Big Chinese online intermediaries are diligently pursuing new opportunities as part of their respective growth strategies and strengthening of international hotel content via direct contracting deals is a part of this plan, however, leading OTA acknowledges that signing of direct contracts with hotels isn’t a straight forward task in overseas markets, but the team is expanding in early days of Ctrip’s globalization.

Take the case of The leading OTA, which had only 20-odd employees as part of its international hotel contracting team located outside China around the same time last year, has now expanded to seven offices in six countries in Asia – Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.

“Today we have 50 overseas employees as part of our hotel contracting division. We have two offices in Thailand – Phuket and Bangkok. We had opened an office in Bali earlier this year. For other markets, we have staff in our corporate headquarters. The approach is to evaluate top outbound markets, and Asia definitely stands out as far as Chinese travellers are concerned,” shared Ctrip’s John Zhong.

The OTA has also been looking at efficient management of hotels’ inventory. Ctrip, which has been working with 16 channel managers to access the inventory of overseas and Chinese hotels, recently completed XML integration with eRevMax.

This move is part of Ctrip’s stronger revenue generation plans for South East Asia, the US, and Latin America. From hotel’s perspective, such two-way integration paves way for better control and also curtails time spent on managing rates and inventories.

Responding to preferences

A major role of this team is to identify properties that Chinese travellers are likely to book.

“When our team interacts with an international property, a critical aspect is to make sure our bookers appreciate the listing. This is important for us as 90% of our customers are Chinese travellers,” said Zhong.

Zhong explained that a key OTA differentiator is Ctrip’s “Chinese Preferred Hotel” program. The hotel contracting team ensures that the content is tailored as per the preferences of travellers.

Delving into this, he added: “Chinese travellers love to shop – more than 40% of Chinese tourists indulge in shopping –  so aspects like vicinity to shopping areas is quite important.”

Every detail is considered, including what’s preferred and what isn’t. “When one considers a destination like Bali, while Australians have bars, night clubs etc. high on their agenda, Chinese would like to opt for beach side bookings. There is disliking too. For instance, Chinese don’t like to visit Pattaya in Thailand much,” shared Zhong.

As for the age-group, Zhong mentioned that a majority of bookings are done by 30-39 age-group. “But in terms of the fastest growing age-group, it has to be 20-29 years. It grew 50% year-on-year last year. This group is educated, very confident.

Also, it should be noted that 70% of travellers belong to the FIT category and remaining 30% now belong to organized tour groups for all the bookings, including ones via online reservations and traditional agency channel,” said Zhong.

Click to read full article: 4Hoteliers