Road trips in America are the next big thing for affluent Chinese travelers

legit productions - americart 2019 project - road trip - efdlt studioFlashy luxury hotels are a thing of the past for Wealthy Chinese outbound travelers coming to the United States.  According to a survey of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club, 82% of the most affluent Chinese frequent outbound travelers prefer authentic travel experiences in the United States, such as road trips, versus old fashioned luxury experiences. Exotic sport cars are now too much the sign of new money, and don’t carry the sophistication that the new generation of Chinese travelers want to project, and differentiate from their parents.

Colorado and Nevada seem to be the big winners as they are described as the two favorite states for road trips by 67% of Chinese travelers.

As a growing part of China’s Elite is immigrating to the United States, through business investments programs such as the EB5, they are more and more eager to embrace American culture, values, and way of thinking.

Too bad for American brands who naively thought they could lure Chinese tourists with fake “Chinese style” restaurants, hotels, or chinese symbols on luxury goods. Now, most of Chinese travelers want to wear made in Texas cowboy boots rather than buying a handbag from a U.S. designer with a chinese symbol on it.

It’s time for an awakening for the entire U.S. travel, tourism and hospitality industry. Authenticity sells. Real American values and brands sells. Stop thinking about Chinese tourists as Chinese. They are individuals who have chosen to come to the U.S. and discover its culture. And what better way to achieve this than a good old road trip?

“We have seen in the past months huge changes in the way Chinese outbound travelers consume travel & cultural media. Chinese frequent overseas travelers are shifting from Chinese networks (Weibo, WeChat, Youku…) to YouTube and Instagram as source of information and inspiration for their upcoming travels to America” said Pierre Gervois, Executive Producer of Legit Productions, a New York City based production company producing travel shows such as “Legit City” and political interviews “The Face of America”.

Gervois added “U.S. Travel and tourism industries need to quickly grasp these trends and adjust their strategies to reach their millennial Chinese customers, increasingly fluent in English, seeking authentic information in U.S.-produced media content, rather than in Chinese produced content in Mandarin, as their parents used to watch.”

It’s no surprise that the upcoming project Americart2019, a road trip across America at the initiative of visual artist EFDLT Studio is already gaining interest from Chinese and international travelers interested in understanding cultural trends in the United States.

In August 2019, the artist will embark in a month long road trip across America with a camera crew and will engage a dialogue with everyday Americans (as well as immigrants) she’ll meet on the road about their personal relation with art. Following her trip, a six episode series will be produced for streaming platforms as well as a documentary film in Q1 2020. A great source of inspiration for international experiential and cultural travelers.

Patricia Lin

 

 

Advertisements

A third of Trip Advisor reviews are fake, according to a Times study

Up to a third of reviews on TripAdvisor are fake with hotels and restaurants buying positive reviews, it has been claimed.

Analysis of tens of thousands of reviews on the site has shown that top rated bed and breakfasts have almost twice as many “false” reviews as lower ranked establishments.

An investigation has found that websites are offering glowing reviews for £38, according to The Times.

Others allowed owners to bulk buy reviews for less money, with one offering 10 positive reviews for £69.

One restaurant owner admitted to the paper he had already posted “a large number of positive reviews” but wanted further help to boost his ranking.

He wrote to a website offering fake reviews set up by The Times: “I’m looking to improve my TripAdvisor account, I’m currently 3.5 [out of five] and would like to be 4.5 in the next month, please let me know if you can help.”

Analysis of the reviews was done by Fakespot.com which uses an algorithm and machine to identify suspicious reviews.

Fakespot’s analysis does not prove that a review is fake or that a venue has necessarily benefited from them.

Many of the venues listed in TripAdvisor’s top ten rankings appear to have genuine reviews.

Saoud Khalifah, Fakespot’s founder, told The Times: “TripAdvisor has a huge set of problems.

“From our database, the mean of fake reviews is 32.9 per cent. For B&Bs, that rises to 41.9 per cent.

