An estimate of 97 million Chinese citizens travelled abroad in 2013, according to data from the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), 14 million more than the previous year. The market of outbound Chinese Travellers is already massive and growing. So how should hospitality businesses capitalise on this growing market? HotelREZ has put together a quick list of the dos and don’ts, amenities and services hotels should consider in order to please their Chinese guests.
The rise of the dragon
According to a recent report from travel giant Amadeus, China’s growth in outbound travel, which as recently as 2005 stood at just 1%, will soon enable it to overtake the USA to become the world’s largest outbound travel market this year. And with the number of Chinese households able to afford overseas travel set to more than double within the next 10 years, this is certainly the time to invest on a marketing plan to target Asian travellers.
Riding on this growth wave, many western countries are now looking at their own policies and strategies towards this booming new market. Just earlier this year Visit Britain launched its new China Welcome initiative, aimed at showcasing, promoting and developing ways in which the UK hospitality and travel operators should cater for the needs of Chinese visitors.
At the same time, Tourism Ireland has appointed Travel Link Marketing (TLM) to provide destination representation services in the Chinese market, and launched a new Chinese-language version of its consumer website. Elsewhere in Europe, the Italian national tourism board (ENIT) opened a new office in Beijing, to promote its presence in the Chinese Market, and Frankfurt International Airport started to hire Mandarin-speaking Chinese personal shoppers to give advice on shopping, as well as assist passengers through security and to the gates.
Furthermore, big hospitality chains such as Hilton Worldwide or Marriott are already attracting Chinese guests with targeted programmes. Hilton’s Huanying programme includes from front desk Team Members fluent in Chinese to in-room amenities, and a traditional Chinese breakfast service.
Some facts on Chinese Travellers
Although China is a vast country, and it would be wrong to generalise the Chinese as one big homogenous group, there are some universal characteristics and preferences we can point to.
- Traditionally the Chinese tourist has preferred to travel in a group, either with family and close friends or on organised tours. Travelling in a group allows one to share experiences, and some travellers appreciate the security of having a planned itinerary.
- The younger generations however, are now more willing to travel independently or with a few friends. Young, wealthy and better educated than the older generations, these “Millennial” travellers have more sense of adventure, and try to blend in with the foreign culture they are visiting.
- Tech savvy and active on social media websites, when it comes to choosing a hotel travellers under the age of 35 are also much more likely to book directly online, when compared to those above the age of 35 (40% of which still prefer to book through traditional travel agents).
- While their current top travel destinations lean towards the more neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Taiwan or South Korea, by 2020 some estimates predict that as many as 5.7 million Chinese people will travel to the USA and 3.9 million will visit France.
- The Chinese inbound market to the UK has also grown massively in the latest Visit Britain figures with spend up by 132% and visits rising by 21% in the first half of 2013, in comparison to 2012.
- Chinese travellers like to absorb the culture that is around them, they want to eat pizza in Italy, hamburgers in the US or have afternoon tea in the UK.
- Shopping is another major activity for when travelling abroad. Chinese tourists may buy a few souvenirs from the places they visit, but most of their shopping pounds are directed at upscale goods that they normally do not buy at home. Designer clothing, shoes and accessories, such as Gucci bags or Prada shoes, are extremely popular.
- The first week of October, known as Golden Week, is a national holiday period in China. During this time, millions of people take their annual holidays. Expect the more affluent travellers to take the opportunity for going abroad as the domestic holiday hot-spots become too crowded.
Making your Chinese guests feel welcome
As any hotelier will tell you, the best way to assure your guests are pleased with their stay is to find out what they like and what they don’t like. Below you’ll find a list of items and services you should consider when trying to make Chinese guests feel at home in your hotel. Click the image for an enlarged version in PDF.
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