Call after call comes in to Asia's largest travel call centre from mainly Chinese consumers, but also international travellers booking flights, hotels and tour packages for anywhere from Hong Kong to Havana.
"You're getting calls from everywhere and they're going everywhere. If you listen in, you'll hear accents from anywhere from Hunan, Heilongjiang to India," Ctrip senior business development manager Coley Dale said.
Travel has become a booming business in China as its economic growth has lifted incomes and given people more opportunities for leisure activities.
China recorded more than 1.9 billion domestic tourist trips in 2009, up from 280 million in 1990, with increasing numbers booking online in a country with a world-leading 457 million Internet users.
Few companies tell the story of the country's travel surge better than Ctrip, China's biggest online travel company.
The company booked 100,000 hotel room nights in one month for the first time in March 2002. It took another 21 months to sell 100,000 air tickets in a month.
But in 2010, it had booked an average of about 1.7 million room nights and 2.5 million plane tickets a month. Its net profit for the year was one billion yuan (US$159 million), up 59 percent on-year.
About 40 percent of bookings through the company are made via the Internet.
That number is constantly rising, though a lingering Chinese discomfort with Web transactions drives most Ctrip customers to make their final bookings with the company by phone.<< Archive
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