Expedia surfing for new online acquisitions

By Yu Tianyu (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-05-27 10:01
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BEIJING - Expedia Inc, an Internet-based travel agency, announced on Wednesday it will pump at least $50 million in China by the end of 2011 and is also looking for new acquisition targets in the latter half of this year.

Expedia plans to gradually increase its investment in the Chinese market and does not rule out the possibility of purchasing other Chinese Internet enterprises, said Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive officer of Expedia.

Expedia entered the Chinese online travel market in 2007 by purchasing, a major domestic online travel firm.

Expedia's TripAdvisor, a free travel guide and research website, launched, a travel hotel and destination review website, last April. It also acquired, a Chinese flight and hotel search engine at the end of last year.

Egencia, Expedia's travel management arm, is also intensifying efforts to grab clients in China's corporate travel market. The company said each of its businesses in China is independently operated but supports and backups each other under its successful "multi-brand" and "multi-module" strategy globally.

Khosrowshahi also announced that the company signed agreements with Jinjiang Inn and GreenTree Inn, two budget hotel chains in China, to promote their business here and abroad.

Expedia inked a similar agreement in April with Motel 168, another budget hotel chain with more than 300 hotels in 50 cities across China.

The company said its cooperation with CHINAonline, a Chinese hotel-channel management service provider set up in April, will enhance the overall efficiency of the relationship between Expedia and hotel chains.

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More than 61 percent of Chinese tourists conducted online research ahead of their trips and about 48 percent would make adjustments to their trip based on information they received from online travel bulletins, an AC Nielson report shows.

According to China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the number of online travel users totaled about 30 million in 2009 with 77.9 percent year-on-year growth.

Analysts of CNNIC said based on the large number of Chinese netizens, there is still potential for operators to grow.

It also said China's online travel market would grow to around 4.8 billion yuan this year, while it would hit 9 billion yuan by 2013.

As the race for China's lucrative travel industry heats up, Nasdaq-listed Ctrip, China's largest online travel booking company, took in about half of the total revenue of China's online travel market, according to Analysys International.