Chinese online travel giant Ctrip is looking to appeal to a wider audience than ever before with a new global brand, one that strategically removes any mention of the firm being owned and operated by a Chinese company.
Recently, Ctrip has soft-launched its new English-language brand “Trip.com” after snatching up the nice domain name from a San Francisco startup for an undisclosed amount. The new website appears to have little in common with its parent brand. Along with eliminating the China-evoking “C,” it also does away with Ctrip’s well-known dolphin logo.
The Trip.com homepage also bears little resemblance to Ctrip’s own homepage, and there aren’t even any mentions of the Shanghai-based travel provider on the page nor the fact that it is China-owned.
This is all according to plan reports Marketing Interactive, citing a recent business conference at which Hillman Lam, Ctrip’s general manager for international business – Hong Kong, Taiwan, said that he wants to “eliminate any reference to [Trip.com] being Chinese-owned” through what he referred to as “inside-out rebranding.” A troubling appraisal of the current strength of brand China abroad.
Lam said the company plans to achieve its global vision by launching localized campaigns in important markets outside of China with special deals and offers. Judging by the Trip.com website, the brand looks to be focusing on cities and countries in East and Southeast Asia first, with highlighted hotel deals in Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore.
With a market capitalization of $25 billion, Ctrip is the world’s second-largest online travel company behind only the Priceline Group. It’s made no secrets of its global ambitions in past, buying Skyscanner for $1.7 billion last year; however, more recently it has become mired in scandal back home after a daycare the company had set up at its Shanghai headquarters for employees was found to abusing kids with teachers pushing children and force-feeding them wasabi.