Life or business? Reaching for the Stars and Pathfinding in the Ideal Village

One summer evening in 2016, at around 7:00 p.m., when Nanjing got dark early, Zhu Shengxuan saw fireflies in Sujia Village. Sujia Village was the last village he went to in Jiangning District that day in order to select another ideal village project for his hometown partner. Maybe it was because of the anticipation that the fireflies would eventually connect the story of the entire Sujia ideal village. The moment Zhu Shengxuan saw these glowing bugs, she decided: this is the village.

Life or business? Reaching for the Stars and Pathfinding in the Ideal Village

Sujia Ideal Village Original Home Pinghu Homestay (Before & After Renovation)

The planned area of ​​Sujia Ideal Village is 240.37 mu, including about 22.9 mu of homestead, and 169.8 mu of agricultural, forestry land and ponds. Due to the relocation of the whole village, the environment in the village was left unattended after the villagers moved out, and the intersections were covered with weeds. Fast forward to April 20, 2019, when Nanjing Sujia Ideal Village officially opened. The 19 merchants settled in the village cover homestays, handicrafts, catering, teahouses, coffee, kayaking, and green parks.

Life or business? Reaching for the Stars and Pathfinding in the Ideal Village

Business distribution map of Sujia Ideal Village

Spring is getting stronger, and because of the “Second Better Life Festival”, there are more tourists this weekend than usual. In 2018, Sujia Ideal Village received less than 200,000 tourists, and Zhu Shengxuan estimates that this number will exceed 200,000 in 2019. For the Sujia Ideal Village, Zhu Shengxuan believes that if the high-spending tourists who spend the night are the mainstay, the annual passenger flow should not exceed 300,000 at most .

Compared with other small towns and scenic spots with millions of tourists every year, Sujia Ideal Village is like an alternative, but this is not surprising to the township companions. Whether it is Jijiadun, the first ideal village project in Kunshan, Suzhou, or Sujia in Nanjing, what the township partner wants to explore is a cultural tourism operation model that can subvert the traditional one.

To live and to do business

“Different” can be felt from the investment promotion of Sujia Ideal Village. In this village, the merchant may not get a ready-made shop, but a farm house or a homestead that can be remodeled. The first owner to settle in the Su family was Guangyinli Holiday B&B. This quiet residence with 14 rooms was built on the homestead with only a few scattered houses. The proprietress, a landscape designer in Guangyinli, personally completed the design of this homestay, and the quality even surpassed that of the original homestay brand owned by my hometown partner.

Life or business? Reaching for the Stars and Pathfinding in the Ideal Village

Ideal villager host of Su family builds dream house

Township Partners only has a basic plan for the proportion of business formats, and has left countless possibilities to the settled merchants. It is precisely because the future appearance and atmosphere of Ideal Village are largely jointly constructed by merchants, the merchants of Ideal Village also have a name called “new villagers”. For this group of people, Ideal Village is not only a place to do business, but also a place to live , which makes the entire Sujia Ideal Village present a kind of leisure that does not need to be deliberately created. It may not be possible to take pictures of Internet celebrities here, but it is a place where people can stay.

Life or business? Reaching for the Stars and Pathfinding in the Ideal Village

Leisure Experience Format in Sujia Ideal Village

Different from the owner of Guangyinli who came to Su’s house with the original intention of “creating a place where like-minded friends can gather”, Nanxi, the owner of the fabric studio Bran Ji, has been operating in the tourist market for many years. Cafes have also opened homestays, and have their own fabric shops in many scenic spots. When Nan Xi, who “doesn’t want to see so many people in the scenic area anymore”, chose to come to the Su family to set up a studio, in addition to living the life she wanted, she did not shy away from “making money” as a factor that must be considered.

In such an environment as Ideal Village, Nanxi believes that merchants can “make money” together, and even must cooperate together . Nanxi’s studio does not have accommodation conditions. Whenever she recommends group building customers for the homestays in Ideal Village, she strives to make this a win-win business—”I will introduce guests for you, and you will push gifts for me. The two of us work together.” Because of her early contact with homestay management, Nanxi will also remind homestay owners in the village to consider the possibility of developing derivative products through cooperation: “You are a high-end homestay, with such a high investment, you can’t sell it back for ten or eight years just by selling rooms. There are peripheral products.”

“Talking about business” does not hinder making friends. The “new villagers” in Ideal Village are familiar with each other. Let’s all go for a walk with the dog, and after the dog walk, go for a walk together.” Live a good life and do business happily. This may be the most ideal aspect of the “ideal village” of the township partner.

The other side of “realizing ideals” is “solving problems”. When choosing merchants, the selection criteria of the township partners seem a bit “non-mainstream”: B&B owners who make high-quality designs may not have enough experience in operations; owners of creative handicraft studios have neither brands nor chain stores… …In Zhu Shengxuan’s view, the value of such “new villagers” cannot be measured only by the turnover of a single store – the profitability of these stores is far less than that of catering, but it is their existence that makes Sujia Ideal Village different His temperament attracts people to visit and stay in Su’s house time and time again .

