By JI YUAN
HEFEI (China Daily Show) – It’s eight o’clock on a Friday morning, and salesman Zhu Ren, 44, is getting ready is in hotel room for another long day on the road. As he leaves, a young woman straightens the sheets, sprays some Glade, and the next weary traveler takes Zhu’s place in bed.
“We’re calling it bed sharing,” says chain-smoking Xu Ren, who manages the Lucky Night Hotel. “You already share apartments, taxis, bicycles, umbrellas – why not beds?”
China is at the heart of the sharing-economy frenzy. Airbnb recently announced plans to double investment for local service Aibiying, ride-hailing firm Didi is considering a $6 billion investment by SoftBank, while Mobike and Ofo are jostling for domination of the vast bike-sharing market.
In the midst of this billion-dollar boom, 55-year-old Xu’s bed-sharing scheme – dubbed WeMattress – is quietly carving a niche for itself among businessmen in the sleepy city of Hefei. “I always drop by the Lucky Night if I’m in town for a few hours,” said a bra-clasp salesman surnamed Wang. “Great service, every time.”
Guests who check into the Lucky Night can choose from three types of room: single, double or “special.” Those who choose regular rooms are given multiple opportunities to take advantage of the unique bed-sharing system, though. Guests are woken up throughout the night by friendly staff eager to promote the innovative scheme.
With the backing of several mid-level local officials, Xu hopes to roll out his Lucky Night bed-sharing hotels across the city. But it won’t be easy: Xu already faces stiff competition from a copycat chain next door. “Goddamn, Jade Empress Business Hotel steal my business model,” Xu grumbled while laying out expansion plans. “They even offer cheaper girls. I mean, beds.”