Hyatt on Ctrip, outbound tourism and more China travel trends

The latest in our regular roundup of China travel trends brings news from Hyatt, highlights from ITB China and an update on the latest outbound tourism trends.

ITB China highlights

The ITB China Conference this year lined up a number of speakers sharing insights into China’s travel market.

James Liang, co-founder and executive Chairman of Ctrip, believes that the potential of China’s inbound tourism is yet to be explored, given the country’s rich tourism resources and superior infrastructure. He suggests that China would enjoy more opportunities in tourism if it could extend visa-free policies to more countries.

In corporate travel, a recent study by BCD Travel indicates that around 60% of China companies surveyed used an online booking tool and the same proportion had introduced an expenses management system.

Jonathan Kao, managing director, Greater China, BCD Travel, says:

“Demand is high in the B2B space – travelers are keen on using relevant functionalities, superior user interface and efficiency in terms of how many clicks it would take to complete a booking with an app.”

Online travel updates

Ctrip announced that its first-quarter net revenue increased 11% to $1.1 billion, and accommodation reservation revenue increased 23% increase to  $397 million. Skyscanner’s direct booking program continued to gain momentum, delivering revenue growth of more than 600% year-on-year.

Ctrip also had the first Hyatt flagship store on its website and mobile application. The store allows more than 300 million Ctrip members to access Hyatt hotels in the Greater China region, and the access will be extended to Hyatt hotels globally soon.

The “Big Four” airlines in China – China Southern Airlines, Air China, Hainan Airlines and China Eastern Airlines – have released their individual statements to ban third-party platforms from offering online check-in and seat-selection services.

Companies like aviation data providers VariFlight and State-owned Umetrip have already stopped offering such services for China Southern Airlines flights.

Fosun International, the owner of Club Med, is looking to gain a bigger foothold in North America’s tourism and leisure market through acquisitions, as it unveiled a new line of resorts named Joyview. which are mid-scale getaways typically a couple of hours drive from major cities. They  target Chinese millennial travelers and multi-generational families, while also serving corporate functions such as conferences and team-building.

Outbound tourism

In the first quarter of 2018, the number of Chinese tourists bound for Europe increased by 35% year-on-year. Europe as the second-most popular region after Asia, accounted for 9% of the total outbound Chinese tourists, according to data released by Ctrip.

Among the travel products booked on Ctrip, the relaxation category topped the list with a proportion of 44.8%, followed by budget travel products at 43.77%. The demand for luxury travel products jumped by 39.2%, the highest growth rate, to comprise 11.2% of the total.

Chinese tourists have shown mounting interest in Russia, the hosting country of FIFA World Cup 2018. The number of airline tickets reserved for major venues such as Moscow and St. Petersburg from June 14 to July 15 through Ctrip is up by 50%, and Shanghai-based online travel service Lvmama said the number of travel packages to Russia from January to July jumped by 50%.

Capital infusion

The first phase of the asset-backed program of the Huatai-Ctrip financial services product has been approved by the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. This makes Ctrip the first company in China’s tourism industry to issue ABS shelf offering.

Meituan-Dianping has fully acquired BeyondHost, a Shanghai-based hotel property management system service provider. BeyondHost will continue to maintain independent operation while working with Meituan-Dianping to build an open platform for hotels. It plans to serve over 25,000 hotels in 2018.

Ice & snow information service provider Huaxue Zoo has raised $4.71 million in its A round of financing. The company is operating three units, among which the HIGHSNOW and ICEMINI units are designed for individual customers, and the iSNOW unit is an information-based IoT (Internet of Things) solution for companies to upgrade ice and snow activities. iSNOW has so far served more than 100 ski resorts and ice rinks, and expects to provide services to 50-100 more customers this year.

Lishi Technology, a leading big-data service provider in the holistic tourism sector, has closed its B round of financing. The Zhejiang-based tech solution provider mainly serves provincial and city governments, tourist attractions, travel-related companies and OTAs, offering SaaS services, big-data mining & analysis, software & hardware development, as well as online operation and marketing.

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