When Jeffrey Chen of ChinaTour.com revealed that the online travel agency’s sales volume was up 36 percent in the first six months of 2013, you can’t help but think you’ve misheard. What’s that? Thirty-six percent?
But your ears haven’t deceived you. By mid-July, the Los Angeles-based company, which sells escorted tours of China to individuals and travel purveyors, experienced a hefty 36 percent increase in sales volume. In 2012, ChinaTour.com handled 13,000 customers – this year, the company hit that number in July, Vice-president Chen says.
Hard work, a dedicated staff and Amadeus all figure into the company’s success, Chen says. ChinaTour.com switched to Amadeus Selling Platform and Amadeus Selling Platform Connect about a year ago after 10 years with another GDS. The Amadeus system streamlined ChinaTour.com’s selling process, which vastly enhanced its sales team’s productivity, Chen says.
“The Amadeus system is making our work more efficient and more accurate. It’s easier to use than our old system, and it’s more user-friendly and easy to learn.”
Also giving the company a competitive edge is 40-year-old Alex Wang, ChinaTour.com’s founder and president. Wang, who grew up in the Heilongjiang Province of northern China, became a tour guide for China Travel Services Wuxi after he graduated from Dongbei University of Finance and Economics. For several years, he traveled throughout the sprawling Asian nation, becoming familiar with its most remote areas as well as the more well-known tourist destinations.
“I have a stronger feeling about what tourists need because of my experience,” Wang says.
ChinaTour.com sells all-inclusive trips to the most popular tourist destinations, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Xian and the Yangtze River. Americans are drawn to the country’s cultural vibrancy and diversity, as well as ancient treasures such as the Terracotta Warriors and Great Wall. The diversity of travel experiences – conventional land tours as well as luxury river cruises and 72-hour visa-free tours of Beijing and Shanghai – are also appealing.
This year, the company began to focus more on catering to Chinese travelers who want American vacays, but that’s still a small part of the business. Chinese tourists, Wang says, most enjoy visiting Las Vegas, the West Coast, Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C.
ChinaTour.com’s marketing plan relies primarily on online promotion and sales so most of the company’s customers are under age 50. About 80 percent of its customers are Americans who want to visit China, with the remainder located in Australia, the United Kingdom “and a bunch of other countries you never heard of,” Chen says.
The company’s keen focus on meeting customers’ needs and desires is complemented by promotions on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. ChinaTour.com also offers tour specials through deal-of-the-day websites Groupon, Living Social and Travel Zoo to boost retail sales, which until two years ago formed the bulk of its business. Since 2011, the company has also delved into wholesale offerings to tour companies and travel agencies.
Back to the future
Amadeus figures heavily into ChinaTour’s continued upswing and ability to stay true to its guiding principle, Wang and Chen say. They view the flexibility of Amadeus’ technology toolkit as the key to creating a modern, efficient website for tech-savvy travelers. Additionally, the functionality of Amadeus software, with features such as the ability to input travelers’ passport information and view airplane seat availability in real time, boosts ChinaTour.com’s travel agents’ effectiveness in providing superior customer service. That’s all to the better.
“Amadeus has a lot of functions that make our jobs much easier,” Chen says. “And we’re always trying our best to be more successful.”
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