There are a large number of accounts with one or two reviews created by people within hotels or restaurants that have posted fake reviews.

“I would advise TripAdvisor users to approach every review with scepticism.”

Consumer groups say that fake reviews are a growing problem, fooling buying substandard goods and services.

It is estimated that more than £14 billion a year is spent on travel and hotels as a result of reviews.

TripAvisor gets more than 50 million visits a month from users in Britain alone.

The site has flatly denied the allegations saying: “We totally reject the inaccurate and misleading findings presented by The Times. Their claims about fake reviews on TripAdvisor are astonishingly bad ‘click bait’ journalism.

“The usefulness and accuracy of the content on TripAdvisor is what has made our site popular to hundreds of millions of consumers.

“We’ve never lost sight of that and it’s why we fight fraud so aggressively. Learn more about how we do that here.

“The Times investigation is based on entirely flawed techniques.

“The methods used by Fakespot are completely unreliable for one simple reason: they have no access to the technical data you would need to determine whether or not a review is fake.

 

Source:  The Times

Luxury & Poverty. Told & Untold Stories.

Pierre Gervois portrait 2018 - Shot by Jason 2

Pierre Gervois, President of Gervois Hotel Rating, New York City 2018 (Photo: Shots by Jason)

For the past thirteen years, I have worked as a media entrepreneur and producer, serving the luxury industry in Paris, Shanghai and New York City, producing luxury digital publications for the very affluent Chinese global traveler. I have managed international teams of marketers, editors, bloggers, photographers and community managers to build successful communications campaigns in more than twenty countries for a variety of clients, private and governmental organizations, willing to attract High Net Worth Chinese travelers to their country, region or hotel.

I have met outstanding individuals in the luxury goods and luxury travel industry, incredibly skilled artisans who are making beautiful objects with their hands and heart, innovative entrepreneurs who are breaking the rules and reinventing luxury, and countless hotel executives who warmly welcome their guests in the new generation of boutique hotels.

I have learned to understand the new generation of affluent Chinese outbound tourists, what they really wanted (vs what the travel industry assumed they want to do), and how they felt routinely disrespected in Europe or in America, dismissed as second-class travelers by the luxury travel and hospitality industry.

I published several luxury lifestyle and travel magazines in Shanghai and New York City (including the acclaimed STC magazine) and featured more than five hundred luxury lifestyle stories, working with very talented journalists, and in particular Elaine Ke, Managing Editor of the STC magazine.

I have given speeches and lectures about international luxury travel marketing at Universities and at corporate events and always felt grateful for the opportunity to exchange ideas with students and fellow professionals.

It has been a rich professional and personal experience. Thank you to all of the wonderful people I have met over these years, from the clients who trusted me to the great individuals who composed my team, and without whom I would not have achieved such successes.

I have lived in New York City for the past five years, and now consider it my true hometown. NYC is by far my favorite city in the World, for one reason: the entire world meets here, in this city created and run by immigrants, bringing their ideas, cultures, languages and foods in this happy melting pot.

As the Founder and Publisher of Gervois magazine, I have seen wealthy individuals buying very expensive jewelry, watches, apartments, as a result of the marketing campaigns my company has created and it’s a good thing: that means more jobs in the jewelry, watchmaking, retail, and real estate, and potentially more money for philanthropic causes.

I have also seen hard working Americans with not enough money to feed their families, dads and moms without a job having a hard time to come back home and face their children, individuals discriminated for their race, gender or sexual orientation, and courageous immigrants -from China and all over the World- struggling to fully embrace the American dream.

I know we are, as business professionals and entrepreneurs, supposed to remove our emotions out of the equation and always think in terms of return on investment, business credibility, and project an emotionless and politically correct image of ourselves. This is specially true in the luxury industry where talking about social issues, hunger, poverty or racial discrimination is largely taboo.

I cannot change the World alone, and there are in New York City hundreds of very talented and very experienced philanthropists, activists, social entrepreneurs and dedicated elected officials.

