It's becoming increasingly clear that online travel players will try to leverage the heck out of connections between food delivery, ridehailing, and booking hotels. Uber and Lyft will undoubtedly become a bigger part of the action, as well.
Booking Holdings joined Uber as a minority investor in Southeast Asia’s Grab, taking a $200 million stake.
Uber is by far a larger investor in Grab in an investment valued at $1.6 billion when Uber took a 27.5 percent stake in the ridehailing and food delivery service in March. Grab also does package delivery and payments in 235 cities in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia.
With Booking Holdings’ investment in Grab follows the $500 million it ploughed into China’s Didi in July. Uber likewise is a major investor in the Chinese ridehailing service.
With the Booking Holdings-Grab strategic partnership, its brands, including Booking.com and Agoda, will be able to offer hotel and other services to Grab customers for the first time. In turn, Grab, which views itself as creating a super app for a plethora of services, will offer its customers travel services for the first time.
In Grab’s current financing round, it has raised $2 billion, and the company said it aims to raise more than $3 billion by the end of 2018.
Rideshailing and food-delivery services are becoming a strategic play for online travel agencies. In 2017, according to iResearch, Chinese ecommerce platform Meituan coaxed some 80 percent of its hotel bookings from existing food delivery and in-store dining customers.
Ming Maa, Grab’s president said in a prepared statement, “We are delighted to work with Booking Holdings to give our users even more everyday services to choose from when they open the Grab app. The online travel market in Southeast Asia is set to nearly triple by 2025 and we see numerous synergies between travel and transportation that will allow us to capitalize on this huge opportunity.”
In addition to its investment in China’s Didi and Southeast Asia’s Grab, Booking Holdings operates Rideways, which offers ground transport in Europe and North America.
Grab customers who book travel services from Agoda or Booking.com will be able to pay using GrabPay, a digital wallet.
Regarding China — and the same might be said of Southeast Asia — Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel said at the Skift Global Forum in New York City in September that “China is an incredible opportunity for everybody. I always talk about being the locomotive that’s pulling the travel train.” He might have been referring to technology trends, such as mobile payments, as well as changes in consumer behavior.
“Grab has scaled impressively across Southeast Asia over the last few years, establishing itself as a recognized leader in an increasingly competitive space, and we’re excited to partner with them to build even better travel experiences through technology,” said Todd Henrich, senior vice president and head of corporate development for Booking Holdings.
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Photo Credit: Pictured is a Grab taxi. The company entered into a strategic partnership with Booking Holdings. Yoolim Lee / Bloomberg