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Holiday Booking Process - China - October 2014

“In contrast to the past, as Chinese travellers are more exposed to travelling, they don’t simply rush through tourist attractions, take photos or shop. Holidays to them are more of a de-stress experience away from their hectic lifestyles, and they prefer spending their holidays at a slower pace, staying for longer at the destinations so that they can better enjoy the local culture and food. This ‘slow travelling’ and experiential holiday lifestyle has become popular among them. Plus, many of these busy travellers prefer to do their booking and planning in a more effective way rather than having to go through overwhelming online information. Hence, travel agencies can seize on the customised travel information or package holiday to meet the changing needs of these Chinese travellers.

In general, holiday booking is getting considerably more complex and information is getting more overwhelming. The holiday industry in China is fragmented and undifferentiated, and there is a general distrust of travel agencies and advertisements. Not only that, most travellers’ family and friends are not able to provide recommendations. So Chinese travellers, especially those experienced ones, spend a lot of time searching for and comparing information and prices on their own, shopping across more websites than ever before with their researching and booking done mostly online.”
– Lui Meng Chow, Research Analyst

This report looks at the following areas:

  • The shift to mobile online booking
  • Convergence of channels to optimise the traveller’s holiday booking experience
  • Improve holiday product price transparency and comparison
  • Demand for personalisation fuels customised holiday products
Operators have started to expand their portfolios considerably either from online services or physical entity into mobile apps platform. Today mobile sites and apps are being designed to feature simple and fast search and booking tools, backed up by attractive options such as one-off deals and mobile-exclusive promotions.

This has made holiday booking an even more competitive market in which there are thousands of websites, apps and tools competing for a slice of the pie. So as the mobile marketplace for travel services and the popularity of devices grow, it is time for operators to focus and differentiate.

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction

      • Definition
        • Methodology
          • Abbreviations
          • Executive Summary

              • Chinese Holiday Market Overview
                • The consumer
                  • Understanding different types of Chinese travellers
                    • Figure 1: Target groups, July 2014
                  • Short break popular for domestic destinations; 4 days+ popular for international destinations
                    • Domestic vs overseas planning responsibilities
                      • Figure 2: Responsibility for planning holiday before – Mainland China and abroad, July 2014
                    • Booking time shortening
                      • Figure 3: Booking time for holiday in Mainland China and abroad, July 2014
                    • Opportunities in female traveller’s market
                      • Key issues
                        • The shift to mobile online booking
                          • Convergence of channels to optimise the traveller’s holiday booking experience
                            • Improve holiday product price transparency and comparison
                              • Demand for personalisation fuels customised holiday products
                                • What we think
                                • Chinese Holiday Market Overview

                                  • Key points
                                    • Chinese domestic holiday market size
                                      • Figure 4: Chinese domestic travellers, by volume and value, 2008-15 (forecast)
                                    • Chinese outbound holiday market size
                                      • Figure 5: Chinese outbound tourist, by volume, 2008-15 (forecast)
                                    • Holiday booking market
                                      • Market drivers
                                        • Growing national economy thus growing per capita disposable income
                                          • Figure 6: China annual GDP and year-on-year growth rate, 2004-13
                                        • Improved travel policies and visa applications
                                            • Figure 7: Countries with approved destination status, December 2012
                                          • Visa-free or visa-approved-upon-arrival destinations
                                            • Revision of tourism regulation on group travel packages
                                              • Emerging Free Independent Travellers
                                                • Increasingly more high earners use annual leave to go on holiday
                                                  • Increased internet penetration triggers the travelling demand
                                                    • Booming smartphone ownership and mobile apps usage
                                                      • Infrastructure improvements contribute to more travelling
                                                        • Market barriers
                                                          • Limited or unable to utilise paid vacation days for low income earners
                                                            • Figure 8: Length of holidays, by profession, November 2013
                                                        • Issues and Insights

                                                            • The shift to mobile online booking
                                                              • The facts
                                                                • The implications
                                                                  • Convergence of channels to optimise the traveller’s holiday booking experience
                                                                    • The facts
                                                                      • The implications
                                                                        • Improve holiday product price transparency and comparison
                                                                          • The facts
                                                                            • The implications
                                                                              • Demand for personalisation fuels customised holiday products
                                                                                • The facts
                                                                                  • The implications
                                                                                  • Trend Application

                                                                                      • Trend: Life Hacking
                                                                                        • Trend: Make it Mine
                                                                                          • Trend: Access All Areas
                                                                                          • Leading Holiday Companies and Brands

                                                                                            • Online Travel Agency (OTA)
                                                                                              • Ctrip
                                                                                                • Figure 9: Ctrip company background
                                                                                              • Tuniu Corporation
                                                                                                • Figure 10: Tuniu Corporation company background
                                                                                              • eLong, Inc
                                                                                                • Figure 11: eLong company background
                                                                                              • Tongcheng
                                                                                                • Figure 12: Tongcheng company background
                                                                                              • Travel search engines or platforms
                                                                                                • Qunar
                                                                                                  • Figure 13: Qunar company background
                                                                                                • User-generated content travel websites
                                                                                                  • Qyer.com
                                                                                                    • Figure 14: Qyer company background
                                                                                                  • Lvmama.com
                                                                                                    • Figure 15: Lvmama company background
                                                                                                  • Foreign operators
                                                                                                    • Booking.com (缤客)
                                                                                                      • Figure 16: Booking.com company background
                                                                                                    • Daodao.com(到到网)
                                                                                                      • Figure 17: Daodao.com company background
                                                                                                  • Innovation and Innovators

