Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba confirmed today that it has made a strategic investment in outbound travel site Qyer.com for an undisclosed amount, as it seeks to boost its travel offerings on marketplace site Taobao.
Alibaba said in a statement that Qyer.com will complement its travel platform, Taobao Travel, by providing users with travel-related services and content, adding that:
The synergy between the two platforms will serve to create a one-stop shop for users to not only conduct research and socialize with other travel aficionados, but also to purchase travel packages and deals.
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Taobao Travel, which was launched in 2010 and positioned as a competitor to online travel service Ctrip, will likely see an expansion of its outbound travel offerings following the Qyer.com investment — which will boost its overall services and could attract more users.
Alibaba’s latest investment — which 36Kr reports could possibly be worth about tens of millions of dollars — follows an investment in online travelogue service 117go.com in April that was said to be worth “several million dollars”.
Qyer.com was founded in 2004 and currently reaches about 40,000 destinations overseas. It provides various travel-related services including airticket booking, hotel reservation and visa arrangements. The site currently has about 10 million users, with users on mobile numbering about 5 million.
Newly-installed Alibaba Chief Executive Jonathan Lu has pledged to continue the e-commerce giant’s recent string of big investments as it maintains focus on improving its services for mobile. Lu wants Alibaba’s service – and in particular its two biggest businesses: virtual ‘mall’ for brands Tmall and eBay-like Taobao marketplace – to make better use of customer data to provide a more unique and tailored user experience.
It is therefore no surprise that the company has been investing in travel-related services as it seeks to strengthen its presence in all aspects of e-commerce. Lu had also noted that Alibaba’s recent $586 million outlay in Sina Weibo and $294 million investment in mapping firm Autonavi would not be isolated deals as the company is pursuing more alliances to beef up its overall presence.
Alibaba has been strongly tipped to float on the Hong Kong stock exchange before the end of the year in a move that could value the firm at $70 billion.
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