You can add global ride-hailing to the bevy of features offered to overseas travelers on Ctrip, China’s largest online travel agency (OTA). Ctrip recently announced that it has partnered with London-based startup Splyt to allow their travelers to book rides all over the world.
Splyt does not offer its own ride-hailing or transportation booking platform, rather it connects users of travel platforms to transportation platforms available in the destinations Splyt covers—without having to download an additional app. Now, when Chinese Ctrip users go abroad, they won’t have to worry about finding local rideshare platforms to get around; they can simply book a ride from a local ride-hailing company through Ctrip.
Ctrip wants its platform to cover virtually every need of Chinese tourists while they’re abroad
The Splyt-Ctrip coverage is substantial, encompassing over 1,000 cities in 50 countries. Most major destinations in Europe fall under Splyt’s coverage, along with those in the United States and Canada. Coverage in Asia is less robust, however. China, ironically, is not included, but that Ctrip functionality is likely unnecessary for Chinese residents inside of China.
It’s yet another move by Ctrip to make its platform the one-stop shop for all things travel-related. Aside from Ctrip’s core business of booking flights, hotels, and tour packages, the company also has its own digital tour guide and social space for independent travelers dubbed the virtual team manager (VTM) and its own travel activities platform called Things to Do (TTD). Ideally, Ctrip users will never have to use another app again while traveling, aside from mobile payment apps like Alipay or WeChat Pay.
Assuming the coverage provided via Splyt to Ctrip users is as good and convenient as both parties claim, it’s a big win for Ctrip. However, it’s likely a blow to Didi Chuxing, China’s most popular ride-hailing app.
Rival Didi-Chuxing has been attempting to expand abroad to offer global coverage for Chinese tourists
Didi Chuxing isn’t likely to lose out on the home front anytime soon. Much like Uber in the United States, Didi Chuxing is the default ride-hailing app in China. However, the company has made moves to provide their services abroad so Chinese tourists can use the popular and familiar platform while traveling outside of the country. Didi Chuxing has already expanded to major markets in Japan, Taiwan, Australia, and Mexico, and the company even attracted a high-profile $500 million investment and partnership with Booking Holdings (formerly Priceline Group).
Now, Ctrip, an OTA, has broader ride-hailing coverage than China’s largest ride-hailing platform. In truth, Didi Chuxing cannot expand quickly enough to offer the coverage that Ctrip is offering tourists via Splyt. Of course, if Chinese tourists are already inclined to use Didi Chuxing at home, they may also do so by default when abroad. The key test for Didi Chuxing will be to make sure that it is at least available in key overseas destinations for Chinese tourists. Major Western destinations like France and the United States are important, but closer and more visited getaways like Thailand and Japan are crucial.