[photopress:hotels_ctrip.jpg,full,alignright]In 1999 Ji Qi founded Ctrip, a new internet firm, and hit on a vast, untapped area of demand: the Chinese traveler. After the online travel agency came Home Inns, an equally successful chain of basic hotels. Nine years later, Mr Ji is on his third company for travelers: Hanting Hotels.
Hanting Hotels is less than three years old but already has 75 outlets. Occupancy averages 90%, after being open for just three to four months.
Customers are mainly Chinese business people who want clean rooms, a desk, a television and internet service. Room prices are modest — under $40 a night. A second brand, Hanting Express, will soon be launched with prices from $15 to $30 a night, aimed at non-business travellers, with even more austere fittings. The aim is to have 1,000 outlets within three to five years.
When Ji Qi founded Ctrip there were no automated payment systems and no private travel firms. Ctrip sends out motorcycle couriers to take the cash payment and deliver tickets. Revenues at Home Inns, the first of the affordable chains, are growing at more than 70% a year and the net income is rising faster still.
Source: The Economist