Reading between the lines of Qunar’s executive realignment
Qunar has announced an “organizational realignment” which hints at where China’s second biggest OTA sees the strongest potential for growth.
Tnooz, Martin Cowen - Qunar has announced an “organizational realignment” which hints at where China’s second biggest OTA sees the strongest potential for growth.
The creation of a “Travel SaaS Platform” unit is based around its existing product for hotels. The unit will be run by David Wu, who becomes an executive vice president of Qunar and CEO of the Platform group.
Of note here is the comment that Qunar “plans to further expand its offerings to all online and offline players in the market through this business group” and wants to become “the technology backbone for the entire travel industry in China.”
Having pivoted from a metasearch site into a more typical OTA model, this desire to get into the “tech backbone” sounds like a B2B play, a significant new market to pursue.
Elsewhere, current COO Denise Peng gets a new role as EVP for Qunar with the CEO responsibility for what is now “Luxury and Overseas Hotels” group. Four-star and above hotels are growing in importance for Qunar and the creation of a dedicated unit aims to bring more upmarket inventory onto the site.
During its Q2s last month, Qunar announced that it was planning to introduce the merchant model into its options for hotels. This is another pivot by Qunar, as it will be taking risk on rooms for the first time. Qunar thinks the merchant model will tempt more high-end and luxury properties onto its books.
High-end hotels are the latest market share battleground in China, with Qunar claiming that it is increasing its share in this segment. Its big rival Ctrip said in the April-June quarter this year four to five star hotels accounted for more than half its volumes and 70% of revenues.
Overseas hotels are also an area where Qunar wants to grow. In the Q2 conference call bosses said that Qunar’s international business is growing at a triple-digit rate year-on-year but it still a very small part of the overall mix.
Qunar’s other new business unit will be known as “Travel Destinations” and deals with mass-market domestic hotels which have a direct connection with Qunar. Nearly 280,000 hotels work with Qunar in this way and accounted for 79% of Qunar’s 17.8 million total hotel room nights stayed in Q2 2015 .
Qiang Zhang , formerly in charge of product sourcing and acknowledged to have been the force behind building up this scale of direct business, becomes CEO of this business unit and a Qunar EVP as well.
“Organizational realignments” are often little more than rearranging chairs in the C-suite. Qunar’s revamp here is about identifying and resourcing high-growth verticals and is yet another sign that nothing stands still for very long in the Chinese online travel market.
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