Trip.com Group has unveiled a USD 500 million war chest to help its travel partners get back on their feet in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. The fund is part of the company’s Travel On initiative, which launched earlier this week and detailed some health and hygiene measures being put in place by different segments of the industry. In late May, Expedia Group announced a partner fund of USD 275 million to help hotels recover from the impact of COVID-19.
India's biggest online travel group MakeMyTrip said its gross bookings for the quarter ended March 31 this year were USD 1,207 million, down by 12.1% year on year. Revenue for the quarter was USD 104.9 million, representing a similar 12.7% decrease. Operating loss rose nearly ten times from USD 31 million in the quarter ended March 31, 2019 to USD 330.3 million in the quarter ended March 31, 2020.
Tour operator group Caissa has now agreed to buy JD.com's 21.1% stake in leisure online travel company Tuniu for USD 65 million. Caissa said in May that it intended to give up the option to buy shares of Tuniu from JD.com but reserved the right of preemption in the future. JD.com spent half a billion dollars to acquire and gradually increase its Tuniu stake in 2014 to 2015.
Chinese hospitality IT service provider Shiji announced that it has acquired permission from US regulator CFIUS to extend the deadline by three months for Shiji to sell its U.S.-based asset StayNTouch, a maker of hotel operational software. Shiji said it is currently in final discussions with multiple potential buyers for StayNTouch.
The company acquired 100% shares of StayNTouch in 2018, reportedly for a total price of USD 35 million. But in March this year, the Trump administration demanded Shiji to unwind its acquisition of StayNTouch, citing “threaten to impair the national security of the United States”.
French hospitality group Accor recently wrapped up a month-long sales and marketing promotion campaign in China, featuring a distinctive approach to program design, media planning and creative distribution via top digital platforms, including ones owned by Alibaba and Tencent. Accor worked with travel and social media platforms including Ctrip, Fliggy, Meituan Dianping and WeChat, capturing the pent up domestic demand for travel and even impulse consumption by rewarding loyalists.
In a webinar hosted by TravelDaily recently, Mr. George Cao, CEO of travel-focused digital marketing agency Dragon Trail Interactive, shared his insights on Chinese consumers' digital journey and how travel companies in China are leveraging live streaming to not just enhance their brand awareness but actually boost sales.
Mr. Cao admitted that though the interactive and pro-active online sales and promotion process can certainly help conversion, live streaming travel and hospitality offerings is not as easy as it may appear. To achieve really significant sales results, live streamers need to offer popular and quality products at heavily discounted prices, but that may pose a dilemma between increasing demand and maximizing profitability.
China Eastern Airlines launched the first weekend-unlimited flight passes in the Chinese domestic market. With a price of RMB 3,322 (USD 469), a passenger can take flights from China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines to major China cities, with no limited times on any weekend in 2020.
Though first in China, unlimited flight pass is not a new idea. Since the first quarter of 2020, a few airlines including AirAsia, Canada's Flair Air, VietJet Air and Bamboo Airways, had launched this type of product in the hope of increasing the sales for some cashflow under the impact of COVID-19.
China Southern Airlines raised RMB 12.8 billion (USD 1.8 billion) following the completion of its 2.4 billion A Share issuance. China Southern Air Holding Company Limited remained the state-controlled airline giant's largest shareholder after the deal, with a 63.16% stake. Chinese low-cost carrier Spring Airlines holds a 1.27%.
As the spread of Covid-19 comes under control in China, the demand for domestic flights has been growing, while international flights are still being operated at a low level albeit there will be a small increase month on month. The latest flight schedules of Chinese carriers for July released recently show that the overall number of flights will increase though some flights have been canceled.
Airline data provider OAG recorded 39.91 million seats last week compared to 39.96 million in the previous week, representing less than 0.1% change in capacity as airlines around the world wait for July and further clarity around lockdowns, corridors and bridges. China remains the single largest country market with some 11.9 million seats last week although that does represent over one million fewer than previous week.
Overseas travel from China surged 3.3% to 154.6 million in 2019, while overseas tourists paid 145.3 million visits to China, an increase of 2.9%, according to data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Last year, the country's tourism industry earned USD 935 billion in revenue, registering an annual growth of 11.1%, according to the report.