Michael Bock, director of Mercedes-Benz’s business department, and Wilfried Steffen, director of Daimler’s innovative business department, talk to Travel Daily about the launch of Mercedes-Benz Travel in China…
Q1) Why does Mercedes-Benz want to enter the travel industry?
So far, Mercedes-Benz has engineered and built fascinating vehicles which enable people to travel safely and at the highest quality level. Along with this, we have also created a network of unique resources: special people, high-class events and a wealth of other exclusive content. Now, the inventor of the automobile wants to make these resources accessible to travellers from all over the world.
Mercedes-Benz Travel does not just connect Mercedes-Benz resources with travel resources. We combine strong heritage with dynamic evolution. We create additional business and profit for our company. And we implement cross-industry cooperation with selected partners to develop unique travel products for intercontinental travellers.
Q2) What can travellers expect from Mercedes-Benz Travel?
Mercedes-Benz Travel takes travellers to unusual places, but also to classical highlight destinations with a different spin. Our guests will meet people, see the destination from a local perspective, and make experiences that other travellers cannot make. With our network, we enable a look behind the scenes, and for the spots they go and the food they enjoy, Mercedes-Benz travellers will get a feeling for the place and the story behind it. The experience will be complete regarding all aspects of time and setting, information and preparation, appreciation and care.
Our products are regional, theme-based cultural and event trips, with a focus on Europe as the main destination. We are the first car brand to offer travel packages beyond the car or driving topic. It is not just travel, it is the experience. Tours with Mercedes-Benz create a unique and lasting memory. Our goal is achieved if we not only stay in the travellers’ minds but also in their hearts by offering them fascinating and enriching experiences. In products where self-driving is involved, we provide these first-class car experiences which they would expect in a Mercedes-Benz Travel product.
Q3) Why does Mercedes-Benz choose China as the starting market?
We identified some important reasons to start our new business area in China, but maybe the most interesting fact is that the whole idea of Mercedes-Benz Travel was first created in China by our Chinese colleagues and focus groups. Everything started from that onwards.
We chose China as the starting market for three main reasons. First, Chinese outbound travellers became the “world champion” of the travel industry in 2012 already, and their numbers and spending will report a strong growth in the coming years – to be by far the biggest travel market in the world. Second, the Chinese premium travel customer is already one of the most sophisticated customers due to their high service level experience in their everyday lives especially by comparing this with the European standard. We love to take up this challenge and create first class service experience in Europe.
Last but not least our intensive market research shows a very high demand of Chinese premium customer for a trusted brand in the travel industry. This is especially valid for the outbound travel market where customers want to visit overseas destinations with honest and reliable premium content – to deliver enjoyable moments and long-lasting memories.
Q4) Why did Mercedes-Benz choose HH Travel, the premium brand under Ctrip, as the business partner in Greater China?
HHTravel has long-standing expertise for luxury travel and a strong customer understanding in the premium segment. During the last years, they have proven that that they have a deep knowledge of the needs and requirements of Chinese premium travellers.
In addition, they have adopted online sales as the key sales channel, a strategy that fits the buying behaviour of the target customer group. Together with their mother company Ctrip, HHTravel’s business culture is perfectly adapted to the fast-growing Chinese travel market and the future potential of Mercedes-Benz Travel.
Q5) According to Chinese law, certain qualifications are required to sell and operate tours. How did Mercedes-Benz Travel handle this issue?
The qualifications required to sell outbound travel products to Chinese end customers are provided by our partner HHTravel. Mercedes-Benz and its network of partners provide the qualifications to act as an incoming provider in the travel destinations.
Q6) Is Mercedes-Benz Travel exclusive for Mercedes-Benz customers?
No, everybody seeking for premium intercontinental travel can buy Mercedes-Benz Travel products. It does not matter which car brand Mercedes-Benz travellers own, as long as they travel with the best.