Chenlijun Dong; Ying Xu
High Concept Statement:
Travel steward that makes your US travel much easier!
Need or Demand:
We believe there are Chinese tourists who have a strong desire for customized travel planning and trip guidance service before and, during their trips to the United States through a single mobile application. They also eager to share their travel experience in better organized and nicer way after their trips. These consumers are usually younger (aged 22 to 34 years old), have higher education (bachelor degree or above), and have higher income (annual income ¥100,000 or above), and more flexibility in taking time off and vacation (business owners or self-employed).
Chinese outbound tourism market is currently seen as one of the most competitive emerging markets. UNWTO predicts that China is going to surpass all other inbound markets to the US and becoming the largest tourist source market by 2020. With the launch of the ten-year multi-entry visiting visa to the United States, more and more Chinese tourists are attracted to the United States.
There are three major obstacles that challenge Chinese tourists from visiting the United States. On one hand, many young Chinese outbound tourists are not satisfied with the itinerary and service provided by group travel providers; however, they do enjoy the comfortableness and security of such all-inclusive group travel packages. On the other hand, these young Chinese tourists prefer to travel independently for more freedom, but language barrier is still a major challenge for many Chinese outbound tourists, especially when they do not have travel guides or interpreters. Moreover, a majority of Chinese tourists have limited access to information, and many of them are not familiar with destinations and travel products in the United States. They need customized suggestions on all travel details, but still do not sacrifice their freedom. Starting with major US destinations, this mobile app is aiming at expanding destination profiles in the future.
Product / Service / Solution:
We believe these needs can be fulfilled by providing customized trip planning service using digital support platform, which helps Chinese travelers prioritize their travel elements and personalize their trips by mapping itinerary of each day.
This app will provide users accurate suggestions on their trip designs, based on the results from a psychological survey that they are required to take at the beginning of the trip planning process. The users are encouraged to book their trips through the app because we will provide competitive price and more flexible cancellation policy. The users can choose different elements for the tour based on our suggestions, and the app will map out a customized travel itinerary for them. The users are allowed to play with the trip designing process, mix and match, add and delete any elements. Every detail about the trip to US will be taken into consideration throughout the interactive trip planning stage. The users can drag their preferred destinations, attractions, hotels, flights, etc. into a bucket, and the app will generate reasonable itinerary for each day. During the trips, the app will push notification of local weather forecast, so the user will be able to adjust their trips and optimize their experience with minimized effect due to bad weather condition. After the trips, the system can generate ravel albums, including pictures and videos, and the users can share the entire album or partial of the album on major Chinese social media platforms. A travel eco-system will be developed through this app.
A practical tool kit is pre-installed in the app to provide English language support to the users during their trip in the United States. The tool kit includes useful English phrases and a customized map with tips on how to get from point A to point B. Translation solution is installed in the app to translate information for the users, so they can solve the majority of issues during their trips without any language barrier. If there are still problems, our experienced customer support representatives will be available to provide users with instant solutions and support.
The users are encouraged to review their experience and share it on Weibo and WeChat after the completion of their trips. Incentives, including but not limited to discounted or complimentary travel products and service, are available for social media influencers. Data collected from users will be used for further product development.
The #1 value customers want to derive from this solution is the customized trip planning and travel assistance for app users without sacrificing the security and certainty. We consider customers’ travel preference, as well as details of travel product selection, connections in between, and the quality of customers’ travel experiences. The US-bound Chinese travelers feel comfortable with the security and simplified matters of traditional all-inclusive travel packages, but they also prefer the freedom of customized travel itinerary designed by them. The value proposition of this app is to help the industry understand Chinese tourists’ motivations more accurately and provide them with customized-trip planning. It provides Chinese customers a new lifestyle.
The customers will also benefit from additional service, such as word-to-word language training and translation, which helps them understand the local better. In addition, professional assistants will provide 24 hour help for tourists when they encounter problems and difficulties. More importantly, travelers will be able to skip all the different intermediaries while booking their travel accommodations, transportation, and destination attractions and tours. This benefits both the travelers and the suppliers. Price is more transparent to the customers, and businesses generate more revenue.
The primary competition will come from both direct competition and indirect competition.
Direct competition comes from China OTA (Online Travel Agency) giants, companies like Ctrip and AliTrip. Both companies have access to enormous tourism resources and user database. Companies who provide similar travel service to tourists from similar markets, such as Wanner, a travel app that provides clean operation pages and easy navigation in booking trips to Europe and America can also be a competitor. However, Wanner still sells pre-arranged travel packages from wholesales, which makes the service not customized or personalized. In addition, travel companies that provide personalized travel planning and booking service, such as Uniqueway, can be another type of competitor. However, Uniqueway does not specialize in US destinations. None of the companies mentioned above puts the customer experience at the first places; they also focus most on booking stage, rather than during and after the trips.
Indirect competition comes from two areas. The first one is travel review websites and applications, such as Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, and Mafengwo. The second area is US-based OTAs, such as Expedia and Booking.com.
Although there will be competition in the market, we believe our specialized customized trip-planning product will meet the needs of Chinese outbound tourists to the United States better. We will put our resource together to better understand the customers’ travel needs and provide them with the most suitable travel plans and travel experience. We will focus on quality of the service and take good care of every aspect for a customer’s trip, including not but limited to booking, interpreting, customer support, and social media sharing.
In the beginning, our revenue model contains two major streams. On one hand, the app will charge customers a flat – “per day” service fee, based on their length of stay in the United States. If there are requests for language training package and support or visa application service, additional fees will be charged to the customers. On the other hand, revenue also comes from travel suppliers. A 10% commission will be received from accommodation partners, which is lower than average OTA commission rate. Commissions will also be received from tours and attractions partners on the itinerary map.
In the future, when customer database is large enough, we will use the information we collect and provide suggestions to businesses that are interested in developing Chinese market. Marketing revenue or partnership fee can also be generated when more and more users start to share their stories and pinpoint different businesses.