Business / Industries

HNA Group invests in China's Airbnb

By Zheng Yangpeng ( Updated: 2015-09-23 15:08

Chinese conglomerate HNA Group announced a minimum investment of 500 million yuan($78.3 million)into overseas short-term rental platform, making a foray into a highly promising arena on Wednesday.

HNA Group, the parent of Hainan Airlines Co, said its tourism unit is investing at least 500 million yuan into China's version of Airbnb. The partnership will help to access a pool of HNA's premier customers, and harness other existing overseas travel services from HNA, to stay ahead of intense competition.

HNA's capital injection, marking the C Series financing round for the Internet-startup founded in 2012, came just a month after it completed its B Series fundraising, which had drawn almost 200 million yuan from Citic Securities' Goldstone Investment, and Chinese film star Angela Baby's AB Capital, among others.

Zhubaijia's CEO Zhang Hengda, said at the event unveiling that the partnership is unlike Airbnb's customer-to-customer model. Zhubaijia will be much more involved in the management of the whole process of overseas accommodation rental, such as stringent assessment and screening when selecting properties, using criteria such as the landlord's lifestyle, track record in dealing with Chinese customers, response time, whether the online picture reflects the true condition of the property, its cleanliness and access to transport.

The Shenzhen-based company said its listings currently include rental homes in 60 overseas travel destinations.

Inspired by the success of Airbnb, China's domestic short-term rental market is already crowded but there are less emulators who are serving outbound Chinese travelers. Meanwhile, investors are betting big on this sector as China's outbound tourism saw an explosive growth as the number of outbound tourist hit 61.9 million in the first half of 2015, according to China National Tourism Administration.

In August, another similar platform secured $300 million D Series fundraising. Both are focusing on high budget travelers.

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