Retail in Asia

Featured reports the highest growth in business travel in China’s second cities, the global online booking service, will focus on “lower tier” Chinese cities in order to expand its corporate travel market share.

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In a white paper published this week by the internet agency’s business travel branch, Trip.Biz, premier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are described as “saturated.”

As the country — the world’s largest business travel market — reboots after months of strict lockdowns, it claims there are now greater prospects in smaller locations, particularly around digitisation in a primarily paper-based economy.

According to the survey, more than 78 percent of business travelers have noted that lower-tier destinations are becoming increasingly popular for business travel.

“This is mainly due to companies pivoting to new destinations in response to market saturation in higher-tier cities and adjustment of cities,” said the report. “Some employers said that their businesses will focus on third and fourth tier cities in the future as business in large cities will become more saturated.”

Trip.Biz is now looking to expand its supply chain into third and fourth-tier cities to obtain better resources. In 2019, it began selling bus tickets to assist travelers in reaching more rural areas.

In the meantime, it has highlighted the potential for travel management companies to assist local businesses with more effective trip booking.

Bookings made by administrative staff for employees was 29.1 percent of all booking methods in 2021, down from nearly 40 percent in 2020. Employee self-bookings was only 23.5 percent of total bookings.

Employees preferred a mobile app 81 percent of the time, and a WeChat official account or “mini program” 62.4 percent of the time, up from 29.2 percent in 2020.

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When it comes to payment methods, 69.2 percent of employees utilised Alipay and 60 percent used WeChat, demonstrating the companies’ dominance in the country. Personal credit cards was 34.4 percent of the total, while corporation accounts via travel agencies accounted for 16.8 percent.