China’s largest ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing is poised to expand into the hotel-booking business, according to Chinese business magazine Caijing and tech news site 36kr.
The company is reportedly looking at new avenues for growth through its internal unit R-Lab, which was established last year to explore and incubate new businesses.
This comes as Didi’s ride-hailing business goes slow on expansion amid stricter scrutiny from authorities after a 20-year-old female passenger was raped and murdered by her driver, the second such killing this year involving the company’s Hitch service. Didi has since suspended the car-pooling service.
A spokesman said the company is fully committed to the rectification and upgrading of its security measures and operations.
R-Lab was previously exploring the possibility of entering the food delivery service, akin to Uber Eats, which would leverage on its massive ride-hailing and driver network, Caijing reported.
However, Didi later decided to focus its food delivery service on overseas markets, such as Brazil and Mexico.
Didi’s hotel-booking business is still in the exploratory stage, Caijing said, citing people familiar with the matter. “There is still a long way to go for Didi launching the new business,” the report said.
By entering the hospitality business, Didi would transform itself from a transportation agent to a company providing lifestyle O2O services, Caijing quoted an industry insider as saying.
That would put Didi in direct competition with Tencent-backed neighborhood services behemoth Meituan Dianping, with the advantage of being able to tap the huge user traffic on its ride-hailing app.
Didi has been valued at US$56 billion after it closed a US$4 billion funding round earlier this year.
While the spokesman stressed that the company has no plans to launch a new business in the near future, industry watchers said the US$500 million investment from Booking Holdings, which was announced in July, might be intended for the hotel-booking business that Didi is reportedly planning.
Booking Holdings owns multiple online hospitality brands including Booking.com, Agoda, OpenTable, and Kayak. With the investment, Didi will be available on Booking’s apps, and Didi customers will be able to book accommodations on Booking.com and Agoda.
In addition, Booking Holdings has invested US$200 million in Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab as part of a strategic partnership announced on Monday.
The deal will enable users to book travel-related services through Grab’s app and pay using the GrabPay digital wallet, while Booking will allow users of its brands’ apps to hail Grab vehicles, Booking said in a statement.
– Contact us at [email protected]