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On Oct. 20, Tujia, often referred to as the “Airbnb of China,” said it had acquired the home sharing businesses of Ctrip and Qunar for an undisclosed sum, just months after buying rival short-term rental platform Mayi in June.
In a statement, Tujia co-founder and CEO Justin Luo was noted as saying the deal was meant to give Tujia users “a better user experience” through more choices and better services for guests, as well as a single platform for hosts. That same release also hinted that “more M&A” may be coming to complete the industry chain.”
Prior to this acquisition, Tujia, which is valued at $1 billion, already had an established partnership with Ctrip as well as HomeAway (parent company Expedia owns nearly 10 percent of the company). With the addition of Ctrip and Qunar’s home sharing businesses, however, it’s clear Tujia’s ambitions to become the Airbnb of not just China, but the greater Asia-Pacific region as a whole, are becoming that much closer to a reality.
In the same release issued by Tujia, the company noted, “This latest consolidation of homestay businesses is viewed as a deep integration of business resources and is expected to serve as a milestone for China’s accommodation sharing industry, symbolizing that the market has exited the start-up stage and moved into the growth stage.”
In other words, this move is a clear signal to Airbnb and other home-sharing platforms who wish to expand in China that it’s no longer new territory.
When Skift interviewed Tujia co-founder and chief technology officer Melissa Yang in August, she was clear in noting the major differences between Airbnb and Tujia, namely Tujia’s focus on the Chinese market and the fact that home sharing in China needs to be operated in a different way than it is in other parts of the world. While home sharing is, comparatively newer in China than it is in the U.S., for example, it is becoming a more mature market and Tujia has big plans going forward.
“We really want to build an ecosystem for the vacation rental so for everybody involved here, including the real estate developers, the property manager, home owners,” Yang said. “We want to provide and make the whole thing much more efficient.”
When Skift asked Yang if she sees Tujia becoming as ubiquitous as Airbnb, or becoming the global home sharing provider for Chinese travelers wherever they travel throughout the world, she replied, “I certainly hope so.”
In addition to announcing the acquisition, the company also said it would embark on a five-year plan focused on “continuing to build the ecosystem and set apart Tujia’s online and offline businesses.” That ecosystem includes pre-real estate development, commercial apartment rentals and host management, as well as serviced apartments and peer-to-peer rentals.
Tujia’s online businesses include Tujia.com, Mayi.com and the home sharing units of Ctrip and Qunar. Its offline businesses are the self-managed homestay brand Sweetome, which specializes in vacation rentals and Tu Villa, a self-managed villa and resort brand that launched on Oct. 16.