Japan’s largest travel
metasearch and content platform, Travel.jp, has inked a deal with LINE, the
largest communication app in Japan, to power the price comparison and travel
guide content for the new LINE Travel service.
As part of the deal, LINE will
take a 34% equity ownership stake in Venture Republic, owner of Travel.jp and
Travel.jp has more than 15
million monthly users that use the site to search for hotels, flights and
tours and also to read the more than 27,000 pieces of original content written
by its team of 500 travel bloggers. Those articles cover topics such as top
activities in a destination or a review of a specific attraction or tour.
For about two years, Travel.jp been
publishing its articles on LINE, and Kei Shibata, CEO of Venture Republic, says it has become a very
effective distribution channel, helping it reach a subscriber audience of
more than 500,000.
Now, Travel.jp will power all of
the content on LINE Travel - metasearch and articles - starting with
“LINE is the dominant player. It
has probably almost 100% of coverage of mobile internet users in Japan,” says Shibata.
“We’ll continue to push our services
on the web, and they will now push our collaborative services in the app.”
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Shibata says he is particularly
excited about the opportunity to use LINE’s push notification and geolocation functions
to send content to users when they are in-destination.
“Suppose you are in New
Hampshire, and you have plans to go hiking, but the weather changes and now it’s
raining. Perhaps we can suggest: What about going to this museum? What about
this restaurant? And here’s the article about them,” he says.
The two companies are
determining which features will roll out next, but eventually the Travel platform
will allow users to search, compare and book domestic and international hotels,
tour packages and airfare.
“We have had some discussion
over the structure of differences between the metasearch model and the OTA model,”
“We clearly recognize
some limitations of the metasearch model.”
LINE announced LINE Travel in early July. It’s the newest addition to the platform’s
“Commerce Gateway,” which LINE CEO Takeshi Idezawa says is “a new concept enabling
users to start every shopping journey from within LINE.”
In addition to travel,
it currently offers retail shopping and food delivery.
About one-quarter of LINE’s users are in Japan, and the rest are overseas, primarily in Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia.
As part of this deal, three new directors and one new corporate
auditor from LINE will sit on the Venture Republic board.