Group VP talks about what the OTA focuses on now, including outbound travel from China to Japan

How does see the current travel market, as it is getting back to  ‘normal’? How does the global OTA expect to the outbound market from China to Japan? Boon Sian Chai, Managing Director and Vice President International Markets at, talked about the present and the future of

More bookings for Japan than 2019 on

The business has been recovering well, as it increased sales in 2023 by 122% year on year to 44.5 billion yuan and net profit from 1.4 billion yuan a year ago to 9.9 billion yuan. 

“The domestic travel market in China was good even in the pandemic and the bookings in this year’s Lunar New Year was more than 2019,” Chai said. “Our global outbound travel bookings also exceeded those in 2019, as we are expanding the business globally.” 

In the outbound travel market from China to Japan, Chinese visitors to Japan in January and February 2024 were still 40% fewer than 2019 as a whole mainly because of visa requirement and short of flights, however Chai revealed that bookings on have already been more than 2019. 

Meanwhile, the inbound travel demand to China is still low because visa waiver countries are limited, although the Chinese government has a plan to expand the inbound travel market. 

Focusing on selling ‘Hotel + X’

60% of users are Millennials and Generation Z. “Their travel mentalities and styles have been changing,” Chai said. “What they want in a destination is experience.” Many bookings for Singapore were recently made for purpose of Taylor Swift concert, for instance. 

Chai emphasized that one of the’s strategies is not to sell a hotel room only, but to sell combination of a hotel room with attractions in a hotel, such as spa or afternoon tea, or with local activities in a destination. 

As an effort to sell experiences, enriches user-posted destination story contents on the app. Chai said, “We have a user community on the app, which functions as an ecosystem of travel booking.” 

In Japan, focuses on extending partnerships with local governments to propose local experiences, to users and encourage them to visit countrysides. It signed a partnership agreement with Okinawa Prefecture for joint promotion campaign and product development in December last year. “ Japan is a very potential travel market. We plan to extend partnerships with local areas in Japan,” Chai added. 

Unique technologies, such as TripGenie, help the business growth

One of the reasons for quick recovery of the business is that has been investing to technology development even in the pandemic. Chai stressed, “One of our strengths is technology, including AI-based TripGenie.” 

Covering all aspects of travel, from detailed itinerary crafting to immediate bookings, TripGenie responds seamlessly to text and voice commands and enhances the user experience by displaying images, links, and swiftly directs users to relevant app results.

“Our priority is customer first,” Chai said. is further enhancing the technology-centered customer services. 

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