Ctrip Sees Challenge in Online Bookings

One of the biggest challenges for China’s largest online travel booking company, Ctrip, is getting existing customers to go online.

Though having users book flights and hotels through a website rather than a call center is more profitable, two-thirds of Ctrip’s bookings are done through its call centers, according to CEO Fan Min. That means only a slightly higher percentage of users today are going through Ctrip.com than five years ago, and Fan believes it will take another few years for the percentage to increase to 35 percent.

“Each percentage point is hard-earned,” Fan says. “It’s a matter of consumer behavior” even among Ctrip’s wealthier users, he says. Compared to U.S. travelers, people in China tend to book their travel at the last minute and “find it’s more convenient to do it by just picking up the phone.”

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