How to let these merchants with stories share the benefits of Ideal Village, so that the story of Ideal Village can continue to be told? This is an exploration by fellow villagers. Finding a certain balance between life and business, and achieving win-win results through friendly cooperation among “new villagers” is undoubtedly a dreamy prospect.

Two Paths of an Exploration

In the Sujia Ideal Village, the township partner and the Moling Street where the Su family is located jointly issued the “Joint Operation Declaration”, aiming to further promote the fuller joint operation between merchants in the ideal village and even various cultural and tourism projects in the Moling Street. Previously, the “Moling One Card” launched by Xiangpai Technology, a comprehensive one-stop service system under Xiangban, was an attempt to realize multi-brand and multi-business coordinated operation through technical means, covering Sujia Ideal Village, Xinghua Village, Guanyin The various business formats of Moling street cultural and tourism projects, such as Moling Temple, Ginkgo Lake Paradise, Moling Nine Workshops, Bailu Garden, J6 Software Creative Park, etc., allow cardholders to enjoy a combination of rights and interests in different projects.

Life or business? Reaching for the Stars and Pathfinding in the Ideal Village

Sujia Ideal Village and Moling Street issued the “Joint Operation Declaration”

Another attempt at an ideal village, Ji Jiadun, went further than the Su family. The township partner and the “new villagers” of Jijiadun formed a “Villager Self-Government Management Committee”. In addition to business representatives, the committee members also include employee representatives. “The township partners try not to act as ‘masters'” and even “as long as the merchants are united, the basic township partners cannot decide the matters discussed by the committee.”

Life or business? Reaching for the Stars and Pathfinding in the Ideal Village

Jijiadun Ideal Village established “Villager Self-Government Management Committee”

“Many people ask me what the autonomous management committee is in charge of. It’s very simple. It’s not about the contract. There are indeed some business rules that have been formed between the investment party and the lessor, but there are still many things that are vague. In the past, these gray areas The problem is decided by the strong side,” Zhu Shengxuan said with a smile, “but you know that the strong and the weak in this world may turn over at any time, right?”

As the management side, it is unique and even a bit “risky” for the township partner to leave issues such as whether vehicles can pass and whether construction will be carried out on weekends to the merchants. In Jijiadun, which is still in the stage of operation and construction, the decisions made after discussion by the autonomous management committee are not all pleasant to the township partners. The construction progress was urged on Monday.

However, through the self-governing management committee, in the process of “pulling” with the merchants, the township partners discovered that when the merchants become the masters in a sense, the ideal village is stimulated with more vitality. “Some people continue to come forward spontaneously to do art seasons, music festivals, and various things, because they are not just simple managers.” In the interaction and collision of doing various things, everyone felt that “the packaging and integration of resources is the best for every merchant in Ideal Village .”

The attempt of “merchant self-government” has stumbled, but the resulting vitality and possibility are more valuable in the eyes of the township partners. The development of traditional scenic spots and tourism development projects relying on real estate have entered a difficult stage of breakthrough in China, which gives the township partners the opportunity to explore things that no one has done before with non-standard products and a more open operating concept——Rural Is it possible to be reactivated because of the gathering of a group of interesting people and because of a warm and commercial cultural tourism project?

Ji Jiadun and the Su family have taken two different paths: Ji Jiadun’s “merchant autonomy” is more thorough, and the leading role of the township partner in the joint operation of the Su family will be more important . Although the paths are different, they all aim to stimulate the ownership spirit of the “new villagers”, realize closer cooperation among scattered and dynamic small businesses, and integrate resources and traffic more efficiently. “The exploration of the two roads can only be said to be in the embryonic stage, but the exploration in this area has indeed brought benefits to the villagers, and I also see the hope of this model in the future,” said Zhu Shengxuan.

From Star Fragments to Fireworks

In Ideal Village, the relationship between fellow villagers and “new villagers” is more appropriately described as “growth together”. With the development of the ideal village, the role of the village partner is changing.

Zhu Shengxuan divided the development of Sujia Ideal Village into three stages . The first stage is called “cold start”. This is the period of time when the ideal village has the lowest passenger flow. The business of the ideal village is invested and maintained by the township partners. After all, the Su family is not Moganshan. Judging from the current composition of tourists in the Su family ideal village, most of them are tourists from Nanjing and neighboring cities in Anhui Province. The township partner hopes to attract people and attention to Su’s house through its mature homestay brands, such as Yuanshe, and at the same time build confidence for the merchants who will settle in later.

Su’s original house·Pinghu B&B opened in August 2017. After more than a year of operation, Zhang Fan, the general manager of Sujia Ideal Village, said that even in the slowest month of business, the original building has been able to achieve an occupancy rate that can maintain a balance of income and expenditure.

