“Out-Innovating” the Opposition: How China is Taking Airbnb to the Next Level

By Louis Patler, Ph.,D.

Innovation is certainly all the rage these days and if it were a religion, the Silicon Valley would be its Mecca. I recently came upon and article from the South China Morning Post (http://www.businessinsider.com/china-used-to-copy-silicon-valley-but-now-its-silicon-valley-that-copies-china-2017-3 ) that made me think twice about where the epicenter of some innovation may be.

Long seen in the business press as a hotbed of ripping off ideas and products, this article chipped away at that stereotype and described how China’s Xiaozhu was developing it’s own advanced version of Airbnb.

The article is short and I encourage you to read it in its entirety. But to give you a feel for what China is doing with Xiaozhu here are four examples:

1.     They install smart key locks to make it easier on guests and hosts.

2.     They link part-time cleaning service providers with hosts.

3.     They offer first-time host training sessions.

4.     Xiaozhu encourages users to link their accounts with Sesame Credit, a social credit scoring system used by China’s Alibaba Group that rates an individual’s credibility using big data.

More details and examples are in the article. On the surface though, and to coin a term, it seems to me that in some ways Xiaozhu has “out-innovated” Airbnb.

Read on!