Business travel

Trip.com sees strongest business travel growth in China’s second cities

Skift grip

When it comes to China’s future business travel hotspots, there are plenty of gems to emerge in a new report released this week by Trip.Biz, the business travel division of Trip.com. It offers agencies real insight into the minds of business travellers, as well as growth opportunities in a country poised to rebound from strict lockdowns.

Matthew Parson

Trip.comthe world’s largest online booking site, will target “lower-tier” cities across China in a bid to increase its share of the business travel market.

Major cities, including the capital Beijing and the commercial center of Shanghai, are described as “saturated” in a white paper published this week by Trip.Bizthe business travel division of the online agency.

He argues that there are now more opportunities in smaller towns, particularly around digitalization in a predominantly paper-based environment, as the country – the world’s largest business travel market – restarts. after months of strict lockdowns.

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More than 78% of business travelers noticed that lower-tier destinations are becoming more popular for business travel, according to its survey,

“This is primarily due to businesses turning to new destinations in response to market saturation in upper-tier cities and city adjustment,” he said. “Some employers have said that their businesses will focus on third- and fourth-tier cities in the future, as business in major cities will become more saturated.”

Levels are used, unofficially, as a classification system companies to guide their market entry strategy. This may reflect differences in consumer behavior, income level, population size, consumer sophistication, infrastructure, talent pool, and business opportunity, and as the county expands rapidly, the tier ranking has gained popularity as a point of reference.

Part of this push is due to an increase in infrastructure construction in developing cities. “Smart city development will increasingly focus on smaller cities, and business travel destinations will follow,” one business traveler said in the 87-page white paper.

Trip.Biz is now looking to expand its supply chain to third and fourth tier cities to get better resources. It also started providing bus tickets in 2019 to help travelers access more remote areas.

At the same time, he highlighted the potential for travel management companies to help local businesses make travel booking more efficient.

It found that when it comes to booking methods in 2021, bookings made by administrative staff for employees still accounted for 29.1% of all methods, although they were down around 40% in 2020. Self-bookings by employees accounted for only 23.5%.

For the employee’s preferred booking channel, a mobile app was used by 81% and a WeChat official account or “mini program” by 62.4%, compared to 29.2% in 2020.

As for payment channels, 69.2% of employees used Alipay and 60% WeChat, highlighting the dominance of these companies in the country. Personal credit cards reached 34.4% and business account through a travel agency 16.8%.

For expense reimbursements, 28.8% still used paper forms to claim money from their employer.

New features

In addition to bus tickets, Trip.Biz launched other features to reflect post-pandemic booking habits, including a hotel rating tool earlier this year. “As the first type within the travel management community, it will enable customers to leave hotel reviews and suggestions, and help travelers find suitable hotels quickly,” he said. , saying nearly 70% of travelers are influenced by reviews when booking. hotels.

In March of last year, Trip.com emulated its partner Tripadvisor with new content offerings.

Trip.Biz also launched Blended Payments, to allow employees to book more expensive products that are not covered by their company’s travel policy, allowing them to pay for the excess amount themselves. This reflects the rise of so-called bleisure travel.

The white paper also shared unusual information about the Chinese business traveler. One in 10 business travellers, for example, bring their own kettle and 30% their own slippers.

On the sustainable travel front, a majority of 68.8% of employees responded (worryingly) that reducing paper travel approvals via online management was a way to achieve sustainability in corporate travel management. ‘business.

Trip.com, formerly known as Ctrip, is the world’s largest online booking site with more than $129 billion in trips sold in 2019. The release of the white paper comes just days after the founder of Trip.com, James Liang, has been banned from China. Weibo for “violation of relevant laws and regulations”.

Trip.Biz is currently implementing a global growth strategy based on the Trip.com Group’s “Local Focus, Global Vision” approach. “The core of this strategy is efficiency, product selection, quality of service and the services available on the Trip.Biz app”, said in a press release.

According recent resultsbusiness travel revenue grew 20% in the fourth quarter of 2021, compared to the prior year quarter, and 54% for the full year of 2021, year-on-year.

corporate travel agency CWT, meanwhile, this week opened a bilingual service center in Singapore to provide business travel assistance to overseas employees of major Chinese companies. It will offer companies 24-hour travel assistance in English and Mandarin.

“This responds to a growing demand from Chinese multinationals who demand a convenient and consistent business travel experience for their employees based outside of China,” the company said.