As China battles with the worst COVID outbreak in two years, several cities have once again moved teaching for nursery and secondary school children to the digital space. With the arrival of the order, hotels, which is part of the hospitality sector and one of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic, are desperate to seize the opportunity to self-rescue.
The initiative known as “online-class rooms” is designed to relieve working parents who might otherwise have to sacrifice their workplace commitments to supervise their children’s studies at home. It also promises a stable Internet solution for minors attending classes online with meal offers included at some hotels.
It is understood that one room will only accommodate one child to curb the spread of the virus and a personal childminder is available upon request. Parents, however, are required to look after their kids at night but can do so whilst enjoying discounted hotel services including food and SPA. Such a varied offer has earned the initiative another name of “Studycation (Study+Vacation) suite”.
The new service soon caught the attention of many working parents, further pushing demand for these Studycation suites. Online searches of “Studycation suite” have surged more than 200% within one day since the first round of services landed on Ctrip on 17 March, according to the Chinese online travel company which also offers accommodation reservations. Prices of these rooms range from several hundred RMB per room per night to package offers at roughly 6,000 RMB ($942.8) per week.
The interest in this offer has also driven hotel management to broaden its business scenarios to include engaging and entertaining services such as spaces for piano practice, library, cinema, and even Jubensha (a mystery-like, role-playing board game that is particularly popular among young Chinese), to appeal to those young customers.
So far, the service has been well received with some applauding the innovation and believing it is necessary for hotels to explore services beyond just accommodation to weather the impacts of a prolonged pandemic. Others caution potential issues including children’s safety and the effectiveness of a personal childminder, which are challenges facing the industry in the long run. Therefore continuous innovations remain a top priority if these service providers are to survive post-pandemic.