In what can probably be described as the first truly global tour and travel industry conference on the travel distribution and best practices related to it, Ctrip, the huge global travel company founded and based in China, recently held its first ever Ctrip Day, inviting government officials, industry partners and other key stakeholders, to an event showcasing what the mega-brand and its partners from across travel industry sectors chain are doing in travel—many of which related directly to China’s outbound travel activity.
Throughout the day, executives from Ctrip’s major business units shared their vision for how the Ctrip platform can add value to supply chain partners’ businesses in areas such as flights, accommodation, package tours, corporate travel and more. We’ve highlighted some of the touch points of the conference, which follow.
—Ctrip helps partners through providing highly targeted traffic for business expansion; software tools for business management; big data for increased transparency and optimization.* For example, Ctrip’s smart suggestion technology optimizes transfer ticket options for flight ticket suppliers and the company’s financing services provide support for the renovation of small and medium sized hotels.
—During the transition from PC to mobile, the 18-year old company has, based on its research, maintained call centers, because of what it believes is “the irreplaceable nature of human interaction in tackling complicated travel problems.” Nearly 50 percent of Ctrip’s staff are employed in customer service.
—In addition to nine call centers in China, Ctrip has also set up three overseas call centers in Edinburgh, Seoul and Tokyo. These services work in tandem with Ctrip’s AI-enabled chatbots, which automate the process of solving the simpler problems raised by users, with around 75 percent of post transaction issues now resolved through technology. The combination of these two approaches gives Ctrip the ability to provide 24/7 efficient and differentiated service to more than 300 million users.
—Ctrip has also extended its services from online to offline, ensuring that all travelers “hear, see and feel” the quality of the company’s customer service. It now has more than 7,000 offline franchised travel agency stores which help customers with booking inquiries.
—New travel services now in place include fast-lanes at airports, virtual travel managers, full refunds in case of visa rejection, and Global SOS with 94 percent success rate.
—Ctrip is the largest provider of overseas travel for Chinese, presenting a strong platform for global expansion as the company becomes increasingly connected to the global travel industry supply chain. Complementing this expansion is the growth of Ctrip’s international brands Skyscanner and Trip.com, which collectively attract over 90 million monthly active users globally.
—Ctrip promotes direct connections to overseas businesses, such as flagship stores in partnership with Accor Hotel Group and Hyatt Hotels; signing strategic cooperation agreements with KLM, destinations, tourism bureaus; and more.
—In terms of enabling suppliers, Ctrip mainly uses its leading advantages in data and technology to help suppliers identify new growth opportunities, improve operational efficiency and enhance product competitiveness.
—China’s travel industry is rich in opportunity, with multiple drivers to growth. Growth in domestic travel is sustained through factors such as the unprecedented rise of China’s middle class from 430 million in 2017 to 780 million within the next 5-10 years, as well as the development of the world’s largest high-speed rail network, making domestic travel accessible and affordable.
—While China’s outbound travel market is already the world’s largest, valued last year at $200 billion, there still remains huge growth potential, the company says, as this accounts for less than 10 percent of the Chinese population. According to Euromonitor, China is set to become the world’s most popular tourist destination by 2030.
* Ctrip is recognized as a proponent of scientific management in using data analysis in managerial decision making. One example of this is the randomized control trial that the company conducted on telecommuting and which was sponsored and Peking University and reported on by a Stanford University research team. Given the uncertainty over the impact of telecommuting on company profits they decided to evaluate its impact before making any management decisions. Ctrip conducted an experiment on 242 employees. The experiment found that employees randomly assigned to work at home for 9 months increased their output by 13.5 percent vs. the office-based control group, and their turnover rates fell by almost 50 percent. Adding in the savings from cutting office space telecommuting was found to have substantially reduced costs, leading Ctrip to roll this practice out across the firm.