U.S. Retailers now more widely accept WeChat Pay and Alipay, China’s leading mobile payment solutions

WeChatPay - China Elite FocusCitcon, the integrated payment and marketing platform, announced a strategic partnership to enable brands in North America to accept WeChat Pay and Alipay.

WeChat Pay and Alipay are the most popular and convenient payment options for Chinese consumers to purchase goods and services. Adding these payment options to retail point of sale allows brands to now tap into an even larger revenue stream from Chinese consumers who are the largest spender, and fastest growing traveler segment to the North America. The platform enables brands to optimize revenue growth without the costs and hassles of establishing a business entity in China.

WeChat Pay is a fully integrated payment solution within WeChat, the world’s most popular mobile social communications service with 936 million active users and Alipay is a super lifestyle app run by Ant Financial Services Group with more than 450 million active users. Together these platforms jointly account for 90% of China’s mobile payment market share. Both super apps allow users to book a trip, hail a taxi, order food, purchase movie tickets, pay for water and electricity bills, manage investments, perform transactions on e-commerce websites and more to create a cashless society.

“China is changing fast. Mobile payment is the new frontier of commerce and China is leading this trend. By providing an integrated and easy-to-use payment solution, Citcon is creating a future that takes payment and marketing to the next level, empowering global merchants to drive business growth with millions of Chinese consumers.”said Chuck Huang, Founder and CEO of Citcon

As the first payment partner of WeChat Pay and Alipay, in addition to major credit cards such as UnionPay, MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express, Citcon is a one-stop shop for merchants to connect with Chinese consumers and accept payments anywhere. Citcon’s stand-alone mobile point-of-sale (mPOS), easy-to-integrate API and software products empower merchants to optimize growth both online and offline, with an easy and affordable rate compared to credit card processing. In addition to the convenient payment solutions, merchants will also be able to gain in-depth consumer behavior insights, manage business performance, run marketing campaigns, guides users to merchants stores while saving their shopping preferences for future visits and manage lifetime customer loyalty programs.

“Accepting WeChat Pay is a smart move for U.S. Retailers. That will definitely help with the category of budget-conscious Chinese travelers who choose to travel in groups. But they must keep in mind that the most affluent categories prefer to pay with their international credit cards, who show their status when traveling overseas and offer more perks in terms of miles and reward points.” commented Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus Magazines LLC, a media group specialized in luxury travel publications for very affluent Chinese outbound travelers.

Source: Citcon

Wealthy Chinese travelers favor boutique hotels when traveling overseas

STC Display 2016Among the biggest trends among China’s luxury travelers is the growing popularity of boutique hotels, according to the ILTM Asia event in Shanghai.
With 60 percent of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) reporting that they spend over 3,000 RMB (US$441) per night when they stay at hotels, the future looks bright for luxury hotels catering to China’s growing number of high-end travelers. While large luxury chain hotels remain dominant on the list of HNWIs’ preferred accommodation providers, the report finds that HNWIs now increasingly favor boutique hotels—a clear significant shift from the trend just a few years ago.
For wealthy Chinese travelers, The Ritz-Carlton was the most popular hotel group in 2016, followed by the Banyan Tree, the Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Fairmont and the Peninsula. The luxury boutique hotel group Aman also broke into the top 10, and Chinese HNWIs’ favorite boutique hotel brand, Banyan Tree, keeps climbing on the list of hotel brands preferred among luxury travelers. Hilton, while not topping the overall list, still remains the preferred business hotel for survey respondents. Ritz-Carlton, which tops the list, also has the by far most popular membership scheme among overall luxury travelers and millennial luxury travelers alike at 33 percent and 31 percent membership rates respectively. In comparison to airline membership schemes, hotel membership rates remain low among China’s wealthy. Nevertheless, Ritz-Carlton’s jump in membership rates by 19 percent compared to the year prior indicates that there is substantial interest in membership schemes among luxury travelers given the right incentives.

Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre GervoisAccording to Pierre Gervois, Expert in marketing to affluent Chinese outbound travelers and Publisher of the prestigious STC magazine, “High Net Worth Chinese outbound travelers’ behavior pattern is now exactly the same as other HNWI travelers from the U.S. and Europe. They want sophistication, exclusivity, and experiences that money only can’t buy”
Among the biggest trends among China’s luxury travelers is the growing popularity of boutique hotels. With 60 percent of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) reporting that they spend over 3,000 RMB (US$441) per night when they stay at hotels, the future looks bright for luxury hotels catering to China’s growing number of high-end travelers. While large luxury chain hotels remain dominant on the list of HNWIs’ preferred accommodation providers, the report finds that HNWIs now increasingly favor boutique hotels—a clear significant shift from the trend just a few years ago.
For wealthy Chinese travelers, The Ritz-Carlton was the most popular hotel group in 2016, followed by the Banyan Tree, the Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Fairmont and the Peninsula. The luxury boutique hotel group Aman also broke into the top 10, and Chinese HNWIs’ favorite boutique hotel brand, Banyan Tree, keeps climbing on the list of hotel brands preferred among luxury travelers. Hilton, while not topping the overall list, still remains the preferred business hotel for survey respondents. Ritz-Carlton, which tops the list, also has the by far most popular membership scheme among overall luxury travelers and millennial luxury travelers alike at 33 percent and 31 percent membership rates respectively. In comparison to airline membership schemes, hotel membership rates remain low among China’s wealthy. Nevertheless, Ritz-Carlton’s jump in membership rates by 19 percent compared to the year prior indicates that there is substantial interest in membership schemes among luxury travelers given the right incentives.

While authentic and unique experiences are highly sought after by China’s luxury travelers, the same applies to a much lesser degree in terms of accommodation. Only 25 percent of HNWIs interviewed for the report had even considered Airbnb-style accommodation options, and instead preferred private boutique hotels and yachts when considering options other than brand hotels. In fact, only 30 percent of respondents said that they have the impression that Airbnb-style rentals allow them to better experience local life—arguably defeating the purpose of rentals for travelers that put little importance on cost-effectiveness. “I think that in a close future the category of luxury Airbnb’s will attract the youngest generation of Chinese HNWI. Now is the right time for Airbnb owners to promote themselves in China”, Pierre Gervois added.
Instead, boutique hotels seem well-positioned to benefit from Chinese HNWIs’ lust for authentic and unique travel experiences. With accommodation cost of little concern for these travelers, boutique hotels certainly have an exciting future ahead of them in China’s luxury travel market.

Source: ILTM Asia / Skift / Jing Daily / Ritz Carlton

Pierre Gervois: What Chinese Travelers Want

Hospitality guru Pierre Gervois on how to cater to Chinese tourists.

PIerre Gervois TV Interview News China 2016

Tourists from China brought $930 million to New Zealand

TLNZ websiteotal exports of goods and services were valued at 69.3 billion NZ dollars ($45.99 billion) in 2015, while imports totaled 66.9 billion NZ dollars ($44.4 billion), according to Statistics New Zealand.

Total exports rose 1.9 billion NZ dollars ($1.26 billion) from 2014, driven by a rise of 2.3 billion NZ dollars ($1.53 billion) in spending by international visitors and an increase of 895 million NZ dollars ($594.1 million) in exports of meat products, while the value of dairy exports fell by 3 billion NZ dollars ($1.99 billion).

“Although dairy exports were lower across the year, it has remained our top export earner. However, earnings from other export industries and markets have increased in significance, picking up the shortfall in dairy,” international statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said in a statement.

The growth in earnings from meat and travel was driven by key export markets, including China, the United States, and the European Union (EU).

Spending on personal travel by visitors from China had increased 1.4 billion NZ dollars ($929.32 million) since 2011 to 2.2 billion NZ dollars ($1.46 billion) in 2015, while visitors from Australia, New Zealand’s biggest tourism market, spent 1.9 billion NZ dollars ($1.26 billion) in 2015.

Pierre Gervois & Len Brown

Len Brown, Mayor of Auckland, and Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus

“We see clearly the result of the combined efforts of all New Zealand actors in travel & tourism over the last years”, said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus, a New York & Shanghai  based company specialized in promoting international destinations for Chinese tourists. “The Luxury New Zealand campaigned launched in 2011 at the initiative of Auckland Airport, and managed by China Elite Focus, changed the perception of New Zealand. The new generation of affluent Chinese investors come now to buy real estate and invest in New Zealand companies, as well as spending in luxury travel experiences.

