

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