Shanghai-based online travel service provider Ctrip.com (CTRP) has announced plans to enter the high-end outbound travel market by working more closely with Cuiming.

Fan Min, CEO of Ctrip.com, says that Ctrip.com will enter the high-end leisure tourism market in 2007 and aim to increase the proportion of its high-end products from the current 10% to 50%.

Earlier in 2006, Ctrip.com acquired Cuiming, one of the 32 travel agencies in Shanghai that has a complete set of qualifications, to make up for Ctrip's lack of travel qualifications. It then renamed the acquistion Ctrip Cuiming to be specially engaged in providing travel services for the online company.

Meanwhile, Ctrip.com has also made a standard for high-end overseas travel in order to differentiate itself from other ordinary overseas trip providers. Ctrip's new standard says that travel agencies should book 3-star to 4-star or even higher star rated hotels for tourists to stay; they should not organize any compulsory shopping during the journey; they should leave at least 20% of seats on the tour bus empty to ensure maximum confort for the tourists and go to no more than three destinations each time to make sure that the tourists can fully experience each destination country.

Ctrip.com has launched two overseas travel products which are targeted at first-time outbound tourists and multi-time outbound tourists, respectively.

With this announcement of Ctrip's new focus, it will be competing more head-on with online travel websites like ChinaTravelNow.com, eLong.com and others who provide gold-collar travel bookings for Chinese overseas travelers.

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