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Emerging Online Travel Marketplace in China
Report | Published: November 2009

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  • Summary
  • Contents
  • Methodology

Publication Summary

The eyes of many in the travel industry are fixed firmly on China. With increasing wealth, the largest population and the most broadband users in the world, China's travel industry is clearly packed with potential. Yet even though China is the second largest travel market in the Asia Pacific region, very little China-specific travel research and market analysis currently exists. Phocuswright's Emerging Online Travel Marketplace in China is a detailed examination of the Chinese travel industry, with an emphasis on trends and opportunities in the online space. This report provides complete market sizing and analysis of the online travel market, and assesses the behavioral patterns of the Chinese leisure traveler. It clears the mysteries of this complex and regionally diverse market, paving the way for innovative companies to take advantage of the vast Chinese travel opportunity. Phocuswright's Emerging Online Travel Marketplace in China includes:

  • Size and characteristics of the China travel market opportunity by segment (air, car, hotel, rail)
  • China's cultural and physical infrastructure, and their impact on the travel search, shop and buy experience
  • Behavioral patterns of Chinese leisure domestic and outbound travelers, segmented by five major cities in China
  • Key players, trends and innovations shaping the dynamic China online travel market
  • Implications and strategies for global travel companies entering China
In 2008, the total Chinese travel market was estimated at US$61.1 billion—Phocuswright projects that the market will grow to $65.3 billion by 2011. Now is the time to take advantage of this rapidly evolving, multi-billion dollar opportunity. Phocuswright's Emerging Online Travel Marketplace in China gives travel companies the keys to unlock the Chinese opportunity.

Table of Contents

48 Pages

Section One: Overview, Methodology and Key Findings

Section Two: Strategic Implications
Section Three: Size of the Market
Section Four: Consumer Trends
Section Five: Demographics


China Online and Total Leisure/Unmanaged Business Travel Gross Bookings and Total Online Penetration by Segment, 2008-2011(US$M)

Lead Time for Travel Purchases

China Traditional Airline Market, 2008-2011 (US$M)

China Airline Market by Carrier (US$M)

China Lodging Market, 2008-2011 (US$M)

Home Inn - Number of Properties and Rooms, 2006-2008

Likelihood of Staying in a Budget Hotel

China Rail Passengers, 2001-2008 (US$M)

Online Channels for Purchasing Travel

Market Share of Online Travel Agencies, Gross Bookings, 2008

Ctrip Hotel Network - Property Distribution by City

Number of Holiday Trips Taken in Last 12 Months

Holiday Trips by City

Holiday Trips by Population Group

Holiday Trips by Primary Purpose

Holiday Trips by Mode of Transport

Holiday Trips by Duration

Holiday Trips by Travel Companion

Holiday Trips by Travel Companion (% of Trips)

Holiday Travel During Government-Declared Holidays

Holiday Trips by Destination

Research Methods for Holiday Travel Planning

Offline Methods Used for Holiday Travel Planning

Online Methods Used for Holiday Travel Planning

Number of Web Sites Used for Holiday Travel Planning

Web Sites Visited for Travel Reviews and Experiences

Influence of Travel Reviews on Travel Purchasing

Importance of Criteria for Hotel/Guesthouse Selection

Travel Company Loyalty Memberships Held

Online vs. Offline Purchase of Travel Components

Online Travel Purchasing by City and Population Group

Top Concerns About Purchasing Travel Online

Offline Channels for Purchasing Travel

Online Payment Methods for Settling Online Travel Purchases

Offline Payment Methods for Settling Online Travel Purchases

Offline Payment Methods for Settling Offline Travel Purchases

Likelihood of Purchasing Travel Component on Non-Travel Web Site

Holiday Travel to Macau by City

Duration of Holiday Travel to Macau by City

Holiday Travel to Hong Kong by City

Duration of Holiday Travel to Hong Kong

Holiday Travel Duration (Overall and by City)

Frequency of Business Trips

Method or Party Purchasing Business Travel

Demographics of Respondents

Sampling Criteria - Age of Respondents

Sampling Criteria - Gender of Respondents

Sampling Criteria - Job Status of Respondents

Sampling Criteria - Education of Respondents


Conducted in 4Q08 and finalized in March 2009, Phocuswright conducted one of the most comprehensive studies to date on the emerging online travel marketplace in China, with an emphasis on leisure travel. Exhaustive and rigorous on both the supply and demand sides, the study included more than 90 in-depth executive interviews. It also incorporated specialized consumer research, including surveys of more than 2,000 respondents, in-depth consumer interviews, and focus groups in five major cities across China. The interviews targeted senior executives of travel companies of all types, including airlines, hotels, rail, car rental companies, online travel agencies (OTAs), traditional travel agencies, metasearch companies, global distribution systems (GDSs) suppliers, online distribution solution providers and social media companies. Phocuswright collected both qualitative and quantitative data for the consumer research. To qualify as a "Chinese traveler," respondents had to have taken at least one holiday trip (defined as a stay of one or more nights, including visiting friends or a vacation to a tourist destination, resort, hotel, etc.) in the past 12 months. The term "online Chinese travelers" refers to respondents in urban areas who took at least one holiday trip involving an online booking in the last 12 months. Based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China and China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), Phocuswright projects the number of online Chinese travelers (as defined above) to be 48 million people in 2008, or about 33% of the adult population in urban areas with Internet access (10% of the total adult urban population). Conversely, the term "offline Chinese travelers" refers to those respondents who had not booked travel online in the last 12 months. In order to approximate the best representation of the overall population in China, qualified respondents were sampled from four population groups: empty nesters (married, kids no longer living at home, with income); family (married, one or more kids, with income); DINK ("double income, no kids," married); and younger (not married, no kids, with income). These respondents were drawn from five representative cities across China: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Xi'an. Phocuswright received 2,057 qualified responses, and the respondent pool can be projected with confidence to the Chinese adult traveler population in urban areas. The error interval for analysis of the respondent population is +/-2.5% at a 95% confidence level. Significant differences noted in this report were identified at a 95% confidence level.