There has been reports that Ctrip is experiencing the impact of the Sino-U.S. trade war on the company's business. But co-founder and executive chairman James Liang told Skift that the main emphasis of Ctrip’s business is short-haul outbound trips so the impact of the U.S.-China dispute over tariffs is limited.
"In the long term, it will be bad for the world to advance technology innovation, efficiency. For the short-term impact on travel, it’s limited because our business is mostly short-haul outbound, so U.S.-China is not a big part of our business," said Mr. Liang.
Other than being affected by factors in the global trade environment, Ctrip is deemed by many to be facing both domestic and global competitors, including Meituan-Dianping and Booking Holdings, an investor and partner and arguably rival of Ctrip, has invested in not just Hong Kong-listed Meituan-Dianping, but also China's largest rideshare company Didi Chuxing.
Mr. Liang said that Ctrip and Booking Holdings complement each other in hotel inventories. "Obviously we are competing on the demand side in certain markets," he said, "[but] we are by far their biggest partner."
Speaking of the Didi Chuxing investment, Mr. Liang said, "I think that’s a bit outside of travel. We want to stay in everything related to travel."
For the past 15 years since Ctrip went public, Mr. Liang said the biggest change in the market was completely going from offline to online and to mobile. "That’s one industry that has completely gone digital and online. Other economies, maybe now it’s 50% online, maybe 80%."
"There is still a lot of idle capacity in the travel sector, AI can find the most suitable deal, and sometimes you need the suppliers to work together for a particular type of deal for customers to give a good deal with idle capacity, then you can increase the market size. Huge potential for AI to come in and help the customer."
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