Ctrip partners with US tour groups
Ctrip, China’s leading online travel agency, announced it would sign a strategic partnership agreement with three US-based travel agencies in an effort to further bolster Chinese tourism to America.
The three US agencies — Tours for Fun, Ctour, and Universal Vision — officially signed the deal with Ctrip on Wednesday in New York, agreeing to share resources to provide better service for Chinese tourists visiting the US, they said. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
The US travel agencies combined make up more than half the market share of travel packages sold to Chinese visiting the US.
Universal Vision is the Northeast region’s main bus tour operator and integrated travel agency;
Ctour, based in Los Angeles, is offering tourism packages wholesale and has the largest market share on the West Coast;
Tours for Fun also has headquarters in Los Angeles and caters predominantly to Chinese tourists; it also works with English-speaking and Spanish-speaking travelers as well. Tours for Fun previously received an investment from Ctrip in December 2013.
“An important strategy of Ctrip is to internationalize and to strategize outbound travel,” said Tao Yang, Ctrip’s senior vice-president and CEO of the vacation unit, at the signing.
“This time, Ctrip and [its] three partners will work together to quickly form a reintegration of resources in North America and through the quartet’s strategic partnership enhance market share.”
The four companies together will launch tour groups, local entertainment, customized travel options and will take advantage of Ctrip’s large user base of 250 million to funnel travelers across the US.
The partnership will also allow travel booking and provide feedback through Ctrip’s IT infrastructure, which Yang said on Wednesday will help all the companies improve their service.
“Before, people would fill in surveys about their experience after a trip, but with Ctrip’s technology, we can get feedback real time, which will be invaluable,” he said.
Chinese tourism to the US continues to grow, with 2.59 million visiting in 2015, an 18 percent increase over 2014. Spending totaled nearly $27 billion.
Travel to the US represents only 2 percent of all outbound travel, giving those in the tourism industries of both countries ample opportunity, he said.
This year was designated by President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama as the Year of Tourism between the two countries, which has resulted in numerous exchanges and partnerships for all sectors across the industry.
Richard Sun, CEO of Universal Vision, said that as Chinese tourists become more important to overseas destinations, the strategic investment and partnership will “greatly promote the development of Universal Vision”.
Ctrip is now the second-largest online travel agency behind the US’ Priceline Group and has a market cap of $24.9 billion. The company has been expanding aggressively domestically and has stated that it is looking to do so abroad.
With Ctrip’s technology, we can get feedback real time, which will be invaluable.” Tao Yang, Ctrip senior vice-president