Ctrip CEO says acquisitions starting to pay off

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York | | Updated: 2017-03-03 05:23

Ctrip CEO says acquisitions starting to pay off

Sun Jie, CEO of the China-based online travel company, speaks at Columbia University on Wednesday. She said in an interview that her company is ready to capture more of the business travel market in China. Hezi Jiang/China Daily

The CEO of, China's top online travel service provider, said the company is successfully digesting recent acquisitions and is poised to capture a bigger slice of the business travel market from the country.

Speaking at the Columbia University Business School's Chazen Institute of Global Business event on Wednesday in New York, Sun Jie said travel will continue to be a key part of diplomacy between China and the US.

Acknowledging that ties can sometimes become strained between the world's two largest economies, Sun said travel can overcome tension.

"I have lived in both the US and China and I cherish the friends I have in both nations. Travel can be a bridge between the two countries," she said.

Sun was named the CEO of Ctrip last November after the joining the company as chief financial officer in 2005. Ctrip, which had an initial public offering on the Nasdaq in 2003, is an industry heavyweight with over 30,000 employees and a market valuation topping $25 billion.

Last year, Ctrip acquired a domestic rival Qunar and Skyscanner Holdings, a UK-based travel search site. Sun said the integration of Qunar has gone well.

"We have helped (Qunar) improve their efficiency and their search-engine model into a direct-booking model which will increase their revenue," Sun said.

A 2016 report from Ctrip and the Global Business Travel Association said China's spending on business travel reached $290 billion last year, trailing only the US. Sun said there is still room for growth and her company wants to expand its market share.

"People are entrepreneurial in China and want to explore opportunities in other markets. That's why there is a lot of demand for travel from China to Australia, Europe, New Zealand and the US along with other areas," said Sun.

China's airlines want to sell more tickets directly to customers and avoid paying a commission to third-parties like Ctrip. In 2015, China's state assets regulator mandated that the country's three state-owned airlines raise their share of direct ticket sales to 50 percent in the next three years, compared with less than 30 percent. The regulator also ordered commission fees paid to agencies to be halved from 2014 levels.

Sun said Ctrip is ready to make up for any lost revenue from the development. "Not only can Ctrip sell airline tickets but we can also provide hotels, rental cars and other services as well. If a customer wants more than an airline ticket, we can help them take care of just about all of their travel needs," said Sun.

Sun has a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida and holds a law degree from Beijing University's law school.

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