Editor’s note: Having started by targeting the mass market, e-commerce platforms are increasingly bullish on the high-end market, and they’re leaving no stone unturned. Secoo began by selling second-hand luxury items, then new pieces by foreign brands, and, more recently, began hyping up Chinese domestic designers. Now, they’ve set their sights on high-end travel. This story was first published on Jing Travel.
Secoo is vying for a piece of China’s growing luxury travel market. In a move that the company describes as “entering the lifestyle business,” the e-commerce site is partnering with HNA Caissa Travel Group and acquiring one of its travel subsidiaries.
It’s an interesting move by Secoo, which so far is only really known as an online luxury retailer often compared to Alibaba’s Tmall and JD.com—and a completely unknown brand in the Chinese tourism industry. In a sense, Secoo’s apparent expansion into luxury travel bears some similarities to Meituan-Dianping, a Chinese group buying website that grew to become a force to be reckoned with in travel.
According to the terms of the partnership, Secoo will be able to leverage Caissa’s “travel resources and services” in destinations around the world, which should immediately allow Secoo to gain some valuable corporate infrastructure for its travel ambitions.
Further, Caissa travel products will be made available on Secoo’s online platforms, while Secoo will be offering its luxury shopping offers across Caissa’s online and offline platforms.
Perhaps more interesting in terms of travel is that HNA Caissa Travel and Secoo will develop customized travel products—most likely luxury travel products—that’ll be jointly promoted by both companies. Presumably, the idea is to provide exciting luxury travel products that excite luxury-oriented customers of Caissa’s, as well as travel-oriented customers of Secoo’s.
Secoo only recently launched its first foray into lifestyle products in 2017, in what it describes as an attempt to “fulfill the spiritual demands of Chinese consumers.” In practice, the company is providing personalized and packaged travel products in a wide variety of areas often associated with HNWI consumption and luxury travel in China.
For example, Secoo offers study tours, K12 education, “interests cultivation” (niche travel), medical tourism, and upscale leisure travel.
Interestingly, the announcement of Secoo and Caissa’s partnership is completely devoid of the fact that Caissa Travel is owned by the embattled and indebted HNA Group, this despite that Caissa’s official name even includes “HNA” in it. Needless to say, HNA Caissa Travel Group has found itself in some hot water recently due to its parent organization’s problems.
The announcement also mentions that Secoo will be acquiring Beijing Xuri Travel Service, a HNA Caissa Travel Group subsidiary as part of the agreement—but any details as to what Beijing Xuri does, and why the company sought to acquire it are completely left out. However, with HNA struggling to keep up with debt obligations, it’s possible that the acquisition of Beijing Xuri is simply a payment of sorts to HNA for what may turn out to be favorable terms for Seeco in its partnership with Caissa.
If nothing else, Secoo’s evolution from a luxury shopping-focused online platform to become a full-fledged lifestyle brand with significant ambitions in the travel space is an interesting one. So far, it has worked out for Meituan-Dianping, and Secoo may not be the last shopping platform that hopes to leverage its luxury clout in the travel space.