The Asahi Ryokan in the Japanese city of Fukuoka, is run by 27-year-old Tetsuya Inoue, the hotel owner’s grandson. When Inoue took over the reins, he decided he wanted to shake things up a little and started looking for ways to attract new visitors and set the hotel apart from its competitors.
When a British traveler livestreamed his stay at the hotel to his followers, it was a lightbulb moment for Inoue. He decided to set up a livestream of his own.
“This is a very old ryokan and I was looking into a new business model,” he told CNN. “Our hotel is on the cheaper side, so we need some added value, something special that everyone will talk about.”
That “something special” is room 8, where guests can stay if they don’t value privacy at all. That room’s nightly rate of one dollar (100 yen) comes with one unconventional condition: Your stay is live-streamed to the world.
There are some privacy measures: The livestream feed is video only, so no conversations are other sounds are relayed, the bathroom is located off-camera and guests are allowed to turn the lights off. Room 8 also comes with some rules and guidelines. “Lewd acts” are prohibited, and it’s not advisable to show your personal information, like passport or credit card, to the camera (for obvious reasons).
Since Inoue implemented his idea for room 8 last month, four guests have taken him up on his offer, earning him a grand total of four dollars.
The rock-bottom rate means the hotel is losing money on room 8, but Inoue is hopeful that as word spreads about their creative idea, more and more people will check out the livestream. As soon as his YouTube channel One Dollar Hotel has had more than 4,000 viewing hours, he’ll be able to monetize it, hopefully turning it into a profitable ad platform.
“Young people nowadays don’t care much about the privacy,” Inoue told CNN. “Some of them say it’s ok to be [watched] for just one day.”
Incidentally, CNN Travel named the seaside city of Fukuoka as one of its must-visit destinations for 2019, so there’s another reason to visit besides sharing your sleep habits with the internet.