It’s the time of year when Chinese travel-related companies start reporting their quarterly earnings, and Alibaba—the parent company of online travel agency Fliggy—missed revenue forecasts for the quarter and lowered its guidance for the fiscal year. The e-commerce giant’s lower-than-anticipated earnings might put more pressure on Ctrip.com International and Tencent Holdings to revive the company’s flagging Chinese stocks for the year.
In the meantime, online travel agencies in China are gearing up for Singles’ Day: the e-commerce shopping event that Alibaba established 10 years ago. For the high-earning holiday (which has expanded beyond the company’s retail platforms), China’s online travel agencies are offering discounted tour packages and attraction tickets to entice customers to travel between the National Day holiday and Lunar New Year travel periods.
Here’s Jing Travel’s weekly guide to stories (including our own) that give insight into Chinese travel trends and how they affect the industry’s main players:
Fliggy Opens Smart Hotel (in Chinese): Alibaba’s online travel agency, Fliggy, announced on Monday that it has opened China’s first “future hotel” in Hangzhou. Called Flyzoo Hotel (the name Flyzoo sounds similar to Fliggy’s Chinese name Feizhu), the hotel features a robot to welcome guests, face recognition check-in and room locks, and elevators that respond to guests without them having to press buttons. Rooms are all equipped with Tmall Genie, a digital assistant that guests can use to control lighting, temperature, and curtains. Furniture and other items in the hotel can be purchased via guests’ mobile phones.
Blame the trade war for the downturn in U.S. tourism: There are fewer tourists and business travelers arriving from China, and it’s noticeable in the number of new visa approvals and flights booked, according to a Chicago Tribune article. Compared to the previous year, there have been 102,000 fewer Chinese business, leisure, and educational visas issued between May and September. This isn’t good news for U.S. businesses, as Chinese travelers spend about $60 billion a year on services when visiting.
Sydney pushes for more Chinese tourists: Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert is urging Australia to court Chinese tourists more aggressively as they spend significantly more on average than any other nationality. In reference to tourism marketing in Australia, Culbert said, “I don’t think we’re playing to win; I think we’re playing not to lose.”
China’s urban dwellers seek an escape: China’s urban population looking for an escape to more relaxing surroundings should grow to 251 million by 2020, according to a report from Beijing-based JLL Strategic Consulting, and Denver-based boutique hotel operator Two Roads Hospitality is hoping to capitalize on this trend, beginning with their Alila Anji in Huzhou, Zhejiang Province. The operator also has two more boutique hotels in rural areas of China. As those travelers head to domestic getaways, there are plenty of others seeking similar experiences abroad.
Tech gives potential travelers a virtual tour: Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) might be beneficial in driving interest in destinations by giving potential travelers a glimpse of what’s on offer around the world. The catch is that the technology necessary to provide such immersive experiences to these consumers is often prohibitively expensive.