People scoffed at travel metasearch for years, denigrating its viability as a business model. But as travel inspiration and social travel sites have come and gone, travel metasearch has kept on expanding, as Qunar's plans highlight.
Various media reports say Beijing-based Qunar, which is majority owned by China’s dominant search engine, Baidu, could attempt an IPO in New York by the end of 2012 or early next year. Baidu currently trades on Nasdaq.
Qunar is the largest travel site in China in terms of traffic, with 74.6 million monthly visits in December 2011, says Baidu, citing iResearch findings. Qunar offers flight, hotel, and vacation-package search, as well as group-buying deals, visa and various other travel information services.
Baidu, which has a 62% equity stake in Qunar, doesn’t break out the latter’s financials. In the third quarter, Baidu’s net income rose 59.8% to $478.6 million.
If Qunar debuts as a public company in New York, it would be further affirmation of the attractiveness of the travel-metasearch sector, following Kayak’s July 2012 IPO.
Qunar would presumably use proceeds from an IPO for product and geographic expansion.