“SEE­ING THE WORLD WITH THEIR OWN EYES”

JANE JIE SUN on the rise of tourism in China and the coun­try’s new­found wan­der­lust.

Bulletin - - Contents - By Lea Deu­ber

Jane Jie Sun, your travel por­tal, Ctrip, is es­ti­mated to be worth 27 bil­lion US dol­lars. What ser­vices do you pro­vide for your cus­tomers?

Like a friend, we of­fer sup­port for our cus­tomers be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter a trip. The goal is to en­sure that their travel is ef­fi­cient and well or­ga­nized. Im­por­tant fea­tures in­clude 24-hour as­sis­tance and an emer­gency ser­vice that our cus­tomers can reach from any­where in the world – if they are the vic­tim of a crime, for ex­am­ple, or in the event of a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter. But our cus­tomer base has changed dra­mat­i­cally since Ctrip was founded in 1999.

In what way?

Travel is no longer only for busi­ness­peo­ple. And our cus­tomers are look­ing for com­pre­hen­sive pack­ages rather than just ho­tels or flights. Be­cause their pur­chas­ing power has in­creased, peo­ple from ru­ral ar­eas, too, have dis­cov­ered tourism. It's no longer enough to take shop­ping trips abroad; many cus­tomers are look­ing for a big ad­ven­ture and want to ex­pe­ri­ence the lo­cal cul­ture.

Last year, Ctrip pur­chased the Scot­tish plat­form Skyscan­ner and in­vested in the In­dian com­pany Make­mytrip. Where do you see your com­pany go­ing over the long term?

We go where our cus­tomers are, and they no longer want to limit their travel to South­east Asia. They're now trav­el­ing all over the world. So we need to fol­low them, and that means in­vest­ing abroad. As a re­sult, we need new part­ners.

Many Chi­nese peo­ple book their first trip through Ctrip, and this al­lows them to dis­cover the world. How would you de­fine your vi­sion?

While I'm not chang­ing the world by

About Ctrip Ctrip is a Chi­nese travel plat­form with an es­ti­mated mar­ket value of 27 bil­lion US dol­lars. With over 200 mil­lion users, Ctrip is now one of the world's largest travel por­tals, sec­ond only to Ex­pe­dia. Founded in 1999 and head­quar­tered in Shang­hai, the com­pany was first listed on the New York Stock Ex­change in 2003 and earned some 2.9 bil­lion US dol­lars in 2016. Ctrip is known in China for its sup­port for fe­male em­ploy­ees. Among the ben­e­fits it pro­vides are child care dur­ing sum­mer va­ca­tions, as well as a bonus of roughly 8,000 Chi­nese yuan (al­most 1,200 Swiss francs) for preg­nant em­ploy­ees and free taxi rides to work dur­ing preg­nancy.

my­self, Ctrip clearly has the po­ten­tial to bring more re­spect, friend­ship and un­der­stand­ing to the world. We en­cour­age peo­ple to choose trips that en­able them to see the world with their own eyes.

You stud­ied abroad and worked in Sil­i­con Val­ley, and then you re­turned to Shang­hai to take a job with Ctrip. Why?

Through­out my ca­reer, I have al­ways asked my­self what I wanted to achieve and where I wanted to be. I saw re­turn­ing to China from the United States as an op­por­tu­nity – at least in part be­cause I view my­self as a bridge be­tween the two coun­tries. I de­cided to go into the tourism in­dus­try be­cause of its enor­mous po­ten­tial for growth. Given my ex­pe­ri­ence with Western com­pa­nies, I be­lieved that I could make a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion.

In China, in con­trast to many Western coun­tries, it’s al­most rou­tine for a woman to be the CEO of a com­pany. Why is that the case?

Mao Ze­dong, the founder of the Chi­nese state, once said that women hold up half the sky. So we Chi­nese women have al­ways be­lieved that we should chal­lenge our­selves and see how far we could go. Over half of our em­ploy­ees are women. But in China, too, there is room for im­prove­ment, and I think that peo­ple are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly aware of the value of women's work. As a fe­male ex­ec­u­tive, I feel a spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to help women achieve their full po­ten­tial.

Jane Jie Sun, 48, has been CEO of Ctrip since the end of 2016. She joined the Shang­hai-based com­pany in 2005, af­ter spend­ing sev­eral years work­ing in Sil­i­con Val­ley. Prior to that time, she stud­ied busi­ness at the Uni­ver­sity of Florida and law at Bei­jing Uni­ver­sity. She has two chil­dren.

“A bridge be­tween worlds”: A Chi­nese tour group sled­ding on Mount Titlis.

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