China's Cites Growing Corporate Travel Demand Amid Expansion

China's International this week cited "increased corporate travel demand" in reporting fourth-quarter corporate travel revenue of RMB47 million (US$8 million), 32 percent more than a year earlier and 9 percent more than in the third quarter. For full-year 2011, Ctrip reported corporate travel revenue of RMB162 million (US$26 million), 25 percent more than in 2010. Corporate travel revenue continued to represent 4 percent of the company's total revenue. Ctrip reported 2011 net revenue of RMB3.5 billion (US$556 million), 21 percent more than in 2010 but less than analysts expected, and share prices dipped as much as 10 percent Tuesday but were up slightly early Wednesday.

Ctrip also generates revenues from hotel reservations, air ticket bookings and packaged tours. Founded in 1999 to serve China's independent travel market, the largest online travel service provider in China added corporate travel management to its portfolio six years ago.

The company this month said it agreed to pay US$9 million for the 10 percent of travel agency Wing On Travel that it didn't already own, and officials said Ctrip also invested in hotel booking site Company president and CEO Min Fan didn't disclose the investment amount, describing it as "not significant," but said the company could invest more in the Chinese-language site designed to book budget hotels.

As they announced earnings, officials said Ctrip expanded its hotel supply network to 25,000 hotels, up from 17,000 at the end of 2010.

During the fourth quarter, Ctrip increased its investment in sales and marketing to help spur faster growth. The company partnered with China Construction Bank to co-issue joint gold and platinum credit cards, Fan said.

Ctrip also launched new corporate travel management services for small and medium enterprises and invested in train ticketing services for mid- to high-end train customers, he added.

The company also plans to continue investing in mobile platforms, officials said. On average 45 percent of Ctrip transactions are conducted online, including mobile. The company's mobile volume still is small, according to the company's CFO, but Fan, said that "our mobile platform is gaining strong momentum."