                                                                                                    • “One-yuan” Entrance Ticket Promotion
                                                                                                      • Rivalry in Visa Application Fee
                                                                                                        • Buy a Flight Ticket, Get a Free Visa
                                                                                                          • Layaway Holiday Products
                                                                                                          • The Consumer – Understanding Different Types of Chinese Travellers

                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                              • Different styles of travelling and holiday booking
                                                                                                                • Figure 18: Target groups, July 2014
                                                                                                              • Active Travellers
                                                                                                                • Actively browsing for holiday products and information
                                                                                                                  • Customer service and exclusive products are keys to win them
                                                                                                                    • Even more appealing with the loyalty scheme
                                                                                                                      • Less planning, less worry during holidays
                                                                                                                        • Opportunities
                                                                                                                          • Family Connectors
                                                                                                                            • Best deal price and easy booking are important
                                                                                                                              • Meticulous holiday planner
                                                                                                                                • Holiday activities for the family
                                                                                                                                  • Opportunities
                                                                                                                                    • Self-discoverers
                                                                                                                                      • Enjoy a well-organised holiday
                                                                                                                                        • Besides price, product offer and customer service are important
                                                                                                                                          • Seeking to immerse themselves in holiday experiences
                                                                                                                                            • Opportunities
                                                                                                                                              • Amateur
                                                                                                                                                • Inexperience in planning
                                                                                                                                                  • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                  • The Consumer – Types of Holiday

                                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                                      • Short independent holiday in Mainland China is the most popular
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 19: Types of holiday taken – Mainland China, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                      • Group tours are preferred for long holiday abroad
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 20: Types of holiday – Abroad, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                      • Family with young kids like to travel
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 21: Types of holiday, Mainland China and holiday abroad, by age of children, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                      • Four in 10 respondents haven’t been on holiday abroad
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 22: Types of holiday – Abroad, by selected demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                    • The Consumer – Who Plans the Holiday?

                                                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                                                        • Responsibility for planning holiday changes according to destination
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 23: Responsibility for planning holiday before – Mainland China and abroad, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                        • Low earners and those from tier two/three cities share the planning role…
                                                                                                                                                          • …offer assistance for those taking the main roles
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 24: Responsibility for planning holiday before – Mainland China, by gender and age, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 25: Responsibility for planning holiday before – Abroad, by gender and age, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                        • The Consumer – When do People Book their Holiday?

                                                                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                                                                            • Booking time shortening
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 26: Booking time for holiday in Mainland China and abroad, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                            • Booking for short-haul break tends to be left till last minute
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 27: Booking time for domestic holidays, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 28: Booking time for holidays abroad, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                            • Late, middle and early bookers
                                                                                                                                                              • Holiday in Mainland China
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 29: Time of booking prior to departure – Mainland China, by region and tier group, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Holiday abroad
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 30: Time of booking prior to departure – Abroad, by region and tier group, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                            • The Consumer – Method for Booking Most Recent Travel

                                                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                • Booking through desktop/laptops and in person are the most common
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 31: Offline and online booking channels used in the last 12 months, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Booking in person vs booking online with desktop/laptop/mobile
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 32: Online and offline booking channels used in selected holiday product in the last 12 months, by age, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Emerging mobile booking
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 33: Mobile booking used in the last 12 months, by age, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • The Consumer – Online Travel Sites

                                                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                  • Ctrip.com and qunar.com are the most commonly used
                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 34: Online sites used in holiday booking process over the last 12 months – Mainland China and abroad, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Tourist board websites are popular for holidays abroad
                                                                                                                                                                    • High earners refer to more channels
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 35: Most frequent online booking sites used in the last 12 months – Abroad, by monthly personal income, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • The Consumer – Factors Impacting Which Holiday Channel to Book

                                                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                      • Transparent charges are the most important concern
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 36: Most important consideration factors when choosing booking service providers, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                      • Secure payment method
                                                                                                                                                                        • Men are more likely to look for customer services and efficient process
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 37: Selected important factors for booking channel of total rank, by gender, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                        • What criteria low earners look for
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 38: Most important factors for booking channel, by monthly personal income, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                        • Exclusive products and loyalty schemes for high earners
                                                                                                                                                                        • The Consumer – Holiday Booking Behaviour

                                                                                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 39: Holiday booking behaviour, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                            • Impulse holiday booking
                                                                                                                                                                              • Personalised holiday products
                                                                                                                                                                                • Women and low earners are more likely to compare deals
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Membership reward programme to retain existing customers
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Affiliated credit cards to appeal to high-income travellers
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Online holiday advertisements
                                                                                                                                                                                      • The Consumer – Attitudes towards Holidays

