Guam island targets Chinese tourists

In order to further engage and attract the Chinese tourists, Guam Visitors Bureau launches its second campaign, “Suggest a Slogan to Win Your Trip to Guam”.

Guam, an island with sandy beaches and a rich cultural heritage. Not only is the island a top destination with newly–weds and couples on a romantic retreat but for people wanting to relax and experience a rich and diverse culture as well.

At the end of last year Guam launched its first and successful digital marketing campaign. In order to further engage and attract the Chinese tourists, GVB is launching a second campaign named “Suggest a Slogan to Win Your Trip to Guam”. Participants will be asked to select a background and write an eloquent and attractive slogan for Guam. After submitting the entry, participants will immediately be able to gain 8 votes from friends by sending them a link which will ask them to register and vote.

The campaign will have a duration of three months, from March till May, in which participants are able to submit their slogan. At the end of the campaign the first place winner will receive an one-week trip to Guam and the runner up will receive a prize sponsored by DFS and hotels.

“Guam is a small but thriving island which allows visitors to wind down, relax and take in all the cultural sights. Guam is still shrouded in mystery to outsiders with a rich and relatively unknown culture. Visitors are able to explore and discover the many facets of Guam and the hospitality of the people here which will create everlasting memories of splendor and warmth”. Said GVB General Manager Gerald S.A. Perez.

