Globally,Booking Holdings has invested heavily on online marketing, primarily with Google. But while Western customers rely on search engines to find travel deals, Chinese customers tend to go directly to Ctrip or apps like Meituan to book trips. Google has been blocked in China since 2010.

In recent months, skepticism has set in about the valuations of public and private Chinese internet companies after they hit stratospheric levels, and a selloff sparked concerns of a dot-com bust similar to that in the U.S. two decades ago.