The travel activities market in East Asia has seen a major uptick in interest by major companies throughout the region. Of course, it’s not just Taiwan’s KKday and FunNow, or Hong Kong’s Klook. China’s largest online travel agency (OTA), Ctrip, has had its own travel activities platform. Jing Travel spoke to Liu Chang, head of TTD Globalization at Ctrip, to learn how China’s biggest OTA sells activities in the Chinese market.
What is Ctrip’s Things to Do (TTD) platform and how long has Ctrip operated TTD?
Ctrip’s one-stop TTD platform connects travelers with things to do at their travel destinations. This is a natural extension for Ctrip to continue serving our users based on their itineraries given the large majority of our user base utilize our mobile app. Our TTD product encompasses a huge range of activities that travelers can undertake at their chosen destinations. There are now 52 categories that cover day trips, travel services, local experiences, dining, and more in both domestic China and global products. Ctrip has been providing TTD booking services since 2013 and has become China’s leading TTD service provider, having served over 10 million tourists in 2016. We continue to connect with more TTD vendors globally and have made several strategic deals with international partners such as Big Bus Tours and the Australian Open. Ctrip’s TTD Unit is also the first to set up a QR Code ticket system in popular destinations such as Sydney, Gold Coast, Dubai and more.
Trip.com, Ctrip Group’s global OTA brand recently formally launched TTD. Having just launched on the traditional Chinese and English sites this year, we are focusing on expanding the product to our other multi-language sites. Our focus rests in getting the language, experience and service capabilities right for other markets and to ensure that we provide top-rated products and services to all our global customers.
Although it is a small business within Ctrip and Trip.com, it is seeing triple-digit growth rates and will continue to grow in the coming future.
Why did Ctrip move to launch its TTD platform on Trip.com so recently?
Ctrip launched Trip.com in 2017 in order to meet the needs of international customers, and has seen remarkable growth since, particularly in markets such as Hong Kong and South Korea. In line with our mantra of a one-stop travel shop, we initially offered flights, hotels and trains on Trip.com, and have since launched car services and most recently TTD. We are a major player in the industry in providing TTD for our customers. We are eager to connect and work with more TTD suppliers around the world.
It is only natural that we leverage this TTD supply chain scale and make it accessible to our rapidly growing Trip.com customer base. We think this is a very exciting development to be able to offer our growing international customer base more travel related products and make their travel booking more seamless.
What is the volume of activities available on TTD and in what destinations are they available?
Presently, Ctrip’s TTD is present in 731 cities in 95 countries, with more than 100,000 products in 52 categories.
Over 80% of our bookings now have instant confirmation, and 70% of our TTD offer e-tickets. Some of these categories include: day trips to local attractions, public transportation passes, city passes, spas, outdoor activities, theme parks, concerts, local tour guides and more.
Which are the key demographics that TTD’s offerings have resonated the most with?
While Ctrip TTD is popular with FIT, families, and those for example in corporate travel, most of our customers depart/reside in more developed areas especially first and second-tier cities.
We will be able to provide more details on the key demographics in the future since we have just recently launched TTD on Trip.com [Chinese on our HK site in July 2018 and English on our US site in August 2018].
What are some of the most popular activities available via TTD? What are some the most unique travel activities offered by TTD?
The most popular activities are theme park tickets, show tickets, and one-day tours.
In terms of unique travel activities offered by TTD, we find that our customers are most interested in NBA tickets, Australia Open tickets, Legoland, access to front row of Phuket’s hottest lady-boy shows etc.
Top 5 most popular TTD products: Universal Studio Singapore One-Day Pass, One-Day Ticket to Hong Kong Disneyland, Singapore Zoo Ticket, Hong Kong Ocean Park Admission, Tokyo Tower Admission.
Presently, the most popular destinations are: Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok, Seoul
When Ctrip is looking for partners and activities providers for TTD, what are some of the key criteria?
Since the majority of our TTD products come from our global cooperations with TTD suppliers, we are always on the lookout to explore new products and services with our existing and new TTD suppliers.
Below are four key criteria we look for when seeking new partnerships
- Familiar with local culture & tourist resources
- Customer-centric with the ability to server customer worldwide
- Great customer service which matches the standards that we have at Ctrip and Trip.com
- Suppliers act in accordance with the relevant provisions of local laws and regulations
We would like to work with suppliers to ensure that we can save time and money and allow greater flexibility, choices and convenience when combining products and making online reservation.
The travel activities space has been really heating up this year, mainly targeting non-mainland Chinese tourists, with major firms investing in smaller startups in East Asia that sell travel activities. With Ctrip as the most established name in the Chinese online travel marketplace, how do you plan to differentiate what’s on offer through Ctrip’s TTD compared to your competitors?
In contrast to other travel platforms only providing tours and activities products, our greatest advantage is the existing flight and hotel customer base that we have from Ctrip and Trip.com. The amount of flight ticket sold in Trip and Ctrip ranks first globally and from our own analysis, we have found that over 50% of Ctrip/Trip.com flight and hotel users are interested in also booking TTD. TTD can be quite fragmented and due to its large market potential, we are always looking for ways to boost cross-selling opportunities. This is also one of our most important growth strategies.
With a great customer foundation, we are able to link potential customers with great TTD selections regardless of the travel scenarios they find themselves in. By adding TTD onto their existing purchases such as flights and hotels, our customers are able to enjoy lower prices and greater convenience through simple online reservation. Combining 24/7 customer service with flexible and lower prices is our strategy.
Apart from having nearly 180 million active users per month and over 100,000 products for TTD, we continue to focus on increasing coverage and to ensure that our products caters to the growing demands of our customers. We also look into offering unique and exclusive packages with competitive prices. One example is the City Pass which allow travelers to choose their own TTD [E.g. 5-Hr Group Tour HK City with pick up from hotel in Kowloon – free pick up and drop off, walking tour, instant confirmation] as well as the YoYo Day Pass [Unique and exclusive package e.g. Hong Kong helicopter Victoria Harbor cruise group tour + Peninsula Hotel brunch package / Macau open-top bus 2-day pass + Galaxy Macau Quick Rich Meals Voucher + Choi Heong Yuen mystery gift].
We also try to promote products with competitive prices e.g Empire State Building entrance tickets: On Trip.com, it’s nearly 30% cheaper versus comparable offerings by our peers.