More than 300 million registered users who book trips through online travel agency Ctrip will now have more personalized options and service from AccorHotels as well. The Paris-based global hotel chain and Shanghai-based online travel platform have recently signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance their existing partnership.
The agreement has four components: more prominent promotion of AccorHotels on Ctrip, building a flagship store for AccorHotels, joint development of loyalty programs and cooperation on technology.
Commenting on the partnership, Jane Sun, CEO of Ctrip, said, “With the ever-growing number of outbound Chinese travelers, we are always looking for ways to provide better services for our customers, and with the deepened AccorHotels relationship, we are able to offer magnified experiences and property choices. With the diverse range of hotels offered by AccorHotels, Ctrip customers will have access to a vast majority of its hotels globally.”
AccorHotels’ portfolio currently offers 4,300 hotels and 10,000 private homes in 100 countries, ranging from luxury brands to mid-scale and budget properties.
Chinese outbound tourists have long been a high-priority group for many luxury brands, but the demands and habits of younger travellers are changing rapidly, as they seek out more digitally personalized experiences, including superior guest services and smart device integration.
A report titled ‘Chinese Luxury Traveler 2016’ states that the continued growth of China over the next several years will ensure that its consumers remain prime targets for brands for the foreseeable future, as even a slowed China exceeds the growth rate of western nations. As a result, travel brands will need to make a connection to this group, the first born in a fully modern China, in the interest of long-term success.
According to the report, personalized service is still the biggest consideration in travelling for luxury Chinese travellers. Besides a liking for amenities, being able to choose pillows of different firmness and having a butler or personalized service through digital channels are also important. While 73 percent demand WiFi, 55 percent want smart TVs, while unique art and design are also high draws. AccorHotels, with its CRS, mobile app, loyalty programs and products like Adobe that it uses to personalize the guest experience with targeted offers and other information, is best suited for this crop of Chinese travellers.
Additionally, China’s travellers, especially the young ones, get most of their travel information digitally, largely from official WeChat accounts. Ctrip, Qunar and Tuniu are popular third-party platforms in the country, making this MoU worth the while for AccorHotels that is aiming to position itself on the Ctrip website and in the Chinese travel market.
AccorHotels will also launch its own program to train and certify at least 250 hotels by 2020 on Chinese Optimum Standards. These properties will be trained to answer major Chinese guests’ expectations. Ctrip says it may invite additional partners to be featured on its platforms as it pursues its goal to provide members with “dedicated experiences and better services to become a one-stop travel shop.”
Chinese residents will make 90 million outbound trips in 2020, with that number increasing by an additional 36 million over the following decade, according to a report by Euromonitor, making them one of the most lucrative audiences for travel providers across the world. By tapping into personalization such as mobility, language customizations and other services, many other brands like AccorHotels can create differentiated experiences that will eventually help enrich services and gain valuable customer insights in the process.