U.S. Golf Tourism Expo, China, Beijing – Chengdu – Shanghai, September 12 – 19

American courses are already benefitting from this high-end Chinese business. Are you? Your golf business in front of high-end golf tourism buyers
U.S. Golf Tourism Expo puts you in front of China’s leading golf travel buyers, high-end resorts and courses in Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai. It is a groundbreaking program to reach golf tourism operators, their best customers, and Chinese media to introduce your business.
Beijing: Home to China’s PGA and headquarters of all major Chinese travel agencies. Beijing’s golf resorts, travel agencies and media are your gateway to North China’s golf travel buyers.
Chengdu: The capital of Sichuan Province’s 80 million people is growing even faster than the rest of China. A national tourist hub, Chengdu is a prime venue for booking outbound golf travel.
Shanghai: China’s largest city is home to its toniest golf resorts. Average club membership costs $78,000. This makes even premium American golf a bargain for Shanghai’s high-end golf tourists.

U.S. Golf Tourism Expo includes:

•    One-on-one appointments with agencies that book China golf travel •    Overview of China outbound golf tourism market by industry experts •    Networking opportunities with selected potential Chinese business partners •    Direct outreach opportunities to Chinese golf tourists •    Site tours of some of China’s best golf courses and friendly, promotional competitions •    “Sister golf course” program designed to provide an immediate boost to your business •    Television and print exposure in key China markets and Chinese golf publications •    Inclusion of your business in a new U.S. Golf Tourism Directory (China-wide distribution) •    Chinese-language business cards and promotional materials •    In-country transportation to all expo events •    Ticket to 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China and optional “Golf the Great Wall” event

Expo participation fees: •    Beijing only: $930 •    With road show to Chengdu and Shanghai: $2470
(Includes domestic air travel between cities)
Can’t participate in person? You can still be included in our U.S. Golf Tourism Directory!
Contact:  Ms. Anna Ansari,   U.S. Embassy, China   Tel: +86 (10) 8531 3129    Email: anna.ansari@trade.gov

Booking a trip for Chinese tourists: On-line vs Off-line

China’s travel industry is growing exponentially on the web, which is the preferred channel for affluent Chinese outbound tourists to find information on foreign destinations. But what is the point of view of traditional brick and mortar Chinese travel agencies? We have the pleasure to publish an interview with Mr Shi Laishun, Vice-President of China Travel Service (CTS), the biggest Chinese, State owned, travel agency.

The CNNIC China Internet Network Information Center www.cnnic.net.cn has just released the lastest figures about the uses of the internet in China. Between the end of 2009 to July 2010 the number of Internet users in China increased by 360 million to 420 million, surpassing the 400 million mark. At the same time the Internet popularity rate increased 2.9 percentage points to 31.8%.
The number of broadband users was 363 million, accounting for 98.1% of the country’s total Internet users. The number rural residents using the Internet hit 115 million, accounting for 27.4% of the total, 7.7% more than that at the end of last year. The number of users above the age of 30 rose to 41%, compared to the 38.6% at the end of 2009.
The CNNIC report showed that the Chinese people are increasingly using the Internet for commercial, entertainment, and communication purposes. In the first half of 2010, more people in China used the Internet and the user base of online applications continued to expand. Commercial applications have been in a spotlight. The number of users of online payment, online shopping and online banks is reported to have increased by about 30%, far more than any other purposes. Social net-working websites, Internet literature and online search services have also become more and more popular. The mobile phone network application developed smoothly, with users focusing more on information and communication.
These figures suggest that the purpose of Internet in China has shifted from information to commerce at an increasing pace. Online marketing has become an essential tool for modern businesses.

