With a combined spend of US$288 billion on international travel in 2018 (nearly a quarter of global tourism spend), China is the world’s largest outbound tourism market. Thanks to rising Chinese incomes and friendlier visa policies, experts predict Chinese tourists will take 160 million outbound trips by 2020.
In 2012, China relaxed its regulations to allow Chinese travel agents to book on international global distribution systems (GDSs). To benefit from the rapidly growing Chinese travel market, travel agencies, hotels and other tourism services have started developing precisely positioned offers to market to Chinese tourists. And for good reason: a recent McKinsey study noted that the Chinese outbound travel market is expected to grow by 6.1% annually.
Here’s why your hotel should jump on the Chinese travel bandwagon, and how to market to Chinese tourists:
Why the Chinese outbound tourism market is so important for hotels
1.) The size of the Chinese travel market
China, currently estimated to have a population of 1.4 billion people, is seeing a significant increase in the number of wealthy citizens. In fact, the number of high net worth individuals in China has risen nearly 9 times in the last decade. Consequently, the Chinese outbound tourism market is experiencing a momentous growth spurt. According to McKinsey, the number of outbound trips from China more than doubled from 2010 to 2015, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15%. As incomes continue to rise, consulting firm Oliver Wyman expects an even greater proportion of spend to be allocated to accommodation and dining when travelling abroad. Need we even say more?
2.) Chinese tourists tend to spend more
A significant proportion of Chinese tourists have a common characteristic that surely all hoteliers like: they tend to spend more. An estimated 80% of independent Chinese travellers have an annual income that is 2.5x higher than the average income in China. With prestige being a key motivator for outbound travel, the top 10% of Chinese travellers spend an average of US$2,225 per day, which includes US$439 per hotel room, per night. And out of the 2,000 guests surveyed in McKinsey’s study, a whopping 34% chose fine dining as the most important factor when deciding where to travel.
3.) Chinese travellers prefer city trips
Good news for hotels located in London, New York and other metropolitan cities: 85% of Chinese travel is to major cities around the world. While the most popular visits are to Asian cities (think Hong Kong, Seoul and Bangkok), European cities are seeing a growth spurt in Chinese visitors as well. In 2013, Milan, Paris and London reported a total of 977,000 Chinese guests.
But this does not mean that hoteliers outside of popular cities have no chance of attracting Chinese tourists. Younger travellers are seeking more exotic travel destinations, including Panama, Bahamas and Iceland. Interestingly, we’re also seeing an increasing trend of Chinese travellers preferring to stay at a more authentic, independent hotel where they can experience local customs.
How to market to Chinese tourists
If we’ve raised your interest (and we should have!), then there’s a couple of steps you can take to ensure your hotel marketing is optimised to target Chinese travellers. This includes ensuring you are providing relevant content on your website, and making sure it is promoted on the correct digital channels in China.
For starters, make sure your website and booking engine is translated into Chinese. Including travel trips that could appeal to Chinese tourists, such as shopping, main attractions and local restaurants, will help you stand out as well. If your hotel provides free WiFi, a Chinese breakfast, in-room slippers or any other perk that could appeal to Chinese guests, ensure it is well highlighted on your website. Finally, allow convenient payment options, such as China UnionPay or AliPay, for room bookings.
Once you have the right content on your hotel’s website, you need to ensure it is visible in China. This means promoting your hotel on the right online channels, namely using Chinese search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media strategies. Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other well known social media channels are banned in mainland China, so you will need to use Chinese alternatives. Baidu is China’s main search engine, dominating over 70% of the Chinese market, while Chinese social network Weibo attracts over 445 million monthly users.
Enter the Chinese outbound tourism market with HotelREZ
While the Chinese outbound tourism market is a big opportunity for hoteliers, we understand that entering it can be a challenge. That’s why we’re so strong in China with many preferred partners that help independent hotels enter the Chinese travel market.
HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts was founded in 2004 by Mark Lewis, an experienced hospitality industry professional and entrepreneur. Over the course of over a decade the company has grown to be one of the leading hotel representation companies dedicated to marketing and connecting independent properties with bookers worldwide. HotelREZ now provides distribution, revenue, sales consultancy and marketing services and support to more than 1,500 hotels, apartments and hotel groups in over 100 countries including private label GDS chain code solutions. HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts is a SAAS company. HotelREZ also incorporates the global World Rainbow hotels, the world’s only GDS enabled LGBT global hotel consortia representing some 1200 hotels in 230 destinations across the globe.