This Chinese hotel booking site is ready to be more than just the China’s version of “Booking.com” with an upgraded search engine
Yu Zhangtao, the founder and CEO of the company told AllChinaTech on Tuesday that it is using USD nine million in Series B funding to further expand its services to business customers.
Founded in 2013, Haoqiao.cn is like China’s version of Booking.com. The company operates a platform that distributes hotel resources from the largest online travel agencies including Tongcheng, Ctrip and eLong as well as more than 5000 offline tour agents.
Haoqiao’s hotel search process starts with a destination. Results come back with full information on hotel facilities, reviews as well as surroundings and distance from places of interest via Google Maps.
Yu, the “pilot” of the platform, was the former director for search engine products at Tencent. With that experience, Yu builds Haoqiao to collect and present data like a search engine while also providing customer service in Chinese during the booking process.
The platform was originally built to help Chinese tourists who couldn’t speak foreign languages book overseas hotels with sufficient and transparent travel information. In 2014, it shifted its strategy from serving individual customers to businesses, including online and offline travel agencies.
“We changed our strategy because the cost for advertising to attract individual customers is too high,” said Yu. “Travellers can be better served when Haoqiao becomes a part of the more inclusive supply chain that covers flight tickets and transportation.”
“Business customers can be more demanding,” added Yu, “so we must include more hotels with good prices, enrich our hotel profiles, and add our payment options that support RMB and major foreign currencies.”
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism in 2015 contributed 10% of global GDP, worth USD 7.8 trillion. China’s outbound travelers accounted for RMB 684 billion (USD 104 billion) of that total.
Last October, Haoqiao.cn landed RMB 60 million (USD nine million) in Series B financing from Shunxi Capital. With the new funding, the company is working on three major projects: the integration of hotel information, the dynamic data tracking for hotel prices and vacancies, and the increase of hotel information based on over four million hotel reviews. “We are recruiting more technicians for our plan,” said Yu.
He said that more than 90% of the funding will be used to recruit new staff to improve their services, and the company also plans to go global in the future.