China’s largest ridehailing app Didi Chuxing is breaking into the hotel booking business.
The news comes as the company tries to recover from two highly publicized murders of female passengers by drivers on its platform, according to reports.
In July, Didi Chuxing received $500 million in funding from Booking Holdings, with the main focus of the funding to expand the company's footprint globally, further developing their electric vehicle initiative and investing more aggressively in artificial intelligence (AI) tech. And according to reports, Booking — formerly known as Priceline — will offer Didi’s on-demand car services through its Booking.com apps via an integration. In addition, Didi customers can book hotels through Booking.com and its sister site Agoda.
Booking also operates Kayak, Priceline.com, Rentacars.com and OpenTable, which can help Didi with its global plans. The company has already launched services in Mexico, Australia and Taiwan this year. It acquired local ride-hailing company 99 in Brazil and announced plans to expand into Japan.
“Building on its leadership and expertise in the global online travel market, Booking is championing a digital revolution of travel experience. We look forward to seamlessly connecting every segment of the journey and improving everyone’s traveling experience through more collaborative innovation with the Booking brands on product, technology and market development,” said Stephen Zhu, VP of strategy for Didi, in a statement at the time.
While Didi has yet to confirm the move into hotel bookings, two Chinese publications have reported that its R-Lab unit will be in charge of Didi’s new venture. R-Lab has also been responsible for launching Didi’s food delivery business. The company has been running the pilot in Wuxi, a city in southern Jiangsu province, since April, but there are plans to expand to other locations in the future. In fact, Didi claims the service has already captured one-third of the market.