Cocooning in a foreign place

Why leisure vacation rentals might turn out to be on the winning side of post-virus Chinese outbound touris

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS

At the moment the four big companies renting out apartments or houses for short-term visitors to beautiful landscapes or vibrating cities are bleeding money similar to almost all other tourism and hospitality service providers. Booking Holdings, AirBnB, Expedia and – often overlooked – saw their business going down in flames in the last two months. Only is seeing at least domestically already some light at the end of tunnel.

All have deep pockets and will probably get rid of some smaller competitors. Many smaller companies with only a couple of hundred properties might also loose contracts because the owner of the apartments going back to long-term lease.

However, the more tech-savvy and specialised smaller vocational rental companies might not only survive, but actually profit from the changes in post-virus tourism. If they more than before also get their act together with regard to achieving a deeper understanding of the Chinese outbound market, a completely new avenue might open up for them.

Many surveys coming out of China in recent weeks confirm that

a) many Chinese will start again to travel overseas as soon as it is possible again and perceived as safe,

b) more Chinese outbound travellers than already before will prefer travelling in small groups, especially with their families,

c) more Chinese outbound travellers than already before will prefer to be closer to local culture, „living like a local“ for a couple of days.

All these demands can be catered for by apartments easier than by big chain hotels. Trust will become ever more important, and trusting a person welcoming you personally to a single vacation property with regard to the thoroughness of disinfecting and other safety measures will be easier than relying on the diligence of underpaid outsourced cleaning personnel in 1,000 room hotels. Similarly the image of a personal service will support the feeling of staying right inside the host society.

Last week I had the honour to participate in the Zoom conference „Short-term rentals: The Road to Recovery and Profitability”. The recordings of the live talk of all nine speakers with the host Simon Lehmann, CEO of AJL, as well as the extensive presentations of the speakers can be found on

Have a look – you probably have more time than usual to actually do that – at the interesting contributions, which offer also some ideas of how to react to CoViD-19 that can turn out to be useful for other parts of the tourism and hospitality industry as well.

As always, best wishes for all our readers from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI WEEKLY team, stay healthy!

PS.: The rumours, that COTRI will launch a new publication during an online conference in June are not completely unfounded. More about this soon, stay tuned.