|Trip.com CEO Jane Sun speaks during a press conference in Seoul, Wednesday. / Courtesy of Trip.com|
By Kang Seung-woo
Trip.com, Asia's largest online travel agency, has unveiled Korean-focused services amid the country's growing presence in the global travel market.
The announcement came at a press conference in Seoul, Wednesday, held by the Chinese travel agency to mark the first anniversary of its rebranding from Ctrip.
"Korea is one of the fastest-growing travel markets in the world as more than two-thirds of Korean tourists travel abroad every year," CEO Jane Sun said.
"We have firm belief that Korea will be one of the key markets for us to help us grow outside of China."
To this end, the Shanghai-based company had researched Koreans' travel behaviors and found their three traits: price sensitivity, mobile savvy and high customer service expectations.
Considering those factors, the online travel agency has come up with localized solutions in order to appeal to Korean customers.
"We are very happy to announce that we are opening our first customer service center in Korea to further strengthen our position here. This is truly meaningful to us because it is our very first customer support center for a single country in Asia," she said, adding that the center will be located at Jongro Tower in central Seoul by October.
According to the company's research, 76 percent of Korean travelers prefer to use a call service than using chat or email consulting service.
The center will operate around the clock and the company plans to hire up to 200 Korean consultants, which the CEO believes will contribute to job creation here.
Another selling point for Korean customers is any domestic calls will be toll-free, "so we can ensure we have enough time to cater to their needs and bring ease and efficiency to their travel experience," she said.
In addition to the customer service center, Trip.com has offered a local payment system and quick mobile app service.
"Of the nation's total overseas purchases worth 15.06 trillion won ($14.16 billion) last year, 2.76 trillion won, or 18.3 percent, was paid through a dynamic currency conversion (DCC) system," she said.
The DCC is a system used for foreign currency transactions and service charges when buying goods from foreign retailers, and the fees usually account for three percent to eight percent of the value of a purchase.
As a result, the agency has adopted Naver Pay for both hotel and flight booking ― the only online travel agency to offer such a payment system.
Also, given that Koreans are heavy mobile users and love fast speeds, it has created social logins for Korean customers using Kakao and Naver to easily interface with the site.
While unveiling the new services, the CEO also rolled out a future plan to become an all-inclusive company in Korea.
"We plan to introduce Korean consumers to activities, travel guide and airport pickup services by the end of this year," she said.
Currently, Trip.com is available in 15 countries and has 300 million registered users.