New Personalized China Tour Booking Service Debuts
Photo courtesy of Jetbay
Travelers can now book private and customizable tours to China via a new service called Jetbay, courtesy of the founders of the “Groupon of China.”
After raising $1.6 million, Michael Pan and James Tan—the co-founders of popular Chinese site Wowo (or 55tuan)—introduced the travel booking platform on Wednesday, with the goal of delivering a better and more immersive experience to international travelers.
The site offers 300 bookable routes throughout China that are fully customizable, a big number when compared to many other China tour companies. Travelers can either customize the route themselves or have Jetbay recommend personalized routes based on their browsing history, Facebook data and provided preferences. In all, there are thousands of combinations; something you might expect from the founders of a major e-commerce site.
The service was developed because Jetbay believed tourists generally weren’t getting the full experience China can provide, said Tan, Jetbay’s COO.
“We just want to give people a favorable image of traveling in China,” Tan said. “We hear of horror stories of people going overseas—whether it’s China or some other country—and they have a horrible experience, whether it’s not getting home or not getting what they sign up for.”
“We work primarily out of Beijing,” Tan continued. “It’s a short bicycle ride to Tiananmen Square for us. We see so many travelers over there every day and they pretty much follow the same thing. We think these monotonous routes and the way that it has been explained over and over again just could be better.”
Tan said Jetbay is working with many of the same partners from Wowo, narrowed down by how well they can accommodate the foreign traveler. That includes the China National Tourism Administration.
On top of that, all of Jetbay’s travel providers are English-proficient, eliminating the language barrier (Tan noted that websites such as TripAdvisor give travelers numbers to call, but that usually requires calling long distance and/or speaking with someone who doesn’t speak English).
And, given Jetbay has partnerships throughout China, more of China will naturally be offered to travelers, including lesser-known destinations that don’t get enough publicity.
“Most traditional travel packages tend to revolve around the major cities like Beijing, but the reality is, just like the U.S., there are many cities that are worthy of visiting,” Tan said. “These are not on the radar, so we want to bring these attractions to foreign visitors.”
China is currently one of the global leaders in inbound tourism. The country ranked fourth in inbound arrivals in 2013, according to China Tourism Academy, behind the United States, France and Spain.
That being said, Tan believes China has much more potential.
“There is no reason why China—with this many sites and these growing economic ties to so many other countries—cannot have an experience similar to those three other countries and not have the kind of traffic associated with those other countries,” Tan said.
Given the experience operating a multi-dimensional platform like Wowo, Tan thinks Jetbay’s team can help China accomplish this. That includes an English-speaking customer service team largely comprised of Americans, as well as the understanding that different travelers have different needs (travelers from Japan and Korea, for example, generally stay for shorter periods of time than American and European travelers, Tan said).
Starting today, travelers can book a tour package from one to 14 days on www.jetbay.com.
More by Ryan Rudnansky
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