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Travelers opting for bespoke experiences

By Xu Lin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-04 07:53

Travelers opting for bespoke experiences

A newlywed couple have their wedding photos taken in Prague, the Czech Republic. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A growing number of middle-class Chinese are opting for bespoke experiences. Xu Lin reports.

Wang Wei will never forget her trip to Italy in June - her first bespoke tour.

The 27-year-old and five friends enjoyed cultural heritage, natural landscapes and luxury shopping.

It enabled them to do what they wanted without having to make arrangements themselves.

"We each had different goals for the trip," Wang explains.

"The travel agency designed an itinerary that satisfied all of us. It was so relaxing."

And it offered convenience, says Wang, who works in a finance company in Beijing.

"We blew a tire. We didn't know what to do. But our experienced guide got another car to send us to the airport."

She also appreciated the guide helping them sample authentic food since they don't speak Italian.

China's National Tourism Administration named 2016 a milestone year for customized tours. A growing number of companies, including many online travel agencies, are emerging. They're attracting both capital and consumers.

"Service is paramount in our business. Customers are willing to pay for it," says Jia Jianqiang, founder and CEO of Beijing-based, an online travel agency that specializes in domestic and international bespoke tours.

The company targets middle-class families. They're often busy with work and prefer to tailor their own itineraries while someone else makes the arrangements.

"It's more like a small group tour," Jia says.

"We offer a chartered vehicle with a local driver, who will guide them during the trip. It's convenient for those who travel with the elderly or children."

There are no standard products.

Elderly people tend to prefer slower schedules with Chinese meals. Children enjoy zoos, amusement parks, he says.

Customers can contact them during the trips if they encounter problems, such as flight cancelations.

"More customers trust online sales in the e-commerce era," Jia says.

"We can reach them and also lower our costs as the internet increases our efficiency. Prices are reasonable. About half of last year's customers used our services again this year."

Tourism consumption is low frequency, he says.

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