Connecticut’s casinos target Chinese customers

While the economy drains Connecticut’s casinos of valuable revenue, their investments in Asian gamers hedge those losses.
“There’s no question it has held up better,” said Anthony Patrone, senior vice president of marketing at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville. “We are happy about that, but we are not taking it for granted.”
Since their openings in the 1990s, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket offered games such as baccarat, sic bo and pai gow that attract Asian gamers. As the heavy Asian populations in New York and Boston responded in strong numbers, the casinos rolled out more tables and eventually separate gaming areas for the Asian market.
Those investments, along with Asian-specific entertainment and marketing, paid dividends from the beginning, but they are especially vital now as Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun report overall drops in gaming revenue.
The latest figures for slot machine revenue — released for May — show Mohegan down 7 percent and Foxwoods down 9 percent for the year. Both casinos have lost more than 15 percent of their slot revenue over the past five years. The month was the slowest May for slot machine revenue since 1997 for Foxwoods and since 2002 for Mohegan Sun.
Although not reporting specific figures on patrons, Foxwoods and Mohegan both say that Asian gamers constitute 20-25 percent of the casino visitors. The vast majority are Chinese with Korean and Vietnamese players also coming in significant numbers. Japanese and Cambodian patrons also frequent locations.
After Mohegan Sun opened in 1996, the casino saw an 8-10 percent increase in Asian gamblers every year, Patrone said. That culminated in 2007 with the opening of Sunrise Square, a specific gaming area including popular Asian table games like baccarat. The popularity increased until 2009 when the recession slowed business throughout the casino.
Sunrise Square boasts 50 table games with room for 368 players. Throughout Mohegan Sun, there are 75 tables for baccarat, pai gow and sic bo totaling 536 seats, the most of any location in the United States, Patrone said.
Foxwoods boasts 51 Asian table games with the 34 baccarat tables being the most popular on the property, said Steve Ma, Foxwoods vice president of Asian marketing. The games all are located in one area, so the patrons that frequent them don’t have to travel far.
Baccarat was small part of Foxwoods offering when the casino opened in 1992, but more Asian tables and games are added each year.
“After we increased the tables, we just have to make sure we fill them; and we’ve never had to take tables away,” Ma said. “The Asian customers like to gamble.”
Gambling has strong traditions in the Chinese culture, and that has permeated to the surrounding counties, although to a lesser degree, said Vera Schwarcz, director of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies at Wesleyan University.
“It hasn’t been frowned upon like in Christian cultures,” Schwarcz said. “Finding shortcuts in the dream of realizing wealth is something that’s more acceptable.”
Chinese men go out to drink and gamble, and Chinese women stay home to gamble with friends, sometimes in large groups, she explained. The Chinese people believe strongly in luck, which coincides with their feelings toward fate and fortune.
“It’s not like if you go out and gamble that you are a bad family man,” Schwarcz said. “If you gamble and win, it goes toward your social status of having more money.”
Asia, especially China, has become the new hotspot for American casinos to drum up new business. For a long time Las Vegas casinos have sought out high rollers in Asia to fly into Nevada, Patrone said. Now casino companies build properties in the Far East, particularly Macau.
The Connecticut casinos count on the regional market and don’t devote much time to enticing millionaire high rollers from Asian countries, the way Las Vegas casinos do, Patrone said. The competition for those whales is too much to overcome unless they are in the Northeast for business in New York or visiting a student in Boston.
While Connecticut’s Asian population is below the national average of 4.4 percent, New York and Massachusetts are above average, particularly in the New York City and Boston areas where 1 in 12 people — or 1 in 5 in some areas — are Asian, according to the U.S. Census.
To make sure they have a steady supply of gamers, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods run buses from these heavy Asian population centers where patrons receive complimentary food or casino credit to offset the bus ticket cost. Foxwoods runs 48 buses per day while Mohegan Sun claims to have more. Most Asian gamblers arrive in the morning and afternoon, Ma said.
As said Patrick Cooke, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing of China Elite Focus, the Seattle-based marketing agency specialized on affluent Chinese tourists “For wealthy Chinese inbound tourists in the US, gambling is an important part of the global travel experience. It’s as important as a luxury shopping session at a Louis Vuitton store”
To compete with Atlantic City casinos for the New York City customers and with each other for the Boston customers, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun aggressively market to those populations.
Foxwoods has a variety of Asian promotions, such as Chinese concerts, shows, baccarat tournaments, and different summer offerings for the buses, Ma said.
Mohegan Sun sends out Chinese-language and Vietnamese-language mailings; features four Chinese TV stations in its hotel; hosts the Miss NY Chinese beauty pageant; and showcases 10 or more concerts every year featuring Chinese stars, each garnering 7,000-8,000 attendees, Patrone said.
In August, Mohegan Sun will roll out a series of e-mmercials on its Chinese language Web site featuring Chinese celebrities chatting up customers.
As competition stiffens for Asian gamblers — the Empire City Casino in Yonkers offers a closer alternative for New York’s slots players — Connecticut’s casinos work to ensure this increasingly important portion of their business feels like a priority, Patrone said.
“We are one of the most visited sites on the East Coast for Asians, maybe in the whole country,” Patrone said. “This really is a discerning, discriminating market that will go away if you’re not careful.”

Chinese luxury tourists represent ‘the most exciting opportunity’ for travel and tourism sector

Hotels, airlines and other tourism businesses can take advantage from very rich mainland Chinese who regularly holiday overseas, it represents the most exciting opportunity for the international travel industry, however Asia to be the main beneficiary.
There are over 1 million Chinese Luxury Tourists (CLTs), who fly first or business class, stay at four or five star hotels, shop for leading brands and dine in the best restaurants.
Chinese tourists are big spenders, they are travelling more and seeking new venues.
Traditionally, CLTs have holidayed mainly in Asia but are beginning to look further afield to Europe, the USA, Middle East and Australia.
A major new report by Market Probe Asia-Pacific identifies how travel companies – hotels, airlines, airports, tourist authorities, retailers, restaurants, etc. – can take advantage of the CLT opportunity.
A key finding is that only a small proportion of CLTs aim to travel outside Asia, so Tourist Authorities in other parts of the world will need to aggressively promote their “products” in China.

US Hotel companies are very strong in China; four of the top five brands are American. The top airline brands, however, are mainly Asian.