As for the travel industry, the Internet has been widely used both by travel agencies and newly-emerging travel websites, and this enables users to receive information, do product and price comparisons and complete transactions online. But for traditional travel agencies, how widely can online marketing be used and is there any room for advancement? How to use online-marketing on targeted clients and increase user retention so as to meet the goal of promoting themed products?
In an interview with China Hospitality News www.chinahospitalitynews.com, Shi Laishun, the vice president of China Travel Service Head Office, said that online marketing is a new media channel for traditional travel agencies and the modern service sector, as well as the whole of modern society. From the point of view of modern dynamic management processes, travel agencies, no matter whether traditional, old or new, big or small, all can take advantage of the method. Shi believes that it would more flexible for small-sized travel agencies to establish an online system. However, such companies will not establish their own websites but will choose to take advantage of the whole Internet. Large-scale travel agencies, on the other hand, will set up their own websites as well as their own online marketing platforms: e.g. Mangocity.com  www.mangocity.com, which is owned by China National Travel Service (HK) Group Corporation. Shi also said that these travel information search engines and portals were designed based on different markets. These are open information platforms, where users can get any information they are looking for and release their own products and exchange values.
Online marketing is very convenient. But should travel companies cooperate with each other or establish new platforms? Shi said there are two sides as not every firm will pour money into this. A series of activities, including the establishment of Internet systems, employee recruitment, program development and maintenance and market operation such as operating models, are commercial activities and have profitable precedents. As to whether to invest or not, or how to invest, this is similar to the question that concerned many Chinese decades ago. That is, should China develop on its own, or should it cooperate with the outside world to connect its economy with the rest of the world? So, should travel firms take advantage of the whole Internet or establish their own platforms? Different firms have made different choices, according to Shi. China’s largest travel agency, CTS, and Mangocity.com both are independent corporations and both are subsidiaries of two separate enterprises. Tian Di Lian Wang, which was co-established by CTS and Mangocity.com, comprises the two firms’ products, services, and information. The cooperation between the two results in strong support off line and offers a comprehensive sales network for travel agencies.
Take China’s current tourism sector for example, the companies which do not control resources, have found it more difficult to gain a market share via different of resources. One has to become the controller if it wants to increase its competitive edge. In the meantime, it has to be the creator of market added value, Shi said that CTS aims to become the resource supporter and service provider. Mangocity.com serves as a professional platform offering travel information. Modern technology plays an essential role in connecting new products and new markets.
Shi also said that the effects on B2B brought by online market are all about the strong and weak in market. B2B is more about win-win or about drawing on the strengths of others to offset one’s own weakness. At the initial stage, B2B is about co-existence, later it is about the balance between profits and benefits. If the balance is realized, common development could be possible; if not, the resource controller may back off to explore new sales channels; or the resource controller may ask for more money for Internet support or quite from online marketing.
As a large-sized travel agency, what does CTS think of online marketing and bricks and mortar stores? Shi said that one can not substitute for the other. According to the application papers, most clients prefer to going to stores due to the friendly manner and sense of trust which matter to most young people as well as those who are above average age. On one hand, the Internet doesn’t have these advantages which stores have, on the other hand, stores certainly can not be a substitute for the Internet. Different customers have different preferences, leading to different consumer choices. Shi explained that stores can better represent a firm while communicating person in person with customers. The Internet is a platform which offers around-the-clock trading and all kinds of information. The two will have different results based on different targets but they are both very important for travel agencies. To be specific, the online marketing appeals more to young people. The online comments and online payment suit semi-self-guided tours and individual tourist groups better. According to official figures, the age of the Internet user base spans from 28 to 35 while users aged between 17 and 35 view websites most.  They start by searching for destinations, features and prices, and then they will decide which agency to cooperate with. All those steps they take determine that they would prefer online trading. As a result, romantic and adventure tours are usually put online.
Online marketing has its disadvantages while bringing conveniences to consumers. Shi said the biggest problem is trust. First of all, there should be a trust system. Management staff need to create a clean environment on the Internet and related markets. Secondly, those pragmatic issues should be addressed. Besides trust, a large amount of bad information exists, affecting the whole Internet. To solve this problem is a long-term task. According to Shi, online marketing, which is an important method in modern society, will bring revolution to modern media. Revenues and influence will greatly exceed those of traditional media. However, the combination of the two marketing strategies will coexist for a long time.

