French Luxury brands new strategy after Yuan’s devaluation

China’s triple yuan devaluation could hit France’s lucrative luxury sector, which has already been impacted by Beijing’s tough anti-
corruption drive against spendthrift officials, analysts said yesterday.
The People’s Bank of China cut the value of the yuan three days in a row last week, raising questions over the health of the world’s second-largest economy and sending global financial markets into a tailspin.
The move also cast a cloud over the global luxury market, as analysts worry that Chinese consumers, who make up more than 30 percent of worldwide luxury spending, would be less able to fork out cash for high-end handbags, wines or clothes.
French giants such as LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE or Hermes International SCA had already felt the pinch of China’s drive to end ostentatious spending and its slowing economic growth, which saw the country’s luxury market shrink for the first time last year, according to consultants Bain & Co.
While the triple devaluation in itself is not devastating, it has been taken as a sign that the Chinese economy is performing worse than revealed. According to Bryan, Garnier & Co analyst Cedric Rossi, that “will add more pressure on the sector.”
“The market [for luxury goods] had slowed down in China, but that was partly compensated by the fact that Chinese people spend a lot more in Europe,” Rossi said. “If the devaluation continues, the Chinese — 70 percent of whom buy their luxury products outside China — could buy less in Europe.”
LVMH — home to such brands as Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and Dior — makes 8 percent of its global sales in China. Hermes reaps 12 percent and Kering SA’s luxury division, including Gucci, Saint Laurent, sells 10 percent, according to analysis from Exane BNP Paribas.
A falling yuan means smaller revenues out of China, and also makes it more expensive for Chinese firms to import goods in the first place. Luxury goods are already between 35 to 50 percent pricier in China than in Europe due to import duties and taxes — a gap that will only widen as the yuan falls.
“Inevitably, such price disparity has encouraged opportunists to buy up popular items in Europe, in bulk, and resell them in China at well below formal retail prices,” Euromonitor International’s global luxury manager Flur Roberts said.
“The grey market is growing, and forcing the owners of luxury brands to take radical action to narrow the differentials,” she said. “In practice, this means they are hiking prices in key European cities and dropping them in China, but with the new currency issues in China this may no longer be possible for international brands.”

“French luxury brands will have to re-think their communication strategy with affluent Chinese consumers” says Pierre Gervois, Publisher of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club Magazine. “Instead of opening too many stores in China’s second tier cities who remain empty, Major brands should target their best Chinese customers when they travel outside China with appropriate marketing and advertising campaigns respecting China’s culture and showing a genuine interest for their Chinese clients”

The question now is whether the devaluation will also affect tourism in France, which saw about 1.7 million Chinese visitors last year.

Source: Taipei times

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France named the friendliest nation in Europe by Chinese tourists

Chinese travelers Private Jet - Shanghai Travelers' ClubFrance’s reputation for rude service is entirely undeserved, according to new research which reveals the Gallic nation as the most welcoming country in Europe.
It might come as a shock to some Britons but when Chinese tourists were asked to name the European country showing the most hospitality to travellers, France came out on top.
When looking at the most hospitable countries in the world, Australia topped the list, followed by Singapore, with France and New Zealand equal third.
In comparison, the UK only ranked in joint 10th place with Germany among the friendliest nations in Europe, according to big-spending Chinese tourists.
France also beat the UK, and other European countries, on a list of places Chinese travellers would like to go to and also to which they have been, according to the latest statistics from Hotels.com.
The positive news for France comes just weeks after ministers said the nation had to be friendlier to tourists if it wanted to keep attracting them to its shores.

Speaking about how to attract 100 million tourists to France, Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius echoed her sentiment, saying: ‘The logic is simple, an unhappy tourist is a tourist that never comes back.’

 According to Pierre Gervois, Publisher of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine – and former Chief of staff of Mr Fabius, “Chinese tourists have incredibly evolved during the last five years. The old stereotypes are no more valid now, and they genuinely want to enjoy the very best experiences in France, starting by five star hotels- and no more low budget hotels”

When asked to name their wish-list destinations, Chinese travellers put Australia at the top, with France second and New Zealand third. The UK was seventh.
The country the Chinese had visited most was the US, with France fifth and the UK sixth.

