Overcharging foreigners on Ctrip

Last night I was tired from work, and suddenly felt I was in need of a short vacation. So I browsed the net for a nice location to spend a mini-break with my wife. I first looked at one of the Nusa Dua resorts on Bali, but there are still no direct flights to there from Shanghai, so I decided to choose a location closer to home. Hainan is then the easiest option. I have been numerous times to China’s Hawaii already, and spending a few lazy days around the pool or on the beach there is always a safe choice. We normally go to Yalong Bay, close to Sanya, where all the major hotel chains have set up resorts. There is not much to do there except for eating, drinking and relaxing, but that’s what a mini-break is all about anyway, right?

Two of the resorts I have not stayed at so far are the Hilton and the Marriott, so I decided to check their location and prices online. In China the most comprehensive travel website is Ctrip, so naturally I searched there for prices. I went to the English version of the site, and looked at their resort selection. My wife was using her laptop as well, but she was on the Chinese version of Ctrip. I always assumed that both sites would be mere translations of the other, but that turned out not to be the case.

First of all, the Hilton did not appear on the Chinese site. It seems to be the most expensive resort on Yalong Bay, so that may be part of the reason (prices starting at EUR 200 per night). When we looked at the Marriott, however, I was startled to see that the prices on the Chinese site were lower than those on the English one! Not a big difference, RMB 1513 for a certain room type on the Chinese site versus RMB 1680 on the English one, but still a difference of more than 10%.

I guess they get away with it because people normally don’t use both sites, but it does not give me a good feeling. The law in China is that foreigners cannot be officially overcharged anymore (until not too long ago there used to be different ticket prices for foreigners at for example sight-seeing places). But I think legally a website can do this, as the prices are not based on nationality but only on language ability. From now on I will use the Chinese version of Ctrip to book rooms, and only if I cannot find a certain resort I will also check the English site.

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  1. Well I did not there is some price differences between versions of websites.
    Maybe your wife would find a better one when you really want to have a holiday in China.
    By the way, Marc, would you please send me a mail? I would like to talk with you about some potential partnership.


    lin LIN

  2. @anonymous: Yes I have tried them before. But Ctrip is something I have gotten used to… Maybe I should try them again.

    @Lin: I tried to send you an email but the email adress does not exist. Feel free to get in touch through marcvanderchijs (at) gmail (dot) com

  3. Marc,

    Do try the Sanya Hilton…. I stayed there recently for a corporate programm.

    Excellent hotel…and service was superb. Food is nice and they even understand wines in the restaurant.

    The service is at such a level that many european hotels would get shy!

    And yes…lazy at the pool, cruising on the beach with a buggy, swimming in the sea…is all you can do 🙂

  4. @x : Thanks for the advice. If we go to Hainan it will be the Hilton!