Tnooz published an interesting article concerning the last study of Phocuswright : China Online Travel Overview Sixth Edition

I would like to keep the main point of this article :

“In 2012, China surpassed Japan to become the largest market in Asia with $96.2 billion in travel bookings. The controlled strengthening of the Chinese Yuan against the US dollar makes growth appear slightly faster when measured on a dollar basis.

By 2015, when 24% of China’s travel bookings will be transacted online, penetration will still be trailing compared to India, Japan, and Australia/New Zealand.

Chinese travel companies remain highly focused on the domestic market. Because, the opportunity for growth at home remains very attractive.

China travel


Suppliers are doing a better job than ever of selling directly to consumers, but intermediaries still account for the majority of China’s travel bookings.

Not all is rosy in the intermediary world, middlemen are losing their share to suppliers, but still posting big increases in bookings.

Online travel agents

In 2012, OTAs’ gross bookings, including those fulfilled through call centers, represented 11% of the overall market, slightly more than their share in 2011. But, OTA growth decelerated from 49% in 2011 to 39% in 2012.

Ctrip leads the OTA market in China by a huge margin, followed by eLong. Ctrip is the also third largest OTA in APAC.Ctrip

In the recently held quarterly earnings call, eLong’s CEO announced that the company’s focus will continue to be on hotel bookings. eLong does not offer packages and follows an online-first strategy, processing only about one fourth of bookings offline.

Vacation package purchase incidence is high among Chinese travellers – about one in three booked a vacation package in 2012, nearly twice as many as in the U.S.

The new intermediaries

Qunar leads the metasearch market in China. The website also has the ability to fulfil a booking there by posing a threat to OTAs in the market.Qunar

Metasearch grew faster than any other online travel category from Q2 2011 to Q2 2012, jumping from 28% to 38% of online travel traffic. Metasearch is also the biggest source of leads for Chinese OTAs and suppliers.

Online shopping mall sites like Taobao, 360buy, and allow travel providers and other retailers to accept bookings and transactions. These new intermediary sites are important to OTAs – shopping malls represent more than a quarter of Ctrip’s source traffic.

Taobao and 360buy now host providers of air, hotel, train tickets, car rental, packages and theme park tickets.

Consumers are becoming more comfortable to buy travel through these sites; travel transactions booked through Taobao doubled in 2012.


The lodging segment now accounts for 29% of the overall travel market. Vacation rentals sites like Tujia have entered the scene, and a handful of Airbnb – HomeAway – Roomorama-like peer-to-peer lodging sites have also cropped up.Tujia - hi-res logo

Call center and walk-up bookings remain the most popular channel for lodging sales, especially for the many small and independent properties that lack a web presence.

(Tujia secured its Series B funding from GGV Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, CDH Ventures, Qiming Venture Partners, Ctrip and HomeAway.)


Mobile penetration among travellers has reached 98%, and the number of people accessing the internet via mobile surpassed desktop in 2012. By 2015, more than one fifth of online travel bookings will be mobile transactions.

OTAs and metasearch sites have created apps that offer more choice and better functionality than supplier apps do. The platforms of choice thus far are iOS and Android – Windows phones are supported by very few travel providers.

While the mobile channel is on fire and last-minute bookings are common in China, suppliers are cautious about offering last-minute mobile deals.

Social media and online reviews

Traveler reviews are a crucial element of the online research process in China.

Traffic to review sites is growing rapidly – In Q2 2012, Ctrip-owned review site Lvping’s traffic increased 41% YOY, attracting an average of 2.6 million monthly visitors and surpassing Daodao to become the country’s leading review site.”