ChinaTravelNews, Ritesh Gupta – Ctrip’s CEO Jane Sun is confident that the company will continue to take big strides in the coming years, buoyed by its portfolio of brands in the domestic market as well as growth in the international arena.
Jane Sun, CEO, Ctrip
Even as the online travel company celebrates two decades of operations, with over group-level monthly active user base of 210 million by the end March this year, Jane believes that Ctrip is well-positioned to take on emerging challenges. The domestic online travel category is ripe for further expansion. Ctrip underlines that it has reached 25-30% of the population in the first-tier cities and much less than 10% in lower-tier cities.
"Challenges and strengths are always going to be coupled together. Ctrip has always focused on (certain relevant) areas - investment in technology, that's the core for our competitiveness, and the other being a one-stop travel shopping platform. We currently offer over 60 products and services. Another area is the service level - it always need to be sublime. We need to deliver on all these areas to sustain the level of competitiveness," said Jane, who is confident that the company is going to sustain its domestic marketshare going forward. To accentuate on the same, the company highlighted that according to its cohort data, average spending per user on Ctrip's platform continues to go up with around 10% CAGR regardless of which tier city its customers are from. "We are confident in driving both revenue growth and margin expansion by leveraging our large market scale," said Jane, a speaker at the 2019 TravelDaily Conference in Shanghai.
Jane also mentioned that the group is constantly looking to evolve its core digital offering. "We are not only expanding the user base, but also deepening user engagement," she said, referring to the work being done on the user interface and functionalities of its digital assets as well. Trip Moments, which is similar to Travel Instagram, continued to gain traction among travellers, with over 1 million daily active users. Sun recently added that the team is concurrently working to add booking functionality into the users’ posts.
Be it for Ctrip, Qunar or Tongcheng-Elong, or a superapp like Meituan, all these companies are aggressively targeting lower-tier cities.
Companies like Meituan highlight that consumers in lower-tier cities have very different lifestyle than people in Beijing or Shanghai. A key highlight is the approach that each player takes to build affiliation with this base.
"There are a couple of areas that we are working on to target the lower tier cities - we have our Qunar brand, reaching out to the "younger" demographic with their offering, plus Tongcheng-Elong's association with the WeChat ecosystem is propelling the same for penetration into the second tier cities. For Ctrip, we have more than 8000 outlets in the third tier and fourth tier cities," shared Jane. Ctrip has been opening off-line stores in its targeted locations nationwide. Another highlight is the improved product coverage for these stores, for example, the inclusion of in-destination activities and local attraction tickets.
As for the international business, Jane said, "In 3-5 years, the overall revenue generation from the group's international business is expected to touch 50%."
In April, Ctrip finalized the share exchange transaction with Naspers for MakeMyTrip.
"We have reached a strong position in countries that consist half of the global population," she added.