A new “hotel” in Beijing caters China’s sharing economy to working professionals by renting “sleeping capsules” to workers in need of a quick snooze.
Nap capsule company, Xiangshui Space, got its start in Beijing but has since expanded to Shanghai and Chengdu, according to Reuters. By using a barcode scanner and in-app wallet, customers can rent the tiny spaces for just 1 yuan every 3 minutes during peak napping hours from 11 am to 2 pm. Naps outside of those hours cost only 1 yuan for every 5 minutes of sleep.
Although claustrophobic for some, the capsules come equipped with disposable bedding, earplugs and an ultraviolet disinfection lamp — perfect for recharging before going back to the grind.
“It’s really meeting a rigid demand as many professionals have a difficult time finding a nice private place to nap,” said Han Yue, the operations manager at Xiangshui Space.
China is no stranger to the concept of sleeping in tight quarters. Japan’s famous “capsule hotels” spread to Shanghai in 2011, and have since popped up in other cities. But Han thinks her company offers something brand new.
For starters, Xiangshui Space targets customers looking for a convenient place to nap during the workday — not those looking for somewhere to sleep overnight. And by taking advantage of smartphone technology (a key trait of sharing companies), the hotel has no need for human staff.
Recently, a host of different companies and start-ups have embraced China’s sharing economy craze. Bike-sharing startups like Mobike and Ofo allow customers to pick up and leave bicycles anywhere in the city, while other companies offer umbrellas, cell phone chargers and basketballs for rent.
These companies have proven to be extremely convenient in the digital age, and although most of them are still receiving heaps of funding, they’ve run into plenty of issues as well.
Umbrella sharing company Sharing E Umbrella, for example, announced last week that almost all of its 300,000 umbrellas had been stolen or lost in just a matter of weeks.
While it’s unlikely that anyone will steal one of the new nap capsules, companies like Xiangshui Space still have some problems to figure out. Since rental charges are capped at 58 yuan ($9), some customers have used the pods as a convenient place to spend the night close to work, according to CGTN. If that trend catches on, it could mean fewer available capsules and ultimately less profit for the company.
Still, Han thinks that her company will soon take off in urban centers across China. By the end of July, she plans to expand to cities like Qingdao, Nanjing and Shenzhen. After all, you can always bet on tired office workers or bureaucrats in need of a nap.
By Caroline Roy
[Images via CGTN / People’s Daily]
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