Meituan realigns hotel & travel units, Alibaba and JD.com embark on hotels, and more
Meituan Dianping has restructured its organizations and repositioned its hotel & travel businesses, Alibaba and JD.com made moves into the hotel sector and Didi will likely follow suit.
Meituan, Ctrip and other OTAs
Meituan Dianping has grouped its in-store business, hotels, domestic vacation services and Zhenguo Homes under its new in-store business unit, and the transportation business has been moved to the LBS (location-based service) platform.
Tongcheng-eLong Holdings, which counts Tencent and Ctrip as shareholders, applied for an initial public offering in Hong Kong. The OTA was reportedly aiming to raise USD 1 billion to USD 1.5 billion. China Securities, a full-service investment bank in China, projected that Tongcheng-eLong's revenues would grow 51.65%, 40.85% and 29.5% annually in the three years from 2018 to 2020.
Ctrip has announced a new hotel booking cancellation policy across nearly 100,000 partner hotels that did not allow booking cancellation. Users will be able to cancel an order with no penalty before 17:00 10 days ahead of the check-in date, while cancellations before 18:00 on the day will incur 10% room rate as a cancellation charge. No cancellation will be entertained after 18:00 on the check-in day.
Travel content website Mafengwo, embroiled in a fake review scandal, was said to be striving to complete its latest capital injection led by Tencent, which may value the company at USD 2 billion. Its vice president Mr. Yu Zhuo said the incident wouldn’t affect the company’s operations and Mafengwo expected to list on Nasdaq in two to three years.
Didi, Alibaba and Wanda
Ride-hailing unicorn Didi Chuxing was reported to be mulling hotel ventures and was currently evaluating chain hotels and independent hotels. A source revealed that Didi has confirmed its intention to enter the hospitality sector, but has yet set up an official project or fixed a budget for it. However, KrAsia said a Didi Chuxing source denied the report, citing “its full focus on safety and operational upgrades” in ride sharing.
Alibaba has opened its first unmanned hotel FlyZoo Hotel and it is currently working on final fine-tuning. The hotel will have robots for check-in/check-out and in-room services, and will showcase various intelligent products of Alibaba to further its online retailing business. Starting with this incubation experience, Alibaba is likely to extend to other hospitality verticals.
On the other hand, Alibaba’s rival JD.com also announced its strategies to support hotel operators and suppliers with immersive experience, membership benefits, connection platform and all-inclusive marketing services. Joseph Wang, CCO of ChinaTravelNews, commented, ”it is indeed different from OTAs in that JD.com explore the conventional accommodation sector from a retailing perspective, backed by its large traffic volume, high-quality user base and procurement advantage.”
Wanda, after denying a story earlier about the sales of its tourism subsidiaries, finally confirmed that it has agreed to sell two of its units to Sunac China for RMB 6.28 billion (USD 902 million). Wanda also reaffirmed it was positive about China’s culture and tourism industry, and said it would continue to partner with other companies including Sunac.
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the world's longest bridge and tunnel sea crossing, opened on October 24, providing a major boost to regional tourism. The local aviation market with five airports – Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Shenzhen Baoan International Airport, Zhuhai Airport, Hong Kong International Airport and Macao International Airport – has been buzzing since. Hong Kong carriers, especially Cathay Pacific Airways and Hong Kong Airlines, have launched promotional products to woo more passengers.
Cathay Pacific said a hacker has accessed the personal data of 9.4 million of its passengers but had no evidence the leaked information had been misused. According to the Hong-Kong based carrier, it discovered suspicious activities on its network in March and confirmed unauthorized access to some personal data in May.
Vacation service operator and supplier Sunlight Tourism has received RMB 90 million (USD 13 million) in its latest round of funding. For the next 3-5 years, Sunlight Tourism will continue to zero in on vacation camping nature parks and invest in over 100 parks either through direct operation or franchise agreements.
Online luggage brand ITO has obtained tens of millions of yuan in its A round of financing. ITO entered the traditional suitcase sector with a travel case in 2007 and has been expanding its offline presence after launching its first unmanned shop in Shanghai in 2014. The photos and reviews shared by travel KOLs on social media have consolidated its brand affinity.