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Top 5 Online Travel Agencies in China (OTAs)

Chinese tourism,Online travel agency china
Top 5 China Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
Table of Contents

In recent years, the increase in the capitalization of the Chinese outbound tourism market has been tremendous, an increase that is related to the rise of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) in China. OTAs have consolidated their position in the Chinese tourism market, with 79% of queries coming through Chinese OTAs.

In this article we set out to provide you with information on the 5 most popular OTAs in China, which can play a vital role in promoting your business on the most popular websites in China.

The rise of Chinese OTAs is behind the increase in the growth of the Chinese outbound tourism market, with 79% of queries coming through Chinese OTAs.

First of all, you should take into account that there are many differences between Chinese and Western tourists, so these OTAs are indispensable whether you have a business or brand in China or abroad.

Top 5 China Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
Top 5 China Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)

2. What is Chinese Online Travel Agency (OTAs)?

OTA stands for Online Travel Agency, and this is a platform where you can buy tickets for different means of transport and book hotels. According to Turespaña studies, official destination websites are one of the most popular channels used by Chinese tourists to search for information.

These data clearly show the importance of making sales by focusing on a strong presence of Chinese OTAs, which provide visibility to the tourism sector, especially for hotels.

Official destination websites are one of the most popular channels used by Chinese tourists to make travel decisions

3. Top OTAs in China

It is true that Chinese tourists attach great importance to international OTAs such as Booking and the OTAs of their destination, but the most commonly used are their own, so being familiar with them is vital to establish a marketing strategy and advertise your hotel or restaurant.

Ctrip

What is Ctrip? Ctrip was founded in 1999 by Trip.com Group Limited, a Chinese provider of travel services including accommodation booking, tours and corporate travel management, which also owns brands such as Qunar.

One of the differentiating factors that sets Ctrip apart from other OTAs is its extensive research on the efficiency of its employees, achieving consolidation in the NASDAQ index in 2003 and positioning itself as the most used OTA by Chinese tourists.

Ctrip-Top OTAs in China

Ctrip's market share

According to Dragon Tail International reports, Ctrip accounted for more than one-third (36.1%) of the total sales volume of Chinese OTAs in 2021, and last month they had a total of 16.5 million visits, mostly from people aged 25-34.

In the last year they achieved a net profit of $1 billion, and consolidated their position as the leading company in the ranking of Chinese OTAs.

Ctrip accounted for more than one-third of the total sales volume of Chinese OTAs in 2021

Requirements to promote your business on Ctrip

In order to promote your business and establish a presence on Ctrip, all you have to do is meet some basic requirements, bearing in mind that some may vary depending on the type of company or sector:

  1. Proof of hotel ownership or lease agreement.
  2. Commercial registration or license.
  3. Photo ID of the hotel owner or manager.
  4. High resolution photographs of the property.
  5. Provide as much detail as possible about the establishment.
  6. Establish pricing and availability.

Fliggy

Fliggy is an online travel platform that offers exclusive experiences to travelers, with partnerships with the likes of the Louvre Museum and Disneyland. Fliggy belongs to Alibaba Group, a company that brings together more than 400 travel agents, 8000 destinations and more than 600,000 hotels and accommodations, according to Hosteltur data.

Fliggy-Top OTAs in China

Fliggy stands out for its great discounts on hotel booking service, and is also one of the most downloaded mobile applications in China according to Chinafy data.

Alibaba Group, to which Fliggy belongs, is one of the largest companies in the world, and has more than 400 travel agents, 8,000 destinations and more than 600,000 accommodations

Fliggy Market Share

Fliggy has a 16.5% market share, and is already preparing partnerships with global brands to define its niche in hotel booking in order to outperform the competition.

In 2020 they registered a total of 10 million daily active users, according to Chinafy data, with millennials being their main target demographic, and they now have more than 5,000 partners.

Requirements to promote your business on Fliggy

As with all Chinese OTAs, a number of business requirements must be met in order to promote your business on Fliggy:

  • Licencia de negocios
    1. Tax registration or latest tax payment certificate.
    2. Company director’s ID card.
    3. Trademark registration certificate.
    4. Statement from the authorized representative of the primary company.
    5. Alipay account

Tongcheng-Elong

Tongcheng-Elong is a China-based OTA, founded in 2016, which is principally engaged in the provision of online travel products and services. The company conducts its business primarily through three segments:

  1. Transportation ticketing: air, train, bus and ferry tickets.
  2. Accommodation booking: hotel reservation services.
  3. Other: value-added travel products and services to meet the changing needs of its customers throughout their travels.
Tongcheng-Elong-Top OTAs in China

Its platforms contain user-friendly tools such as maps, destination guides, photos and user reviews, which are very important for Chinese travelers.

Tongcheng-Elong Market Share

Tongcheng-Elong is currently the third most popular OTA for Chinese tourists, with a cost of $2.14 per share, having risen a total of 8.14% in the last 12 months according to Financial Times data.

The company’s total revenue is $1.04 billion, which shows the prominence of this platform for the tourism market. In terms of percentage representation over the total of all OTAs, it represents 14.8%, according to the Financial Times.

