Access air tickets, hotels, taxi services 12306 want to become the next OTA giant?

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Reporter Tang Jun
During the National Day holiday, train tickets are hard to get again. However, at the train ticket office, there is no scene of people queuing up to buy tickets, and most people have transferred to online shopping.
In January 2010, 12306 website was officially put into operation, which completely changed the way of selling railway tickets in China. Since November 2018, paper tickets will be cancelled and electronic tickets will be put into trial use on high-speed rail. By June 20, 2020, e-ticket will be extended to ordinary speed railway, basically realizing full coverage of railway.
Today, 12306 sells an average of 3 billion tickets a year, with 149.5 billion hits on the website on peak days, with an average of 1.7 million hits per second. With such a high traffic volume, the railway also wants to make use of it to create more value. The first choice is naturally the products in the field of travel.
The latest move of 12306 is the “air rail intermodal” product launched in cooperation with China Eastern Airlines at the end of August. This is the first time that China’s civil aviation and high-speed rail sales platforms have realized interconnection at the system level, and it is also the result of 12306’s further opening and commercialization.
The railway 12306 app has opened a significant entrance for the air rail intermodal service on the home page. After clicking on it, you can not only purchase “air ticket + train ticket” with one click, but also purchase air ticket separately, but only for flights of China Eastern Airlines.
Earlier, the railway 12306 app has been connected to hotels, car hailing, bus tickets and other services that are highly related to travel.
Hotel recommendation appears on the home page of 12306 app, which can be seen directly by sliding down. The home page of 12306 will appear at the bottom of the hotel’s home page and the destination will be searched. For example, when the reporter reserved the train ticket from Beijing to Tianjin, the hotel in Tianjin area appeared at the bottom of the home page. According to the reporter’s observation, most of the home page recommended are budget hotels, but not near the railway station. You can check more hotels after entering the details page.
With the current capacity of 12306, it is not possible to directly cooperate with many hotels. The news reporter on the interface checked the hotel details page and found that basically all the hotel pictures have the watermark of “Ctrip Travel” in the lower right corner. It can be inferred that the hotel reservation in 12306 should be launched in cooperation with Ctrip.
12306 also has access to the taxi function, but at present the only one that can take a taxi directly is FAW. If you want to use Didi, you will jump to the taxi page of the webpage version, unable to view the map. In addition, 12306 can now book bus tickets for about 20 provinces.
12306 hopes to link Hotel, car, taxi, air ticket and other services in the field of travel through railway. If done well, 12306 may become a new OTA giant.
But in fact, the 12306 app experience is not good. The hotel channel only provides basic inquiry and reservation function, and other information is limited, and even can’t view the guest evaluation, which is far behind OTA platforms such as Ctrip and Feizhu. Today, the online car Hailing platform has started the aggregation mode. For example, when more than ten kinds of online car Hailing can be called on Gaode map at the same time, 12306 can still only call Shouqi car Hailing. Ticket channel is only connected to China Eastern Airlines, unable to compare prices with other airlines.
In terms of product interaction, 12306 app is easy to enter the next page by mistake when sliding, and the overall user experience is far from that of excellent Internet products. This is why many users prefer to purchase tickets with third-party apps such as Ctrip and Zhixing.
Due to the existence of a large number of third-party ticketing channels, the super high number of hits of 12306 system does not mean that 12306 app has an ultra-high number of users. The railway department has never disclosed this data. However, the approximate proportion can be seen from the number of downloads in the app store.
In Xiaomi app store, railway 12306 app downloads 175 million times, Zhixing train ticket downloads 151 million, high-speed railway steward 80.69 million, tieyou train ticket 50.13 million, Feizhu 200 million and Ctrip 874 million. It can be seen that even with the existence of third-party ticketing channels, 12306 downloads are still huge.
At present, 12306 still has a long way to go from a successful OTA platform. However, relying on the monopoly railway industry, as the only official app, there is still room for imagination.