ChinaTravelNews Briefing: Booking.com unites Spring Airlines, Tencent permits travel, and more
China Southern pledged to facilitate cancellation and re-scheduling for its directly or indirectly sold tickets; Tencent is working with the Chinese government to create an electronic travel pass system.
Booking.com has initiated a strategic partnership with major Chinese low-cost carrier Spring Airlines. The two firms will integrate their platform resources to offer expanded travel experiences for China's outbound tourists.
China Southern Airlines, the world’s fourth largest carrier by fleet size, announced that it will allow all its domestic flight tickets to be rescheduled or refunded through the airline’s App or its WeChat Official Account (tickets purchased by groups and procured by government departments and those redeemed with mileages are excluded). China’s airlines are taking steps to tackle the irregularities in China’s third-party tickets rescheduling and refunds.
Umetrip, an affiliate of Chinese state-controlled GDS TravelSky, was caught up in alleged information leaks over a newly introduced feature “virtual cabin” of the Umetrip mobile app. The function enables users to view fellow passengers’ personal information by clicking on the seat icon and chat with the passengers directly.
To consolidate its aviation assets from its parent HNA Group, Hainan Air plans to raise USD 1.09 billion by selling 20% of its shares to multiple investors including Temasek. The airline also looks to buy from HNA and its subsidiaries stakes in aviation training, maintenance business and airlines, valued at USD 1.64 billion.
Tencent, Ctrip and Meituan
Tencent Holdings is working with the Chinese government to create an electronic pass system that allows Chinese citizens to link their ID card to their travel permits through a WeChat Mini Program. The system is aimed to smooth travel between Hong Kong, Macau and the southern province of Guangdong, and may even help users check into hotels and set up bank accounts if regulators approve.
Tencent also teamed up with automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding and won a joint bid to obtain a 49% stake in China Railway’s WiFi provider. The two companies will collaborate to increase the number of WiFi hotspots and create a platform that offers tickets, shopping, tourism and catering services.
Ctrip’s international airport transfer service is now available on Trip.com’s Hong Kong website. As of May 15, customers are able to book airport transfer services on hk.trip.com in over 55 countries, 200 cities and 250 airports worldwide.
Meituan Dianping is reported to plan for filing for an initial public offering of about USD 6 billion in Hong Kong as soon as this month, selling about 10% stake, the minimum required under Hong Kong Stock Exchange rules, to avoid dilution. Meituan declined to comment but said it will announce specific fundraising plans, if any, at the appropriate time.
China’s state-owned theme park operator OCT Group invested USD 311.9 million in Tongcheng Tourism (LY.com), which has Ctrip and Tencent among its investors.
SemiTrip, a dining service supplier targeting outbound Chinese tourists, raised millions of yuan in an angel round of financing. The platform makes available booking for global restaurants through its partner platforms. It is working with Meituan-Dianping, Ctrip, Fliggy and other platforms.
Intelligent homestay provider Ostay received USD 1.56 million in its Pre-A round of investment. Ostay offers B&B options for outbound Chinese tourists, and it has about 500 properties in Osaka, Tokyo and other places in Japan, turning over about 5 million yuan per month.
Ctrip-founded insurtech platform 11bee has raised hundreds of millions of yuan in funding. 11bee customizes insurance products by profiling users to determine their needs. Its main product, Bee Insurance, is a platform that provides consumers with risk management and decision-making services through big data and artificial intelligence.
UGuide, a platform connecting tour guides and agencies, raised USD 1.56 million in an angel round of financing to upgrade products and promote marketing plans. UGuide now targets inbound tourism, and has registered more than 80 travel agencies in Shanghai and 600+ tour guides, recording over 1,500 orders and 1 million in gross merchandise value.
RV rental and travel service platform Sofangche raised millions of yuan in an angel round of financing, and is already seeking another round of funding. Sofangche targets both business operators and individual customers. With an average charge of RMB 2,000-3,000 for renting RVs and RMB 4,000-6,000 for booking a trip, it attracted more than 10,000 users in 2017.
Outbound charter service platform MiuTour has received a new round of investment. It adopts a sharing economy business model and cuts into the local consumer market directly without intermediaries. MiuTour provides Chinese-speaking charter services in over 1,500 cities across 150 countries and regions, and has so far recruited nearly 10,000 driver-guides.