Ctrip has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Big Bus Tours on November 22 to explore ground transportation at destinations. The partnership with Big Bus Tours, a global operator of hop-on hop-off sightseeing tours based in London, will involve direct system connection, creative marketing, product diversification and other aspects.
Ctrip’s ground transportation plan involves operating tour buses in 19 cities around the world that are popular tourist destinations for Chinese travelers. Some 13 cities are already online in Ctrip’s local service app, among them are Hong Kong, London, New York, San Francisco, Paris and Dubai. The other six cities will also be online on the app soon.
Beijing Business Today reported that OTAs used to focus on offering air transportation and accommodation, and shied away from offering ground transportation as it is too fragmented and not as profitable.
However, ground transportation has been a headache for travelers, as many think chartered cars and taxis are costly; traveling by local public buses require checking routes in advance and it’s inconvenient to board and transfer when carrying luggage; and self-drive is costly and has the added problem of navigating unfamiliar roads. As such, some free independent travelers (FITs) find sightseeing buses a good alternative.
Ctrip and Big Bus Tours will develop direct connection between their ticketing systems, create online products and improve the ticket purchasing process, to present more choices for consumers. Users can have their tickets checked by scanning the QR code, said Xiaori Zhang, director of Ctrip’s Overseas Things To Do Department.
OTAs are looking for new growth areas as the market for standardized “air ticket + hotel” combination is stagnating. Tuniu, Fliggy and other players are also eyeing other destination segments. Industry insiders believe that the competition in ground transportation and catering services at tourist destinations will be more intense as OTAs tap into a wider range of destination resources.