In yet another expansion into new markets, Alibaba launched Alitrip (or Qu’a (去啊) in Chinese) in late October. Like the e-commerce giant’s other market places, Alitrip is a platform for travel agencies big and small to set up online storefronts. Vendors on Alitrip have the same resources as Taobao and Tmall retailers, such as Alipay payment options and Alibaba’s huge user base. Alitrip is initially expected to make money through using the same approaches as other Alibaba marketplaces, in search marketing, display advertising, sales commission, and affiliate programs.

Alitrip is a latecomer to China’s online travel market. Major online travel agencies such as Ctrip and eLong have long been aggregating services from traditional travel agencies onto their sites. More recently, Qunar, the travel search and service platform, wants to be the Taobao for travel services.

After starting off as a travel search service, Qunar then added a transaction processing system, or Total Solution (TTS), to enable travel service providers to sell products or services directly on its site. Qunar supports numerous online payments services, including Alibaba’s Alipay, Tencent’s Tenpay and 99bill. So there is little differentiating it from a Taobao-like marketplace, with the only difference in revenue sources from Alibaba marketplaces in its lack of affiliate programs.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com