Chinese travellers are taking a cautious approach as the country slowly reopens to inbound trips.
"We've seen travel activities picking up after government eased the travel ban since May," Amy Wei, CEO of international train ticketing of Trip.com, told Campaign Asia-Pacific in an interview.
After being confined for so long, some groups are more desperate to travel. "Young people, especially people aged under 30, are the main force for travelling now," Shawn Wang, head of data lab of China Eastern Airline, told Campaign Asia-Pacific.
These days, people's travel habits have shifted somewhat after the pandemic, say both Wei and Wang. More consumers are choosing safety as a priority and they prefer travelling to nearby destinations for now.
As a consequence, rental cars have becomes the most popular choice online since they involve less contact with other travellers. The notion of long-distance plane travel is still considered risky for many, but more travellers who do choosing a plane or train ticket will now also buy insurance, they say.
In a positive sign, overall spending on travel is not dramatically decreasing, Wei and Wang say, as those who were previously outbound travellers are now filling the gaps in higher-end domestic travel. In particular, routes between safe destination cities are seeing higher demands, says Wang, which is pushing prices back up.
Hotel bookings are also showing strong signs of recovery. According to data from Trip.com, its hotel guest unit price has been strong since the online travel agency started live-streaming its product in April. With younger travellers catching livestreams, airlines and travel agencies have been able to sell more group discounts.
"Live-streaming is perfect for the travel product selling as it vividly shows the experience," Wei said.
"It can also help us to analyse customers' psychology on what product they prefer," Wang added, noting they viewer comments are helping them to understand what products have more appeal.