Ctrip advertising in China

How Does Ctrip Advertising Work in China? [Overview]

Last Updated on June 21, 2024

The Chinese outbound tourism market is quickly picking up its pace after its massive drop during the pandemic. In 2023, the local travel industry recorded more than 101 million cross-border trips, which covers 60% of the country’s pre-COVID era travel statistics.

With Chinese tourists generating $679 billion, many Western travel brands are eager to tap into the market and explore how to attract local travelers to patronize their businesses.

One of the most effective strategies is launching promotions on an online travel agency (OTA). In this post, we’ll discuss how Ctrip advertising works and new insights about Chinese outbound tourists.


What is Ctrip in China?

Ctrip is a multinational travel service conglomerate best known for consolidating hotel reservations, air travel tickets, and tourism-packaged tours for Chinese travelers. In 2017, the company acquired Trip.com and made the website its global channel.

In China, Ctrip offers online and offline travel services that connect Chinese tourists to over 5,000 renowned local and international hotels. It also provides thousands of vacation packages for domestic and Western destinations at lower costs.

The platform also provides Ctrip users access to almost all the major airlines within 45 cities and regions in Mainland China.


Ctrip website

Ctrip’s Website Homepage


Thanks to its cost-effective promotions, this online travel platform garnered 4 million app downloads and 400 million registered active users in 2024.

The graph below from Statista also shows that it’s leading by a large margin in terms of monthly active users compared to other companies offering the same travel services. With this massive user base, chances are your target Chinese outbound tourists are already scrolling through Ctrip.


Monthly active users of leading travel apps in China

Monthly active users of leading travel apps in China (Source: Statista)


Who Uses Ctrip in the Chinese Market?

Ctrip’s online booking and tourism services are top-rated among middle- to high-earning individuals in China. Meanwhile, the platform’s dominant consumer group continues to be male users, who account for 60% of its overall population.

The past year also showed more concentrated travel demands from first-tier cities, covering 50% of Ctrip’s user base. However, as the market gains momentum, experts predict traffic from lower-tier cities will improve in 2024.

With the accumulation of younger Chinese tourists, Ctrip also noted the increase in the number of users born under the post-90s consumer groups.  In fact, over 35% of the app’s user base are Millennials, while 10% are from Generation Z.


Overview of Ctrip Users


Average Travel Spend of Ctrip Users

Chinese outbound tourists on Ctrip are typically categorized by member value or purchasing power. These consumers are given reward points based on the number of bookings and services they availed on the platform.

To assess which consumer group aligns with the cost of your offerings and services, here’s a quick overview of their average annual spend:

  • Gold Members: ¥5000
  • Platinum Members: ¥30000
  • Diamond Members: ¥100000
  • Gold Diamond Members: ¥300000
  • Black Diamond: ¥500000



Understanding the Ctrip Advertising Ecosystem

Ctrip prides itself on precision advertising capabilities powered by real-time big data and AI technology. To identify the best audience and ad format for an advertiser, the platform usually utilizes these factors:


  • Demographic (Residence, Age, Gender, Destination, Time of Arrival/Departure, Individual Status)
  • Booking Behaviors (e.g., booking accommodations with kids, adding inclusions for spa, beach, skiing, or reserving luxury hotel rooms)
  • Member Value/Points (Gold Members, Platinum, Diamond, Gold Diamond, Black Diamond)
  • Shopping Patterns (Interests in different countries, looking for location-specific products like cosmetics, and searching for travel tips or restaurant recommendations)


Available Ad Formats on Ctrip

Foreign brands can choose different advertising options when launching paid promotions on the Ctrip app. Here are some formats you can consider:


●     Digital Banner Displays

These advertising banners appear throughout the app based on the user’s behavior and past engagements. Ctrip’s algorithm uses big data to show ads that best suit the interests of its users.

With this targeted approach, your brand advertisement will reach audiences that are more likely already interested in your products and services. It also means the chances of them clicking on the banner ads and converting into sales are higher.


Example of Banner Displays on Ctrip

Example of Banner Displays on Ctrip


●     Branded Content Placements or Search Ads

Advertising integration on Ctrip is less intrusive than on other local social media platforms. With this promotion format, your content or in-app landing pages appear at the top of the user’s search results.

Even then, the sponsored posts should still be relevant and helpful to the user’s original search intent. Since these ads appear on the search page, they can naturally influence your target audience to check out your offerings.


Example of Search Results on Ctrip

Example of Search Results on Ctrip


●     Ctrip Ads Alliance

With the Ctrip Ads Alliance, your promotional content can reach beyond the app. This format covers different advertising platforms in China, including Tencent, Little Red Book, Zhihu, Bilibili, Toutiao, and many more.

The integration through these advertising channels gives advertisers insight into how their potential customers interact with their ads outside the app, from clicking on an ad posted on a different platform to booking on Ctrip.