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Holiday Planning and Booking
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 40: Statements related to holiday planning and booking, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                          • High street travel providers still have worth amongst men and high earners
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Is more information really what the traveller wants?
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Opportunities in the female traveller’s market
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Holiday lifestyle
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 41: Statements related to holiday lifestyle, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Package holidays are more favourable for fewer worries
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Demand for innovative holiday experiences
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – The Consumer – Types of Holiday

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 42: Types of holiday – Mainland China, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 43: Types of holiday – Abroad, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – The Consumer – Who Plans the Holiday?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 44: Responsibility for planning holiday before – Mainland China, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 45: Responsibility for planning holiday before – Abroad, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – The Consumer – When do People Book their Holiday?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 46: Time of booking prior to departure – Mainland China, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 47: Time of booking prior to departure – Abroad, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – The Consumer –Method for Booking Most Recent Travel

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 48: Offline and online booking channels used in the last 12 months, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 49: Offline and online booking channels used in the last 12 months – Travel plus accommodation, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 50: Offline and online booking channels used in the last 12 months – Group tour^, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 51: Offline and online booking channels used in the last 12 months – Cruise, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 52: Offline and online booking channels used in the last 12 months – Flight, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 53: Offline and online booking channels used in the last 12 months – Train/coach, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 54: Offline and online booking channels used in the last 12 months – Accommodation, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 55: Offline and online booking channels used in the last 12 months – Entrance ticket of attractions, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 56: Offline and online booking channels used in the last 12 months – Travel insurance, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 57: Offline and online booking channels used in the last 12 months – Car rentals, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 58: Offline and online booking channels used in the last 12 months – Entertainment activities, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 59: Most popular frequent online booking sites used in the last 12 months – Mainland China, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 60: Next most popular frequent online booking sites used in the last 12 months – Mainland China, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 61: Other frequent online booking sites used in the last 12 months – Mainland China, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 62: Most popular frequent online booking sites used in the last 12 months – Abroad, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 63: Next most popular frequent online booking sites used in the last 12 months – Abroad, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 64: Other frequent online booking sites used in the last 12 months – Abroad, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – The Consumer – Factors Impacting Which Holiday Channel to Book

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 65: Most important factors for booking channel, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 66: Most important factors for booking channel – Rank 1, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 67: Next most important factors for booking channel – Rank 1, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 68: Other important factors for booking channel – Rank 1, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 69: Most important factors for booking channel – Rank 2, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 70: Next most important factors for booking channel – Rank 2, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 71: Other important factors for booking channel – Rank 2, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 72: Most important factors for booking channel – Rank 3, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 73: Next most important factors for booking channel – Rank 3, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 74: Other important factors for booking channel – Rank 3, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 75: Most important factors for booking channel – Rank 4, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 76: Next most important factors for booking channel – Rank 4, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 77: Other important factors for booking channel – Rank 4, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 78: Most important factors for booking channel – Rank 5, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 79: Next most important factors for booking channel – Rank 5, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 80: Other important factors for booking channel – Rank 5, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – The Consumer – Holiday Booking Behaviour

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 81: Most popular holiday booking behaviour, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 82: Next most popular holiday booking behaviour, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – The Consumer – Attitudes towards Holiday

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 83: Attitudes towards holiday booking, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 84: Agreement with the statement ‘Online travel providers are not as reliable as those providers with a physical entity’, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 85: Agreement with the statement ‘Interacting with companions during the holiday is more important than exploring the destination’, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 86: Agreement with the statement ‘The fewer things you need to take care of during the holiday, the more relaxed you feel’, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 87: Agreement with the statement ‘Enjoying the journey to the destination is also an important part of the holiday experience’, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 88: Agreement with the statement ‘A wonderful holiday doesn’t need to cost much’, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 89: Agreement with the statement ‘Having the freedom of choice is important to a pleasant holiday’, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 90: Agreement with the statement ‘Package holidays allow me to enjoy my holiday more’, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 91: Agreement with the statement ‘Too much planning is a waste of time’, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 92: Agreement with the statement ‘Things are less likely to go wrong for a package holiday compared to an independent holiday’, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 93: Agreement with the statement ‘An innovative itinerary arranged by myself is more interesting than following a traditional travelling route’, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 94: Agreement with the statement ‘Travellers’ detailed reviews are more useful than the overall rating of the attractions/services’, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 95: Agreement with the statement ‘It is important to do research about a holiday destination extensively before travelling’, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – The Consumer – Further Analysis

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 96: Target groups, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 97: Offline and online booking channels used in the last 12 months, by target groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 98: Most frequent online booking sites used in the last 12 months – Mainland China, by target groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 99: Most frequent online booking sites used in the last 12 months – Abroad, by target groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 100: Most important factors for booking channel, by target groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 101: Holiday booking behaviour, by target groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 102: Attitudes towards holiday booking, by target groups, July 2014

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Companies Covered

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Holiday Booking Process - China - October 2014

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