I have been an entrepreneur in China, engaging in the online travel agency(OTA) domain for more than two years.  We certainly have experienced up-and-downs. To navigate the ever-changing Chinese OTA market, we keep asking ourselves the same set of questions all the time: Who are our customers? Who are our suppliers? Who are our competitors?

Customers

When coming to booking hotels online, Chinese are probably the most old-fashioned and spoiled customers in the world. A typical booking procedure of a Chinese OTA goes as follows: travelers first do some hotel research online regarding their destination and relating hotels, using Baidu.com or Qunar.com, where they discover hotels and corresponding OTAs that are favorable. Then the old-fashion kicks in –They enter their phone number to receive a confirmation text message, or simply pick up their phone and start calling the massive 24-7 call center of the desirable OTA, both without paying any deposit upfront. In a better case, they show up in the hotel lobby on time, check in and pay the hotel when checking out; in a worse case, they simply disappear without notifying the OTA. More than 80% of Chinese OTA customers prefer to pay at hotel front desks as opposed to online payment, in which way they enjoy a high degree of freedom (or free of obligation).

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