ChinaTravelNews – Atour Hotel announced it raised US$30 million in its Series B financing, lifting the company’s valuation to RMB1 billion (approx.: US$161 million).
Atour Hotel will accelerate its expansion in China and abroad as well as set up an experiential user community with the latest funding.
This year, Atour Hotel plans to add 80 hotels to its current portfolio of more than 40 hotels in major cities like Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing, Xian, Chengdu, Beijing and Tianjin.
Established in late 2012, Atour Hotel opened its first hotel in Xian in August 2013. Its founding team boasts backgrounds in the hotel, cultural and internet industries. CEO Haijun Wang is formerly a co-founder and executive vice president of China Lodging Group and his executives were also founders of major hotel chains Hanting Express and Home Inns.
Creating a lifestyle brand in the “Starbucks model”
Mr. Wang told ChinaTravelNews that Atour Hotel will be developed into a mid-range lifestyle brand following the ‘Starbucks model’. “Many hoteliers in China are only thinking about hotel operations or at best setting up a platform. But like Starbucks goes beyond just selling coffee, we want to create a cultural lifestyle too,” he said.
He said China’s mid-range hotel market is entering a golden age and will be the catalyst for a third “industry-wide revolution” after the previous “revolutions” of international hotels entering into the domestic market and the rise of economy hotel chains.
24-hour reading lounges
Reknowned for its literary culture, Atour Hotel is partnering with Shanghai Joint Publishing Company to open China hotel industry’s first 24-hour free reading lounge that offers complimentary self-service beverages such as coffee and lemon tea. The first 100sqm lounge has been set up in a Wending Road property.
“We’ve had excellent responses from the many guests and visitors who read at night in the lounge,” Mr. Wang said. “We are starting out as hotels, but as we accumulate a customer base of literature lovers with consumption power we will expand our product and service lines to include apartments, reading lounges and commercial centers.” He said Atour Hotel has already opened a Taobao online store to sell its hotels’ furnishings and memorabilia to guests.
“We will setup an O2O ‘Atour Fan Club‘ with literature and photography themes in 2015,” he said. The fan club hosts free culture salons in cities with Atour Hotels every month.
(Reporting by Xianhao Zeng)
(Translation by David)