Online giant Ctrip gets physical in China

Sun: growing outbound share

Ctrip, China’s leading provider of travel services, has opened 5,500 physical stores in the lower-tier cities to better serve new travellers, complementing its online booking capabilities.

Half of Ctrip’s 300 million users book online, according to Jane Jie Sun, CEO.

Sun: growing outbound revenue share

“The online penetration rate of the Chinese travel market is only about 15 per cent. While customers from first-tier cities are familiar with online travel booking, those in lower-tier cities are not. We see the need to educate and provide personalised service to this new customer base,” Sun said.

“Also when you compare China’s 10 per cent passport-holder rate to that of the US at roughly 40 per cent, and China’s population size, it is clear there is a huge untapped opportunity for outbound business.”

Going forward, Sun said Ctrip wants outbound revenue, now contributing between 20 and 30 per cent, to grow to between one-third and half.

She revealed travellers from secondary cities are spending “as much, if not more than their first-tier counterparts”. During this year’s Labor Day Holiday, eight of the top 10 cities with the highest per capita travel spending were Dalian, Shenyang, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Jinan, Fuzhou, Xiamen and Changchun. The other two were Shanghai and Beijing.

Sun reported: “The untapped potential market size is huge. In the second quarter of 2017, our user traffic in second-tier cities showed an increase of 50 per cent year-on-year.”

As a 24/7, one-stop-shop, customer-centric travel platform, Ctrip continues to invest more than 15 per cent of revenue to invest in the ABC of technology – AI, big data and cloud computing – to innovate and continue to deliver new product offerings and safe, reliable, round-the-clock service capabilities to further promote outbound travel.

Sun gave the example of the Las Vegas shooting incident in early-October when Ctrip knew within two minutes where its customers were, identified those in the city in 20 minutes, located them in an hour and offered those who wanted to fly out the next day.

Among its other technology innovations, Crip’s QR code ticket purchase app has resulted in a 20 per cent increase in admission ticket sales for Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, where prototype for various elements in the movie Avatar were taken. Overseas, the app helped the Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Tower, Sydney Wild Park and Madame Tussauds increase sales by a whopping 460 per cent.

To continue to innovate, Ctrip launched its “Baby Tiger” programme two years ago, which incubates staff proposals on new travel services and products. So far 20 have been launched and 18 are still being adopted.

  • reporting from ITB Asia 2017
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