Of the destinations searched for by Chinese travellers on Hotels.com in the first five months of this year, Hong Kong was top, with Paris ninth and London 13th. The French and the UK capitals were the only European destinations in the top 20 in this category.
The Chinese were the biggest spenders on hotel accommodation in Australia, Japan, Holland and New Zealand last year.
In France they were the third-biggest spenders, while in the UK they were the eighth-biggest.
Hotels.com said by 2017 it is predicted that Chinese tourists will spend £1 billion in the UK, an increase of 84 per cent compared with 2013 figures.
Matt Walls of Hotels.com said: ‘Chinese travellers appear to be prioritising destinations that are most welcoming to them. In Europe we are seeing France win out against other countries as a result of its efforts to make it easier for Chinese people to visit.
‘Until recently, the UK’s visa processes have acted as a deterrent to many Chinese visitors due to their complexity. However, the reforms announced recently should make a considerable difference.
‘he sooner these changes are introduced, the sooner UK businesses can benefit from the upsurge in international travel by the Chinese.’
A total of 3,000 Chinese international travellers and 3,000 worldwide hoteliers were surveyed.

Source: Daily Mail

Air France promises to offer tailored services to Chinese travelers

Air-France-A380-Shanghai Travelers' ClubCrews trained in Chinese culture, Mandarin or Cantonese-speaking reception teams, mobile services in Chinese, etc. Air France has created services specifically tailored to accommodate its Chinese passengers. The company has established an outreach program on Chinese culture for its 15,000 flight attendants. This program reflects Air France’s constant search for excellence, hospitality and service as do the languages spoken aboard flights: announcements are broadcast in Mandarin on the flights from and to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and in Cantonese for Hong Kong flights. In addition, for more than 10 years, Chinese interpreters have been on board all Air France flights from and to China.

 MANDARIN AND CANTONESE-SPEAKING RECEPTION TEAMS

To welcome and provide assistance to passengers who do not speak English or French, Air France has a team of multilingual agents at Paris-Charles de Gaulle, speaking Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Tamil, Hindi, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic. The team welcomes daily passengers, assisting them with checking-in and facilitates their connections between flights. Knowledge of the travelers’ languages and cultures makes its easier to exchange and establish immediate and natural contact.

 MOBILE SERVICES IN CHINESE

Air France customers benefit from an exclusive, free service, requiring no registration or subscription, informing them of changes or any disruptions in their journey. The “Air France Connect” service has been available for several weeks in Chinese. With a mobile phone number and e-mail address indicated by the customer when purchasing their ticket, Air France can provide information up to 14 days prior to departure, by telephone, SMS or e-mail, regarding flight cancellations or delays, gate changes or delays in delivery of luggage following the flight. Air France and KLM are the first airlines providing such large-scale proactive information services to all passengers throughout their network. To be notified personally in case of emergency on a flight, customers only need to ensure that they have provided the company with the maximum contact information for the communications modes (telephone, mobile or e-mail) the customer will use during the trip.

 ON BOARD, CHINESE CUISINE AND FILMS

Air France places particular emphasis on openness to other cultures, taking into account the tastes of its passengers. While providing a French dining experience, Air France pays attention to adapting its menus to the culture or dietary needs of its customers. For Chinese customers, the chefs of Air France subsidiary, Servair, the on-board foodservices specialist, develop a range of fine Chinese dishes served in Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy. In addition, jasmine tea is offered in all cabins.For its Chinese passengers, Air France offers a frequently renewed selection of international films subtitled in Chinese. A Chinese film also is routinely offered.

 A SELECTION OF CHINESE PERIODICALS ON BOARD

A Chinese version of the Air France flight magazine is available to passengers and a regular selection of Chinese newspapers and magazines is also available on each flight.

Parisians issued advice on how to deal with Chinese tourists

Chinese tourists in Paris - China Elite FocusParis, one of the world’s major tourist destinations for Chinese tourists, has issued new information to advise its citizens on how to deal with Chinese tourists. “A simple smile and a greeting in their language satisfies them completely,” the guide issued by the Regional Tourism Council of the Paris Chamber of Commerce reads. “Rouanne ing gouang linne” is how it tries to explain the intricacies of saying “welcome” in Chinese.
“They are avid shoppers of luxury brands,” it explains the habits of the one million Chinese who visit the French capital every year. “They are picky about food and wine. They appreciate ingenious shopping suggestions,” it notes.
The guide titled Do You Speak Touriste? helps Parisian hoteliers and taxi drivers, known for their rough charm, with audio files on how to ask non-French speaking tourists about their desires. The guide also includes 10 other nationalities.
Fewer Chinese tourists are coming on organised bus tours, as 84 per cent now visit the city individually.
The average Chinese tourist spends six to seven nights in the most visited city in the world and forks out 171 euros  per day there – that is 31 euros more than the average American and 15 less than the average Japanese.
The city, however, has run into difficulty trying to attract more middle class Chinese tourists.
A sharp increase in robberies of Chinese tourists in Paris has prompted calls to boost security in the capital. Muggings had increased 10 per cent over the last year.
Last autumn, a Parisian hotelier caused outrage when he said his hotel would not serve Chinese tourists, because of their bad manners.
In an interview in late September, Thierry Gillier, the founder of French clothing firm Zadig & Voltaire, said of the company’s plans for a new exclusive hotel in Paris, “we are going to select guests. It won’t be open to Chinese tourists, for example.”
He has since apologised.
Despite this, most Chinese remain enchanted with the city of lights. Almost 47 per cent of visitors from China say they wish to return to Paris within two years, according to the tourism council.