In the “cold start” stage, Township Partners also owns restaurants, coffee, desserts, cultural creations, retail, and unpowered parent-child parks such as Green Park. In the second stage of investment promotion and business integration, Ideal Village has welcomed its “new villagers” one after another. Some of them have taken over the operation of restaurants, cafes and other shops from their hometown partners, and some have brought a variety of new formats such as kayaking, hand-made experience, oil painting courses, baking courses, etc. to Ideal Village. Township partners are gradually transformed from developers and operators of individual formats into “platforms and managers”.

For a long time, Xiangban has been looking for an IP that can connect all products and scenes for Sujia Ideal Village. An image that can represent the ideal village of Sujia, connect every new villager, and make it possible for various business types to form peripheral products is very important for the continuous operation of the ideal village in the future. The fireflies that Zhu Shengxuan saw for the first time at Su’s house gave inspiration to her hometown companion. Four months ago, the IP image “Su Xiaoxing” based on fireflies was born, which marked that the Sujia Ideal Village was transferred from the first and second phases of the construction phase to the third phase – the operation phase .

Life or business? Reaching for the Stars and Pathfinding in the Ideal Village

The hand-painted road with the theme of cultural creation with Su Xiaoxing as IP

In the external publicity, the story of Sujia Wenchuang revolves around the life of firefly Su Xiaoxing, tells the journey of Su Xiaoxing who came to Su’s house to search for star fragments, and records Su Xiaoxing’s value thinking about pursuit and the meaning of life. In Su Xiaoxing’s story, the fragments of stars represent everyone’s lost beauty and dreams in the predicament and reality, but the ideal village is not a dreamland that is always shining with stars.

Fireworks are a standing program for some ideal village merchants when they receive team building and undertake activities. As the passenger flow in Sujia Ideal Village gradually increased, Nanxi noticed that there were more and more nights when the Sujia had fireworks. What puzzled her was, “I usually work at eight or nine in the morning on the construction site, and every homestay feels that it will affect the sleep of the guests. Why didn’t I think that the whole village would be woken up when the fireworks were set off at 12 o’clock at night?” When the white smoke left after the fireworks burst lingered in the night sky for a long time, the stars in Ideal Village seemed to dim.

To some extent, the star fragments symbolize what every “new villager” longs for in the Su family. On the other side of poetry, pursuit is always accompanied by desire. The story of the ideal village is actually a story about “people”, so “people” are touched, but the more the story of “people” is emphasized, the more “people” are tested-the management of this house has affected the guests of that house , does it matter? Which one has attracted customers to this one, should we divide it up and how?

In a series of explorations of self-government or joint operation of merchants, how to establish a complete set of interest linkage and distribution mechanism, so as to stimulate the vitality of the community and control the desires of each party, so that the ideal village can truly become a community and realize A win-win situation in the true sense is a problem that the township partners must solve in the process of walking the road of an ideal village.

Whether it is a scenic spot, a characteristic town or a commercial square, there is no business model that can be used as a reference to guide the township partners to follow this path. But now, the external environment provides the best opportunity for the township partner to explore this path .

From the perspective of the market, no matter in terms of format planning or merchant management, the simple and rude standard model of traditional tourism projects can no longer satisfy the spiritual needs of travelers . “Everyone can see the existence of traditional models. problems”, and the new round of competition in the cultural tourism market is “competing for content, products, services, and experience”. This is exactly what hometown partners with strong design genes are good at.

China’s far-from-complete urbanization process also provides opportunities for rural partners. The Bulletin of the National Bureau of Statistics shows that at the end of 2018, the urbanization rate of my country’s permanent population was 59.58. According to the forecast of the Development Research Center of the State Council, my country’s urbanization rate will reach 68.3875.3781.63 in 2030, 2040 and 2050 respectively.

From the perspective of the government, after the demolition of a large number of villages, rather than selling the land for construction, making the village a vibrant and attractive place is a more urgent demand of many local governments . Taking Sujia as an example, Sujia Ideal Village is one of the seven sections of the Sujia Cultural and Creative Town Project in Moling Street. The popularity of the township and the vitality of the business brought by the township partner are extremely important in Jiangning District, which has vigorously promoted the construction of beautiful countryside in recent years. Valuable.

Revitalizing the land stock for cultural and tourism development is another major advantage of township partners in government cooperation projects. In the ideal village project, the township partner never acquires land from the government, but owns the management right of the land for decades. This is the fourth year of Jijiadun Ideal Village and the third year of Sujia Ideal Village. As Zhu Shengxuan said, the official opening of Sujia Ideal Village is just a starting point.

It seems that the town partner is walking unhurriedly at his own pace, and there is still a long time to explore this road that no one has traveled, proving the feasibility of this path.