Key Findings Include:

•    Many CLTs are “last minute” holiday makers, they plan and book late
•    There is no seasonality – CLTs holiday throughout the year
•    They prefer international airlines to domestic carriers
•    They are looking for safe, stable, healthy destinations – with good shopping
•    At present, Asian countries are their main destinations; this is changing and Europe and US are becoming more important
•    CLTs have their own distinct needs on food and drink language, type and level of customer service, shopping, sightseeing, etc.
•    The Internet and Social Media are vitally important for CLTs
•    Shangri-La, Sheraton and Hilton are their preferred Hotel brands

2010 Survey of CLTs

Market Probe Asia-Pacific has recently completed a major survey among CLTs, interviewing 300 respondents based in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

For the first time, in-depth information is available on this most valuable target market and is essential reading for any travel company wishing to attract rich Chinese travelers.
The report shows that CLTs are a distinct market, with their own special attitudes and requirements when traveling overseas, and to take advantage of this massive opportunity, the travel industry will need to fully understand these tourists and ensure they are offering the appropriate type and level of service and products.
They will also have to ensure they are promoting appropriate marketing messages through the most effective media, such as luxury lifestyle magazines (Target, Noblesse…) or luxury travel club magazines, such as the Shanghai Travelers’ Club.

The report shows clearly how Airlines, Airports, Hotels, Credit Card Companies, Shops, Restaurants and Tourist Boards can most effectively cater to CLTs, ensuring they provide the optimum level and type of service that Chinese travelers need and expect.

The survey also shows how travel companies can attract CLTs by identifying (i) the important sources of information that CLTs use when planning their overseas holidays and (ii) the marketing methods and messages they see as most effective.

The survey explores in-depth CLTs’ use of the Internet and Social Media when planning foreign holidays.

Technical Note:

Chinese Luxury Tourists are defined as follows:

Travel Patterns: 96% first/business air travel, 99% stay in four or five star hotels overseas.
Wealth:  97% own at least one property, 84% own a luxury car, 87% own luxury leather goods, 76% own stocks & bonds, 67% own a luxury watch.

New US Ambassador to China may improve visa process for Chinese tourists

In response to President Obama’s announcement regarding Commerce Secretary Gary Locke‘s nomination as U.S. Ambassador to China, Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, issued the following statement:
“The nomination of Gary Locke as the U.S. ambassador to China presents a tremendous opportunity to advance travel-related issues involving a lucrative export market to improve the American economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. As Secretary of Commerce, he has been a strong advocate for improved travel facilitation and his support of the Travel Promotion Act demonstrates his keen understanding of the value of promoting the U.S. to travelers around the world. Among his top priorities must be to improve the visa process for potential Chinese visitors in order to make the U.S. more competitive in the $889 billion international travel market.

In 2009, the average Chinese traveler spent nearly $7,000 on American products and services while visiting our country – 72 percent more than the average spending in the United States by all other overseas travelers. Unfortunately, only less than three percent of the 30 million Chinese nationals who traveled outside of mainland China that year visited the United States.

According to our research, if the United States welcomed the same number of Chinese travelers as Western Europe did in 2009, the U.S. would generate $10 billion in additional traveler spending and support more than 76,000 new American jobs. According to Pierre Gervois, marketing expert on the Chinese outbound tourism issues, “The United States could easily get three to five million Chinese visitors every year with a smoother visa policy”.

A leading obstacle to maximizing Chinese visitors to the United States is that our consular resources in China are not keeping pace with the growth in demand. Wait times for nonimmigrant visa interview appointments in China skyrocketed from less than 30 days to nearly four months in Beijing and Shanghai in 2010.

Further complicating our visa issuance system is the fact that a Chinese national must apply for a new United States visa every year. Other foreign travelers to the United States can receive a 10-year multiple entry visa. “We look forward to working with the new ambassador and the Administration on these issues to maximize travel exports, create more American jobs and increase America’s competitiveness with China.”, Mr Dow added.