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Alibaba’s Fliggy records surge in outbound travel demand by Chinese consumers, executive shares at ITB Berlin

  • Fliggy music weekend on the beach.
  • Simeon Shi, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Corporate Development

To meet Chinese users’ growing appetite for traveling abroad in response to the recently relaxed travel restrictions, Fliggy launched a month-long promotion for outbound travel in late February, during which over 130,000 products such as flight ticket packages, pre-sale hotels and resorts, theme park tickets and island vacation tours were sold in the first week.

Fliggy, Alibaba Group’s online travel platform serving Chinese consumers, saw a surge in demand across various categories of outbound international travel-related products, said Simeon Shi, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Corporate Development at Fliggy, during a panel discussion held by the World Tourism Cities Federation at ITB Berlin on March 9.

According to Shi, the number of outbound and inbound flight bookings by Chinese consumers on Fliggy had increased more than 4.5 times year-on-year in the first two months of 2023. The platform also noted a 190% year-on-year increase in orders for outbound tour products, including overseas local rides, scenic spot tickets, and online visa processing services during the same period.

Fliggy has been preparing for the revival of outbound travel demand during the pandemic. Shi mentioned that the company has been active in building Chinese tourists’ awareness and positive mindshare toward outbound destinations over the past three years. Fliggy has organized special promotional campaigns and hosted livestreaming tours of attractions such as the Louvre, the British Museum, Casa Batlló and the Mercedes-Benz Museum to let Chinese consumers experience the wonders of their exhibitions when they could not physically travel themselves.

In addition, Fliggy has been strengthening its supply chain and service capability. It has tapped the strength and expertise of different industry stakeholders through strategic investments and partnerships, such as those with tech-driven travel distribution service provider DidaTravel and global car rental platform Zuzuche, to enhance its product supply and coverage in key destinations around the world. As part of its merchant support measures, the platform diversified its merchant operating models for travel industry practitioners with little to no e-commerce experience to conveniently establish an online presence and tap demand from China’s growing digital-native consumer base.

To meet Chinese users’ growing appetite for traveling abroad in response to the recently relaxed travel restrictions, Fliggy launched a month-long promotion for outbound travel in late February, during which over 130,000 products such as flight ticket packages, pre-sale hotels and resorts, theme park tickets and island vacation tours were sold in the first week. In particular, pre-sales of the featured cruise tours along Nordic fjords and the Mediterranean each surpassed RMB1 million in a single day. Shi mentioned that Thailand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam were among the top outbound travel destinations by the number of air tickets sold, with growing interest in European destinations as well.

Shi emphasized that China’s travel consumption trend has shifted from destination-focused to experience-oriented and interest-driven, fragmenting demand significantly. He advised travel service providers to spend more time researching consumer behavior changes and ways to efficiently meet diverse needs.

On the domestic market side, Shi highlighted that Fliggy’s ongoing development of its supply chain and service capability over the past two years has led to a quicker recovery of China domestic airplane ticket and hotel bookings compared to the overall domestic travel performance reported by the China National Tourism Administration.

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