(Yicai Global) Nov. 20 -- Netherlands-based online travel agency Booking.Com, the world's largest online travel firm, opened a flagship store on Alibaba Group Holding's travel unit Fliggy over China's Black Friday-style Double 11 shopping festival, the Beijing News reported.
The online travel agent is continuing its traditional payment method of credit card guaranteed reservation and in-store payment and does not support the services of the Alipay app of Ant Financial Services, the payment arm of Hangzhou-headquartered tech titan Alibaba, per the report.
Booking.Com, which has striven hard to crack the Chinese market, opened its flagship store on the Fliggy platform to lift its brand profile in the country.
With the number of its outbound tourists topping 130 million last year, the Chinese market has hordes of potential consumers for Booking.Com's parent, Norwalk, Connecticut-based Booking Holdings, which is eager to expand into new markets.
The travel reservation website entered China in 2010 with big ambitions and at a frenetic pace. It established product and business divisions in the country in 2016, making it the only national market with independent product development and marketing teams outside its home market of the Netherlands.
Formerly the Priceline Group, the parent changed its name and stock symbol [NASDAQ: PCLN] to [NASDAQ:BKNG] this year to align itself with the Amsterdam-headquartered firm Booking.Com -- which it acquired in 2005 -- in a clear sign of the tail wagging the dog.
The firm also teamed with Shanghai-headquartered Spring Airlines in June this year to launch a A320 passenger aircraft covered with Booking's logo to allow users to search for Booking.Com listings on the Spring Airlines website.
Booking Holdings invested USD500 million in China's largest online travel agency Ctrip.Com International as early as August 2014 and raised its holding in May and December of 2015. It held 8.5 percent of Ctrip as the third-largest shareholder as of May this year. The two firms also share hotel inventory.
While cooperating with Ctrip, Booking Holdings invested USD450 million in China's largest on-demand services provider Beijing headquartered Meituan-Dianping in October last year. Its unit Agoda also shares overseas hotel inventory with Meituan.
Gillian Tans, chief executive of Booking.Com, also took over as the Booking Holdings' observer on Ctrip's board in a move Ctrip believes will deepen the relationship between the two competitors.
Booking invested USD500 million in Beijing-based Didi Chuxing Technology and reached a partnership in July this year, planning to exchange resources with each other in future when Didi and Meituan were battling it out in the online car hailing and food delivery sectors, Yicai Global reported at the time.
Ctrip, Meituan and other Chinese local enterprises entered the international market while Booking began to establish its own influence in China through new media marketing and online flagship store on Fliggy.
The firm's multiple investments seek to not only set up cooperative relationships, but also retard the speed of Chinese firms going global to forestall intense competition between different units abroad, insiders believe.
Editor: Ben Armour