Ctrip calls out pseudo bespoke agencies as customised luxury travel goes mainstream in China

Forward bookings for APAC growing slower than for longhaul desitnations

Ctrip is calling out Chinese travel agents for marketing ordinary small group packages as customised travel, as it unveils a joint report on Chinese high-end outbound customised travel with Chinese Outbound Tourism Research Institute.

The Chinese OTA giant says many agencies who claim to be offering bespoke services don’t in fact allow customers to shape the kind of travel they want, “nor do they explore supply-side offerings in depth”.

2019 is the year when customised travel goes mainstream in the Chinese market, Ctrip says

“Players in the Chinese travel industry have fallen into the trap of jumping on the customised travel bandwagon, in the hope of standing out in a homogenised market,” the OTA remarked.

Ctrip is calling out the bandwagoners on the heels of rolling out its own “high-end” customised travel platform 3.0 in March, having noted key differences distinguishing high-end customised travel, plus new trends pointing to the development of more mature demand.

According to the OTA, “high-end customised travel only targets seasoned travellers who can afford and appreciate such services, pricing their products extremely high, using very scarce resources and providing a top-grade experience”.

In 2018, the amount of orders on Ctrip’s customised travel platform increased 180 per cent compared to the year before, with the growth rate of orders from second and third-tier cities surpassing first-tier cities.

Meanwhile, demands for customised travel from customers in first-tier cities has developed to become more in-depth.

Ctrip says 2019 can be seen to be as the year when high-end customised travel goes mainstream in China, and forecasts that the sector will grow by 200 per cent over the next three years.

The top 10 Chinese markets showing highest growth in demand for high-end customised travels are Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Nanjing, Xi’an and Tianjin. Among them, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou showed a three-digit growth rate, according to Ctrip.

Ctrip’s data shows that the average expenditure per person on a high-end customised travel package is RMB23,800 (US$3,410), compared to the average per person expenditure of RMB5,500 for standard packages.

Through its new high-end platform, Ctrip is targeting China’s high-net-worth-individuals (HNWIs). In 2018, there were some 1.7 million HNWIs in China.

Ctrip’s customised travel platform was officially launched in January 2016. Currently, there are more than 1,500 suppliers available on the platform with more than 6,000 customised travel consultants facilitating the service. Ctrip claims its platform sets the service standards and manages quality control through supplier screening and ratings.

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