Is shared sleeping capsules a good business in China?

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Sharing economies are becoming more and more daring and imaginative in China. Besides the already existing shared bicycles, basketballs, umbrellas, portable batteries, you can even “share” bedrooms now. Lately, the concept of “shared sleeping capsules” have emerged in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and other cities.

Beijing-based Xiangshui (means shared sleeping) Space is a self-service resting pod introduced by Beijing Xiangshui Technology Corporation this year. The service is mainly targeted towards white-collar workers, most of which work in office buildings. The entire sleep cabin is designed like a space shuttle and a capsule hotel inside out.

Each pod is labeled with its own respective QR code. Users enter the pods by scanning the code and doors will lock automatically upon closing. Each pod is fully equipped with a bed (2m by 1m), wireless network, decorative lamps, power outlets, USB plugs, as well as a fan speed adjustment knob. Users can pick up a free set of bedding peripherals before entering the pods, including a duvet, a disposable bedsheet, a pillow towel and wet paper towels.

Sleeping pod operators have indicated that the pods are equipped with ultraviolet anti-virus lights. During peak hours, there are also cleaning personnel performing sanitation and disinfection services. The costs is 10 yuan/half an hour during peak hours, and 6 yuan/half an hour during off-peak hours. The maximum cost per day is capped at 58 yuan. In addition, users can subscribe to a monthly service of 388 yuan/month, and 588 yuan/month if one would like designate a certain pod.

In light of the current circumstances, the emergence of these shared sleeping pods did meet the demands of certain people, especially office workers who need lunch break. It is a much more efficient way of resource-spending than hourly based hotel rooms and the process is also much simpler—just a quick scan of the QR code would suffice.

Unlike other popular shared economy products, shared sleeping pods quickly caught the attention of the public security authorities. In Beijing and Shanghai, shared sleeping pods have been shut down for violating the policies of the hotel industry. By being able to access these sleeping pods without the need to identify oneself is, according to the police, easily abused by criminals for a quick hideout spot. In addition, the pods are all fully sealed with a rather narrow space altogether, thus creating a severe issue of fire protection and security should there be an emergency.

Some may ask, “Do shared sleep pods really belong to a part of the sharing economy?” Experts have pointed out: “These ‘hotels’ don’t in fact count as sharing. Sleeping is a very private and intimate matter. It is very different from shared bicycles. If anything, this is more similar to renting out a hotel suite by the hour.”

The founder of Xiangshui, Dai Jiangong, was previously the CEO of Fang.com and has been immersed in the field of housing for many years. He said during an interview with the media that at present, major concerns are placed in how to meet supervisory requirements of the government, which is to upgrade the facilities as soon as possible according to the opinions and suggestions, so as to officially operate upon completion.

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