March 7, 2006

Hello train, goodbye kitty — China’s travel sites getting smarter about pricing, supply & demand

Filed under: E-commerce — Administrator @ 11:07 am

One of the nice bits about traveling in China is that the airlines actually cut the price of their tickets closer to the date of departure – rather than the other way around, as it is just about everywhere else in the world.

For example, a one-way economy ticket from Shanghai to Beijing might cost RMB1,110 a week prior to take-off, yet drop to RMB580 the day before departure.

This pricing policy, according to a good friend who is CEO of a major Hong Kong airline, is one reason, the core reason, discount airlines will never make it in China.

Er, that was then (two weeks ago) and this is now. We were shocked, just flat out shocked, to learn yesterday that both e-long and ctrip no longer discount tickets closer to the departure date. In fact, according to our favorite e-long agent, at least in Shanghai, the maximum discount the agent can offer four days prior to the departure date is 20%, not the 40 – 60% we’re accustom to.

Everyday, we see little signs that China’s business environment is evolving, maturing, and this is great to see, even it if it means we need to consider taking the overnight train more often to Beijing than we would like.

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