CNNIC have published a new report analysing the online travel industry in China.


We will address some of the key findings in this article, and the fleshed out original article can be found in the original Chinese report for your reference.


The number of online travel booking users is currently growing faster than the overall internet population.


In June 2013 22.4% of internet users were utilizing online travel booking services, a 2.6% increase on December 2012. This data is representative of a total user population of 132.56 million, over 50% of whom booked air tickets online.


Demographically, there are significantly more male users than female, and males were found to be more likely to book on a mobile device.


Age-wise, users in the 19-39 bracket are more likely to book online and users between the ages of 19-29 were found to be more likely to book via mobile devices.


Financially speaking, domestic travel still dominates the online travel market, enjoying a share of 96.7% of online travel booking users. Of this figure, 18.7% visit Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan, 11.5% visit SE Asia and less than 5% visit Japan or Korea. European travel was purchased by 3.6% of users.


With reference to flight booking, online users were found to base their purchase choice on the level of discount and flight schedule times. In contrast, it was found that offline users are more concerned about the airline’s safety rating, punctuality and soft factors like the reputation and service of the airline.


The online travel booking market is largely occupied by a duopoly of two companies. With reference to the general online booking market share, CTrip (33.9%) and Qunar (22.1%) vastly dominate the market. Other providers operate less than a 10% market share. Individual airline websites enjoy a miniscule 1.6% of the market share.


These figures can be broken down into three main categories based on trip purpose: business, personal and leisure. Most online users were found to book flights for leisure purposes, whereas offline users were found to book for personal or family reasons.


The data shows that 26.7% of online users book exclusively for leisure, a higher figure than that of offline users. To add, a lower number of 16.4% of users book for personal reasons and 15.8% of users book flights for business matters, both of these figures sit below offline usage.


CTrip is used mostly for business and leisure trips, whereas Qunar is often used for personal travel. Airline websites sit closely behind Taobao Travel in 4th for business trip bookings, and enjoy a loftier placing as 3rd choice for personal and leisure trip bookings online.


The report further classified the users into four demographic groups determined by income level. The users were split into two income groups within a middle income sector: a stable (mature) group, and a less mature group with more upward mobility.


From this income classification, the data shows that CTrip has the most high income users, while Qunar has more middle- income users, especially those in the upwardly mobile group.


Therefore the findings of CNNIC’s comprehensive report suggest that Qunar’s user base has significant potential for the future.