China Travel News learned that Ctrip has recently completed its acquisition of US travel booking platform Trip.com (formerly Gogobot) that offers personalized travel recommendations.
Public data on website registration shows that the Trip.com is now recorded with "Shanghai Xiecheng Shangwu Youxian Gongsi" (meaning "Shanghai Ctrip Business Limited" in Chinese) as the registrant organization, while Gogobot Inc. remains the administrative organization of the website.
In early 2015, Expedia invested USD 1.6 million in Chicago-based Orbitz to acquire its Trip.com. In November 2016, Gogobot spent a handsome sum to acquire Trip.com and began to use the domain name. Visiting either "gogobot.com" or "trip.com" will lead to the same web page.
Gogobot was registered on April 16, 2010 in the United States, and is headquartered in Palo Alto, California.
The company has so far raised a total of about USD 39 million, including USD 20 million in its C round from HomeAway in 2014, USD 15 million in the B round from Redpoint Ventures in 2011, and USD 4 million in the A round from Battery Ventures in 2010.
In addition to vacation planning through social media, Gogobot also builds special groups to gather travelers sharing similar interests in outdoor adventure, budget travel and dining experiences.
Gogobot launched a real-time hotel price inquiry feature in November 2012. Since then, the platform specializes in hotels and air tickets search and price comparison. In hotel search, Gogobot is currently working with Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia and Orbitz (acquired by Expedia) to guide users to a third-party site and complete a booking.
In air ticket business, Gogobot is cooperating with Ctrip’s Skyscnner to offer air ticket search services through the latter.
Though having access to the domain name Trip.com, Gogobot, as a social network, still has no clear path to monetization and is struggling in its financial performance. Ctrip's acquisition may be motivated by intentions to make use of the Trip.com domain name, and to make use of Trip.com’s accumulated contents and technologies. It is believed that the acquisition of Trip.com may signal bigger moves by Ctrip in expanding its global reach. It is still worth noting whether the search functions of Trip.com will be merged with Skyscanner’s.
"It seems that Ctrip will leverage Trip.com as the core platform for their international expansion. I think they are going to build Trip.com as a full-service travel platform rather than limiting it to a trip planning or metasearch site. Ctrip is very experienced in building the so-called "open travel platform" and I believe Skyscanner will be the core force driving this initiative so Ctrip can use two brands for their international expansion, namely Skyscanner for metasearch and Trip.com for full-service OTA," commented Charlie Li, CEO of TravelDaily China.