Delta Airlines successful strategy with Chinese tourists

As a growing number of Chinese travel abroad for business and leisure, competition to lure mainland travelers is also heating up. One of the people responsible for steering mainland travelers to the United States, and one of the most experienced aviation professionals working in China today, is Delta Airlines’ director and chief representative of China and Hong Kong, Sandeep Bahl. Bahl has worked in aviation for more than two decades and has been stationed in either Japan or China since 1997.
From his office in Bejing, Bahl oversees Delta’s marketing flights out of Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong to Tokyo, Seattle, and Detroit.
“China has become a very competitive market, and travelers here have become very savvy,” Bahl said. “When I first came here, to travel outside China was a luxury. In 2003, less than five million outbound trips were made. Today, they take almost 50 million trips per year. Chinese travelers have the will to travel, they like it, and they now also have the means.”
A growing number of trips taken means that Chinese travelers’ tastes are slowly evolving to incorporate more than the most popular destinations, like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, said Bahl.

“A first timer will visit the biggest cities,” he said. “But we’re seeing interest expand beyond those places.” When Delta launched its Beijing-Seattle flight in June, for example, the airline’s representatives started fielding questions about side trips to Mt. Rainier and Reno, Nevada. Other destinations that have seen surprising increasing interest from Chinese travelers, said Bahl, include Yellowstone National Park and Cincinnati (he attributes that one to the Kentucky Derby).
Chinese travelers are quickly becoming better informed and selecting destinations that fit their individual priorities. “It’s not a herd instinct anymore,” Bahl said. “It used to be, if everybody’s going to New York, then tour operators were only going to New York. Now, I’ve noticed that it’s not about what tour operators are selling; it’s the traveler who is more knowledgeable about where they want to go and what they want to do.”
Bahl adds that word of mouth, spread through face-to-face and online interaction, plays a key role in China as in other markets. “That spreads the word without spending trillions on marketing,” he said. “An individual traveler will come back, and his excitement about the trip motivates someone else to go. The resources to spread the word have grown dramatically. You have magazines that weren’t here several years ago, and we use online outlets like Qunar and Travelzoo to advertise and get information [on] who is clicking on what.”
The growth of Chinese outbound travel and movement toward approved destination status for the United States, have led more US travel providers to reach out to the market here, according to Bahl.

“When we met with US hotels recently, they are all geared up to receive more visitors from China. They are getting ready,” he said. “And when Chinese travelers fly to Atlanta or any of our gateways they have a Chinese speaker there when they land. With the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding], one condition was, there will be a group of US operators that will be approved by CNTA [Chinese National Tourism Administration]. Those will be an asset in taking care of Chinese tourists.”
But there is still room for improvement in serving the Chinese traveler. “Ground transport, facilities for certain food habits, etc. – those are lacking, especially in secondary cities,” Bahl added. “When our Chinese friends go to travel, after two days of eating steaks, they want Chinese food. Some areas are well covered, but not others.”
US destinations looking to attract more travelers from the mainland could benefit from more cooperation with each other, Bahl said. “We notice that when we take them to Atlanta and Detroit, they want to go beyond the cities. They want to know all about Georgia, and in Michigan, they want to see the Ford factory and museum and foreclosed houses they can buy. For that you need Michigan state help.”
Destination marketing in the United States, however, is generally set up city by city, with neighbors often viewing each other as the competition. But their resources can be brought together by a third party, said Bahl: “When we launched the Beijing-Seattle flight, we got people in Portland to come and talk to us about an itinerary that covers both Seattle and Portland.”
The World Expo, currently underway in Shanghai, has been an opportunity for Chinese consumers to view various US destinations under one roof. Bahl has visited four times and believes it has been a great marketing opportunity for travel to the participating countries.
”The expo will definitely help outbound tourism. People are learning things that will motivate them to travel to these countries. They get to know a destination, and it generates buzz. It is like a big travel show where Chinese consumers are finding out what those countries have for them.”