Marketing SaaS Firm Zhiketong, Chinese Shopify, Raises CNY 300 Million from Sequoia 
COVID-19 and China
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Digital marketing solutions provider Zhiketong (直客通) announced it closed a CNY 300 million (USD 42 million) Series C round of funding today, betting on technology innovation and product portfolio expansions.

Strategic investor China CYTS Tours Holding Co., Ltd. (600138: HKEX), one of the three major tour corporation in China, led the Series C-3 round of funding; Sequoia China and Vision+ Capital led Series C-1 and Series C-2 round, respectively.

CYTS holds several famous scenic spots like Beijing WTown and Wuzhen. In cooperation with Zhiketong, it can sell out more tickets and explore upselling.

Founded in 2014, Zhiketong aims to enable four- and five-star hotels to acquire customers and improve retention and expansion. “We set our customer base priority based on the observation that five-star hotel brands generate higher revenue per hotel, and their broader lifestyle products enable us to provide multidimensional marketing services,” the founder and CEO of the company Liu Hua claimed.

Back in 2012, WeChat launched official accounts for users. As self-media got popular, WeChat marketing found its path to commercialization. WeChat as an established platform is getting outrageous expensive to do any marketing to see a quick impact.  Building in the WeChat ecosystem, Zhiketong provides transaction SaaS for its clients with tailored marketing package.

WeChat's rival Alipay has 20,000 mini-programs and 120 million daily active users- a small number compared to WeChat’s 1.1 billion. Zhiketong is also optimistic about the business opportunity presented by Alipay and started to operate therein.

Benchmarking with Shopify, Zhiketong relies less on software itself but more on offline marketing solutions, as the founder claimed that the ultimate goal is to improve customer acquiring efficiency for hotels.

Three founders of the firm were all from eLong (LONG: NASDAQ), a leading OTA brands in China. They started the business based on the understanding towards pain points of hospitality industry and tourism. “Chinese hotels spend a lot on OTA channels while facing the challenges of customer retention,” Liu said.

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