Newcomer Meituan-Dianping may have overtaken travel specialist Ctrip in China’s hotel booking market, but Ctrip chief executive Jane Sun Jie is not concerned.
“We have 10,000 engineers working behind the scenes,” Sun said in a recent interview in Singapore. “At Ctrip we think about nothing else but travel, 24/7. All of our best talent is focused on travel.”
That means a company like Ctrip is solely focused on giving users the best experience and service in one area, not like platform companies which focus on a wide range of businesses, she added.
Last year, Meituan surpassed market leader Ctrip in hotel bookings, taking about a 45% share compared to Ctrip’s 22%. In March 2018, Meituan clocked 22.7 million hotel nights booked, compared to Ctrip’s 11 million, according to Trustdata, a Chinese data monitoring platform. Sun disputes these figures but Ctrip’s earnings results do not provide a break down of room night bookings.
In the three months ended June 30 this year, Meituan said it booked 94 million domestic hotel room nights – a jump of nearly 30% compared to the same period last year.
These figures are huge for Meituan, a relative newcomer which entered the fray only in 2014. In contrast, Ctrip has been in the travel industry for two decades and has long held the title of China’s largest online travel agency.
Sun said that Ctrip and Meituan's consumer demographics are different. Meituan is more popular among smaller cities, and offers cheaper hotel rooms, whereas Ctrip tends to attract more affluent consumers from big cities like Beijing and Shanghai with its inventory of high-end hotels around the country and internationally.
“The nature of Meituan is food-delivery, and so in lower-tier cities many people know of them,” said Sun. “But most of Meituan’s room nights are booked by locals, like mahjong players … the average room night may only cost about 100 yuan, so even if there are a lot of room nights, it’s difficult to make money.”
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