As a privileged media entrepreneur fully conscious of my privilege, I decided that the best course of action for me, although modest and certainly limited in scope, was to help to create awareness about issues that really matter to me.

One year ago, our production company launched an indie, experimental YouTube channel Legit News based out of our Brooklyn studio. The first program we created was named The Face of America, an interview series.

Since October 2017, I had the pleasure to interview outstanding individuals from diverse backgrounds, who came to our recording studio to tell their own stories and share with us how they were working to make America a better place, one small step at a time.

We have explored multiple aspects of American society: social discriminations, race relations, LGBTQ issues, 2nd amendment, poverty, religious issues and women’s empowerment.

This interview series has changed me profoundly.

What I never told to the first persons I have interviewed is that I have no formal training in hard news journalism, and no experience in interviewing people. I was really scared when the camera was rolling and I had to conduct the interview. I was also ashamed of my strong foreign accent, and having sometimes to repeat questions as they were formulated in my imperfect English. (Most of my English vocabulary revolves around the luxury world, and I’m poorly linguistically equipped to talk about complex social issues).

I want to thank all the persons I have interviewed. They opened their heart, trusted me, and frequently went well beyond the context of a formal ten minutes interview. I felt sometimes I was not supposed to witness the incredibly intimate stories they were sharing with me, drifting away from the main topic of the interview.

I remain a proud media entrepreneur working in the luxury industry.

And I’m even prouder of sharing inspiring stories in The Face of America.

Pierre Gervois

The new face of luxury travelers: Sophisticated, rejecting fake luxury, and tired of discriminations.

How to define the new trends in luxury travel? A new generation of wealthy individuals is evolving the concept of luxury travel. Luxury hotel marketing strategies must stay aligned with their customer base and think “outside the suite.”
Filip Boyen, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, comments: “Luxury travel used to be all about visiting certain destinations, being seen in the right place by the right people, and generally enjoying the high life in a more ostentatious manner, all while getting the exact same experience as everyone else. Luxury hotels reflected this, they were grand and provided people with a platform to enjoy themselves.”

A recent shift away from the hotel stay and towards the actual experience itself has caused luxury hotel marketing strategies to evolve quickly to meet the needs and expectations of their wealthy clientele.
Philippe Brown, founder at bespoke travel planners Brown and Hudson, explains, “With ideas like ‘Luxpedition’ we make challenging grand expeditions to the world’s most remote corners accessible to people who might otherwise be put off by arduous conditions. This has opened up a whole new market of mid-life crisis sufferers who would like to be Bear Grylls but want their comforts and moments of specific luxury.”
How then can the concept of luxury hotel marketing be adjusted accordingly to capture a market that still wants the luxury but also wants the unique experience too? The answer lies in staying true to the key luxury brand values of authenticity and quality, while also adding in the experience element as part of the holistic package.

Pierre Gervois, Founder of Gervois Hotel Rating, the New York based luxury hotel rating system for U.S. hotels added “ The new generation of wealthy travelers and guests are not like their parents, who were attracted by flashy hotels made to display the arrival in a new social status, but now are attentive to sophistication, refinement, and all the discreet details and signs of recognition of the new elite”

Albert Herrera, SVP of Global Product Partnerships at Virtuoso, says, “Authenticity has become a buzzword. It really does reflect the current trend of giving the guest something that is unique to that particular destination. Hotels started down the path of authenticity by offering a greater sense of place, especially with new builds. First it was apparent in the architecture and design, then with the furnishings and styling. From there, the concept has expanded to fully integrate local customs and cuisine, and provide the ability to fully explore or celebrate the culture.”
Herrera comments: “Hotels have done a great job of developing and partnering with their local communities to create experiences that highlight the destination. Whether it’s a morning run with the General Manager, sourcing the fresh catch of the day with the executive chef or even being an English teacher for a day to local schoolchildren, ‘living like a local’ is a trend that will continue.”
Another key feature of luxury hotel marketing is offering the ability to totally switch off from everyday life. Being immersed in a local culture and experiencing that life is one way to do this, but offering an out of this world experience is another.

