Spain is "surpassing" Italy and France on Chinese tourists' wish-list, according to Ctrip, one of the reasons it has signed a new, far-reaching partnership with Melia Hotels.
The tie-up is a global one. Melia Hotels - formerly Sol Melia - has 370 properties in four continents under brands including Gran Melia, ME by Melia, TRYP and Paradisus, although it is the Spanish and other European properties which seem of particular interest.
The pair will work together on marketing, service and technology. There will be an enhanced direct connection between Ctrip and Melia, improving the availability of Melia inventory to Ctrip users in China.
The marketing efforts will cover the full range of online and offline campaigns, underpinned by "big data driven precision solutions".
Melia is already a member of Ctrip's "China Preferred Hotel" programme, which vets international hotels for their ability to cater to the specific demands of Chinese travellers. The new tie-up takes this one stage further via the "Friends" initiative, which will offer personalized services to Chinese guests staying in a Melia property, including dedicated Chinese-speaking staff on hand.
The tie-up with Melia comes after its marketing team signed a deal with authorities in Madrid to promote the city to Chinese tourists via the OTA.
Melia also said that its ongoing relationship with Ctrip is helping it to expand into China, noting the help and support it has received from Ctrip in getting its first Chinese hotels up and running.
Rong Zhang, general manager of Ctrip Hotel Business, said that the deal with Melia "signals our further development in the European market...and will provide more diverse hotel options for Chinese travellers when they visit Europe”.