Tencent Holdings is leading a $250 million investment in Chinese travel site Mafengwo, expanding its footprint in a fast-growing online travel and content sphere.
Nine-year-old Mafengwo — which means “hornets’ nest” — helps Chinese travelers seeking destination and sightseeing recommendations from fellow globetrotters. Operating a model akin to TripAdvisor, it’s competing for the world’s largest population of tourists, and travel operators who want to reach a fast-growing domestic audience.
China’s online travel industry is expected to grow 18 percent to $143 billion (988 billion yuan) of transactions this year, according to consultancy iResearch. Mafengwo began letting users book hotels via its site in 2015 and has doubled transaction volumes annually over the past four years, it said. This week, the company established a partnership with Hong Kong-listed Tongcheng-Elong Holdings to build a one-stop service that helps users book hotels and flights faster after reviewing content on Mafengwo’s platform.
Officially known as Beijing Mafengwo Network Technology, the company counts Singapore’s Temasek Holdings as a backer and raised $133 million during its last round of financing in December 2017. The startup plans to use the new funds to develop artificial intelligence technology and improve user recommendations.
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