With the start of Spring Festival next week, travellers are becoming more and more concerned about who will take care of their homes, water their flowers and feed their pets.
However, a domestic service company in Yangzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province, is already created with trained housekeepers for the holiday.
"The first group of 54 housekeepers were booked within two or three days of our advertisement on January 1. More then 250 people have called, but we only have enough employees for 50 businesses," said Chen Xunqiang, manager of the Bangbang Domestic Service Company.
According to Chen, all the housekeepers are local laid-off workers who have received training in domestic emergencies, caring for flowers, pets and other requirements set by the customers. Among the 50 customers, about 30 are private families and the other 20 are enterprises.
"Our family is going away to my hometown and won't be back until the middle of next month. I feel relieved to know that a professional housekeeper will take care of my home and shop while I'm away," said Tu Zhiyong, a private business owner and customer.
Tu told China Daily that he considered storing his treasures in the local bank. "But on second thought, it is cheaper and more convenient to hire a temporary housekeeper."
Currently, the Bangbang Company charges about 100 yuan (US$12.5) for a day's service.
According to Chen, six local real estate companies have also booked his doorkeeping service.
"All the staff leaves for the holiday, and it is inconsiderate and expensive to ask anyone to stay. Hiring a doorkeeper makes everything much easier," said the manager of the Kunhong Real Estate Company surnamed Yang.
In Shanghai, holiday travellers looking for nannies to watch their pets left at home find help in pet shops and pet training bases with special services.
Xinba Pet Training Base offers five-star services for pet guests.
Dogs entrusted there can play on the vast lawns during the day, and sleep in a cage in a large room at night.
Dogs boarded for more than 15 days will receive a free set of services including baths every other day, nail trimming and ear cleaning.
A large dog costs 80 yuan (US$10) per day, while a small one only costs 60 yuan (US$7.5) a day. Various discounts are provided for dogs staying longer than a week or longer than a month.
Dogs at the Shanghai Jialiang K-9 Dog Company have the opportunity to enjoy VIP services for 140-160 yuan (US$17-20) a day. These rooms are big and equipped with air conditioners.
Some small pet shops in Shanghai are also offering the service, but dogs are usually locked in a small cage, with less care.
Still, the new services are not enough to meet the great demand for nannies.
Big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are suffering from an insufficient supply of nannies in the run-up to the Chinese New Year.
Shortage of nannies
Beijing expects to be short of 50,000 nannies this holiday season, Zhang Jianji, vice-director of the China Household Management Association, said, according to Xinhua.
Zhang said Beijing currently has 153,000 domestic servants, with 92 per cent from other provinces. Many of these workers return home for family reunions during the Spring Festival holidays.
Gao Baoling, a manager of the Gaojiajie Housekeeping company in Haidian District, said that about one-third of the company's employees go to their hometowns in other provinces during the Spring Festival.
With a shortage of employees, the company had to turn away many customers.
Gao said the company tried to persuade employees to stay in Beijing during the Spring Festival by offering higher pay.
The situation looks the same in Shanghai. Dozens of nannies anxiously awaiting work in agencies have been replaced by an empty room with only one staff member on duty.
An employee from the Shujin Nanny Agency told China Daily yesterday that most agencies in Shanghai look alike now, with no nannies for hire.
Shujin has tried to arrange for 40 nannies from Southwest China's Sichuan Province to fill in during the Spring Festival crisis, but only seven arrived.
The nanny shortage has also inspired some agencies to look for employees among college students, with several agencies setting up booths at local universities before school holidays started last week.
In the southern city of Guangzhou, hourly-paid housekeepers and temporary child-care workers will be in greater demand than anyone else during the Spring Festival.
"We have been receiving more than 200 orders every day in the past half month," said Tian Xin, general manager of Guangzhou Zhengxianghe Housekeeping Service Co Ltd, one of the largest housekeeping service suppliers in Guangzhou.
"We are making good use of local workers to supply the intense demand, and we have tried our best to persuade these workers to stay by offering pay rises and bonuses."
Sources say that 60 per cent of the migrant hourly-paid housekeepers and child-care workers will go back to their hometowns for the festival.
Source: China Daily