ChinaTravelNews, Jimmy Zeng – Overseas private guesthouse booking platform Zizaike has completed a multi-million RMB A Series financing, and domestic television and radio conglomerate GC China is the lead investor.
Zizaike was established in 2011 by its co-founders and CEOs, Zhijie Zhang and Xiaohua Cai. Mr. Zhang has extensive experience in ecommerce and has worked many years in Silicon Valley after studying in the US, including a stint at eBay responsible for global online operations and maintenance. Mr. Cai is an online technology expert and was a core startup team member of domestic property platform Anjuke.
Zizaike was initially positioned as a trip-planning tool and attracted a host of angel investors, among them Sina’s former president Jack Xu. However, the startup struggled to find a profitable business model after receiving the angel investments, causing a dilemma for Mr. Zhang’s team. “We then spent three months looking for a suitable segment to which we could transition,” he said. The startup team surveyed a large number of travel experts to find marketable solutions for travel needs.
Eventually, Mr. Zhang found a niche that can be summed up in one sentence – “Enjoy a day of life in foreign land”. This has become the company’s motto as accommodation is increasingly used as the first step of expanding services to cover all six major elements of travel enjoyment (eat, sleep, travel, see, shop and play), as in the case of Airbnb. Contenders in this segments are constantly exploring and testing market potentials.
“As far as accommodation goes, the areas of hotel, inn and apartment rentals have already attracted strong competition, whereas the private accommodation segment is relatively untapped,” Mr. Zhang said. He already saw the opportunity to set up a startup in the segment back in 2013. As a result Zizaike transitioned into a specialist guesthouse booking platform for the Taiwan market.
However the Taiwan guesthouse market has its share of strong players, such as Fishtrip and Taiwandao that had been featured by ChinaTravelNews. Fishstrip also uses accommodation as an entry point to offer a range of independent travel products, and Taiwandao targets independent travelers to Taiwan. Despite strong competition, Zizaike grew strongly and became the top player in Taiwan guesthouses in 2014 after it attracted local Taiwanese guesthouses startup teams to its platform. Zizaike is now setting up branches in Tokyo, Silicon Valley and Hong Kong to expand into more overseas markets.
Zizaike is currently listing 6,000 properties providing over 30,000 rooms in Taiwan for booking. It also lists 1,500 properties in Japan and several hundred guesthouses in Seoul and Jeju Island, Korea. Its inventory of China domestic guesthouses are located near attractions and rural towns in Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces.
At present, Zizaike procures its listings through direct contract, and it generates earnings through commissions. It is planning to develop more income avenues and enhance its competitiveness through other means, such as setting up a self-service registration platform, developing excursion trips in the vicinity of the guesthouses and connecting with more travel products at the destinations. However, it still has to resolve the issue of ensuring the reliability of its property supplies.(Translation by David)