Last year, the EU was New Zealand’s largest source of imports, totaling 12.1 billion NZ dollars ($8.03 billion), followed by Australia on 11.3 billion NZ dollars ($7.5 billion) and China on 10.4 billion NZ dollars ($6.9 billion).

New Zealand’s largest import expense in 2015 was electrical machinery and equipment from China.

“The rise in electrical machinery and equipment was mostly due to consumer electronics such as mobile phones,” Attewell said.

“In recent years, cars from Japan or the EU had been our top import.”

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Shanghai Travelers’ Club Magazine launches Men’s Fashion new monthly editorial feature

Shanghai Travelers Club - Men's FashionThe Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine, China’s leading luxury travel magazine for High Net Worth global Chinese travelers, launches a new monthly regular section about Men’s Fashion.

“As Chinese entrepreneurs are becoming more and more international, they are more attentive to their personal style while in business meetings or in corporate events” said Pierre Gervois, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief.

The newly appointed Men’s Fashion Editor, Tyron Cutner, will be in charge of this new editorial feature.  An expert in men’s fashion, Tyron Cutner is a well known fashion adviser in New York City and will bring his expertise and style to the publication.

“I feel proud to be part of the prestigious Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine. Every month, we’ll share with our Chinese readers the latest trends in Men’s fashion and accessories, as well as the basics that every international gentleman must have in his suitcase when traveling”, said Tyron Cutner.

Every month, starting in September 2015, the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine will feature a section providing fashion advice for the modern, style conscious, Chinese businessman.  Wether he’s attending a negotiation meeting in New York City, at a Charity ball in London, or attending a gala dinner in Paris.

According to a survey by China Elite Focus, 74% of Chinese male entrepreneurs and top executives aged 30 to 45 agree that paying attention to their personal style has a positive impact in conducting business.  And a staggering 81% think that they receive a “Disappointing” or “Very disappointing” welcome when shopping in the United States.

“It’s also important that fashion brands realize that they need to substantially improve the way they interact with affluent Chinese customers in the United States. We hope that this new editorial content will encourage U.S. retailers to implement long awaited changes in the customer service towards Chinese travelers”, Pierre Gervois added.

The Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine is a China Elite Focus Magazines LLC publication withg offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York City.

Chinese tourists “crucial” for cruise industry’s future, in Europe and the Caribbean

Shanghai Travelers Club magazine - CaribbeanThe potential of growth of the Chinese society, and its desire to explore the world are crucial factors for the cruise industry’s future, a high-ranking representative for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said in a recent interview.
“We believe what we are seeing today is just the beginning of a trend, with respects to Chinese tourists,” CLIA Italy’s national director Francesco Galietti told Xinhua.
Some aspects would so far distinguish Chinese from other tourists cruising in Italy.
“The first is a strong preference for cultural heritage cities such as Rome, Florence, and Venice, and a second aspect is that, when they visit Italy for the first time on cruise ships, they tend to repeat the travel, maybe in another way,” Galietti explained.
A third element would be related to a specific city, Venice, and to its power of attraction through the years.
“An important aspect we observe is a sort of ‘Silk Road tourism’ in that city… Because Venice used to be one of the final destinations of the ancient Silk Road,” he said.
Despite an increasing tourism flow from China to Europe, Chinese would yet represent still a large world to explore for cruise operators. “We believe Chinese are critical for our industry,” Galietti stressed.
“The potential of the Chinese society, and the Chinese people’s will to explore the world and put their own culture in contact with western culture… This is very important to us, and CLIA cruise lines are aware of that,” he said.
The changing trend in Chinese tourism would also impact China’s major shipping operators, whose presence used to be much limited to trade.
“Take Chinese COSCO shipping company as example: it is a big name in cargo, and we are now seeing its transition from a leadership in this sector towards tourism… It will be interesting to see whether (cities of) destinations will be able to match this growing demand from Asian tourism,” he said.
According to the CLIA representative, China’s domestic cruise market is also going through an unexpected phase.
“At the beginning, cruise lines thought that they would create hubs in China for the Chinese market, through river trips, domestic cruises, and so on… Whereas now, we see that it is not just the regional market expanding,” Galietti explained.
As such, cruise lines have adjusted and arranged for longer trips from China to other destinations, and some companies within CLIA have developed a strong footprint in Asia.
“I am thinking especially to Royal Caribbean International and Carnival, and also to Italy’s leading shipbuilding company Fincantieri, which has opened a big production site in China,” he said.

