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Hotel discounting in China is definitely a contact sport with online travel agencies Ctrip, Qunar, eLong, and others competing to expand and offer lower hotel pricing than their rivals.
But now there is hope among China’s online travel agencies and hotels, if not necessarily travelers, that more moderate pricing policies will ensue.
In a move that rivals Expedia’s acquisitions of Travelocity and Orbitz Worldwide, Chinese market leader Ctrip in October engaged in a share-swap deal with search-engine Baidu, which controlled Qunar, that gives the combined Ctrip-Qunar a market-leading position in hotel bookings and airline tickets. Several months earlier, Expedia sold its majority stake in eLong to Ctrip and other investors.
Ctrip CEO James Liang recently told investors that Ctrip can now “eliminate some of the irrational promotions on the market,” meaning the wave of hotel discount coupons. In other countries this might trigger antitrust actions but not necessarily in China.
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