Tongcheng-Elong has more than 1 billion dollars in total revenue and represents 14.8% of sales through Chinese OTAs, which underlines the importance of the presence of foreign businesses on the platform.

Requirements to promote your business on Tongcheng-Elong

In order to start marketing your company on Tongcheng-Elong, you must first prepare a series of key documents, which may vary depending on the sector and type of company.

  1. Details of partners and shareholders.
  2. Legal address of the company.
  3. Submit the business license, along with any additional licenses required in China if your sector is related to construction, manufacturing or hospitality.
  4. Tax registration or latest tax payment certificate.
Tongcheng-Elong-Top OTAs in China

Qunar

Qunar is a Chinese OTA based in Beijing, and the name is Chinese for “Where to go“. It was founded in May 2005, and, in 2011, Baidu acquired a majority stake for $306 million.

Qunar organizes a wealth of information and provides comprehensive and instant search results for flights, hotels, visas and other travel-related information through its technology.

In November 2013, the company began listing its shares on NASDAQ, with the website being acquired by Ocean Management Holdings Limited in 2017 and privatized through its delisting from NASDAQ.

Qunar Market Share

Qunar ranks after Ctrip as the second-largest OTA in the Chinese market, with a 16.5% share of the online travel market, according to Hotelmize data.

Total visits last month were nearly 4 million, up 20% from the previous month, growth that is increasing exponentially. The target audience, as with most Chinese OTAs, is people between the ages of 25 and 34, known as millennials.

Qunar is positioned as the second largest OTA in the Chinese market, with a 16.5% market share in the online travel market

Requirements to promote your business on Qunar

To register your business on Qunar, you will need the following items:

  1. Legal address.
  2. Bylaws.
  3. Share capital and total investment.
  4. A feasibility study.
  5. Business license.
  6. Tax registration or last tax payment certificate.
  7. Store manager’s ID card or other qualifications.
  8. Trademark registration certificate.
  9. Statement from the authorized representative of the store’s primary company.
Meituan-Top OTAs in China

Meituan

Meituan is, according to MultiVersial, the third largest technology company in China in terms of market cap, behind only Tencent and Alibaba, companies that own platforms such as Fliggy, Ctrip and Qunar. 

Meituan offers customers everything from restaurant reviews, food delivery and travel booking to bicycle use and entertainment services.

Meituan Market Share

In 2020, this behemoth had more than 67% share of the Chinese market, twice as much as Ele.me, its direct rival, owned by Alibaba (Source: David Barrós). In overall positioning in the Chinese market, it is ranked as the 134th largest company in China.

As an e-commerce company, it is ranked second in all of China, just ahead of the giant Alibaba, with a total of 10.5 million monthly visits and more than $1 billion in annual revenue according to Similarweb data.

Meituan took more than 67% share of the Chinese market in 2020, positioning itself as the 134th largest company in China

Requirements to promote your business on Meituan

To create an account on Meituan for the purpose of promoting your business in China, the steps to follow are:

  1. Submit your business information. This includes your business license, payment information, ID card, and the number of your contact person.
  2. Wait for the Meituan team to verify your business information.
  3. Once confirmed, you will receive an SMS notification.

4. Importance of Chinese OTAs for foreign businesses

Taking into account these critical factors for the Chinese outbound tourism market, the major Chinese OTAs cannot go unnoticed by foreign hoteliers and restaurants that want to attract Chinese tourists to their business.

Hoteliers should take advantage of the booking potential of OTAs, as international travel from China is steadily increasing. According to UNWTO, Chinese tourists spent more than $261 billion on their trips in 2016, more than one-fifth of all global tourism spending.

Considering the use and rise of OTAs, hotels will absolutely need to have an effective and reliable presence on these platforms if their goal is to capture the best customers, Chinese tourists.

Hotels will invariably need to have an effective and reliable presence on these platforms if their objective is to attract the best customers, Chinese tourists.

Importance of Chinese OTAs for foreign businesses-OTAs in China

5. Conclusions

As we have seen, the importance of OTAs in China is vital for the Chinese outbound tourism market and, therefore, should be essential in the strategic plan of any hotel or restaurant, as they would be entering the biggest and most promising market.

For this, collaborating with an agency can be a decisive factor and a great help for any hotelier looking to break into this market. InfluChina can be your solution, a social media agency in China that is dedicated to promoting businesses with a tourist influx in Chinese social networks through Chinese influencer marketing.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Chinese OTAs

Lastly, we will address some of the most frequently asked questions about Chinese OTAs

OTAs are Online Travel Agencies where you can buy tickets for different means of transport and book hotels.

Ctrip, as it is the most used OTA by Chinese tourists, covering more than a third of the sales, but do not overlook other major OTAs such as Fliggy and Qunar. 

The best way is through a social media agency in China, like InfluChina, which is dedicated to promoting businesses with a tourist influx in Chinese social networks through influencers.

Official websites are the channel most used by Chinese tourists to search for information, accounting for 79% of queries on Chinese OTAs.

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