7 Most Used Online Travel Agencies (OTA) in China [Top List]

Last Updated on June 26, 2024

Experts predict that around 130 million Chinese travelers will travel abroad in 2024. This figure alone is 50% higher compared to last year’s tourism statistics and 80% more than recorded flights during the pandemic.

With Chinese consumers back in the outbound tourism hype, they’re increasingly searching for more convenient ways to book travel-related services. One source that never fails to satisfy their needs is the long list of popular online travel agencies (OTA) in China.

In this post, we’ll explore each platform’s offerings and how you can use them to convince Chinese tourists to patronize your brand.


How big is the OTA market in China?

China has the second-largest OTA market in the world, with an expected industry size of $91.21 billion in 2024. As more local consumers continue to turn to online travel agency services for their tourism plans, the segment can reach $185.45 billion by 2029.

The key drivers of this growth include increasing internet penetration in major Chinese cities and the steady rise of disposable income among middle-class consumer groups. The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a role in boosting online travel bookings as consumers shifted towards digital platforms during lockdowns and travel restrictions​.

According to surveys, most users utilizing travel websites in China for their travel plans belong to the 35-44 age group. In fact, these Chinese Millennials (born in the 80s and 90s) account for 71% of Meituan-Dianping’s overall user base.


overview of the OTA market in China


7 Best Online Travel Agencies (OTA) in China

1.   Ctrip (携程旅行)

In recent years, Ctrip has solidified its place as the leading online platform that Chinese consumers trust for booking hotels, attraction tickets, and travel packages. The app can connect tourists to over 5,000 accommodation businesses around the world and holds access to major airlines in the country’s 45 major cities.

Beyond these booking services, Ctrip’s 400 million registered active users are free to access the app’s social networking features. They can even search and post travel guides based on the latest destinations they visited.


Ctrip website

Ctrip’s Website Homepage


Besides the ability to post travel experiences on Ctrip, the platform also facilitates a forum-like section for its users. In there, Chinese travelers can post questions and answer queries from their fellow tourists.

Ctrip is also among the first travel apps to introduce a dedicated WeChat mini-program to its users. Through this channel, the business can take advantage of the convenience and extensive audience reach of China’s super app.


Ctrip’s WeChat Mini Program


2.   Qunar (去哪儿)

Qunar was acquired by Ctrip in 2015, generating over 29 million monthly active users in China. This online travel agency platform allows users to book various travel products, such as flights, accommodations, commute route tickets, and car rentals.

While it’s not the most popular among local OTAs, it’s the first travel search engine in the Chinese market. It’s best known for offering discounts on airfares, especially on flights to Asian destinations.


Qunar's Website Homepage

Qunar’s Website Homepage


As a stand-alone travel app, Qunar users can complete their travel bookings within the platform without being redirected to another website. Its services span more than 700,000 airlines, 2.5 million hotel accommodations, and 56,000 tourist attractions worldwide.


3.   Fliggy (飞猪)

Another travel app Chinese tourists are fond of is Fliggy, which has over 8.8 million monthly active users. It was formerly known as Alitrip, and its travel services are fully integrated within Alibaba’s ecosystem. Right now, the app has over 5000 international and local travel partners.

Like other travel websites in China, Fliggy offers accommodations, travel packages, and flights. It also features a membership system, where users can gain incentives for spending more on the platform.


Fliggy’s Website Homepage

Fliggy’s Website Homepage


Hotels and other accommodations can also benefit from Fliggy’s advertising platform, which allows advertisers to bid for sponsored listings. This makes your promotional content appear at the top of the app’s search results for relevant keywords.


4.   Mafengwo

At first glance, you’d think Mafengwo is similar to popular social media platforms in China. However, its focus remains on allowing users to share their travel experiences with others who intend to visit the same destinations they did.

While the online platform does not offer direct booking services, it has seamless e-commerce integrations that can boost sales conversions and bookings.


Advertising in China Mafengwo


It also has a solid online community consisting of travel agents, solo travellers, amateur bloggers, and tourism enthusiasts. These forums run on a “club system,” where users share their trips, tips, and know-how.

Because of its highly engaged audiences and extensive reach, many travel-related businesses rely on it for changing trends and consumer behaviors.


5.   Tuniu

With 5.5 million monthly active users, Tuniu certainly ranks high among the top Chinese OTA platforms. Brands often partner with this app to take advantage of its substantial customer base through discounted travel package deals.

Tuniu users are often looking for exclusive perks and incentives, which makes the platform an excellent source of highly engaged and loyal customers.

The platform also includes social media functions, allowing users to post travel-related content. These user-generated posts can range from articles, videos, or detailed guides.


Tuniu Homepage

Tuniu Homepage


6.   Meituan-Dianping

Meituan-Dianping is an online-to-offline platform that facilitates convenient connections between consumers and businesses. In addition to its online travel agency services, it offers food delivery, in-store coupons, and attraction tickets.

Many people compare this travel website to Yelp, but it has a market cap that is 100 times larger. It also benefits from a loyalty program system that drives more users to search for services, compare options, place orders, make reservations, and pay virtually.


