(Yicai Global) Nov. 24 -- Economy accommodation service operator Home Inns & Hotels Management Inc. [NASDAQ:HMIN] released a new product yesterday: 'HomeInn Town.' It is an innovative business model integrating travel and leisure services, giving the company a leg-up on the tourist accommodation market for self-driving travelers and backpackers.
Our reporter found in an interview at a HomeInn Town, that the small hamlet offered a full suite of services, including accommodations, catering, entertainment, a farmers' market, convenience store, parking and electric car rental, making it a 'city' in the countryside. The biggest highlight, however, are the custom-made rooms transformed from containers, and resting without foundations.
The flexible HomeInn Town is easily scalable, Home Inn chairman and chief executive Sun Jian told Yicai Global. The container hotels will pilot first in the economically-developed Pearl River Delta, with more to be built throughout the country later.
Profit model circulations are afoot for the container hotels, said Sun, with the cost of each room about CNY150,000 (USD22,00) -- slightly higher than economy rooms in Home Inn hotels.
Our reporter learned that an economy hotel room typically costs CNY70,000-80,000, and it could be as little as CNY50,000 in some cases.
"At present, the average payback period is over five years for economy hotels. If HomeInn Town can develop container hotels at scale, they may still outperform economy hotels in investment returns," noted Zhao Huanyan, chief information officer at global consultancy Hotel Solutions. As top-quality hotel properties and fitting sites grow ever-scarcer, non-standard products like container hotels offer substantial savings on rent and labor. They also allow location and renovation flexibility, and approvals are simpler, too.
HomeInn Town will operate via franchises and property owners will self-manage them, but they will fall under Home Inn's general administrative umbrella.