OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) have established themselves in the Chinese outbound tourism market as the preferred choice for Chinese tourists when booking flights and accommodation for their trip. Ctrip is the most well-known, being the OTA of choice for Chinese tourists, with more than a third of sales, accounting for 36.3%, according to data from Turespaña.
Because of this and other data that we will examine in this article, getting acquainted with Ctrip will give you an advantage over your competitors in the Chinese outbound tourism market.
Finally, we will briefly comment on other prominent Chinese travel sites that also play a vital role in Chinese tourism.
1. What is Ctrip?
Ctrip is an OTA that provides accommodation booking, transportation, tours and corporate travel management. It was founded in 1999 by Trip.com Group Limited, along with other brands such as Qunar, which will be discussed later.
Ctrip was consolidated in the NASDAQ index in 2003, and since its creation it has been widely recognized for its extensive research into the efficiency of its employees, reducing costs substantially and positioning itself as the most used OTA by Chinese tourists.
1.1 Features of Ctrip
Ctrip is one of the most multifunctional platforms in the Chinese tourism market, catering to all users’ needs and providing a variety of functions. The main functions of Ctrip are:
Searching and booking the trips and destinations
The travel market is Ctrip’s core business. The app allows you to select a location, search for any tool and check notifications.
It also features travel and attraction guides, entertainment and forums, with hotel, flight and other travel booking options being the most used, which is key if your goal is to attract Chinese customers to your business. Check more on how to prepare hotels for Chinese tourists.
Customization and itinerary planning
Another key feature Ctrip offers is the ability to add air or train tickets and hotel reservations to your personalized trip. You can access all relevant information, matching the dates to your calendar.
Publishing travel-related content
In addition to all these essential aspects of planning a trip, Ctrip also includes the option to follow, consume and post travel content, although, since this is not the primary function, it would not achieve the same reach as on other platforms such as Weibo.
This comprehensive tool also allows users to view and edit their profile information, saved items or browsing history. You will be able to view your upcoming trips, bookings, supported or pending payments and a host of other useful features.
Finally, Ctrip has a dedicated customer service section, providing 24/7 support for its customers all over the world. This shows great commitment and professionalism, which is why this tool is so widely used by Chinese tourists.
2. Why is Ctrip so popular among Chinese tourists?
Unlike in Western countries, users almost always use the computer for booking. However, in China, 25% of users complete their bookings via cell phone, and 97% of Chinese tourists purchase mobile data plans for their trips, according to Tecnohotel.
Herein lies the importance of Ctrip, as its mobile app, called Trip.com, has been downloaded more than 1 billion times, providing the opportunity to book around 800,000 hotels in more than 300 cities, which demonstrates the critical importance of having a presence on this platform.
In addition, Chinese tourists attach vital importance to speed in planning their trips, and Ctrip stated that it answers around 95% of travelers’ queries in less than 20 seconds, according to China Travelnews, and has travel specialists among its customer service staff.
3. Ctrip’s continued growth
In recent years, the average income of the Chinese population has risen, a major influence on the boom in international travel. According to data from the Tecnohotel study, China has been the leading tourism market since 2012, and forecasts indicate that it will soon be the largest source of international travelers in the world.
This increase has meant an exponential growth of Ctrip, which in the first quarter earned net profits of $170 million, 19 times more than those obtained in the same months of 2017, and these figures are multiplying year after year (Source: China Travelnews).
4. Importance of the presence of hotels on Ctrip
Taking all this information into account, the presence of foreign hotels on Ctrip is essential. The largest and most favored Chinese OTA cannot go unnoticed by hoteliers interested in the Chinese outbound tourism market.
As Ctrip controls almost half of the Chinese tourism market and is in a continuous and exponential state of growth, hoteliers have to take advantage of the potential of this tool to reach the growing number of Chinese tourists.
Moreover, according to data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Chinese travelers invested more than $260 billion in their trips in 2016, constituting more than one-fifth of all global tourism spending, with Europe being one of their preferred destinations.
Considering the usage and rise of Ctrip by Chinese tourists, their preferred destinations and their preferences, hotels outside China should definitely establish an effective and reliable presence on this app if their goal is to capture the best customers, Chinese tourists.
5. How to register your business on Ctrip
In order to have a presence in the Chinese outbound tourism market, and more specifically, on Ctrip, it is necessary to understand the process and requirements for registering your business on this platform.
To register on Ctrip you have to follow a few simple steps:
- Go to the website: on the website, click on the “Register” button in the upper right corner.
- Complete the registration form: you will need your personal information such as name, email and password.
- Verify your email: when you fill out the registration form, you will receive an email from Ctrip with a verification link. Click on it to verify your email address and activate your account.
- Edit your profile: complete your profile by adding contact information, passport or other relevant information.
- Your Ctrip account is now ready!
In order to register your business and be able to advertise it legally, you need to meet some requirements to be approved on Ctrip. First, you will need the following basic documentation:
- Proof of hotel ownership or lease agreement.
- Business registration or license.
- Photo ID of the hotel owner or manager.
- High resolution photographs of your property. In addition, provide as much detail about your establishment as possible.
- Establish pricing and availability.
These are common prerequisites, however, depending on the industry or company other documents may be required.
6. Other travel platforms used by Chinese tourists
Fliggy is an online travel platform which offers exclusive experiences to travelers, having made deals with partners such as the Louvre Museum or Disneyland. It belongs to Alibaba Group, which brings together more than 400 airlines and travel agents, more than 8,000 destinations and more than 600,000 hotels and accommodations, according to Hosteltur data.
As we have seen, the importance of OTAs in China, especially Ctrip, is vital for the Chinese outbound tourism market. Therefore, it should be essential in the strategic plan of any hotel outside of China, since they could be tapping into the best and most promising tourism market in the world, the Chinese market.
To this end, collaborating with an OTA in China can be decisive and of great help for any hotelier wanting to penetrate this market. InfluChina offers a solution, we are a social media agency in China that is dedicated to promoting businesses with tourist affluence in Chinese social networks through influencer marketing in China.
Frequently Asked Questions about Ctrip
Below we will address the most frequently asked questions about Ctrip and the Chinese outbound tourism market.
Ctrip is an OTA that provides accommodation booking, transportation, tours and corporate travel management.
Ctrip, as it is the most used OTA by Chinese tourists when planning their trip, covering more than a third of sales.
Yes, this Chinese travel site offers its services all over the world, including hotels, flights, tours and more all over Europe.
Although they do use Booking, it is essential for the Chinese to use Chinese OTAs for their travel planning, and they use them more than Booking, especially Ctrip.