Could China’s Yelp, Dianping be the international opportunity for China’s O2O business?

Written by Qinwen Wang || December 08 2015

China’s digital travel landscape is a world in its own. Increasingly, globe-trotting Chinese are turning away from prepaid package tours and becoming more mobile savvy in applications from hotel booking to local entertainment. It is estimated recently by Dianping, a restaurant review and coupon website that Chinese outbound tourists are forecast to spend 250 billion yuan (US$39 billion) on food in 2015, 25% more than in 2014.

In addition to the domestic restaurant review market it already dominates, China’s Yelp: Dianping now eyes its global expansion following the footprint of Chinese travelers. A new recently released function of Dianping's restaurant recommendations is based on a traveler’s location in foreign country. To be listed on Dianping, foreign restaurants are required to be recognizable by Chinese travelers.

We couldn’t help but think of the potential international O2O business opportunity arising from leveraging Dianping as a restaurant search engine and using China’s powerful mobile wallets to complete an offline payment. This is not that far away: the e-payment powerhouse Alipay is focused on global expansion and can already be accepted in Japan and South Korea. We can only assume that such O2O business cooperation will happen in future, but this is definitely something worthwhile looking into considering the large amount of potential transaction volume.

According to China Internet Plus Group, which is the new company formed as a result of Dianping and Meituan merger, Chinese tourists spend 173 yuan for each meal on average during their overseas trips, with favorite choices being Japanese, Thai and French food. In 2014, Chinese travelers made 117 million outbound trips and spent 200 billion yuan on food. The top five cities with highest food spending by Chinese tourists are Tokyo, Bangkok, Seoul, Singapore and New York, according to a report by the Group.

Dianping China Yelp O2O Chinese tourists