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Qunar vies for market share with startups in open platform scheme

01/05/2015| 2:50:43 PM| ChinaTravelNews 中文

Qunar is aggressively recruiting startups in a bid to counter strong competition and secure a corner on the market.

Qunar is aggressively recruiting startups in a bid to counter strong competition and secure a corner on the market.

Its platform opens up resources and data interfaces including data, supply chain and customers base to recruit startups and developers in the online travel industry. Qunar has announced earlier an incubation fund of RMB1 billion to support startups with the ultimate goal of integrating them to the company.

Troubled by large-scale de-listings of products by suppliers and shunned by other industry players like Ctrip, LY.com and Home Inns, Qunar is beginning to feel the uncertainties that come with having an open platform without product control.

Qunar’s nemesis Ctrip has built its own “ecosystem” through a series of acquisitions and equity participation over the last two years – including the acquisition of two major hotel wholesalers, taking a controlling stake in vacation rental Tujia, taking equity in three major hotel chains (Home Inns, China Lodging and Plateno Hotels), mobile hotel bookings company, hotel customer management systems, P2P car sharing Yongche and car rental eHi Car Services.

Without the budget to match Ctrip’s large-scale acquisitions across the supply chain, Qunar resorts to opening up its platform. “Qunar has vast data resources covering sectors like air tickets, hotels, resorts, attraction passes, train tickets accumulated over nine years of operations,” Qunar’s executive vice president Wei Yang said.

Qunar entered into a strategic partnership with Hong Kong Airlines in 2014 that enabled the latter to open a flagship online store on the Qunar website. Qunar followed this up by partnering with Singapore-based taxi app GrabTaxi and German-based chauffeur service platform Blacklane to provide taxi services to their outbound Chinese users. Qunar also invested in China’s largest national tour operator, Travelling Bestone, in the end of 2014.    

“One of Qunar’s advantages is our wealth of basic industry data such as flight rescheduling and airfare. We also have consumer behavior data such as customers’ preferred air routes and booking period. This information is privy to the company and has never been shared publicly,” Mr. Yang said.

“We see great potential in companies that deal with technology, resources and customer pools,” Qunar’s investment manager Ziyuan Shen said. Currently Qunar has invested more than half of its resources on companies involved in the data and customers fields on its platform.

Qunar’s data shows that around 600 startups have already signed up to join its open platform scheme. Qunar plans to support 100 of these in 2014, scale-up to cover 1,000 startups in 2015 and eventually to 10,000-strong by 2016.

In opening up its platform, Qunar faces the key issue of information security arising from business environment and technical issues. It has to resolve the technical challenge of preventing data theft and leakage when sharing data.

Qunar, which started as an online search platform working whose business partners had mature business models, now must solve a host of issues on resource consolidation and platform management and establish an equally profitable relationship with each startup it is fostering. It will have to find a balance between developing this project and the company’s overall development.(Translation by David) 

TAGS: Qunar | open platform | startup
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