Chinese travelers want personalized service

Chinese wealthy gentleman - China Elite FocusChina’s outbound luxury travelers spend $65,000 per household on tourism per year, including $34,000 on travel shopping, according to a new study from Marriott International.

Chinese outbound tourists have long been a high-priority group for luxury brands, but the demands and habits of younger travelers are changing quickly. The digital natives aged between 18 and 36 years old want a more personalized experience, including superior guest services and smart device integration.

China’s young luxury travelers go abroad between three and four times a year on average, primarily for leisure. While France remains the most popular destination in Europe, Japan is the preferred shopping destination given its proximity and favorable exchange rates, while Australia is the preferred leisure destination.

Australia has long been a developed economy, but it is less commonly seen as a haven for growth than North America, and luxury’s home in Europe has also pushed Australia to the back burner for many brands aiming to capitalize on China’s growing tourism rates. A strong presence in Australia could entice wealthy vacationers to make a purchase.

Moreover, western brands should be aware that summer travel is less common in China. National Day Golden Week travel in the early fall and travels for Chinese New Year are nearly two and three times as likely, respectively.

As with North America’s millennials, China’s young travelers get most of their travel information digitally, largely from official WeChat accounts, underscoring the platform’s importance. C-Trip, Qunar and Tuniu are also popular third-party platforms on which hotels should strive for good placement.

While the above generation is more closely defined by a desire for material goods, a reaction to globalization and advertising in the wake of China’s emergence from poverty, its young travelers strive for more adventurous travel. Hotels and retailers alike should tailor messages to these consumers to emphasize experiential components and offerings.

More specifically, over the next three years global travel is expected to increase 25 percent, while polar exploration grows 32 percent, adventure travel by 52 percent and road trips by 75 percent.

However, personalized service is still the biggest consideration in traveling for luxury travelers. Besides a liking for amenities, being able to choose pillows of different firmness and having a butler or personalized service through digital channels are also important. Seventy-three percent demand WiFi while 55 percent want smart TVs, while unique art and design are also high draws.

With luxury growth stalling around the world and quarterly earnings being largely at the mercy of Chinese tourists and which markets they enter, the country remains the top concern for marketers. As it transitions to a consumer-driven economy, China’s growth has fallen below the double-digits that were beginning to feel normal, but it still offers enormous opportunity.

Chinese residents will make 90 million outbound trips in 2020, with that number increasing by an additional 36 million over the following decade, according to a report by Euromonitor.

Outbound trips have increased on average by an impressive 13 percent since 2000, helping China overtake Japan as the second largest consumer market in 2011. With the significance and size of the Chinese tourist market only projected to swell, brands will need to develop a more nuanced understanding of the market in order to reach consumers. In particular sophisticated native advertisement campaigns in influential digital travel publications catering to China’s super-rich, such as the Shanghai Travelers’ Club (STC) magazine, give good results to reach China’s elite.

However, as brands cater to Generation Y consumers and look to the future, they must be as aware of generational differences in China as they are in the West.

In a reversal of the more materialistic tendencies of their parents, almost 95 percent of Chinese Generation Z consumers say it is essential for brands to be sustainable and environmentally conscious, according to a report by RTG Consulting.

The continued growth of China over the next several years will ensure that its consumers remain prime targets for brands for the foreseeable future, as even a slowed China exceeds the growth rate of western nations. As a result, brands will need to make a connection to this group, the first born in a fully modern China, in the interest of long-term success

Source: TheTopTier

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In a twist, Trump’s administration policies could deliver more Chinese tourists and students for Australia & New Zealand

CHinese woman at home - China elite focusAustralia’s tourism and education providers may benefit from Chinese consumers holding a more negative view of the United States since the election of President Donald Trump, according to a new survey.

While China’s state media has pulled back on its outright hostility towards Mr Trump since his election, the survey of 2000 people from across the country found that 41 per cent of respondents viewed America in a less positive light.

“America’s soft power has historically provided a distinct advantage for many of its products and services in China, driving preference for travel and study packages, Nike shoes, iPhones and Frappuccinos at Starbucks,” said Mark Tanner the managing director of digital consulting firm China Skinny, which jointly commissioned the survey with research firm Findoout.

He said many Chinese people believed Europe to be unsafe, due to the threat of terrorism, and would therefore seek out other western-style destinations, such as Australia and New Zealand.

“The desirability of tourism and studying in America has decreased since Trump was elected,” said Mr Tanner.

“This isn’t just good for the travel and education sectors [in Australian and New Zealand], but has a wider impact as Chinese consumers develop affinities with food, property, fashion, health and a host of other products when visiting foreign countries.”

The so-called daigou trade, which has seen a spike in popularity of everything from A2 infant formula to Weetbix and Blackmores vitamins, was built around tourists coming to Australia and discovering these brands.

Many took the products home and then sought out Chinese friends or relatives living in Australia to send them regular supplies via the post.

This spawned a multimillion-dollar industry and often provided the basis for brands opening offices in China and beginning direct sales.

“New Zealand is a very popular destination for affluent Chinese travelers” said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus, the media agency which was in charge of the “Luxury New Zealand” campaign to promote the country to Chinese travelers from 2011 to 2013. “Chinese leisure travelers, real estate investors, businesspeople and students are choosing New Zealand as an alternative to European destinations or the United States”. The survey by China Skinny and Findoout found 18 per cent of Chinese consumers felt more negatively about buying property and stocks in the US, while 14 per cent were less inclined to travel there and 10 per cent were more negative on studying in the US.

Conversely, the rise of Mr Trump appears to have piqued interest in American culture in China with a small uptick in sentiment towards US movies, music, sport and the media. Chinese consumers have historically shown themselves to be sensitive towards geopolitical ructions. In September 2012 during a heated territorial dispute with Tokyo, Japanese automakers suffered year on year sales declines of up to 50 per cent in an otherwise buoyant market.

