According to the latest report on Chinese Travel-related E-commerce from EnTravel Group, in 2010, the market has reached rmb 39billions (in 2009, it’s rmb 27.5billions). It’s expected that by end of 2012, it will reach rmb68billions.
That’s a market should not be ignored. We have several big players in China, Ctrip, Qunar etc for which online travel is their main business, and at this moment there is not much market share left for portals including Tencent. Taobao has its own online service selling flight tickets; sohu recently followed, also launched a flight ticket service. Tencent, of course we can not expect that it could not see the market. Instead of launching something on its own, Tencent enters this market by buying 30% share of 17u.cn, a popular online travel service site. The volume of transaction is said to be between rmb 50 million and rmb 60 million.
17u is a Suzhou-based company founded in 2004. According to its About page, it is the only one in China offering both B2B travel service (to travel agencies) and B2C service (to consumers). It now has 140,000 travel agencies members and 5.8 millions registered members. It offers a whole-package of travel-related service including hotel booking, air-tickets booking, tourist guide, taxi booking etc.