Chinese high-end outbound customised travel

A joint report by Ctrip and COTRI unveiled at ITB China Conference

This year’s ITB China conference saw the revealing, on Thursday May 16, of a new report by Ctrip and COTRI, which details the wants and needs of high end customers in customized travel, as opposed to standard customised travel.

Ctrip, the largest online travel agent in Asia, and the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, or COTRI, jointly released a new travel report today at the 2019 ITB China travel trade fair in Shanghai. The report examines the trends of Chinese outbound travelers who are opting for more high-end customised travel. In order to meet the highly personalised travel demands of Chinese travelers, Ctrip’s Customised Travel unit was established in January 2016. As the concept of high-end customised travel has gone mainstream in China, in March 2019, Ctrip’s Customised Travel launched a platform designed especially for high-net-income individuals. The platform serves Chinese high-end customers who are increasingly interested in top-quality services and the exclusive use of highly scarce resources. As seasoned travellers who regard travel as a major leisure activity, they are actively in search of services, resources and experiences that are high-quality, unique and niche. Flexible with their time and not bound by cost issues, these customers highly value exclusivity and privacy during their travel experiences. According to the report, women, couples and those in the 31-40 age group were the most likely demographics to book high-end customised travel packages overseas. The top 10 most popular destinations were Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Maldives, USA, Australia, France, Singapore, UAE and Italy.

In 2018, the number of orders on the platform increased 180% compared to the year before. Although Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou are the top three local markets with the highest demand for high-end customized travel, the growth rate of orders from second and third-tier cities such as Xi’an and Tianjin surpassed that of first-tier cities. Ctrip’s data show that the average expenditure per person on a high-end customized travel package was RMB 23,800 (US$3,410).

The demand for unique activities such as helicopter tours, fine dining, attendance of special sporting events such as FIFA World Cup and unique accommodation arrangements such as island resorts reflects ongoing interest in higher end, more tailored experiences in the Chinese travel market.

Jonathan Xie, General Manager of Customised Travel Business, hopes that efficient connections can be built amongst customers, businesses and travel providers, stating: “The aim of Ctrip’s Customised Travel Platform 3.0 is to make travel easy, in any location, in any way our clients want to make their trip.” High-end customised travel clients The main target clients for high-end customized travel are China’s high-net-worth-individuals (HNWIs). By 2018, there were 1.67 million HNWIs in China. For them, health is the most frequently mentioned desire, and traveling has become a major leisure activity and a necessity for life. These individuals are experienced travellers with generous travel budgets; giving trust to professional services and recognising the value of services. They are exible in arranging their vacation time and prefer niche destinations. They care about exclusivity and privacy during travel, and are rational consumers. Ctrip’s customised travel platform is striving to scale up the standard customised travel market among its individual customers and business clients as well as developing the high-end market. Some of the highlighted activities include:

Australia – Riding a speedboat across the Horizontal Waterfalls Antarctica – Sailing and penguin- watching
Kenya – Hunting safaris in private reserves
Iceland – -National Geographic Family Expedition
Fiji – Drinking at a floating bar and going skydiving
Japan – Helicopter tours over volcanoes
United States – In-depth visits to Silicon Valley’s start-ups
Southern Europe – Exploring southern European towns off the beaten track
Globally – Around the world in 24 days in a private jet.

The tastes of high-end customized travel clients around activities and dining experiences are changing. They are increasingly switching from sampling the local cuisine and street food to learning the methods of how locals cook traditional dishes and the stories behind food. Ctrip’s customised travel platform shows that Thailand, Japan, and Italy rank as the top three overseas destinations for Chinese foodies.


Photo: Jonathan Xie, General Manager of Customised Travel Business, Ctrip