The fifth edition of hotels.com’s Chinese International Travel Monitor shows that online travel agents are the dominant booking channel for overseas trips from China.
The results are based on the responses of 3,000 Chinese residents, aged 18–54 years, who had traveled overseas in the past 12 months. Ipsos carried out the research using “a computer-assisted web interviewing technology”.
OTAs are the favored option for nearly three in four (74%) of Chinese travelers, according to the report, with hotel direct accounting for 16% and offline travel agents 10%.
A further breakdown shows the dominance of mobile-enabled web sites over apps for OTA and hotel bookings, with desktop also outperforming apps. Calling the hotel directly is as popular as using the app.
Independent travel is becoming more popular, with 49% saying they had travelled independently; 40% had travelled with a group with 40% referencing a hybrid semi-packaged tour. Multiple responses were allowed and the sample took, on average, two international trips in the previous 12 months.
Chinese travelers spend 11 days researching their trip, with online accommodation sites topping the list for sources of information.
For travel suppliers outside China looking to cash in on China outbound, the fact that many Chinese are traveling independently is an opportunity, and the “sources of information” chart above indicated where suppliers can get their product in front of potential visitors during the research phase.
In terms of destinations and activities, countries in Asia Pacific and Australasia are the most popular, with Japan coming out top overall across a number of considerations, with Australia also proving popular now and in the future – 15% of the sample said that Australia was the country they most wanted to visit over the next twelve months.
Europe and North America are still lagging behind in terms of visits and short-term intent, although that might change in the future if the “places to visit in your lifetime” findings convert into actual visits. Of the top ten, France appears twice (the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles) with Venice and Greece (the Acropolis) making the grade. The Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls also feature on the list, which is topped by the Great Pyramids of Giza.
But the key chart for businesses outside China is about how the Chinese like to pay when abroad. Clearly, suppliers need to accept UnionPay as a priority but other platforms need to be considered. Almost one-in-ten uses WeChat Pay, for example.
The headline finding from the study is that the Chinese population still want to travel internationally, despite the relative slowdown in the economy. It said that “two-thirds of outbound Chinese travelers consider travel to be an essential part of life, and are prepared to spend nearly a quarter of their income on travel.”
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