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'Have smartphone, will travel' is mantra of new Chinese tourists

Ctrip uses mobile social network to help customers help themselves

Chinese tourists gather at the duty-free counter of a drugstore in Taipei.

In preparation for my trip to Taiwan during this year's Chinese New Year holiday, I purchased a ticket through, a major Chinese online travel agency that I often use, for a flight on China Eastern Airlines on Jan. 26, two days before the start of the festivities.

I bought the ticket several months in advance, and as the date of departure drew near, I received a text message on my smartphone. It said, "Would you like to chat with your fellow passengers traveling together to Taiwan on the same flight?"

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