Brown says: “We are regularly approached by clients who want to join our missions to explore the wreck of the Titanic and others looking to invest in a longer stay at the International Space Station, or to do something shorter with Virgin Galactic or with some of the other more interesting options.” Here the role of luxury hotel marketing is to offer the accommodation that supports the experience, maintaining the luxury while supporting the immersive element.
Personalization adds a great deal to this ethos. Today’s guests want their hotels to respond to them in a personalized and tailored way; they want to be recognized as an individual.

Gervois explains: “One of the issues in luxury hospitality in the last twenty years was the arrogance of staff, and the discriminatory practices on race, nationality, religion or gender identity, that went largely out of scrutiny and were tolerated by luxury hotel groups”.
“These unacceptable practices slowly start to be addressed, but we hear oftenly complaints from travelers who feel discriminated in the luxury hotel segment, and Gervois Hotel Rating fights to improve this issue with the industry.”, Gervois added.
However, this point applies both ways. Luxury hotel marketing should also take into consideration how the personality of the owners, management, and their staff contributes to the overall feel and experience of the hotel. This ties in well with the desire for authenticity and having a real experience.
Boyen explains: “Hotels are becoming more aware that their offerings need to go beyond that of the suites, butler, concierge – the hardware. Hotels just need to be themselves. They need to be mindful of the things that make them interesting to guests – be it their location, history, owner or vision – and not try to conform to fit in with any expectations of what a luxury hotel ‘should’ be.”
Ultimately, the way a wealthy traveller defines their ideal experience remains highly personal. Accordingly, best practice for today’s luxury hotel marketing experts is to leverage market research on their target clientele, as well as individual research on high-spending VIP guests, in order to understand their preferences and create a memorable experience–  both inside and outside the suite.

Hotel Rating Systems: Evolve or disappear (Forbes might be near the end)

AAA- Forbes - Gervois Hotel ratings systemsHow guests choose their hotels? International hotel ratings systems exist for a long period of time. Some are amalgamations of other ratings systems; some, like TripAdvisor, average out user ratings, and everyone know it’s partly fake. (Oops, it’s not politically correct, sorry guys); and then there’s the Forbes Travel Guide, which claims to be “the only independent, global rating system for luxury hotels, restaurants and spas.” The very old fashioned AAA ratings with the fading glory of their diamond ratings is another player. And the new Gervois Hotel Rating is the newest hotel rating system for U.S. hotels, founded in 2017.

There are a few things you should know about the Forbes Travel Guide. First and surprisingly, Forbes doesn’t own it. The publisher licenses its name to this independent entity. Secondly, unlike many other ratings systems, a team of full-time professional mystery shoppers inspects every rated hotel listed in the Forbes Travel Guide. Thirdly, a growing part of millennials don’t really trust Forbes Travel Guide. And that’s problematic for the future.

Additionally, the same company offers consulting services to hotels. According to the Forbes Travel Guide LinkedIn profile, “We also provide the hospitality industry with learning tools and programs that deliver insight into the star rating process and expert guidance on connecting with guests most effectively.” And that’s a big issue for ratings independence.

Forbes Travel Guide evolved out of Mobil Guides, which had been around since 1958. In 2006, Jeffrey T. Arnold, the founder of WebMD, bought the publication, and in 2009, renamed it Forbes Travel Guide.
In recent years the publication has undergone another change. “We stopped measuring one and two-star hotels and replaced the three-star category with a recommended option,” Chief Executive Gerard J. Inzerillo said.Thus, the guide turned its focus to upper-upscale and luxury products. “A four-star rating,” in the words of Inzerillo, “is what we consider the Olympic gold medal or the Oscar. They are extremely difficult to earn. Meanwhile, we are very stingy on the five-star rating.”
He compares five-star properties to Michael Phelps, Meryl Streep or Robert DeNiro: hotels that not only demonstrate excellence, but do so over a span of time. Among Forbes Travel Guide’s perennial five-star hotels with “relentless, seamless commitment to the highest guest standard” are The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado, the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong(one of several Mandarin Oriental hotels on the list), and Portrait Roma-Lungarno Collection, Rome. Places like The Langham in Sydney and L’Auberge in Carmel only get four stars. “The most beautiful hotel isn’t the best hotel, because the best distinguishes itself with emotional connectivity, not how much marble it has,” Inzerillo said.

