The increase in high disposable income and rise of middle class has influenced the purchasing behaviour and travel decisions of young, educated and technologically skilled Chinese travellers. The internet is the primary source of travel planning with 95 per cent of Chinese travellers beginning their search at Baidu, the 800 lbs Gorilla of China search. The steady economic growth in the country has increased the consumption power, but the middle class Chinese traveller still remains price sensitive and compares rates on meta-search channels before booking.
An increase in disposable income, a broadening middle class, and an improved road and rail network has encouraged more people to travel. The amount of money spent on travel in China has been growing at 20 per cent compound rate for the last few years, and has made Chinese travellers the big spenders.
Digital media and e-commerce have moved into the mainstream of Chinese internet users lives with them spending about one billion hours online each day, more than double the daily total in the United States. When it comes to online travel - Ctrip, eLong and Ly.com dominate the market. The internet penetration in the country is being led by smartphones, and this has led to an exponential rise in mobile travel bookings. A whopping 89 per cent travellers use smartphones to access websites and 45 per cent of business travellers use mobile for travel arrangements.
When it comes to booking decisions, Chinese travellers trust online reviews more than friends or families. The volume of reviews posted nearly doubled in 2013, and peer recommendations influence not only where travellers go, but also where they shop for travel products. The Infographic notes that 48 per cent of travellers use social media in trip planning and 89 per cent of luxury travellers write reviews after the trip. Sina Weibo, the local micro-blogging site rules in the social space with over 550 million active users.