Our differences
make us stronger

A talk about the travel industry in China


Meet Susanna Li

What makes the travel industry in China unique?

TravelSky is a dominant player. The company retains an inherent monopoly on the handling of flight transactions and information in China.

Since few foreign travel companies have sufficient scale or influence in China, there is value in partnering creatively with TravelSky to tap into the rapidly growing Chinese marketplace.

In the era of globalization, Chinese airlines face challenges in streamlining and modernizing their Passenger Service System (PSS) provided by TravelSky to interact with their customers via a variety of channels. Air China is the first of TravelSky’s airline clients to migrate to the new generation PSS. This is the modular, web-based applications based on open technology and industry standards to make it easier to add new applications or integrate with other systems.

What trends are disrupting the aviation industry in China?

The world is turning digital. Chinese consumers are highly digital and mobile. And they will switch airlines to get what they want. The battle for direct-to- consumers is particularly fierce in China given OTAs’ wide reach and established digital presence.

How is digital impacting the aviation and travel industries in China?

Given the growing popularity of social media and mobile technology, traditional marketing may not always be effective in China, and companies must find new ways to make an impact. For example, WeChat is one of the “must-have” mobile commerce platforms for these industries to succeed with their marketing campaigns in China.

How do you see the travel Industry evolving in China by 2020?

China is rapidly becoming one of the most important outbound tourism markets in the world. To secure and gain value share in an increasingly competitive environment—and amid unfavorable macroeconomic conditions—many leading players have already taken steps to consolidate their foothold in the travel industry via mergers and acquisitions, as well as through continuous investment.

What opportunities do travel companies have in China?

Chinese travel companies have historically relied on travel agents. This has given travel agents a particularly strong hold on Chinese travelers, which poses increasing risks and complexities for travel companies.

As a result, Chinese travel providers have collectively started to approach consumers directly in recent years. Direct strategies will be the key for sustainable growth. However, travel companies must innovate while striking the right balance between competing and collaborating with travel agents. It’s about being persistent and proactive in building capabilities and addressing barriers.

Tell us about your journey in Accenture.

I joined Accenture Hong Kong in 1995 through campus recruitment. After joining, I went to the SAP Solution Center in Cincinnati to be an apprentice for six months. I supported several SAP projects in Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, China, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

In 2010, after my first son’s birth, I became a managing director. Now I am the Greater China Travel Industry Lead. I work with organizations including Cathay Pacific Airways, Asia Miles, Melco-Crown Entertainment, China Eastern Airlines and HNA.

How has your definition of success changed over time?

Success is the result of hard work, sustained focus, and learning from failure.

How do you juggle work-life balance as a working mother?

I have three sons—my oldest is six years old, and my twins are four years old. Each day, if I don’t need to travel, I try my best to come home to have dinner with them and to talk to them.

I treasure quality time with my family—even if that is a few hours at the end of the day. We make the most of quality time together. No matter how busy my schedule is, I make sure to attend all school meetings and events to show my children that they are the ones I care about the most.

Why is diversity good for businesses?

Our clients are extremely diverse in terms of gender, culture, ethnicity, personality, work style—across all parameters. So a diversified team is more likely to understand their needs and have good team chemistry.

What advice do you have for women entering the workplace?

Be yourself. Know your own leadership style and embrace an inclusive mindset about different leadership styles. Appreciate and accept the differences, and find ways to leverage them.