The prestigious travel publication “Shanghai Traveler’s Club magazine” published this month its first ever issue entirely about the Caribbean, featuring Jamaica and Tobago as well as cruise stories in the Caribbean. ” We have published this special issue because our readers told us they wanted to experience the Caribbean, while traveling on luxury cruise boats or super yachts between islands” told us Pierre Gervois, Publisher of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine.
The cruise industry impacts widely on the European economy as a whole, and the sector registered a 40.2-billion-euro (44.6 billion U.S. dollars) output in 2014 with a 2.2 percent increase over 2013, according to CLIA data.
This performance led to the creation of almost 10,000 new jobs in Europe last year, bringing the overall number of people employed in the sector up to some 348,000.
According to the association, Italy is the country benefitting most from the cruise sector in Europe, despite a slowdown in 2014 compared to other European competitors, and visiting the country on cruise ships would remain a special attractiveness for tourists.
“We are speaking of a country that is a peninsula: the largest portion of Italy’s perimeter is on water… So, explore the country with cruising indeed makes sense and has something special,” Galietti said.
Source: New China/ Xinhua agency

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Could Asia become overly dependent on Chinese tourists?

Chinese-tourist-in-ThailandChinese tourism is changing the world’s tourism map. The biggest tourism destinations are looking to attract Chinese tourists, with new locations becoming more popular as Chinese visitors decide the best places to visit. As other Asian cities attract more Chinese tourists, experts are concerned that the economies in these destinations are becoming too reliant on Chinese travel.

The figures in the annual MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index have always seen some fluctuations, but recent years have introduced a defining variable into the mix: Chinese tourists.

China’s emerging middle class and growing numbers of increasingly affluent travellers have created a new tourism market. The big winners in terms of increased Chinese tourism have been some of the biggest cities in Asia. In fact, the recent report shows that the top ten fastest growing cities include cities from most regions of the world, excluding Western Europe and North America.

The report ranks the world’s 132 most popular cities in terms of international visitor numbers and spending. London is still controlling the top spot, but big Asian cities are climbing up in the rankings.
Over 13% of the visitors to these Asia-Pacific destinations were Chinese tourists, the largest foreign tourist group in the region. Five years ago, the figure was only around 6%.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that Chinese visitors to the country stood at 4.6 million in 2014. By the end of this year, authorities expect the arrivals to increase by almost 40%.
An increase in Chinese tourism has not meant only an increase in pure visitor numbers, but also surge in the revenue the cities are able to attract from tourism. Bangkok, the Thai city ranking on the top spot in Asia-Pacific destinations, has visitor spending of $12.4 billion. The city is currently growing its visitor spending the fastest, with 11.8% growth between 2014 and 2015.

New Zealand, following a targeted promotional and media campaign made with China Elite Focus in partnership with the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine from 2011 to 2013, achieved remarkable results with affluent Chinese travelers arriving at Auckland Airport, and flying in premium cabins. “New Zealand is now seen by China’s elite travelers as the premium destination in Asia-Pacific”, said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus. “We have worked extremely well with Auckland Airport to create the Luxury New Zealand campaign and change the perception of New Zealand in order to attract more sophisticated and wealthy Chinese travelers”.

While Chinese tourism can greatly enhance the economies of these Asian cities, there is growing concern that some of the cities might become too reliant on Chinese tourism.
 
Eric Schneider, Group Head at MasterCard Advisors of the Asia Pacific Region, told gbtimes that tourism bodies must look to appeal a broader audience to guarantee ‘long term resilience’. “You must always be cautious not to put all your eggs in one basket,” Schneider said.
But China’s outbound tourism has still much more room to grow. According to Schneider, around 5% of Chinese citizens currently have passports. In a country with population of 1.357 billion, the potential for more outbound tourism is incredible. “It is inevitable that, as the Chinese middle class grows and begins to travel more often, they make up a bigger proportion of tourists to cities around the world,” Schneider pointed out.

It is certain that the power of Chinese tourists will continue to grow in importance in the coming years. For Asian cities, as well as for other big world cities, it is essential to maintain a diversified economy – not to rely too much on tourism or Chinese tourism particularly – while understanding the potential of attracting this new tourism powerhouse.

Source: GB Times, Krista Lomu