WITH the booming Chinese business travel market expected to become the world’s largest in the near future, the travel industry has to innovate their products and services to keep up, according to Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) China.
On the sidelines of the CTW China 2015 press conference yesterday, Albert Zhong, general manager of CWT China, told TTG Asia e-Daily: “To meet the needs of the evolving market, we have to constantly improve and innovate to better serve China-based business travellers.
“Besides the usual procurement-related activities, managing internal and external stakeholder relationships…our role has expanded to identifying new technology solutions and applying business analytics to support clients’ growth.”
As such, CWT China rolled out the first online booking tool for the Chinese market – CWT Online – to make booking international travel easier for China-based business travellers in 2012.
While CWT China had the privilege of having the “first-mover advantage”, he added it was a challenge to move business travellers from offline to online initially. “We saw the need to move bookings online and companies were also pushing for the mandate. It took some time but now, we are seeing 70 per cent adoption.”
TravelSky’s general manager, Bo Peng, said GDSs have to be ready to simplify the booking process to help corporates who want their bookings done fast. He said: “The usual challenges are the many steps in the booking procedure, especially if there are changes to be made, which is common for corporates.”
TravelSky thus allows changes to be made even at the airport, hours prior to departure, as corporates often make last-minute changes to their flights.
According to Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) report in March, the Chinese business travel market will overtake the US as the world’s largest by 2017 due to strong 16.2 per cent annual growth since 2000, with spend volume having surged from US$32 billion in 2000 to US$225 billion in 2013.
GBTA forecasts the Chinese business travel market will grow 14.2 per cent this year, and 12 per cent in 2016 to reach US$336 billion.
Read more in the TTG Official Show Daily – IT&CM China 2015