Disclaimer: This post is about a commercial service provided by my close friend Fay. My point-of-view may be biased because we know each other very well.
Last Friday, in Starbucks, after I chatted with another group from Taiwan, Fay joined, and we had a nice conversation about what Fay is doing. Fay is from Taiwan, and then graduated from UC Berkeley. We worked with each other when she was in eBay. Then few months ago, she left eBay to start something completely new. I didn’t see for a while, and I was happy to catch up and understand what she is doing.
When we talk, Fay mentioned a project she is doing. After quitting, she found her good apartment in downtown Shanghai is somewhat a burden for her to carry on. So she thought of the idea to rent her living room out. She said many visitors to Shanghai has been tired of 5-star hotels, and want to try something local. For more experienced people than back-packers, the condition of hostel may be to harsh, and there must be something in the middle. She had a nice experience to share her room with more than 10 persons already. Later on, her friends joined the network and asked her to manage their living rooms, so she has the little inventory of 4 rooms to manage now. Pretty interesting, isn’t it?
This is what she said on her Fay’s Rooms Website.
Fay’s Rooms is a network of short-term apartments and room rentals catered to independent-minded travelers who are tired of the boring ol’ hotel rooms or have “graduated” from crowded hostel bunkbeds. The rooms and apartments offered by Fay’s network are located in prime locations and come with modern furnishing and internet connections, so you can have the comforts of home at a fraction of hotel costs. Additional traveler services such as itinerary planning, personal tour guide, translation assistance, ticket booking, and cell phone rental are available upon request. Fay’s Rooms is currently active in Shanghai, where Fay resides, and has future plans to expand to other cities in China and throughout the world.
It is a nice small startup, with an ambitious plan to go big.
The “Mix” Experience
I chatted more about who are her guests, and she was very excited about this part. She told me people who stayed in her living rooms are all highly educated, with good manner, and are all interesting. She promised me to share the good stories with us, and here it is:
29-yr old Swedish girl working a book about real people in China (she followed like 10 people through the last 7 years to see how their lives have changed). She lived with a Swedish family in Shanghai back in 2000 and speaks pretty good Chinese
Anthropology professor from California who’s planning to take her students to Shanghai next year for a Chinese language and home stay program. She came first to survey the city.
Fashion model casting agent from New York who’s checking out the China/Shanghai scene
College girl from Stanford doing a study on shopping malls in China
College guy from Chicago doing a study on Chinese manufacturers who make American flags; in Asia for the first time
Real estate developer guy from New York in Asia for the first time
Several college students from Europe who have already traveled to 100+ countries and are in China to learn some Chinese.
As you may guess, I am more interested in the opportunity that people from different parts of the world gather in a small living room (of cause one by one) and can find something interesting from their local host – Fay, who happen to love talking a lot. I bet their experience will be different from others.
In my vision, there will be more and more services like this targeting international travelers in Shanghai. As I said for many times, Shanghai is not a traveler friendly city yet. That may be is the reason why I started this blog, and why Fay shared her living room.
Final disclaimer: I didn’t PERSONALLY check any rooms posted on faysrooms.com. I only can tell you Fay is a great and honest person.