A new report prepared jointly by Ctrip" /> David H Boggs Search Marketing Blog: Ctrip and COTRI: High-end customized travel by affluent Chinese

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Ctrip and COTRI: High-end customized travel by affluent Chinese

28 May 2019 (Edited 28 May 2019)

High-end customized travel is very expensive, uses very scarce resources and provides a top-grade experience

A new report prepared jointly by Ctrip - China's largest OTA - and the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) describes how Ctrip's "high-end customized travel platform 3.0" differs from "customized travel" packages offered by other Chinese travel agencies.

(If this is beginning to sound like a Ctrip sales pitch to you, you're right, it is, but it's sufficiently informative to be of interest, so please don't abandon yet.)

Market size and growth rate

Orders for Ctrip's "high-end customized" products increased by 180% year-on-year in 2018, with demand growth from 2nd- and 3rd-tier cities exceeding that from 1st-tier cities.

Per-person Spend

These clients spend on average RMB 23,800 (around US$3410) on their trips, compared with RMB 5500 (US$790) for standard tour packages.

Top 10 growth markets:

  • Shanghai
  • Beijing
  • Guangzhou
  • Shenzhen
  • Hangzhou
  • Chengdu
  • Hong Kong
  • Nanjing
  • Xi'an
  • Tianjin

Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou saw triple-digit growth rates in 2018.

Profile of the high-end customized travel client:

  • "High net worth individuals" (HNWIs) of which there were 1.67M in China in 2018
  • Good health is their most frequently mentioned want.
  • Travel is a major leisure activity and a "necessity for life".
  • 56% female, 44% male
  • Age distribution:
    • 17% under 20
    • 17% 21-30
    • 24% 31-40
    • 19% 41-50
    • 13% 51-60
    • 10% 61+
  • Trip party composition:
    • 5% single
    • 31% couple
    • 17% family with preschool children
    • 17% family with school-age children
    • 11% family with adult children
    • 5% with best friend
    • 13% with colleagues or friends
  • Most popular destinations outbound from China:
    1. Thailand
    2. Japan
    3. Indonesia
    4. Maldives
    5. USA
    6. Australia
    7. France
    8. Singapore
    9. UAE
    10. Italy
  • Most wanted activities
    • USA: in-depth visits to Silicon Valley startups
    • Southern Europe: exploring towns off the beaten track
    • See the full report for other destinations.
  • Most wanted dining experiences:
    • France: Michelin-star restaurants
    • Europe: Tour world-class wine collections with a wine connoisseur
    • See the full report for other destinations.
  • Top 3 destinations for Chinese foodies:
    1. Thailand
    2. Japan
    3. Italy
  • Top sporting events:
    • Running a marathon
    • NBA finals
    • FIFA World Cup races (with special pass)
    • Formula 1 racing in Sochi (Russian Grand Prix)
    • Champions League Final

All-time greatest trips:

  • Shanghai to Kanto, JP - 9 business travelers, 10 days: US$88,830
  • Beijing to Maldives - family of 13, 9 days: US$117,500
  • Guangzhou to Africa - 6 people, 24 days: US$61,600
  • Chengdu to Canada - 18 people, 21 days: US$91,690
  • Shenzhen to USA - 11 people, 12 days: US$130,372
  • Hangzhou to Thailand - 7 people, 12 days: US$53,000
  • Wuhan to Hawaii - 10 people, days unspecified: US$90,260
  • Xi'an to New Zealand - 10 people, 15 days: US$75,930
  • Chongqing to Copenhagen - 9 people, 10 days: US$60,170

Business opportunities for international tourism suppliers:

  • COTRI projects 11% annual growth in Chinese outbound travel, 4M overseas travelers annually by 2030.
  • Currently 1500 suppliers and 6000 travel consultants are available via Ctrip Platform 3.0.
  • Ctrip released "custom travel for companies" in January 2018 to serve enterprise-level companies.
  • Since March 2018 Ctrip has begun offering:
    • Ctrip Customized Travel Provider Certification System
    • Socialized Customized Travel Provider Training Program
    • Ctrip Customized Travel Academy
  • In September 2018 Ctrip formed a partnership with the NZ Tourism Bureau to offer:
    • NZ Travel Experts + Customized Tours training program
    • NZ Customized Tour Training Course Completion Certificate
  • In March 2019 Ctrip launched "a high-end customized business, a high-quality travel platform designed for high-net-income individuals. It is the first professional platform to integrate global high-end customization suppliers."

In conclusion, Ctrip says:

"We welcome all the players from the global travel industry who attend ITB to join Ctrip's customized travel platform, be it as a provider of individual tourism resources or a provider of integrated customized travel services."

And they have provided a QR code for suppliers to scan in order to access a form for suppliers to apply to join their Customized Travel Platform.

Not to be outdone, COTRI also includes a QR code for accessing their China Tourism Training online program.


  • As I said above, this is clearly a Ctrip sales pitch intended to recruit travel suppliers whose products they can mark up and resell. The fact that Ctrip is China's largest OTA makes this worth considering for some suppliers.
  • The COTRI training program is certainly worth a look also for any supplier or destination serious about getting tourist business from China.
  • The amounts of money spent on the "all-time greatest trips" are certainly impressive, but mean and median figures might be more meaningful.
  • The client profile is good information not readily available elsewhere - thanks for that, Ctrip and COTRI.
  • It's interesting that these affluent Chinese folks want to run in a marathon - that makes a potentially valuable selling point for destinations like Boston, Dublin and other cities with well-known marathons.
  • And their interest in "in-depth visits" to American high-tech startups is interesting also. These exist in other places besides Silicon Valley (e.g., Boston/Cambridge) - another possible selling point for some destinations.

Altogether a useful report.

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And if you have questions or comments, you can easily send them to me with the Quick Reply form, below, or send me an e-mail.

David Boggs    - David
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