Meituan-Dianping APP

Meituan-Dianping APP


7.   Tongcheng E-Long

This tourism booking platform emerged from the merger of Tongcheng Network and E-Long.

Tongcheng initially focused on providing online bus ticketing services and gradually expanded its offerings to include a wider range of travel products. On the other hand, E-Long, established in 1999, was one of China’s earliest OTAs and became known for its hotel booking services.

Today, the merged OTA platform offers travel-related services, including hotel bookings, transportation tickets, and packaged tours. It caters to a broad spectrum of travel needs, from flights and hotels to train and bus services, effectively making it a one-stop platform for travelers.


Tongcheng E-Long Homepage

Tongcheng Travel Homepage


Other Apps and Platforms Chinese People Use When Traveling Abroad

●     WeChat Pay and Alipay

Your target audiences are from a country dominated by phone users, so enabling mobile payments for your services is a no-brainer.

WeChat Pay and Alipay are the two leading mobile payment platforms in China, and consumers widely adopt them for their convenience and security. These platforms have been integrated into many hotel booking apps, facilitating seamless transactions for Chinese tourists abroad.


WeChat pay & Alipay


Integrating these e-wallet services into your marketing strategy can also be beneficial if you’re targeting travel retail consumers from China. As you know, 66% of Chinese travelers going abroad are 34 or below, making them more tech-savvy than other local demographics.


●     Translator Apps

Language barriers are one of the many hindrances to establishing a connection with Chinese travelers.

Many rely on translator apps such as Baidu Translate and WeChat Translate to overcome this issue. These apps offer real-time translation capabilities, which are incredibly useful for navigating foreign countries, ordering food, or asking for directions.

By integrating these translation tools, businesses can enhance communication with Chinese travelers, ensuring a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Providing support for these apps can help bridge the language gap and improve service quality for Chinese tourists.


●     WeChat QR Code

Businesses looking to attract Chinese tourists should understand the importance of WeChat QR codes. In China, QR codes are ubiquitous and used for various purposes, including making payments, accessing information, and following social media accounts.

If you’re implementing hotel marketing strategies, you can use QR codes to streamline check-ins, provide additional information, or enable easy payment options.


WeChat qr code


●     WeChat Mini-Programs

WeChat Mini-Programs are sub-applications within the WeChat ecosystem that allow brands to create customized user experiences. It can be customized to serve various needs of Chinese tourists, such as booking hotels, reserving tickets for tourist attractions, or finding local restaurants.

For example, a hotel can create a mini-program that allows Chinese travelers to check availability, make reservations, and even check in, all within WeChat. This integration improves the customer experience and helps businesses connect with Chinese tourists in a familiar digital environment.


How to Attract Chinese Tourists Through OTA Platforms in China

1.   Cross-Platform Promotions

The Chinese market operates with a thriving, full-scale digital ecosystem. To utilize the industry’s power, travel brands must implement cross-platform promotions to reach and engage Chinese tourists more effectively.

This strategy involves leveraging multiple digital channels, such as social media, search engines, and online travel agencies (OTAs), to create a cohesive and consistent marketing message.


Marriot Hotels’ Video Advertisement in WeChat

Marriot Hotels’ Video Advertisement in WeChat


Integrating campaigns across these platforms ensures that travelers encounter the brand at various touchpoints during their planning and booking process, enhancing the likelihood of conversion.


2.   Travel KOLs and KOCs

Social sharing plays a crucial part in a local consumer’s travel decisions. In particular, Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs) significantly influence their followers’ choices through authentic and engaging content.

Collaborating with these popular travel influencers can help brands reach more potential tourists through appealing content mediums like vlogs, reviews, and social media posts.


Travel KOLs on Little Red Book promoting global hotels

Travel KOLs on Little Red Book promoting global hotels


3.   Paid Digital Advertisements

While it’s true that Chinese travelers rely on user-generated content to create a comprehensive travel plan in advance, the power of ads on these platforms cannot be overlooked.

Strategic use of ads on platforms like Baidu, WeChat, and OTAs can significantly enhance brand visibility and reach. These advertisements can be targeted based on user demographics, interests, and behaviors, ensuring they get the most relevant audience.


Example of Search Results on Ctrip

Example of Search Results on Ctrip


Your Trusted OTA Marketing Partner in the Chinese Market

With the digital revolution still flourishing in China, online travel agencies (OTA) are bound to grow larger in the coming years. This progress meant that marketers should continue to treat these platforms as important sources of potential local customers and audiences in the long run.


You may also want to read:

Ctrip advertising in China


At Sekkei Digital Group, we understand the ins and outs of China’s dynamic digital landscape. Our team has extensive knowledge and industry experience to help your brand gain the favor and patronage of Chinese outbound tourists.


Sekkei Digital Group Services


Whether you intend to launch official accounts on local social media platforms or integrate Chinese OTAs into your marketing plans, we have all the digital solutions you need. Contact us today, and let’s start working together.


contact us SDG



App of the Month – Fliggy
App of the month – Tuniu
Reaching Chinese Tourists: Online Travel Agencies and Social Media Platforms
What Apps Do Chinese Tourists Use When Traveling?
Number of monthly active users number (MAU) of the leading online travel apps in China as of February 2024

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get our latest news

Scroll to Top