Local brands’ moves
Ctrip’s international businesses sustained robust momentum in the last quarter of 2017. Skyscanner's direct booking revenue nearly doubled compared to the same period in 2016. Trip.com achieved triple-digit growth in air ticketing volume, benefiting from Skyscanner's direct booking initiatives.
On March 20, Ctrip and Royal Caribbean Cruises announced that they would end the SkySea Cruise Line joint venture in the autumn of 2018. The cruise market in China is still in its early stages and holds big potential. In 2017 there were less than 3 million cruise passengers in China, significantly less than US cruise market’s size of 10 million passengers.
Tongcheng-Elong Holdings, a Chinese travel company backed by Tencent and Ctrip, is planning an initial public offering in Hong Kong in the second half of this year, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The company could raise between USD 1 billion and USD 1.5 billion in its share sale.
In 2017, Airbnb’s Chinese rival Tujia served a total of 90 million users, increased its inventory by 300% and grew booking transactions by 500%. Tujia will make overseas expansion one of its priorities in 2018.
Tujia will take lessons from Airbnb's experience. "I've always seen the possibility for Tujia and Airbnb working together," said Mr. Changle Yang, COO of Tujia. “It is worthwhile exploring possibilities of a cooperation in shared inventories and room status and even the promotion of the legalization of global B&B business."
Another fast-growing Chinese house-sharing platform Xiaozhu.com announced a global strategic partnership with Agoda, a subsidiary of Booking Holdings (formerly Priceline Group).
Xiaozhu and Agoda will collaborate in listings, technology and service innovation, branding and marketing. The initial phase of the partnership will see both parties share inventories, resulting in 100,000 listings on each platform.
China plans to merge the Ministry of Culture and the China National Tourism Administration into the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, in line with an institutional restructuring plan of the State Council.
The move is aimed at coordinating the development of cultural and tourism industries, enhancing the country's soft power and cultural influence, and promoting cultural exchanges internationally.
"Chinese tourists remain Australia's biggest spenders, pumping a record AUD 10.4 billion (USD 8.17 billion) – a 14% increase from last year – into the economy," Australian Minister for Trade and Tourism Steven Ciobo said in a media release.
Following the capital investment in January, homestay platform Locals has raised another RMB 100 million to develop new divisions on home furnishing retail and urban travel.
The platform will introduce quality bedding, boutique homeware, bathing, tableware and other products in 2018, enabling users to buy products after trying them out during their stays.
Its urban travel business aims to better understand the needs of guests and to provide value-added services with local characteristics through its friendly assistant hosts.
Shanghai-based Cloud Helios, a business travel and expense management SaaS platform, has received RMB 50 million in its B round of financing. Established in August 2016, the platform provides a one-stop service covering the whole process of spending, reimbursement and account keeping.
Currently, it has handled some 300,000 reimbursement documents for more than 120 companies including Didi Chuxing and Fosun International, among which air ticket reimbursements have exceeded 200 million yuan.
Mobile Internet service provider SKYROAM has raised USD 20 million. With its self-developed and patented virtual SIM (vSIM) technology, the outbound WiFi business of SKYROAM has tens of millions of global users and is currently profitable.
This round of financing would help SKYROAM speed up globalization, through which the company aims to enable hundreds of millions of IOT smart devices to enjoy faster and more stable cross-border, cross-carrier connections.
Smart tourism startup Lvji has recently announced a RMB 120 million B round of financing. It is a location-based smart tour guide featuring GPS positioning, automatic interpretation, route recommendation and other functions through Apps, WeChat accounts, website and service terminals in attractions.