Exclusive Interview – James Jianzhang Liang, Co-founder, Executive Chairman of the Board, Ctrip
As the travel industry comprises nearly 10% of global GDP, huge opportunities still lie ahead, with online penetration remaining relatively low in many pockets of the world. Ctrip is positioned for not only travel opportunities in China, but also global opportunities, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. By the same token, Ctrip’s CEO Jane Sun recently spoke about the fact that travel is a “gateway to global peace and prosperity”. We asked James Jianzhang Liang, Co- founder, Executive Chairman of the Board what his thoughts are on this.
WE CONTINUE TO SEEK NEW PARTNERSHIPS FOR OUR 300 MILLION PLUS REGISTERED MEMBERS
Travelling is a natural bridge to different cultures and races. Day in and day out our teams work tirelessly to ensure travel becomes easier and safer through technologies and services. This is a passion of ours. Travel is the key to better understanding, respect and happiness, which we feel is the foundation to promoting global peace and bringing prosperity to all stakeholders.
Over the past months, you have announced a number of joint ventures and partnerships. Which of these do you feel are the most important in helping Chinese travellers have a better experience?
We continue to seek new partnerships in order to ensure and address the needs of our 300 million plus registered members. Along with all travel partners, we are constantly finding ways to boost the diversity of our travel products and assure better service, particularly for the growing Chinese outbound customer-base.
I think there are a lot of areas we can improve upon to enable better experiences and services in the indestination category. We’ve been working with more and more local partners to enable local services like attractions, restaurants, trains and car services, just to name a few. These are all important links of the travel ecosystem which would greatly enhance the customer experience.
The 2017 China Outbound Tourism Travel Report came up with some very interesting ndings, for example with regard to Chinese travellers’ concern for safety. How has Ctrip been able to leverage this report and consequently better meet the demands of its customers?
Service has always been a pillar of our value proposition to users. Chinese people travelling overseas require more service capabilities given language barriers and cultural differences. This is why over 50% of our employee-base are in the customer service unit, providing 24/7 support for our customers. Calls are answered within 20 seconds to ensure prompt reply and efficiency. We’ve innovated to make service even lower friction with our Virtual Tour Managers (VTM) function. Travellers visiting certain destinations can join messenger chat groups that are managed by group managers who have in-depth destination knowledge, to provide instant replies about almost anything our travellers need. We also have the Global SOS system which can provide timely information and travel arrangement options in emergency situations.
Photo: James Jianzhang Liang, Co-founder & Executive Chairman of the Board, Ctrip.