Just as luxury e-commerce is taking off in China, it should be no surprise that opulence-oriented travel sites are a potential boom area as well. And with that in mind comes Zanadu, launching this week, which curates luxury and boutique hotels around the world into an exclusive online travel service.
Beijing-based Zanadu claims to be the first such site of this type in the country, providing a highly tailored service to wealthy Chinese travelers who might like to avoid hum-drum travel websites such as Ctrip (NASDAQ:CTRP) or Qunar. So the startup has all of its listed hotels vetted in person by one of its “correspondents,” who are Chinese travel experts that will produce detailed articles (pictured below) for each place they visit, giving the site’s users a different angle from the usual hotel PR material.
Speaking to PO, Zanadu’s CMO and creative director, Dirk Eschenbacher, explains that the startup aims to “build a community of like-minded travelers.” And so, to retain an air of exclusivity, it will remain an invitation-only service. But Dirk says that it’ll soon be open to anyone to browse the website (only the homepage is visible at the moment), and more social features will be added. After a month of beta testing, the site has implemented its core e-commerce features, and is now launching with a selection of boutique hotels and resorts on board.
Zanadu members, says Dirk, will get “benefits and privileges” such as discounts, which will be added to the service pretty soon. Also rolling out a bit later will be “VIP tailored trips [such as] eight-day trekking though the Amazon jungle with a local wildlife expert, or a wine tour around three chateaus in France with helicopter transfer.” Plus, aside from the curated and high-end content, the site aims to differentiate itself from mainstream travel services by having a much clearer web design and far larger photos.