China's growing business travel market draws global attention
China's business travel market is expanding rapidly, creating opportunities for travel companies worldwide.
AirPlus International, a German travel payment company, said its accumulated turnover in China reached over 1 billion euros (US$1.2 billion) this month, making China its third largest overseas market.
"China's business travel market, which is the largest in the world, is leading the change in the global travel management industry," said Lucy Wang, managing director of AirPlus International China.
The company allows businesses to pay for employee travel expenses using a centralized corporate account, reducing paperwork and creating cost efficiencies.
China overtook the United States as the top business travel market in the world in 2015, according the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA),
In 2017, Chinese business travel spending is expected to hit US$344.6 billion, up 8.4 percent year on year, US$51.5 billion more than the estimated US business travel spending, according to the GBTA.
Wang said the fast growth was likely to continue as initiatives such as the Belt and Road Initiative were boosting international demand.
As Chinese companies expand their global footprint, they are also bringing in new technologies such as mobile payment to boost efficiency.
China leads the world in mobile payments for business travel, according to a 2017 AirPlus study.
"These trends create challenges and opportunities for travel management firms, which are striving to create a 'fusion management' model that allows all paperwork and payment to be done in a single mobile app," Wang said.