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Tailored services have a good future

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-28 07:14

Tailored services have a good future


On a sunny Saturday four young men and 30 children were seen playing a form of treasure hunt in Jiefang Park in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province. Divided into four teams, they searched for sequential clues to find hidden messages, instead of prizes. And even though the game took the entire morning to complete, all the boys were happy.

But isn't treasure hunt a game for kids? So what were the young men doing there?

They were providing company to the children-kids' playmates, so to speak.

With more parents willing to pay for their children's weekend outdoor activities and entrust them to professionals, a new profession of child playmates has emerged. A ctdsb.net survey last year covering more than 1,000 parents with children below 16 years of age showed that 65 percent of them were willing to pay between 100 yuan ($14.5) and 500 yuan a day to hire a professional playmate for their children.

Child playmate is only one of the many new professions that have emerged in the past few years. Another new profession is wardrobe arranger, or a person who helps women to arrange their clothes in the wardrobe in good order. Deng Mei, a wardrobe arranger from Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan province, reportedly gets about seven orders a month and makes more than 10,000 yuan.

Then there are hotel testers, whose job is to spend a night in a hotel to check out its bed, lights, TV, as well as other equipment and amenities, and write a detailed report about them. Such testers are generally hired by hotels that intend to improve their services, or consultant companies that collect data to review the hotel industry.

Way back in 2011, some companies even offered "traffic jam busting service" in Jinan, East China's Shandong province. When someone driving to a place to fulfill an important assignment, participate in a meeting or attend to an emergency got stuck in a heavy traffic jam, he/she could call the service company, which sent a motorcyclist with a pillion rider to conduct the "rescue" act. The biker would give a ride to the client to his destination, and the pillion rider would patiently brave the traffic jam and drive the car to the same destination.

The new professions may sound fanciful, but they share a common trait: providing tailored service. And the "professionals" endeavor to keep the customer satisfied.

Perhaps providing tailored service is the future of the sector. Thanks to modern technology, such as social software and big data, a person today can seek almost any service he/she needs from a myriad of online service providers.

Maybe very soon a new type of agency will emerge to bridge the gap between customers and service providers.

Reports show the child playmates in Wuhan receive orders mainly through WeChat groups comprising parents-an apt example of using modern technology to link people.

The new professions are not free of problems, however, the biggest one being the absence of law and regulations. For example, the "traffic jam busters" who gave bike rides to people were essentially providing taxi services (on bikes), but none of them had a taxi license. In other words, they operated in a gray area, calling for regulation.

The child playmate profession, too, needs proper regulation to keep people with criminal records away from the children. This way the children and playmates both can get better legal protection.

And since the emerging professions have a promising future, they need to be better regulated and encouraged.

The author is a writer with China Daily. zhangzhouxiang@chinadaily.com.cn

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