A Louis Vuitton Bag and a bowl of rice

Wealthy Chinese tourist- China Elite FocusIn 2012, 83 million mainland Chinese spent $102 billion abroad — overtaking Americans and Germans — making them the world’s biggest tourism spenders, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Their numbers have also placed them among the most resented tourists. Mainland Chinese tourists, often laden with cash and unfamiliar with foreign ways, are tumbling out of tour buses with apparently little appetite for hotel breakfast buffets and no concept of lining up.
The frustrations with the new tourists were summed up on a Thai online message board last spring, when users posted complaints about Chinese tourists using outdoor voices inside and spitting in public, among other transgressions.
Last year, Thierry Gillier, a French fashion designer who founded the Zadig and Voltaire label, caused a small scandal when he told Women’s Wear Daily that Chinese tourists would not be welcome at his new Parisian boutique hotel. A barrage of international criticism persuaded him to apologize.
Like their predecessors, the Chinese are newly wealthy and helpless with foreign languages, a combination complicated by their developing country’s historical isolation.
“That China is a lawless, poorly educated society with a lot of money is going to take its toll on the whole world,” said Hung Huang, a popular blogger and magazine publisher in Beijing.
Despite these faux pas, countries are practically tripping over themselves to attract Chinese tourists. Wedding companies in South Korea are trying to lure Chinese couples with bling-heavy ceremonies inspired by the viral music video “Gangnam Style.” A coastal county outside Sydney, Australia, is building a $450 million Chinese theme park centered on a full-size replica of the gates to the Forbidden City and a nine-story Buddhist temple. France, one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists already — 1.4 million visited in 2012 — is working to further bolster its appeal.
To judge from the grumbling across the globe, such guidelines may be necessary. But the greatest opprobrium seems to be coming from fellow Chinese. In May, a mainland Chinese tourist in Luxor, Egypt, discovered that a compatriot had carved his own hieroglyphics on the wall of a 3,500-year-old temple. “Ding Jinhao was here,” it declared. A photo of the offending scrawl spread rapidly on Chinese social media, and outraged citizens tracked down the 15-year-old vandal. The uproar subsided after his parents issued a public apology.
Embarrassed by the spate of bad press that month, Wang Yang, China’s vice premier, publicly railed against the poor “quality and breeding” of Chinese tourists who tarnish their homeland’s reputation. “They make loud noises in public, scratch graffiti on tourist attractions, ignore red lights when crossing the road and spit everywhere,” he said, according to People’s Daily.
Despite his admonition, articles with headlines like “Chinese Bride Brawls in French Lavender Field” continue to appear in the state media.
Ms. Hung, the blogger, blames the Communist Party’s tumultuous rule for China’s uncivilized behavior abroad. “There’s an entire generation who learned you don’t pay attention to grooming or manners because that’s considered bourgeois,” she said. While Chinese are more open to Western ideas now, that has not necessarily sunk in when actually interacting with the outside world. “They think, ‘The hell with etiquette. As long as I have money, foreigners will bow to my cash.’ ”
Most mainland Chinese vacationers have a splendid time abroad. In May, Huang Honglin, 53, and his wife paid $8,000 for a 16-day group tour of the United States, a country he last visited on a business trip 25 years ago. That was long before he joined China’s growing middle class as the owner of a trading company.
This time around, Mr. Huang had money to burn. “We went shopping for gems in Hawaii and bought Prada bags in New York,” he recalled. Mr. Huang never made it to the chic boutiques of Manhattan. Instead, he traveled an hour north to the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, where many designer stores have recently hired employees who speak Chinese.
His only complaint was that they had to race through the racks before the bus departed. “Time was so short, it felt like war,” he said.
According to a McKinsey & Company report, nearly 70 percent of Chinese luxury consumers buy their Tiffany baubles and Hermès scarves abroad to avoid higher sales tax on such goods at home, which can reach 60 percent. Take the black Louis Vuitton “Neverfull” handbag, a hefty status symbol with straps that costs 14,400 renminbi in China, or $2,335 — over $350 more than the same item in the United States.
According to the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine, a publication read by wealthy Chinese tourists, the new generation of very affluent Chinese Chinese tourists want now more confidential signs of social status, as very expensive tailor made French luggage brands Moynat or Goyard. After all, “everyone has its Louis Vuitton bag in China. It’s very common now” said a representative of the Shanghai Travelers Club.
Chinese tourists boatingIn 2007, China granted the United States “approved destination status,” which opened the doors to Chinese group leisure travel to America beginning in 2008. Last year, 1.5 million Chinese arrived on American shores, spending nearly $8.8 billion, according to the Commerce Department. Today, around 150 travel agencies in the United States have the approval of the National Tour Association, an American trade group, to organize trips from China, many of them owned and operated by Chinese-Americans.
But the industry has experienced growing pains. Despite years of meetings in China and decades of leading motor coach tours across the United States, the travel agency AmericanTours International learned that Chinese tourists required a special touch. For one, people from Beijing and Shanghai cannot travel on the same bus.
“They clashed,” recalled Nick Hentschel, the company’s director of business development.
Last year, 1,500 Chinese took the company’s “Hollywood to Broadway” bus tour, a 20-day cross-country journey intended for mainlanders with stops that included a Las Vegas casino; the bridges of Madison County, Iowa; Niagara Falls; the White House; and the Empire State Building.
If the sights are crowd-pleasers, the overnight stays can sometimes prove challenging. “Smoking in hotel rooms is always a problem,” Mr. Hentschel said, a habit that can cost tourists hundreds of dollars in hotel cleaning bills. Then there was the episode last summer, he said, when a tour group caused a scene at a hotel in Cody, Wyo., after mistakenly thinking another busload of compatriots had been given preference at breakfast. The police were called to escort them out of town, he said.
More often, Chinese tourists find themselves victims of unscrupulous tour operators. On a weeklong guided tour through Thailand in 2009, Qi Lingfeng, 27, was one of several people in his group who refused to sign up for costly excursions like speedboat rides and concerts. As punishment, he said, the local guide locked them out of their hotel rooms. Other tourists at the same hotel, he said, were forced off their bus for the same transgression.
“It was so crazy, we even thought about calling the Chinese embassy in Bangkok,” he said.
During a group tour of the Siberian city of Vladivostok in January, Chen Xu, 47, a scientist from the coastal city of Xiamen, said the “ethnic Russian dancing” excursion, which cost $80, turned out to be a woman in a bikini twirling around a stripper pole.
“When the parents saw what was happening, they took their kids and left the room,” he said.
Surrounded by so many foreign stimuli, many yearn for a taste of home while abroad. Xie Nuoyan, 20, a college student from Beijing, felt as much during a recent visit to New York. While she appreciated the drinkable tap water, she said Chinatown was a letdown.
“I was really disappointed to see it’s not like in the movies, where there are lots of lanterns and performances everywhere,” she said.
On the upside, finding an abundance of Chinese food after days of consuming only strange Western concoctions redeemed the neighborhood.
“The sight of rice moved me to tears,” she said.