Emotion is precisely how the Gervois Hotel Rating is working: This New York City based hotel rating system started in 2017 with 80 U.S. properties, and has 120 rated properties in 2018 (200 in 2019). With a more flexible and accurate sytem based on a 100 points scale, it primarily targets sophisticated, diverse and affluent American travelers. And it might well be the future of hotel ratings.

The  Forbes Travel Guide guide benchmark service standards (check-in process, room service) on factors such as courtesy and manners; graciousness, thoughtfulness and sense of personalized service. Meanwhile, it rates the physical aspects of the hotel on factors ranging from cleanliness and condition to guest comfort and convenience. But these factors remain very technical and analytical.  A true hotel experience is about feelings, emotions, and the desire to come back with your loved ones.  Not about the size of the closets or around the clock room service that nobody really uses.

Source: Article by L. Powell in SKIFT / Forbes Travel Guide / AAA / Gervois Hotel Rating / Travel+Leisure / E.K.

Pierre Gervois to speak at UnfoldBrics event in Dubai on March 20th, 2018

Conjoining the world of Art with Architecture and Culture, UNFOLD Art XChange entices the world’s premier private bankers, financial institutions, government authorities, public art agencies, spatial designers, real estate and hospitality professionals with insights, opportunities and new partnerships as well as attracts corporate collectors, private and public institutions worldwide through a series of Art Talks that will run from the 19th to 22nd of March to coincide with Dubai Art Week.

Pierre Gervois, Founder and President of Gervois Hotel Rating, the disruptive hotel rating system that makes Forbes stars and AAA diamonds look old fashioned and tacky, will deliver a speech about the importance of re-assessing the standards of hotel rating, in particular for the new generation of sophisticated travelers who are not impressed anymore by the mere lobby’s size or a 24h room service, but rather by elegance in decoration, truly warm service, and sustainability.

 

GERVOIS magazine has been selected to be the new preferred travel publication of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club

GERVOIS magazine has been selected to be the new preferred global travel publication of the prestigious Shanghai Travelers’ Club, and is now distributed to its members.

GERVOIS magazine is proud to follow the steps of the iconic STC magazine, the Club’s own iconic travel magazine that has been published from 2008 to 2017.

Founded in Shanghai in 2008, the Shanghai Travelers’ Club is China’s most exclusive international luxury travel club for discerning Chinese global entrepreneurs and executives seeking experiential & authentic travel discoveries.

Its 12,000+ members have an average annual income of US$580K, travel overseas on average four times per year, and spend on average US$63,500 per year during their travels. 23% of them have invested in real estate internationally. Excluding their real estate investment abroad, they collectively spend & invest more than US$700M per year in travel related expenses.

As the vast majority of Chinese high net worth individuals who travel frequently overseas is now speaking Engligh fluently, the Shanghai Travelers’ Club members felt the need to partner with an English language luxury travel magazine.

The club has selected GERVOIS magazine for its acclaimed editorial content, featuring exceptional hotels, men’s fashion styling ideas, art investment, real estate investment, and their iconic travel photoshoots made by the New York based famous travel photographer EFDLT studio, Director of Photography.

Starting with the Spring 2018 issue, released on March 16th, GERVOIS magazine will proudly partner for the years to come with the Shanghai Travelers’ Club and invite its Chinese members to travel and discover the United States and the World in style.

More informations about GERVOIS magazine:
http://www.gervoisrating.com/shanghai-travelers-club/

More informations about EFDLT studio, Director of Photography:
http://www.efdltstudio.com/
https://www.instagram.com/efdltstudio/