Business / Companies

Expedia to grow China operations

By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-29 08:09

Expedia Inc sees massive opportunities in China, not only in terms of inbound as well as outbound Chinese tourists but overseas travelers visiting the country, said a senior executive of the international travel company.

Mieke De Schepper, vice-president of Expedia Lodging Partner Services, Asia Pacific, said the company has just finished roadshows in China to deepen associations with its local business partners.

Expedia's presence in China is in the form of partnerships with International Ltd and eLong Inc. It has also launched a China-specific Expedia website. "It is very early stages but this is the start of something big for us," said De Schepper.

Expedia has more than 200 travel booking websites in more than 70 countries, including and Around 45 percent of its revenue comes from its international operations. Its revenue in the year to September was $6.3 billion from bookings for 188.2 million room nights.

Although Expedia sees "something big" in China, De Schepper's plan for the country is decidedly modest. Expedia wants to test waters afresh, learn from its experience so far, and find its way ahead in China, she said.

The company sold its majority stake in eLong, its loss-making partner in China, for $671 million in May this year. eLong has struggled to turn profitable. It recorded a $33-million loss in the January-March quarter.

Expedia's hotel partners globally now want access to Chinese outbound travelers, she said. "We can give them access through partnerships. We are also growing organically," said De Schepper, referring to the Expedia China website.

Expedia is confident it can help boost the business of China's hotels too. One in seven Expedia-registered travelers book trans-continental flight tickets. Chinese hospitality companies can look forward to attracting international travelers by offering long-stay deals months and weeks in advance through Expedia, she said.

Expedia will continue to focus on Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, she said. "Our international customers are very interested in visiting historical destinations in China like Xi'an, and places of cultural interest like Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Xiamen as well as beach destinations like Sanya and Qindao."

Expedia, she said, is keen to deliver technology-enabled customer experiences to Chinese travelers as well as people visiting China. "We will offer a consistent experience across devices by using responsive design on our sites, developing sophisticated mobile apps, and improving our tools for hotel partners to provide real-time and relevant feedback to optimize their distribution strategy," she said.

Expedia will also focus on turnkey travel packages encompassing flight tickets, pickup car bookings, hotel accommodation and local travel services, she said. "Package travelers are valuable to our hotel partners because they typically book much in advance, stay longer and are less likely to cancel due to the non-refundable flight element."

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