Baidu gives outs hints of Qunar and Ctrip future in Q2 report
Timing is everything. Baidu, the instigator, is the first of the three players in the Ctrip and Qunar share swap to release its Q2s. Article by Tnooz.
Tnooz, Martin Cowen - Timing is everything. Baidu, the instigator, is the first of the three players in the Ctrip and Qunar share swap to release its Q2s.
And there is some new information on the “business co-operation” side of the tie-up.
In the prepared remarks part of the earnings call, Baidu’s CEO Robin Li said:
“We look forward to working with Ctrip on product integration with our search, Maps, Nuomi and Baidu Wallet products to give our users even wider access to online travel content and services.”
The admission that Ctrip will now work with Baidu’s Nuomi brings O2O into the picture. Online-to-offline is gaining traction in the Chinese e-commerce space, as reflected in a massive – as in $15 billion – merger a few weeks ago between Meituan and Dianping.
Baidu itself has earmarked more than $3 billion to expand Nuomi.
Ctrip’s range of interests in the online travel and leisure space is hard to keep track of. A list produced by Macquarie Research this July listed 21 separate travel-related investments by Ctrip, none of them an obvious O2O play.
Qunar on the other hand, invested in Bestone at the start of last year. This gave it access to high street travel agency inventory and distribution. Ctrip presumably will now be in a position to use this channel as well.
In the Q&A, Li noted that the omni-channel approach to the new relationship – which includes O2O – “opens up opportunities for travel companies to attract new customers or provide better access for existing customers.”
The Baidu Maps reference is also noteworthy because it brings Uber into the mix, albeit peripherally. Baidu has a stake in Uber and part of their investment and strategic co-operation deal gave users the chance to access an Uber cab from their Baidu Maps app.
Whether this means that Ctrip will now sell Uber might be a speculation too far but with the finer details up in the air it is a possibility. Meanwhile, the Baidu-Uber relationship has been strengthened with Brent Callinicos, a strategic adviser for Uber and its former CFO, joining the Baidu board.
Ctrip and Qunar will also update the market on their standalone second quarter performance sometime soon – neither have yet to specify when this will be – so there should be some more details to emerge.
As things stand, there’s a lot of uncertainty around how the Ctrip/Qunar/Baidu tie-up will play out and the ramifications for the Chinese online travel sector as a whole.
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And that uncertainty is multi-layered and begins at home. During the call, Li said ” We do not have a clear idea on the revenue and profitability impact yet.”
Which is a startling admission to make.
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