“Remarkably the results were consistent across respondents’ city tiers, gender, age and professions, signalling that Trump is impacting behaviour in every corner of China,” said Yu Bowei the chief executive of Findoout.

Source : Financial Review, original story by Angus Grigg

Tunisia Attracts More Chinese Tourists After Announcing Visa Exemption

Chinese passenger airport - china elite focusLast February 16, the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially declared the exemption of Chinese nationals in entry visas to Tunisia. However, conditions were also set in exchange of the said exemption.

General Director of Consular Affairs of the Tunisian Ministry, Chafik Hajji, was quoted as saying: “From today, the tourists of Chinese nationality will not need a visa to enter Tunisian territory, in the conditions of having a round-trip flight ticket and a valid hotel reservation voucher within 90 days.”

During the previous years, Tunisia has struggled to revive the country’s tourism after the occurrence of several terrorism attacks which killed over 70 civilians which had also included tourists from other countries. The country has exerted efforts to relive the tourism industry of the country. In fact, in 2016, 5.7 million foreign tourists visited Tunisia compared to the 5.3 million that was recorded in 2015.

China International Travel Service (CITS) in Shanghai office manager Fang Yi expressed that what makes Tunisia more appealing to foreign tourists are the World Cultural Heritage Sites in the country where unique and amazing cultural and traditional activities can be found.

“Thanks to its mild and humid Mediterranean climate, Tunisia could become a tourist destination in winter when it is cold in Europe, the traditional destination for Chinese,”Fang explained.”

Among the first Chinese citizens to experience this exemption was Wu Wenzhao, who is from Beijing. She came to Tunis, the capital and the largest city in Tunisia, for a business trip. Wu Wenzhao confirmed that she easily took a boarding pass and left the Chinese border. She added that it only caused her less than a minute to enter the territory of Tunisia after her plane landed.

Geographically speaking, Tunisia is placed between the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean basin. It is also accessible to the Atlas Mountains which make the country more popular among tourists especially for adventure-seekers.  The Tunisia Welcome Service (WTS) believes that the visa exemption of Chinese citizens to Tunisia will boost the Chinese economic interests to country which will eventually lead to the improvement of the African market.

Source: Travelers Today

Europe Bets Big on Chinese Tourism but should leave to the States their marketing strategy

Chinese family - China Elite FocusIn a press event hosted by upcoming travel trade fair ITB China and its Chinese joint venture partner TravelDaily China, Europe laid out its plans for greater efforts to boost tourism between China and the EU.

Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission (ETC)—which represents European national tourism organizations—said that the European Commission is making huge investments in the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year. Santander argued that Europe as already reached the “awareness phase” in the Chinese market, and that the challenge now is to enhance Chinese consumers’ understanding of Europe as a destination. Santander also emphasized that Europe needs to understand the Chinese market better, and to look beyond the large cities in East China.

Even though the EU-China Tourism Year still lies a year into the future, efforts are being made to enhance the promotion of Europe as a destination already in 2017. ITB China, the Chinese counterpart of ITB Berlin—the world’s largest tourism fair—is hosting Visit Europe as its official partner destination for the inaugural event in May 2017, and outlined further collaboration during the tourism year in 2018.

The European Commission has also invested in what is called the World Bridge Tourism initiative; an EU initiative carried out by the ETC and the European Tourism Association (ETOA) that aims to grow the number of Chinese visitors to Europe by encouraging stronger business ties between European and Chinese tourism businesses. The initiative includes a conference as well as business workshops that bring European tourism suppliers and Chinese tour operators together, first for two days in Shanghai in conjunction with the ITB China fair, and later in the fall of 2017, doing a similar round of events on European soil. According to Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA, both events will host 150 European tourism suppliers and 100 Chinese tourism buyers. It was also announced that the EU had granted additional funding to carry out tourism workshops in both China and the EU to strengthen tourism ties further. The European Commission, which created the initial outline for the project, as well as funds the project, was also represented at the press event, briefly emphasizing the importance of Chinese tourism to Europe as a region.

But industry experts have a more cautious approach, like Pierre Gervois, Expert in marketing to Chinese outbound tourists, who declared “Europe in itself does not mean a lot for Chinese travelers. A coherent marketing approach should be done at country level, as each European country is so different, with different languages and cultures, promoting at the same time 28 very different countries is a waste of the European’s taxpayers money”

“European countries should promote themselves using their unique cultures.  For a Chinese traveler, you don’t dream on a trip to Europe, but to a trip to Italy and a trip to France, for example”, Mr Gervois added.

While strengthening the European tourism businesses with the help of Chinese tourism is a clear goal of both the World Bridge Tourism initiative and the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year, Santander also underlined that the designated tourism year “goes beyond tourism,” emphasizing the importance of more people-to-people interactions to reduce existing “misunderstandings” between Chinese and European people.

The event also hosted speakers from some of China’s largest tourism companies, including representatives from Jin Jiang Hotels, Ctrip, and Tuniu—all outlining their ambitions for future growth. Jin Jiang, which acquired Europe’s second-largest budget hotel chain, Groupe De Louvre, back in 2015 also has to ambition to expand in the European luxury hotel market. Ctrip, meanwhile, acquired Scotland-based Skyscanner to strengthen its position in the European market late last year. Tuniu, meanwhile, has partnered with ITB China and promises to send a large number of its buyers to the May event—where 40 percent of exhibitors represent European destinations and tourism businesses. While Europe may be looking to China for future tourism growth, it seems like large Chinese tourism businesses are looking to Europe for their own global expansions.

Sources: Jing Daily / ITB / European Travel Commission / ETOA