Online travel agents - hotels' foe or friend? : a case study of mainland China

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

Online travel agents - hotels' foe or friend? : a case study of mainland China

 

Author: Zhang, Fan
Title: Online travel agents - hotels' foe or friend? : a case study of mainland China
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 2014
Subject: Travel agents -- China.
Hotels -- China.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: ix, 90 leaves ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2819557
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/8204
Abstract: Having attracted considerable scholarly attention, the Chinese tourism market has shown a positive trend in terms of growth as well as promising future potential.Emerging markets offer clear financial incentives for OTAs and hotel operators both in China and abroad. Hotels groups and OTAs have launched ambitious expansion programs and great efforts have been made to better target Chinese tourists. An increasing amount of hotels and OTAs have entered this vibrant market and an increasing amount continues to do so.Instead of a traditional agent-principal relationship, online travel agents seem to act beyond the role of mere intermediary and much more like business vendors.Numerous researchers have previously observed these issues and conducted enquiries into relationship dynamics of OTA's and hotels. Similar developments in the agent-principal issue to those witnessed in the U.S. (namely, between Choice Hotels International and Expedia.com) have occurred in the Chinese market, with the prime example provided by Qunar.com, 17U.cn, Ctrip.com and Home Inns.The purpose of this study is to provide an explanation of how Online Travel Agents (OTAs) operate in China and explore their relationship vis-a-vis hotels. Data are collected from secondary sources using keywords to identifY the relationship between hotels and OTAs in terms of local and international brands. The data is then assessed for the relevance of each item;11 data sources are confirmed, comprising 2 blogs, 5 online magazines and 4 databases. The data collection is conducted in both the Chinese and English language; the English comments are reproduced in their original form; and the Chinese comments are translated by the researcher. Data is collected from the time period: I st January 2013 to 31 st January 2014. The sum total of the data collected is 357 comments: 179 of these comments are found to be relevant to for the purposes of this paper. Data analysis is conducted with the adoption of the content analysis approach allowing for the classification of the comments into 5 main themes and 25 sub-categories; NVivo10 is then used to classify the data into themes.The findings identify 5 themes and 25 sub-categories: Hotel Distribution Market in China; Chinese OTAs Market; OTAs Globalization, New Trends in Chinese Distribution Market; and Recommendations for Hotels in China. The comments indicate a situation in which Chinese hotels currently face major agency problems and hold less bargaining power than OTAs. The comments also reveal that the competition is more intense between OTAs as opposed to the competition between OTAs and hotels. It is clear that hotels and OTAs face new challenges and opportunities, such as APPs and vertical search engine platforms. The research concludes by making a number of recommendations to both hotels and OTAs, in the hope that the two can maintain a balanced healthy relationship regarding the distribution market in China.

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