Travel livestream startup Qinker netted eight figures in yuan for its Series A investment round from Frees Fund. With a strong foundation on Douyin, Qinker will use the new funds to ramp up its presence on other livestreaming platforms like Alibaba’s Taobao Live and Kuaishou.
Founded in Shanghai in 2014, Qinker originally expanded the sales channels of online travel booking platforms (OTAs) before becoming a core supplier of data analysis services for companies like Trip.com (then Ctrip) and Qunar in 2018. Following the pandemic, the company embraced the tourism industry’s transition to livestreaming as a way to connect with and sell travel experiences to potential customers. To pursue this new direction, Qinker trimmed its headcount from nearly 200 employees at the end of 2019 to around 40.
Qinker joined Douyin in January 2021 and quickly became the top travel e-commerce brand on the popular short-video platform. It has grown the gross merchandize value of services sold on its Douyin livestreams from less than RMB 100,000 (USD 15,500) in January to over RMB 10 million (USD 1,550,000) in May, setting a GMV target of RMB 300 million (USD 46.5 million) for 2021.
Selling travel services through livestream generates high-frequency user engagement due to its entertaining nature, leading to more sales opportunities than OTAs, said Qinker’s co-founder and COO Zhang Hongliang. Despite a lower conversion rate than OTAs, livestreaming broadcasts’ greater front-end traffic is encompassing more of the travel industry. The total value of the livestreaming travel market reached RMB 5 billion (USD 774 million) in 2020, up 161% year-on-year from 2019, according to a report from Analysys.
36Kr Connection features translated and adapted content published by 36Kr. This article was originally written by Paopao for 36Kr.