My first experience with Chinese travel sites was booking tickets on eLong many moons ago – 2007, I think?
I’ve since booked with or followed most of the major Chinese travel aggregators, those being cTrip (they of the transcendent English-language customer service), Qunar, and to a lesser extent AliTrip, Alibaba’s recent foray into the industry.
Notable differences between these and most Western-based by Western travel aggregators (except you, Agoda) has become an accepted norm, the understanding being that sites are there to facilitate search, and that if you need help with your booking, you call the airline or hotel directly.
It’s right there, usually above the fold (if such a thing can be said to exist):Epsilon’s most recent study on Chinese consumer behavior backs me up on this, finding that brand loyalty is highest when a seamless online and offline customer service experience can be provided by digital brands:SHANGHAI, Feb. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ Epsilon, the global leader in creating connections between people and brands, completed its study on the habits of Chinese consumers.
The report revealed that 61 percent of Chinese study respondents are loyal to e-commerce players like Taobao, JD and Tmall, the highest across all sectors surveyed…Goes on to say:Epsilon’s research report uncovered several other China loyalty trends: Those companies most adept at integrating online and offline touch points to deliver a seamless customer service experience are now commanding the loyalty of Chinese consumers.
One for one, Chinese travel sites require users to actively select whether they’re traveling domestically or internationally, toggling between different search features for each, a distinction that we don’t see in U.S. travel interfaces.
So, either there’s a copycat issue happening here (everyone does it, therefore I must), a technical issue, or – I suspect – a user behavior issue that perhaps alludes to the possibility that Chinese consumers think about domestic and international travel as two separate things.
Again, still looking for definitive answers, but there are a few possible reasons I can think of here:Some screenshots, again from the Big Four:Most Chinese and Western travel aggregators offer similar services in the main navigation.
But the main navigation areas on Chinese travel sites also include gift and charge cards, a focus that is conspicuously downplayed in Western UI.
Alizila, a site offering ecommerce news and commentary from the Alibaba group, cites recent findings that suggest Chinese consumers need more surety than consumers elsewhere:”Unsurprisingly, Chinese consumers need more hand-holding and assurances during the shopping process.
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