Contributed by Samantha Wai, Regional Marketing Manager-APAC, SHR

Ctrip

As incomes in China have risen in recent years, so too has the amount of international travel taken by its 1.4 billion residents. China has been tourism’s top market since 2012, and Skift predicts China will soon be the world’s largest source of international travelers.

More of these travelers are eschewing group travel these days to create their own trips. A recent survey by J. Walter Thompson Intelligence found there are 12 emerging types of Chinese travelers, including tourists traveling in multigenerational groups, foodies who enjoy trying novel cuisine, business people, young women who like to travel solo or with their friends, and adventurous, sporty travelers. And how do these Chinese adventurers book their travel? Increasingly, it’s online.Hotels aiming to attract these multitudes of Chinese travelers must not overlook online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Shanghai-based Ctrip, which is China’s largest travel booking company. Ctrip dominates half of the Chinese OTA market and is a major player in the rapidly expanding world of international travel from China. By working with a CRS that is integrated with Ctrip, hoteliers are tapping into Ctrip’s booking potential, which is substantial and growing.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, Chinese tourists spent more than $261 billion overall in 2016, more than a fifth of all international tourism spending in the world. The most frequent long-haul destinations of Chinese travelers are the U.S. and Europe.

This year, in fact, has been dubbed “EU-China Tourism Year.” A joint campaign between the EU and China, dubbed “Ready for China,” aims to increase the number of Chinese visitors to the EU by 10%, which would mean an increase of at least €1 billion per year for the EU tourism industry.

And the market is expected to continue growing. The China Outbound Tourism Research Institute projects that this year, Chinese travelers will make 86 million trips to international destinations, an increase of 10% over 2017. China is an increasingly significant market in terms of today’s international travel.

Why Ctrip is So Popular

Elsewhere, people tend to use a combination of smartphones, tablets, and computers to research their travel but most often they complete their bookings on a computer. Only about 6% actually book on a mobile phone.

That’s not the case in China, where about 25% of travelers complete their bookings on a smartphone, according to Worldpay.

Ninety-seven percent of Chinese travelers purchase a data plan or make other arrangements to use their smart device while traveling internationally, another clear indication that the Chinese are heavy mobile device users.

The Ctrip mobile app, recently rebranded as trip.com, has been downloaded more than one billion times. Travelers using the app can easily book around 800,000 hotels in more than 5,000 cities. The app also offers real-time flight tracking, and reservations within China, as well. It’s available in Chinese, English, and seven other languages.

The app does not only offer bookings. Users can also post and read 30 million hotel, flight, train and other reviews on Ctrip.

Like China Travel, Ctrip is Growing Too

Like the number of international travelers coming out of China, Ctrip too sees its numbers significantly increasing.

In just the first three months of 2018, Ctrip earned $170 million, nineteen times more than its earnings during the first quarter of 2017.

According to the Beijing-based World Tourism Cities Federation, global tourists made 11.9 billion trips last year overall, which generated $5.3 trillion in tourism dollars and accounted for 6.7% of the worldwide GDP.

Ctrip Chairman and Co-Founder James Liang Jianzhang said his company currently serves fewer than 5% of those trips, and they are actively working to increase that number. The company plans to expand its overseas revenue from 2% to at least 20% in the next five years, he says, especially into such Asian markets such as South Korea and Japan as well as to London.

The company strategically purchased the UK-based travel search engine operator Skyscanner in 2016 and the Silicon Valley startup Trip.com in November 2017. It has also acquired three Chinese travel agencies that operate in the U.S. and has invested extensively in the Indian OTA MakeMyTrip.

It’s projected that by 2020, nearly 190 million Chinese will travel internationally and they will spend almost $350 billion per year.

Using a Ctrip-integrated CRS means knowing your hotel is also tapped into Ctrip, and its increasing numbers of international travel bookings from China.

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