The ten-years-old Dianping started from ratings and reviews. But now it wants to be the China’s Tripadvisor in the hotel booking sector, according to a recent internal email Zhang Tao, CEO of the company, sent to employees (The full email in Chinese).
In the email he said 2013 was the year the company grew the fastest and changed the most. He claims Dianping’s group-buying market share in the first- and second- tier cities rose to the top in the year. Dianping plans to expand its group-buying business to third- and fourth-tier cities in 2014.
Group-buying has become a major revenue-generating business, out of advertising and other fees from merchants, for Dianping. In the internal letter, Zhang Tao pointed out that Dianping is the only one that covers all categories of merchants and consumer needs, ratings & reviews, online booking & ordering, food delivery, marketing offerings for merchants, etc., in China.
The business unit for wedding-related services has been spun off and is one of the two vertical businesses, together with hotels, Dianping would focus on in 2014. To become China’s Tripadvisor, according to Zhang, the timing is now, 2014 and no later than 2015, Zhang said in the mail. Tripadvisor established presence China with a Chinese site Daodao.com that was launched in 2009, but it’s not a widely used service here.
Other players like Meituan is expanding to vertical sectors or other services as well. CatEye (or Maoyan in Chinese), a separate mobile app for movie tickets, has taken a considerable share of China’s total box office revenue. A separate app for food ordering was launched at the end of 2013.
Dianping has realized competition in sectors like online food ordering and delivery. Many independent services in this category, such as Etaoshi and Ele.me, raised large amounts of funding recently. Alibaba also revamped its lifestyle service and changed it into a dish ordering service.