Source: New York Times / Dan Levin / Joshua Hunt

Old stereotypes don’t work anymore for Chinese tourists in Europe

Shanghai Travelers Club- Chateau de la Barre- Chinese touristsEurope enjoyed a good performance of its tourism industry in 2012 as total arrivals grew by 3.5% last year. “With 476 million international tourist arrivals, Europe is the world’s largest destination, representing a 50% market share worldwide. This share might slightly shrink due to the strong growth of arrivals to other continents-especially Asia. But we will still remain a dominant force in the years to come”, explained at an ITB Press Conference Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of the European Travel Commission.

ETC comprises 33 National Tourism Organisations in Europe comprising most of the continent’s largest countries except France, the UK and the Netherlands which recently left the Commission. ETC has been attributed with a budget of one million euro to muscle its presence abroad, especially to overseas countries. Its website “visiteurope.com” was recently revamped and a new campaign done in partnership with the European Commission was also launched. “Ready for Europe” which showcases the wide variety of Europe through its arts, architecture, nature and landscapes might however miss its target – at least in Asia- due to its vagueness.

“We might have to adjust the campaign for some markets such as Asia where we still need to better understand what are the expectation in terms of product and image when talking about Europe”, admited Eduardo Santander.

ETC’s new strategic campaign towards long-haul markets will target in priority four markets: Canada, the USA, Brazil and China.

