Daoxila (roughly translated as “happiness is coming”), an online wedding banquet booking service, recently landed a multi-million series B round of funding from Sequoia China. Founded in May, 2010, the e-commerce lists banquet venues in 23 Chinese cities, allowing couples to search vendors by location, budget and number of tables, plus read and write reviews. Daoxila also offers one-to-one consultation to walk couples through the exhausting and stressful process of planning the banquet.
I had no idea how big the wedding business was until I saw a friend of mine post a professionally made short film of her wedding on WeChat. The clip just shows how many vertical industries prosper when couples tie the knot: restaurant, hotel, gown designer, historian/photographer, caterer, florist, baker, tent person, band, DJ, host, wedding planner, transportation company, liquor store, you name it – however personalized you want your wedding to be.
According to the China Wedding Industry Development Report cited in China Daily, about one tenth of the total wedding expense goes to the banquet (May 2013). In total, $57 billion is spent on 10 million weddings every year, five times more than in the United States.
A survey by China’s Bureau of Civil Affairs cited in a news report (report in Chinese) shows that, in 2010, wedding cost starts at a whopping 100,000 RMB (about 16,000 USD) and hit 200,000 RMB (about 32,000 USD) in many major cities. Even in rural areas, the cost for a banquet host and his/her team can cost 10,000 RMB (about 1,600 USD).
O2O banquet booking is just in its infancy, but we can foresee the values that it adds to the traditional industry: 1) it can optimize “match” of banquet and couples, especially good for a time when young brides are increasingly demanding personalized weddings; 2) it can save couples time planning banquets since they no longer need to run from one restaurant to another comparing price and quality; 3) information transparency will promote competition; 4) eventually, it can help promote and set industry standards of the Chinese wedding industry, given that the industry is still highly decentralized, according to Sina (report in Chinese).
Local listing giant Dianping also has a similar service. However, Daoxila has been in wedding banquet for 12 years. 120,000 couples successfully booked and hosted banquets through its website since it launched four years ago.
Not only is the overall demand for wedding planning goes up, so are more Chinese brides demanding better service. It should come as no surprise that Western-style weddings are booming in China, as the local market as a whole was lacking a standard of excellence.