Ctrip shared insights into this growing market in its new report, Chinese High-End Outbound Customised Travel, produced jointly with the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI).
As the OTA points out, the “biggest difference” between high-end customised travel and standard travel is the former “only targets seasoned travellers who can afford and appreciate such services, pricing their products extremely high, using very scarce resources and providing a top-grade experience.”
With this luxury segment going mainstream Ctrip launched a “high-end” customised travel platform 3.0 in March, which is designed for high-net-worth-individuals (HNWIs). According to the OTA, currently there are more than 1,500 suppliers on the platform, with 6,000 plus travel consultants facilitating this unique service.
According to the report – the first by Ctrip on this travel segment – women, couples and those in the 31-40 age group are most likely to go for these ‘designed’ experiences. The top 10 destinations for them are Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Maldives, USA, Australia, France, Singapore, UAE and Italy.
Last year the amount of orders on Ctrip’s customised travel platform increased 180% when compared to 2017, with the growth rate of orders from second and third-tier cities, such as Xi’an and Tianjin, surpassing first-tier cities.
Ctrip’s data show that the average expenditure per person on a high-end customised travel package is RMB23,800 (US$3,410), while for a standard package it is RMB5,500 (US$790).
The OTA said 2019 can be see as the first year when the concept of high-end customised travel goes mainstream.
Through its 3.0 platform Ctrip is targeting China’s HNWIs. In 2018, they numbered 1.67 million and for them travelling has become “a major leisure activity and a necessity for life”.
The OTA said the HNWIs are experienced travellers, have big budget and trust professional services. They are flexible with their time, not bound by costs, prefer niche destinations and value exclusivity and privacy during their travel.
Females make up the 56% of these outbound travellers with males at 44%, while those in 31-40 age forming the largest group at 24% followed by the 41-50 at 19%. Couples and families travelling with children are the largest segment at 31% and 17% respectively (see chart below).
What the HNWIs want on their travel
The HNWIs have special demands ranging from unique activities such as helicopter tours, attendance at special sporting events like FIFA World Cup or sailing and penguin-watching in Antarctica.
For accommodation they want upscale or out-of-the-ordinary such as the exclusive Zaya Nurai Island Resort in Abu Dhabi or an ancient hot spring hotel in Japan. The same goes for dining – breakfast with giraffes in Kenya or a meal prepared by a private chef on an Australian ranch.
The report also detects a change in the taste of travellers on food tours to Thailand, Japan and Italy. Instead of just sampling the local cuisine and street food they now want to learn how traditional dishes are cooked and the stories behind them.
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