China has been identified as one of Europe’s fastest growing market segments. A study was recently released over the Chinese Outbound Market, made in conjunction with the UNWTO. ETC looked also at the Chinese profile. A netnographic study -“the Mind of the Chinese Traveller”- analyzed Europe’s perception as well as Chinese travellers’ behaviour through the prism of blogs and social media.

A China Day conference was also organized last November in Copenhagen while a similar conference will be organized at the end of October in Beijing. “We now need to recognize the specific status of Chinese travellers across Europe. It means that we should add more signs in Chinese in international areas, have more Europeans trained to speak mandarin, identify Chinese restaurants in cities as a majority of Chinese look only for their own food and develop specific products. We still have a long way to go,” recognized ETC Executive Director.

“The Chinese travelers coming to Europe today are very different than the first Chinese independent leisure tourists that came five years ago” said Pierre Gervois, Publisher of the prestigious Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine, a publication for Chinese High Net Worth Travelers. Mr Gervois Added “The old stereotypes about Chinese tourists are no more valid: they now want to stay in the best suites of Paris and London most prestigious hotels, and don’t want to hear anymore about budget hotels!”

The ETC and Tripadvisor signed also during ITB a cooperation agreement paving the way to promoting Europe around the world.

Bordeaux region is luring Chinese wine lovers

It’s no secret that affluent Chinese tourists have become the backbone of the travel industry in many  countries.
This is especially true for France — as Paris is the most dreamed-about European destination for Chinese travelers.
But they have climbed the Eiffel Tower, tackled luxury shopping on Boulevard Haussmann and done all the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown. What is left for them to do in France?
Well, wine tours might be the next big thing to get those visitors from the East to shell out big bucks.

French travel publisher Michelin has just released a Chinese guide book: “French Wine Tour” (法国葡萄酒之旅).
Having published 13 guide books in simplified Chinese since 2006 — most of them are of Western countries — this is Michelin’s first-ever theme tour guide in Chinese.
The Green Guide gives detailed information on the most well-known French vineyards and their wines, from Bordeaux and Burgundy to Champagne and Cognac.
“We provide travel guides based on readers’ demand and according to the traveling habits and lifestyle of Chinese people,” noted Miao Xiangbo (苗祥波), director of Michelin Guide China Maps and Traveling.
“The book shows the other side of France and helps tourists to enjoy French wine culture in depth.”
The Michelin wine guide, which will be available soon online and in Xinhua book stores nationwide, has arrived just in time. China officially overtook Germany and the United Kingdom to become the biggest wine importer of Bordeaux last September.
Movies have also spurred Chinese tourists to visit Bordeaux. “Cherish our Love Forever,” was partially shot in the region and starred Xu Jinglei (right) and Li Yapeng.

According to French Wine News, Chinese buyers spent US$311 million on Bordeaux wine between July 2010 and June 2011. So it’s no wonder that the region is welcoming Chinese tourists with open arms.
Grand Hotel de Bordeaux and Spa, a luxury resort located in the main shopping and pedestrian area of the city of Bordeaux, sent a delegation to Shanghai and Beijing in early November to promote their tailored wine tours and to learn about the booming market.
Without any previous marketing effort, five percent of the 150-room hotel’s guests came from China in 2010. The company’s general manager Yan Vacher estimated the number will be 11 percent for this year, and somewhere between 15-20 percent for 2012.
“So when you got this result, you’ve got to understand who are your clients — you’ve got to understand why they come to Bordeaux and what are their needs,” said Vacher.
Grand Hotel de Bordeaux and Spa arranges tailored private vineyard visits for its guests. Tourists can request meals or picnics with the owners or even a helicopter tour over different vineyards. Even the super-rich Chinese wine lovers can have their wine tour in private jets from Paris to Bordeaux, with limousines and Chinese speaking concierge service on arrival, but you need to be a member of the prestigious Shanghai Travelers’ Club.
The cost of a wine tour package starts from US$67. And since the tours’ launch, the hotel has witnessed very positive feedback from Chinese customers.Vacher also revealed that the hotel plans to open a Chinese restaurant next year to specifically cater to Chinese tourists.

Thomas Duroux, managing director of Chateau Palmer, said that 30 percent of visitors to his vineyard have been Chinese in the past six months, and they were looking for high-end wines with prestigious brands.
“The number of Chinese people in Bordeaux has increased tremendously — of course, we received a lot of professionals, but we also see a lot of tourists,” added Duroux, who estimated a fast growth in the number of visiting tourists in the near future.
Yan Vacher also anticipated wine tour to be the next trend among Chinese tourists to France because of the interest in learning about wine in China, and the fact that “Chinese travelers have just come to discover the region of Bordeaux.”