Online travel giant LvYue Group, which is backed by Trip.com, formally known as Ctrip, has snagged several hundred million USD in Series A and A+ round financing as Trip.com’s largest online travel agency keeps diversifying its business by going beyond travel booking and expanding into the hotel management sector, local tech media 36Kr reported today.
Tencent, Sequoia China, Baidu Capital, and Goldman Sachs led the investment with Ocean Link, CITIC Trust, Oriza Ventures, and CAISSA Travel being the co-investors.
LvYue said in a statement today that it would utilize the fresh funding to expand in the domestic market while accelerating the pace of globalization, and explore new possibilities driven by its internet big data capabilities.
The Chinese hotelier started as an internal project within travel metasearch engine Qunar. Shanghai-based Trip.com acquired Qunar its then rival in 2015 and spun off LvYue two years later in 2017.
LvYue launched its proprietary hotel management platform XPMS in 2017, using its internet technologies to help various types of accommodation operators, including hotels, homestays, and inns, with marketing channel management, room inventory management, dynamic pricing. The system also uses data visualization technology to improve operational efficiency.
It also operates its own hotel brands, with six brands covering various types of hotels, from Floral the boutique hotels and resorts, Arula a premium brand, and Suoxing an economy choice.
Until now, LvYue has signed and opened more than 1,900 hotels in more than 200 destinations across 10 countries including China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and India. The company is expecting its network to expand to over 2,600 hotels by the end of this year.
The Tianjin-based startup also made a foray into India’s hospitality market by establishing its India unit, which is operating out of DLF Cyber City in Gurgaon. It is expected at a later stage to explore a combination of management contracts and franchise agreements for further expansion, reported by DNA Money.
As a lead investor, Tencent’s new investment in LvYue coordinates with its strategic moves to dive deeper into China’s travel and hotel industry. It had already become the biggest shareholder of China’s online travel agency player Tongcheng-Elong before the latter went public in Hong Kong, and provided an access portal for ticketing and hotel booking services on WeChat’s “third-party operator” section.
The huge traffic gained from WeChat contributed to 80% of Tongcheng-Elong’s monthly active users. Tencent also led a USD 250 million financing of the Chinese travel website Mafengwo in May.
36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company.