Your travel ads can attract traffic from social media channels to your Ctrip landing page by clearly identifying your target consumer groups and their interests.

These advertisements will act as your digital footprint outside the app, helping you generate visibility and sales conversions from popular social channels.


Ctrip Ads Alliance


●     Hero Apps Integrations (WeChat)

Beyond the app, Ctrip also reaches out to online consumers in China via social media integration. Once you utilize the platform’s advertising services, your offerings will automatically be promoted on different channels, like WeChat.

China’s biggest OTA seems to know the power social media holds in the Chinese market, so it launched its own WeChat mini-program. From there, local users can book a trip and reserve hotels according to their travel needs.


Ctrip mini program QR code


The most notable aspect of this Hero App integration is leveraging WeChat’s ability to provide a seamless booking experience for your potential customers. Everything can be handled within the platform, from discovery to payment settlement via WeChat Pay.

It also has a VIP community management integration that makes it easier for a travel brand to promote and track the needs of its consumers.


Ctrip’s WeChat Mini Program


●     Star-hub Flagship Store

Your paid digital marketing efforts on Ctrip are not limited to typical advertising formats. On this platform, you can build private traffic and brand domain by establishing an official in-app flagship store.

This option is desirable for full-scale destination businesses because they can include every travel service they offer, from booking flights and airport services to transportation options and other on-site activities.


Resorts World Sentosa’s Official Flagship Store in Ctrip (Source: PR Newswire)


In your official Ctrip flagship store, you can share user-generated content, create posts recommending products and services, or post product pages. You can also integrate membership sections on this channel, allowing you to provide promos and deals to your loyal customers.


●     Trip Moments

The Ctrip platform includes a complete digital marketing ecosystem, which means brands have plenty of opportunities to advertise their services. For example, each search term or destination has “travel notes.”

These posts are typically posted by other Ctrip users in the form of a review. With this feature, marketers can improve their Ctrip digital marketing campaign by working with travel KOLs and KOCs.


Example of Travel Notes in Ctrip

Example of Travel Notes in Ctrip


The advantage of working with these users is that local travelers view their reviews and recommendations as more authentic and genuine. With detailed descriptions, your target audience won’t see these posts as content posted for the sake of advertisement.

Another opportunity to promote is through the platform’s Q&A section. It’s a forum-like feature that provides answers to users who are looking for travel-related solutions. Most topics are initiated by engaged audiences, which presents an opportunity for a brand to establish its presence on the platform.


What kind of brands should be advertised on Ctrip?


●      Outbound Destination Brands

Beyond the usual Western destination brands, Chinese tourists seem to lean more toward Asian travel spots. If you look at the famous theme parks overseas destinations frequented by locals in 2023, Hong Kong Disney Land and Universal Studios Japan is at the top of the list.

Nevertheless, when it comes to overseas cultural and city trips, locals can’t exclude classic attractions like the Roman Colosseum and Chateau de Versailles from their list.

The popularity of these places among Chinese travelers can benefit nearby hotels, restaurants, and other travel-related businesses.


Ctrip’s Top Outbound Attractions

(Source: Dragon Trail)


Data suggests that most Chinese tourists also prefer to plan trips to nearby countries in categories like beaches, food, and trendy destinations. Beyond Asian spots, they also consider trending or “internet famous” places like the Maldives.

Many Ctrip users also value sightseeing and food experiences when travelling abroad, as evidenced by the countries mentioned in the chart.


Ctrip’s Top Travel Categories

(Source: Dragon Trail)


●      Travel Retail Brands

Many travelers from China today don’t just go abroad for sightseeing or cultural activities. These days, local tourists are fond of travel retail trips. This market segment has an estimated value of $64.23 billion between 2023 and 2028.

Recognizing the influence of this trend, Ctrip included a shopping section on its platform. This feature lets users view Duty-Free shops, food markets, restaurants, malls, and establishments near their desired destination.


Ctrip’s Shopping Section

Ctrip’s Shopping Section


Ready To Dominate The Chinese Outbound Travel Market?

The Ctrip advertising landscape offers ample tools and features to help your brand reach the right audience. As a platform focused on the travel niche, it also opens many opportunities for foreign businesses to get familiar with local consumer preferences and purchasing behavior.


You may also want to read:

Hotel Marketing in China


At Sekkei Digital Group, we understand the intricacies that come along with the rapidly evolving outbound travel market in China. With our team’s extensive experience, we can position your brand as a credible industry leader and a dominating presence on Ctrip’s platform.


Sekkei Digital Group Services


Whether you intend to launch an advertising campaign on Ctrip or find a travel KOL to work with, we have all the digital solutions you need. Contact us today, and let’s start working together.


contact us SDG



Ctrip 2023-2024 Inbound and Outbound Travel Consumption Trends Report
In charts: China’s outbound tourism in 2024
How to use Ctrip Digital Marketing to attract Chinese outbound tourists

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