The Rise of Ctrip: How Kong Became a Billionaire

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Ctrip, China’s largest online travel agency, has been making waves in the travel industry since its inception in 1999. The company, founded by James Liang, Neil Shen, and Fan Min, has grown to become a major player in the industry, with a market capitalization of over $25 billion. However, it is the story of Ctrip’s co-founder and chairman, James Jianzhang Liang, also known as Kong, that has captured the attention of many.

From Student to Billionaire

Kong was born in China in 1969 and moved to the United States to pursue his education. He received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Georgia Institute of Technology and his master’s degree in computer science from Stanford University. After graduation, he worked at Oracle Corporation before returning to China in 1999 to co-found Ctrip.

Under Kong’s leadership, Ctrip has grown to become China’s leading online travel agency. The company offers a wide range of travel services, including hotel bookings, air ticketing, and vacation packages. In 2018, Ctrip reported revenue of $4.5 billion and had over 30,000 employees worldwide.

The Success of Ctrip

Ctrip’s success can be attributed to several factors. One of the key factors is its focus on customer service. The company has invested heavily in technology to improve the user experience and has a dedicated customer service team that is available 24/7 to assist customers with their travel needs.

Another factor that has contributed to Ctrip’s success is its strategic partnerships. The company has formed partnerships with major airlines and hotel chains to offer customers exclusive deals and discounts. In addition, Ctrip has expanded its business globally through strategic acquisitions and investments in companies such as Skyscanner and MakeMyTrip.

The Impact of COVID-19

Like many companies in the travel industry, Ctrip has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company reported a net loss of $1.09 billion in the first quarter of 2020, compared to a net profit of $226 million in the same period last year. However, Kong remains optimistic about the future of the travel industry and Ctrip’s role in it.

In response to the pandemic, Ctrip has implemented several measures to support its customers and employees. The company has offered refunds and cancellations for bookings affected by travel restrictions and has provided financial assistance to employees affected by the pandemic.

The Future of Ctrip

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Ctrip remains well-positioned for future growth. The company has a strong balance sheet and a loyal customer base, and is well-positioned to benefit from the recovery of the travel industry.

Looking ahead, Ctrip is focused on expanding its business globally and investing in technology to improve the user experience. The company is also exploring new business models, such as offering travel insurance and other ancillary services.


Ctrip’s success can be attributed to its focus on customer service, strategic partnerships, and global expansion. While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges for the company, Ctrip remains well-positioned for future growth. As the travel industry recovers, Ctrip is poised to continue its dominance in China and expand its business globally.