China online travel: trip research, expectations, experience sharing

More than half of Chinese international travellers now book hotel accommodation via the web or mobile apps, according to a study.

The Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) surveys more than 3,000 Chinese outbound travellers and 3,000 hoteliers around the world to understand the changing behavior of these travellers and more.

Though the Chinese population is over 1.36 billion, interestingly, no more than 5% have passports, this explains the potential for the outbound travel market in China.

When it comes to technology, internet penetration in the country increased to 46%. Among the 618 million internet users in China, 500 million users access the internet via a mobile device.

Key technology related takeaways from the study are below:

Trip research sources

Chinese travellers conduct their trip research from almost five sources to finalize their trip, up from 2013, when the number of research sources was four.

The top three sources include travel guides (53%), friends (52%) and online travel sites (48%). Travel review sites take fifth position, social media comes in at eight and blogs take the eleventh spot.

When it comes to sources that travellers “rely on”, the top three are: online review sites (14%), friends (14%) and family (13%). The reliance on social media and blogs stands at just 5% and 2% respectively.

china international travel monitor 1 - Tnooz

Booking channel trends

More than half of respondents (53%) booked their hotel either on the web or via mobile apps, either directly with the hotel or via an online travel company.

The percentage of respondents using mobile apps has risen from 6% in 2013 to 17% in 2014, with travellers aged under 35 most likely to choose this method.

The percentage of respondents booking through a travel agent has fallen from 36% in 2013 to 34% in 2014, with older travellers twice as likely to book through a travel agent.

Expectation during an international trip

The top five products or services that Chinese travellers expect during their international trip are:

  1. Free wifi
  2. Local payment options such as China Union Pay or Alibaba’s Alipay
  3. Mandarin speaking staff
  4. Chinese language translated travel guides (as 53% of respondents rely on travel guides for their trip research)
  5. Chinese language friendly hotel website

Hoteliers are also responding to the needs of Chinese travellers, with more than 70% offering free wifi already.

china international travel monitor 2 - Tnooz

Trip experience sharing

93% of Chinese travellers aged under 35 share their trip photos via social media.

31% of respondents aged 35 and under share their photos/experiences on travel review sites.

31% of respondents aged more than 35 are most likely to use email to send messages/pictures, the number stands at 23% for respondents aged under 35.

17% of respondents aged more than 35 are more inclined to show people conventional print photos in person, however, the number stands at 14% for respondents under 35.

Individual travellers: 88% share their trip experience in social media, 32% share in travel review sites, and 15% are more likely to show friends and relatives conventional print photos.

Group tour travellers: 77% share their trip experience in social media, 20% share in travel review sites  and 19% are more likely to show friends and relatives conventional print photos.

The chart below shows the various channels in which Chinese travellers share their international trip experience:

china international travel monitor 3 - Tnooz

 Study methodology

  • commissioned TNS, a market research company, to conduct a research study amongst Chinese residents in mainland China who had paid for accommodation on an international trip at least once in the past five years. The research was conducted online during April/May 2014 using an online methodology, with a sample of 3,000 eligible respondents across China.
  • carried out a global survey of more than 3,000 hotel partners during May 2014. Responses were received from countries including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, UK and USA.

NB: Asian mobile users image via Shutterstock.

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Karthick Prabu

About the Writer :: Karthick Prabu

Karthick was general manager for Tnooz in Asia until September 2014.



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  1. luc

    – would you know what are the names of the main online travel booking channels and mobile apps/review sites used in china (especially in shanghai)?
    thank you


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