“Traveller interests have evolved from traditional sightseeing to experiential tourism”

Trip.com Group Chief Operating Officer highlights the importance of experiential travel for both inbound and outbound tourism

Mr Xing Xiong, the Chief Operating Officer of Trip.com Group, gave an opening keynote yesterday on “Insights into the 2024 Civil Aviation Market”. ITB China News spoke with him in an exclusive interview about travel trends in China and how Trip.com Group is adapting its offer to meet the evolving market.

Can you share what you believe to be some of the main travel trends in China at the moment (e.g. domestic, inbound and outbound)?

Domestic travel is experiencing robust growth, which is evident from an increase in both hotel and flight bookings, each surging by over 20% year-on-year. (Source: Q1 2024 Earnings Release). The recent Labour Day Holiday saw a surge in domestic travel, attributed to enhanced high-speed rail infrastructure that provides direct access to lesser-known cities and county-level destinations. County-level destinations and smaller towns are particularly gaining traction, witnessing a 30% increase in travel orders, and exceeding the growth rate of larger cities, while domestic tourists are keen to get close to nature – bookings for attractions related to camping and mountain climbing grew significantly in the past Qingming and Labour Day holidays. Travellers’ interests, especially the younger generation, have evolved from traditional sightseeing to experiential tourism, not only in China but also around the world. Entertainment events such as concerts, music festivals, sports games, and cultural events have been a strong driver of travel bookings in China.

Entertainment events such as concerts, music festivals, sports games, and cultural events have been a strong driver of travel bookings in China.

There has been significant growth in inbound travel bookings to China (an increase of over 400% compared to last year) driven by the benefits of visa-free policies(Source: Q1 2024 Earnings Release). The 72/144-hour visa-free transit policy also allows foreign nationals from 54 countries to explore more of China before going on their next connecting flights. Major cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Chengdu are emerging as significant hubs, attracting considerable international interest.

Outbound travel is also witnessing growth, with both hotel and flight bookings soaring by over 100% year-on-year. (Source: Q1 2024 Earnings Release) The younger generation is emerging as a significant segment of outbound travellers, although post-80s and post-90s generations still account for more than half of outbound travellers. In terms of destinations, the Asia-Pacific region remains highly popular, with Japan, Thailand, and Korea being top choices.

How is Trip.com Group adapting its offer according to these trends?
In response to the trend of experiential travel, Trip.com Group has taken advantage of its all-in-one app to offer bundle packages that combine tickets and experiences with hotel stays. This past April, for example, we offered bundled products for JJ Lin’s concert in Tianjin, which included concert tickets, hotel stays with breakfasts and transfers to and from the stadium.
On an international scale, Trip.com has also introduced the “Hotel Room Plus X” package, which combines a hotel room booking with a personalised activity, allowing travellers to immerse themselves in the local culture through locally-inspired activities. The “Activities + Tickets”, a similar package, has seen an exponential jump in orders.

In response to the growth of inbound tourism and transits, Trip.com has launched the “Shanghai Express”, free half-day layover tours for transit visitors in Shanghai, who can now take the opportunity to explore iconic areas such as The Bund during their transits.

By leveraging advanced technology, our powerful AI-powered travel assistant, TripGenie, is able to curate personalised itineraries for Chinese and international travellers and provides trendy recommendations, enhancing a seamless travel experience from start to end.

The increasing importance of AI for the travel industry

Mr Xing Xiong outlined the important role that travel technology plays in the industry, discussing how it will continue to develop and evolve over the next few years. He mentioned that AI “will play a bigger role in enhancing people’s travel experience” and added that while AI chatbots are already prevalent, Trip.com Group foresees “a broader spectrum where AI extends its influence across diverse travel scenarios.”
Trip.com Group’s Chief Operating Officer emphasised that AI enhances engagement and drives conversions, citing that thanks to Trip.com Group’s AI-powered travel assistant TripGenie, the company has “seen a doubled order conversion rate and improved user retention rates, resulting in enhanced overall service effectiveness.” He also stated that AI facilitates customer service with its ability to “seamlessly respond to text and voice commands.” TripGenie for example enhances customer service experience by displaying accurate images, providing relevant booking links, and quickly directing users to the most relevant and accurate results in the app. Mr Xing Xiong added that “with the help of AI chatbots in answering customer queries, Trip.com Group has been able to achieve remarkable self-service resolution rates.”




携程集团首席运营官熊星先生昨日发表了题为“2024年民航市场洞察”的开幕演讲,并接受ITB China新闻的独家专访,介绍了中国旅游行业的最新趋势,以及携程集团如何调整以适应不断变化的市场需求。











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