Wesafari moves into unknown cyberspace

By Ouyang Shijia and Zheng Yiran | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-29 08:00

Wesafari moves into unknown cyberspace

Chinese tourists take pictures during their visit to the Amman Citadel, an ancient Roman landmark in Amman, Jordan, in 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

We have all watched the videos. Now, here comes the business plan.

Wesafari, a home-grown tourism short film-sharing platform, has attracted more than three million users since being launched last year.

"Short videos are a future trend," said Chen Chao, chief executive officer of Wesafari.

Chen could well be right. Already major brands such as Holiland, Vanke and Alitrip are keen to work with his company to develop user bases and increase sales channels.

So far, Wesafari has agreed to produce and roll out short videos for Holiland, one of the largest bakery chains in China, and Vanke, the country's biggest property developer.

Alitrip is another potential client. The tourism division of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is looking to do a tie-up involving short travel videos of up to five minutes from 150 destinations.

Part of Wesafari's appeal is that it enables followers of the site to record their journeys and even insert background music. People can then post and share their videos on the platform, and interact and leave comments on the site.

"According to the data from Google, more than half the people who go on trips search for short videos of their destinations before traveling," said Chen, who is in his mid-30s.

"And more than 70 percent of them share short videos about their journey. That is why these sorts of videos are becoming a trend."

With those numbers, it is hardly surprising Wesafari now has 100,000 daily active users, and up to 500,000 monthly ones.

Already the website has completed angel-round funding of nearly 10 million yuan ($1.47 million) from Zhengkun Group, a major Chinese conglomerate, and is now undergoing its Pre-A round investment.

Although the exact figures are closely guarded, Wesafari's revenue is mainly from advertising. But being a private company, it does not have to disclose detailed financial data.

"We plan to launch peripheral products," Chen said. "In addition, we may charge users for viewing some of the content on the platform, such as travel information and recommended routes."

That makes sense for the company as data released from the China Tourism Academy showed that outbound trips from the country last year totaled 122 million.

Growth was up 4.3 percent compared to 2015, while total overseas tourism revenue increased by 5.1 percent during the same period to $109.8 billion.

"China's outbound tourism has witnessed constant growth in recent years," said Jason Song, founder and chief executive officer of Pkfare, an innovative global travel B2B marketplace targeting air tickets, hotels and destination products.

"It is now the top tourist source country for outbound tourism," he added.

Versatile flights, convenient visa policies and advanced technology are making travel easier, and this is helping to fuel the growth in companies and websites specializing in the sector.

"Wesafari will fill in the blanks of tourism short video platforms," said Vikram Channa, vice-president of production at Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific.

"It will set up a global video database, creating an international social network. The product will be popular among travelers around the globe," Channa added.

While traditional ways of traveling are changing, the tourism industry is undergoing a transformation. Part of this includes content for short videos.

The combination of still pictures and travel tips no longer satisfy customer demand when it comes to global destinations.

Wesafari helps its users share daily life at destinations as well as cultural features. It is one of the reasons why Lin Wei is such a big fan of the site.

"It is convenient for me to share my videos with others," Lin said. "It works very well."

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