New Startup makes Budget Travel in China a Reality just in time for World Expo 2010
SHANGHAI, CHINA – May 7, 2010 – A new Chinese startup company, Tour Boarding has created a unique opportunity for budget-minded travelers to stay with host families in China for free, in
exchange for providing English conversation.
Hotel rooms are expensive during the World Expo from May 1 to October 31, 2010 and many are filling up quickly, so founder Ken Chen made sure the Tourboarding.com service was ready before the World Expo starts.
More than 1500 Chinese families have already registered to host World Expo visitors for free in their home. In exchange, the visitors agree to speak to the host in fluent English for two hours a day, to provide their hosts with the opportunity to practice their English language skills.
“There are an overwhelming number of Chinese families willing to host due to the prohibitive cost of private one-on-one English language instruction,” explained Chen.
Chen found this out for himself when he decided he wanted to travel abroad and went to a local language school to enroll as a student.
Last year, he resigned from his post as logistics director for Nike Sport China after 16 years in the logistics field, including a management role at Wal-Mart, so he could travel the world. However,
he was shocked to find out that tuition at the language school was a minimum of $3000 for two months study and private tutors charged $30 per hour. Chen realized this cost was prohibitively high for most
Chinese families, given that a full time IT professional in Shanghai earns approximately $600 per month. He also knew many visitors to China were looking to cut costs wherever possible, and they would prefer options to finding a hostel or renting a house in China.
That was the inspiration behind the Tourboarding concept, which offers an innovative way for travelers to leverage their language skills in exchange for airport pickup and dropoff, free accommodation with a
host family, and two meals a day.
Tourboarding also offers travelers a more authentic travel experience, giving them the opportunity to live with and interact with locals and their families, rather than staying cooped up in a hotel eating at a hotel restaurant.
There are other options offered as well, including paid home stays and language lessons in exchange for the host serving as a tour guide.
Many host families have posted pictures of themselves and their homes on the Tourboarding website. Foreign travelers who have joined come from a range of backgrounds, including students, teachers, doctors, engineers, management consultants, and hedge fund analysts. The Chinese hosts who have registered on the Tourboarding site already have basic English skills so the foreign travelers do not have to know Chinese.
According to Chen’s research, 100 million young Chinese are eager to improve their spoken English.
Chen partnered with Nuno Zhang, an IT expert, to create the Tourboarding site, which they plan to expand to include hosting opportunities for approximately 15 more countries.
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