Ctrip, China’s largest online travel agency, posted strong financial results for the first quarter of 2018. Net revenue increased 11% compared to the same period a year earlier, to $1.1 billion. The Shanghai-based company also reported strong earnings of $170 million in the first three months of 2018, 19 times more than the first quarter of 2017.
The company, which operates Ctrip as well as the English-language Trip.com site, credits its revenue growth to increased international air purchases by Chinese outbound customers and an expansion of its customer base in overseas markets. Excluding Skyscanner, which Ctrip purchased in November 2016, international air ticketing accounted for more than 40% of Ctrip’s air ticketing revenue.
Meanwhile Skyscanner showed impressive numbers as well. The metasearch engine’s direct booking program boosted its revenue more than 600% year-over-year in the first quarter. Offline merchandise sales were also strong, jumping 50% compared to the first quarter of 2017.
“We are hugely grateful for the trust of our customers,” says Ctrip CEO Jane Sun. “Together with our partners, we strive to make their travel easier and more enjoyable. There are still many improvements for us to make, and also many areas where we can further unleash our potential. “We are in a good position to capture growth in the travel industry, both domestically and globally, and we are very excited about the bright future ahead of us.”
In an earnings call with investors, Sun says its £1.4 billion Skyscanner acquisition is expanding rapidly with a presence now in 200 markets. Eight direct booking partners were added to the flight element of Skyscanner in the first quarter of this year, with continued collaboration between it and the core Ctrip engineering team.
Overall, Skyscanner now contributes around 10% of the group’s revenue, Sun says, with an increase expected as more direct booking partners are added. Trip.com, purchased by Ctrip in November last year, has now launched in Japan and has issued a global travel credit card, Sun says.
“There is a lot of work ahead of Trip.com as we strive to replicate our core competencies in service and one stop shopping platform to serve non-Chinese markets, which includes rolling out our local services capability and more travel products in transportation in different languages. “As always, we take a methodic and substantive approach to extend our service scope and depth.”
Along with increases in air ticketing, Ctrip reported strong year-over-year gains in corporate travel revenue (25%), accommodation reservation revenue (23%) and packaged tour revenue (18%). Transportation ticketing was flat compared to the first quarter of 2017.
Also Tuesday, Israel-based sports and music ticketing platform Sports Events 365 announced it will begin selling tickets on Ctrip to serve the growing market of Chinese consumers interested in international sporting events.
“We expect sales in China to reach $2 million to $3 million in 2019, which would make that market our largest,” says Sefi Donner, founder and CEO of Sports Events 365. He adds that the Chinese are particularly interested in football in England, Spain and Italy as well as American sporting events, primarily basketball.