Sharing Economy

The short-stay services disrupting Airbnb in Asia

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From Bali to Bangkok, Beijing to Singapore, short-term home rental is taking off in Asia, with new services popping up to rival sector star Airbnb.

Meet the top four entrants disrupting the disruptors in the Asian vacation rental scene:


U.S.-based HomeAway acquired Singapore-based vacation rental marketplace, Travelmob, in 2013 to increase its footstep in Asia.

Travelmob Co-founder Turochas Fuad, who has stayed with the company, hopes the fact HomeAway's listings are available in local languages, via local payment systems and with local support facilities will give it an edge.

HomeAway best suits families and group travelers, Fuad said, because listings on its Asia's marketplace were skewed towards entire properties rather than individual beds or rooms, although options for the latter are also available.

"Our listings provide our travelers with the privacy and true 'home away from home' amenities," Fuad told CNBC in an email interview, citing the fully-equipped kitchens, washers and dryers that are features of many of HomeAway's rentals.

Can sharing economy take off in China?
Can sharing economy take off in China?


Said to be China's answer to Airbnb, Tujia mainly serves Chinese travelers by providing "properties domestically inside China, as well as outside China," Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Melissa Yang told CNBC in a July interview.

Tujia has more than 300,000 mid-to-high end property listings in 135 countries, as well as offering supplementary services for hosts, such as the inspection and cleaning of properties. The hottest destinations outside China, Yang said, were Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan.

Rival service HomeAway has even invested in Tujia, and puts its own international listings on Tujia's website in order to cater to Chinese travelling overseas. "China's massive middle-incomers are going beyond domestic travel and are hungry for global travel experiences," Fuad told CNBC.

Tujia, which has an estimated valuation of more than $1 billion, was launched in 2011. Last month, the company secured $300 million in funding, according to Reuters, to expand its business overseas, with firms including Hong Kong-based All-Stars Investment putting in money.

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Renting a property or a room short-term from a stranger in another country means stepping into a home filled with things that belong to someone else. And not everyone is a fan of that.

"There's a portion of people who don't necessarily want to walk into someone's house with someone else's shoes and clothes and books," said Jia En Teo, Co-founder of Roomorama, in an interview with CNBC.

Founded in 2009 and offering more than 300,000 short-term rentals worldwide, Roomorama has tapped into the needs of this niche market by offering professionally managed accommodation that is similar to serviced apartments.

Roomorama still allow non-professionally managed properties and rooms to be let on its platform, said Teo, but the professionally-managed accommodation was what set it apart from market front runner Airbnb.

Property managers such as estate agents work with Roomorama to rent out investors' properties on a short term basis to guests. Teo said working with property managers ensure the accommodations were of a high standard, meaning guests weren't disappointed.

As an added measure of protection, Roomorama's payment system is designed to protect guests from fraud. According to Roomorama's website, guests are given a six-digit code which, upon arriving at the rented property and finding they're satisfied with the accommodation, they give to the hosts, who then submit the code to Roomorama. Only then is the hosts' payment processed.

Teo said Asia was the fastest growing market for Roomorama. Cities such as Tokyo, where hotels are expensive, and Taipei, where the hotel infrastructure is still developing, are doing particularly well in attracting short-term rentals, she added.

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BnB Hero

This South Korean company has more than 5,000 properties listed on its site and averages 35,000 to 40,000 visitors to the site every month.

With Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan currently the most popular destinations with its customer base, BnB Hero - which markets its accommodation as "unique, fun and cheap" - is now working to attract hosts so it can form a "private accommodation belt" across North Asia.

BnB Hero's Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder, Park Yong Soon, previously told CNBC, "We are already working with strong local partners in China and Japan. These countries take a significant share in Asia travel industry, and will be a big enough playground for us to expand."