Meituan rebrands its lodging marketplace to take on Airbnb in China

The platform connecting travelers with local landlords is one of the fastest developing platforms in China in this sector.

Photo: provided by Meituan

China’s largest on-demand service provider Meituan-Dianping has rebranded its accommodation marketplace Hazelnut B&B, which matches individual landlords with those who want to stay in local homes rather than hotels, into Meituan B&B, according to a press release of the company on Saturday.

Meituan, which launched Hazelnut in April 2017, has since then gathered on this platform more than 720,000 places offered by over 150,000 landlords located in 350 cities in China, making itself one of the fastest developing platforms in this sector in the country.

The rebranding aims to increase the brand recognition of Meituan’s lodging marketplace to aid its expansion, said Feng Weihe, head of Meituan B&B, who will still lead this business segment and report to Zhang Chuan, senior vice president of Meituan in charge of the “in-store, hotel and travel” business segment.

The corporate structure, operational mode and developmental direction of Meituan B&B will also be kept as it was before the rebranding, said Meituan in the press release.

Feng explained that in the past two and a half years, Meituan’s platforms, including the Meituan app and the Dianping app, have attracted the largest portion of Hazelnut’s users compared to other channels. Hazelnut was not only available via a channel inside the Meituan app and the Dianping app, but had also a stand-alone app, a WeChat mini program, and a WeChat official account.

The rebranding sends a signal to the market that Meituan has started to pay more attention to its lodging business enabled by individual landlords.

Meituan gained RMB 93.1 billion from the food delivery service, up 36.5% year-on-year, and RMB 51.3 billion, from “in-store, hotel & travel” services in the second quarter of this year, up 20.7% year-on-year, according to its latest earnings release. Meituan did not mention how Hazelnut developed in that quarter.

Meituan B&B does not lack rivals in China. Global accommodation platform Airbnb witnessed its business in China expand by nearly three times in the first half of this year, according to Tencent’s online news portal QQ.com, citing information disclosed by Peng Tao, president of Airbnb’s China business. However, Peng did not reveal financial details.

Airbnb said in April that its platform had the largest number of monthly active users between January and February this year, beating all China-based rivals, citing data released by QuestMobile.

Airbnb, which offers 7 million places to stay in more than 100,000 cities in 191 countries and regions, has announced its plan to become a publicly-traded company during 2020.