Chinese travelers are keen on using apps when planning and booking trips, and their willingness to embrace technology is much more widespread than in Europe or the United States. International travel deals site Travelzoo revealed just how significant the tolerance gap is in its recent survey of 6,000 of its members from Asia, Europe, and North America. The company found that more than 85 percent of its Chinese clients said using an app was “the easiest” way to book tour packages, flights, cruises, and other forms of travel. About 70 percent of the Chinese respondents said they plan to use a travel app to prepare for a vacation in the future.
For comparison, Travelzoo’s survey revealed that about 62 percent of Spanish respondents and 54 percent of those from the United States said they would use a travel app to book their next trip.
It’s widely known that China is the leading country in the world for mobile internet use, and those using their smartphones for travel-related purposes is rising. More than 167 million consumers used their phones to browse travel sites or apps in 2015, compared to 134 million in 2014, according to a white paper published by tech marketing blog China Internet Watch.
Travelzoo said its survey findings mean that it’s critical that travel deal firms ensure they have a polished app for Chinese consumers, while still serving clients elsewhere who prefer to make trip plans with travel agents. With 242 million Chinese travelers estimated to be heading abroad annually by 2024, companies like Travelzoo are looking to gain from this massive market, and will likely do so with perks like loyalty programs and deals if they take the data into account—these were a top driver for about 69 percent of the Chinese consumers surveyed.
Review sites also have a significant impact on the travel decisions Chinese consumers make when headed abroad. While the survey showed that about 69 percent of overall respondents from across the globe rely on travel deal websites more than guidebooks, travel agents, or review sites when it comes to making initial decisions, Chinese respondents say that review sites are going to be the top resource that they’ll consider when making the final call on a trip itinerary. That much was clear when Ctrip recently became the third most-used review site for hotel feedback, just behind TripAdvisor and Booking.com and just ahead of Facebook.
Chinese consumers’ apparent willingness to use smartphone apps to make travel plans isn’t perfect, however. The travel app market has room to grow, but payment security concerns might be holding it back, as about 36 percent of Chinese respondents for Travelzoo’s survey said this is a concern for them.