China on track to become our largest market, says TripAdvisor chief

Company finds Chinese tourists are willing to visit the world’s top attractions for a second or third time

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 May, 2015, 10:56am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2015, 2:35pm

China is set to become TripAdvisor’s largest market as Chinese tourists turn to the travel review site in their pursuit of high quality overseas experiences. 

Among the millions of Chinese travelers now heading overseas, a growing number are willing to visit the world’s top attractions for a second or third time, the company said. 

Joost Schreve, VP of TripAdvisor’s mobile product told the South China Morning Post that China is becoming the company’s key market in a few years and will become its large market in the long term. 

“We mainly focused on China’s outbound travelers, which are growing fast. When they travel for the second or third time they tend to look for the most authentic restaurants and hotels,” he said. 

“We have reviews of almost every restaurant in the world or it’s our goal. We are translating some of the information into Chinese to help Chinese tourists.” 

Founded in 2000, TripAdvisor owns the world’s largest travel forum, with 70 million registered members and attracts 315 million unique monthly visitors and more than 200 million reviews.

The company’s big data provides information on more than 1.5 million accommodations (including vacation rentals) and 500,000 attractions globally.  It launched its Chinese official website in 2009 and now provides information on more than 915,000 accommodations globally and is run by 120 staff, mostly based in Beijing.

Schreve himself owned trip planning service EveryTrail which was bought by TripAdvisor in 2011 after gaining success by providing iPhone users with a handy app to share photos and pinpoint their travel route on their social networks. He says the Chinese are very fast adopting new technology in mobile. 

His Beijing staff recently set up a focus group with Chinese customers and found them more willing to use mobile to plan their travels. 

He said that globally half of TravelAdvisor’s users use mobile to plan their travels and the number will likely grow.

“Your mobile phone can be a remote control of the world. We want to make our mobile app reliable for travelers from every aspect of their travel,” he said. 

The mobile division is a key sector of the company and is made up of 60 core members plus 200 staff, including engineers, among the total 3,000 staff. 

Chinese spent US$500 billion in overseas traveling last year and made a record 110 million oversea trips, according to China National Tourism Administration. 

Japan, Thailand, Australia, and South Korea are the most popular travel destinations among Chinese, according to Schreve, based on TripAdvisor data. 

Besides the demand of information on hotels and restaurants when traveling overseas, Chinese travelers are also showing a greater interest in information on shopping. 

“We would like to provide more information on shopping for Chinese travelers in the future,” he said.