Airbnb China: Tracking Short-Term Rentals’ Rebound

Brad Jamison | February 23, 2021

Like so many other companies, Airbnb was put through the wringer in 2020. But, unlike too many others, it emerged in much better shape at year’s close. Weeks after its eye-popping IPO, the short-term rental platform saw January bookings in the U.S. shatter previous records, confirming that Americans are determined to travel in 2021, even if it’s closer to home.

An ocean away, millions of Chinese citizens explored their own country, contributing to the growth in demand and short-term rental activity. That’s welcomed news for Airbnb in China; Airbnb aims to have one billion guests by 2028. If it’s going to reach that goal, cornering the short-term rental market in the world’s most-populated country is essential.

Will Chinese Airbnb Activity Continue to Grow?

In short, the numbers are on the company’s side. Between 2017 and 2018, domestic tourism played a massive role in boosting growth by 131%, as Chinese citizens made up 91% of all bookings.

Airbnb in 2019 funneled significant funds into what it called an “aggressive marketing” campaign to attract new guests — both domestic and international — and keep its competitive edge against local competitors.

More marketing, a desire to travel, and more available listings contributed to China’s steady rebound in the short-term rental space.

Airbnb in China Saw Demand Grow Across the Country

In late 2019, COVID-19 began spreading through Wuhan, the Hubei province, and then across the rest of the country and, eventually, the world. Domestic and international travel ground to a halt.

But by late spring and early summer, China’s Airbnb listings began to rebound. Since it slowly emerged and continued to grapple with containing the virus, many Chinese travelers have made clear that they, like Americans, want some space outside its most massive cities — but it’s not just a rural rebound.

How AirDNA Measured Airbnb China’s Rebound

The return of short-term rentals in China wasn’t limited to just one or two types of markets; big cities and rural destinations alike saw some semblance of a rebound. This is quite dissimilar to travel patterns around the rest of the world following initial shutdowns, as North American, European, and UK travelers largely flocked to more rural destinations to avoid crowds.

These markets saw increases in:

Rental Demand: How often are rentals booked throughout the year? We couple annual occupancy with booked listing growth rates to reveal relative travel demand. High score = high demand.

Revenue Growth: Did Airbnb listings in China earn more this month than the same month of the previous year? We determine this by calculating the year-over-year RevPAR change for properties that received bookings during each period.

Airbnb China and the Domestic Demand for Travel

Because Chinese Airbnb listings stretch from the country’s Pacific coasts to its western borders, we’ve divided rental demand and revenue growth into three categories:

Small markets: 25 to 100 listings

Medium markets: 101 to 1000 listings

Large markets: 1000+ listings

A quick note about these lists. Keep in mind that small markets don’t necessarily mean small populations. In China, Airbnb demand is spread among small, rural markets tucked away between the Kazakh and Mongolian borders like Burqin, and multi-million population centers, like Weihai Shi on the Yellow Sea.

China has more than 100 cities with populations exceeding one million people, so market size in terms of where people traveled is relative to large North American and European cities. However, you’ll also notice massive cities like Shanghai and Beijing didn’t see their rental demand grow during the same period.

Airbnb Listings in China’s Small Markets:

CityActive ListingsRental DemandRevenue GrowthAirDNA Index
Burqin4859100 79.3
Nanzheng4042100 71.0
Nanxiong3139100 69.6
Tiedong685286 69.3
Xinxing374792 69.2
Yuzhou4838100 69.2
Longtan3437100 68.4
Pingyang2734100 66.8
Yushan6233100 66.3
Jinan353894 65.9

Airbnb Listings in China’s Medium Markets:

CityActive ListingsRental DemandRevenue GrowthAirDNA Index
Xining Shi652439468.5
Diqing Zangzuzizhizhou6613210065.8

Airbnb Listings in China’s Large Markets:

CITYActive ListingsRental DemandRevenue GrowthAirDNA Index
Sanya Shi7,853469369.6
Qingdao Shi8,502369967.2
Weihai Shi2,398309964.4
Yantai Shi2,381279963.0
Changsha Shi11,530606562.6
Huludao Shi1,0602410062.0
Nantong Shi1,495279761.8
Xishuangbanna Daizuzizhizhou2,159408261.3
Yangjiang Shi1,360229860.0
Taiyuan Shi1,515348459.0

Want to explore these and other markets in China? Use MarketMinder to get the data you need to take the next step towards your rental investment.

Are There Sound Airbnb Investment Opportunities in China? It Depends.

China is a massive market for Airbnb investments. But are any of the best cities for Airbnb investments in China? That’s a complicated question to answer. Airbnb in China is quite new relative to its tenure as the leading short-term rental platform. That means a few things.

  1. There’s a lot of room for growth, which Airbnb is counting on, and investing tons of funds to ensure it maintains an edge on domestic competition. That includes more marketing to make potential hosts aware of the platform, as well as force competitors to spend more on their marketing efforts.
  2. China doesn’t exactly have the most trusted reputation for protecting guests’ personal information. These strict laws (and Airbnb’s willingness to comply with them) led to an Airbnb executive’s resignation in mid-2019. What many believe are oppressive laws may deter some investors from pursuing rentals anywhere in the country.

    If you pursue an investment opportunity for an Airbnb in China, know that the STR giant will share email addresses, phone numbers, and messages between you and guests with China’s government. Airbnb made this policy public in 2016, but it’s something that hosts, investors, and especially many guests may not know.

  3. Rules and regulations on Airbnb listings in China may change at a moment’s notice. In-flux STR regulations aren’t anything new, but the government that enforces them is quite different than those in the U.S., Europe, and the UK. You must become familiar with all rules and regulations before pursuing any Airbnb investment opportunities in China.

Explore China’s Best Cities for Airbnb Investment with MarketMinder

Let’s be clear: Airbnb in China will continue to grow. The demand is there, and Airbnb is determined to nurture further demand. But knowing which market makes the most sense for investment across China’s massive landscape takes time.

MarketMinder expedites the process and gives you insight into markets of all sizes. You’ll have access to occupancy rate data, amenities lists, and other essential metrics to plan your Airbnb pricing strategy.

Airbnb Listings in China’s Qingdao Shi

Want to compare multiple properties? Use the Market Comparison tool to see how one to four markets stack up side-by-side. You can sort by occupancy, ADR, or revenue to determine which market is right for your next Airbnb investment.

Market comparison for China Airbnb investment properties

Get More Airbnb China Investment Property Data from AirDNA

Want deeper insights into the emerging Chinese Airbnb market? Reach out to us today to get the full, downloadable report that sheds light on more than 400 cities. Want even more data? Ask about our custom reports to get the specific information you need to move forward.

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