Chinese-language Internet search provider Baidu has recently announced it will shut down its online travel website on June 30 in a business realignment.
From the end of this month, Baidu’s travel website will only display the shutdown announcement on the page and users will not be able to access any functions.
Data provided by mobile app data analysis platform Qimai showed the number of users of the Baidu Travel app has been dwindling. There were only 600 downloads of the app in the past 30 days. The cumulative download volume on Android is 86.54 million, and it has been taken down on Apple Store. By contrast, the Chinese travel site Mafengwo has more than 200 million app downloads on Android, and nearly 150,000 downloads in the past 30 days.
Baidu launched its online travel site in April 2011 to enter the booming online travel market. The platform positioned itself as a tourism service community. Its content was mainly generated by users. It provides information on fast navigation, travel reviews, transportation, food, accommodation, shopping, and culture.
There have been reports that the popularity of Baidu Travel had been waning not long after its launch, and its voice in the market had been drowned out by similar apps such as Mafengwo and Breadtrip.
The app had an obscure model in the early stages, offering only destination information but no booking functions for hotels and attractions mentioned in the content and reviews.
An insider believed it didn’t make much sense for Baidu, as the largest shareholder of Ctrip, to run its own travel business. Baidu invested in Qunar.com in 2011 and reached a share swap transaction with Ctrip in 2015. At present, Baidu owns 19% shares of Ctrip.
In addition, Baidu offers advertising services for tourism and tickets companies, which also obscure the proposition of its travel business.
The demise of Baidu Travel reflected that having traffic and innovative technology is not necessarily a recipe for success. Similarly, Tencent and 360.com did not fare well with their travel products.
Incidentally, Google announced earlier this month that it would stop technical support for the Android version of the Google Trips App within two months.