China's economy is slowing and its consumers are increasingly cautious. At the same time, online competition is growing rapidly as ambitious tech giants such as Tencent Holdings and Alibaba Group Holding look to the travel market for new business opportunities.

Amid that uncertainty, Ctrip last month brought together more than 2,000 of its suppliers and business partners to set out its growth strategy. It was the first time the company had hosted such an event, hoping to reinforce ties in a vast network of products and services that Ctrip's new competitors have not yet achieved.

The bottom line: Succeeding as an OTA in today's connected world is about much more than booking flights or hotel rooms.