The number of Chinese travelers making international trips was up by a strong 22 per cent in 2011, compared to 2010, and experts predict China is on track to overtake Germany and the US as the world’s largest outbound tourism market in the next few years.
The inaugural Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) from Hotels.com, one of the world’s leading online hotel booking websites, gives an insight into how the rise of the Chinese traveller is changing the dynamics of the global hotel market.
Johan Svanstrom, Managing Director of Hotels.com Asia Pacific, commented: “The Chinese made a staggering 70 million international trips in 2011 and, while many of these were to Hong Kong and Macau, the number going further afield is growing significantly. Implementing strategies to cater specifically to this burgeoning source market is moving from a nice-to-have to a competitive necessity.”
Surveying more than 5,000 Hotels.com’s hotel partners around the world, the report found the majority of respondents envisage the boom in outbound Chinese travel continuing. One in five (22%) expect to see an increase of as much as 40%. Many national governments are facilitating the boom by relaxing visa requirements. Japan and Spain are examples of popular tourism markets that have already done this and Korea, amongst others, will implement similar changes later this year. Chinese international travelers are known to spend significant amounts on shopping and there is a clear opportunity for the hotel industry to grab a share of that spend for the stay experience itself.
The study found that the profile of Chinese guests is changing as they become increasingly more independent, confident, younger and more familiar with foreign cultures and customs.
According to Pierre Gervois, author of the Best Selling book How U.S. Retail, Travel and Hospitality Industries Can Attract Affluent Chinese Tourists, “Chinese outbound tourists are now extremely mature consumers, and know what they want – and do not want. The time of low cost group tours is now definitely over as they want a true travel experience, specifically in the United States, the #1 dream destination according to China Elite Focus’ survey”
Among hoteliers polled, it is clear that many are starting to adapt, offering Mandarin-speaking staff, translated materials, Chinese menus, entertainment options and the China UnionPay card services for payments. Examples from the study found that 41% of hotel respondents are planning to offer Chinese TV channels, while 66% of European hotel respondents are planning to offer Chinese breakfast options.
The Chinese economy continues to grow at a fast rate, contributing to the build-up of a travelling middle class of several hundred million people. With the the ongoing economic uncertainty in key markets, catering to Chinese travellers should be high on the list of priorities.
“Hoteliers should form concrete plans in two areas. Firstly, develop marketing strategies to reach the Chinese source market; concentrating on online as the Chinese internet population has now crossed the 500 million mark. Secondly, adapt hotel property services to cater to the expectation and needs of this growing audience,” concluded Svanstrom.
Source: Travel Daily News, August 2012