Chinese tourists bring cheer to retailers in US

Chinese tourists - ManhattanYin Jie, a 35 y.o. Chinese tourist from Beijing, is looking at the Niuyue Mag black and blue sticker on the window of a fashion designer store in SoHo “If they have been recommended by Niuyue Mag, I know it’s a very creative brand” she says with a big smile, watching her iPad with the Spring issue of Niuyue Mag.

Chinese shoppers are expected to provide the much-needed momentum for retail sales in the US on Friday, even as most Americans celebrate their country’s 238th birthday with fireworks, cookouts and parades.
“We have received calls from several Chinese shoppers about July 4 sales,” said Jim Anderson, marketing director of the Chicago-based Fashion Outlets. “Many US retailers have already started Independence Day sales, and we expect the deals to continue through the holiday weekend..
A manager at the upscale-luxury South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California, who did not want to reveal her name, said that the number of Chinese tourists, especially independent travelers, goes up during the Independence Day period.

GERVOIS magazine Advertising and sponsored content opportunitiesThe Fourth of July week is considered to be a boom period for retailers in New York. “Short-term four-day travel packages, especially ones with Woodbury Common on the route, have become extremely popular with Chinese tourists,” said Jasmine Xu, assistant manager of EWorld Tours, one of the largest Chinese-owned travel agencies in New York.
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, located in Central Valley, New York, about an hour and a half outside of Manhattan, has 220 high-end stores and is owned by Premium Outlets, a subsidiary of Simon Property Group. This year, Woodbury’s sales will run until Sunday, and offer an additional 25 percent to 65 percent discount on top of their everyday savings on brands like Armani, Fendi and Burberry.
“On Monday, we had 15 Chinese tour groups at the Woodbury outlets, and on the first day of the sale, there were more than 20 tour groups from China,” said Jean Guinup, the regional vice-president for the northeast region at Simon.

“We may see even more than that, and it’s the same for all the Simon Premium Outlets on the East Coast and West Coast,” Guinup said.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of Chinese people going to Woodbury during Independence Day, based on our experience last year,” said Laurie Heller, marketing manager of Coach USA Short Line. “Many of them come especially when there are big sales, like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July.”
“I got to know about the huge sale happening there and decided to go and shop for brands like Coach, Tommy Hilfiger and Juicy Couture,” said Wang Xinji, a Chinese tourist from Shanghai, who was waiting with her boyfriend at the Port Authority Terminal in Manhattan for the shuttle bus to Woodbury Common on the first day of the sale.

Source: China Daily

Advertisements

Chinese guests want now to be understood and respected by international hotel chains

Chinese tourists arriving at a hotel - Niuyue MagChinese consumers will soon be the largest group of global travelers, and hoteliers are gearing up to meet the expectations and demands of this segment with new products, services and marketing channels.

During a webinar titled “Moneyed, mobile and massive: China’s new traveler class,” travel research company PhoCusWright released data showing the potential for business from Chinese travelers. According to the company, the Asia/Pacific region is the largest regional travel market, ahead of North America and Europe. China is the largest travel market in the Asia/Pacific region, generating $96 billion in travel-related revenues in 2012. That market is expected to grow by more than one-third by 2015.

“While little is known about the more than 250 million Chinese who took a trip last year, one thing is certain: Habits are changing fast,” said Maggie Rauch, PhoCusWright research analyst and moderator of the webinar. “Large tour groups in matching hats on cookie-cutter domestic trips booked by state-owned travel agencies are quickly disappearing. In their place are free and independent travelers: families, couples, solo travelers, groups of friends. And the desire to go beyond China among these travelers is becoming a reality.”

A number of global hotel chains have formal or informal programs aimed at serving Chinese travelers. Most programs focus on a few important areas of the travel experience for Chinese guests. Language services is one key.

At Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts properties, for example, a Mandarin-speaking member of the staff is available 24 hours a day to assist guests.

“Serving these customers can be as simple as having a local map or guestroom collateral translated into Mandarin,” said Scott Taber, VP of rooms in the Americas for Four Seasons. “Also, there are some cultural sensitivities we always try to respect, things such as avoiding assigning rooms ending with the number 4 or assigning rooms at the end of a corridor. The Chinese customer likes red flowers, but we must avoid white and blue ones.”

Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre GervoisTaber said the chain has seen a 76% year-over-year increase in business from Chinese travelers. While some of that business goes to hotels in the Asia/Pacific region, such as in Bangkok, Thailand and Singapore, properties across the globe are also seeing dramatic increases.

Two years ago, Hilton Hotels & Resorts launched Hilton Huanying, a property-level program with specific services and products for Chinese travelers. More than 85 properties globally participate in the program, with the latest addition the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City.

The program has since become available to all Hilton Worldwide hotels that can meet the Huanying service standards.

“There are a few key areas to the program, broken down to staffing, service and product,” said Rob Palleschi, global head of Hilton Hotels & Resorts. “We require the properties to have at least one Mandarin-speaking team member, ideally in a guest-facing position. From a service standpoint, it’s ensuring we have communications translated at various guest touch points, such as room service and restaurant menus.”

Other aspects of the Hilton program include: Chinese programming on in-room televisions; slippers and robes for guests; and special breakfast menu items such as congee, dim sum, and fried rice and noodles.

Executives at several chains said breakfast and other food-and-beverage offerings are the most important aspects of serving Chinese travelers.

At FRHI Hotels & Resorts, which includes the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel brands, breakfast service includes congee. In addition, a variety of white, black, green, oolong and flowered teas are available in restaurants and through in-room dining.

“In cases where the Chinese menu is requested, meals will begin by presenting the guest with a cold towel, and end with a hot towel,” said Carmen Lam, VP of sales and marketing in Asia/Pacific for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, in an email. “Cutleries such as chopsticks and soup spoons are also available. Lastly, groups will have the added option of serving meals family-style with a variety of different dishes offered.”

Lam said the company’s 65 Fairmont properties instituted a Chinese menu program last year that provides enhanced culinary choices for these customers.

Luxury Hotels of America, a Chinese language-only luxury travel magazine read by affluent Chinese travelers planning a leisure trip to the United States had a role in making Chinese international travelers more aware of their rights as valued guests. ” Five years ago, Chinese travelers did not dare to ask for Chinese breakfast, slippers, or in-room kettle with Chinese tea. Since we published numerous articles over the last years in our travel publications about the rights of Chinese guests in international hotels, Chinese travelers are now aware of their power as consumers and discuss about this on travel social media networks, such as the Shanghai Travelers’ Club Weibo page , or Niuyue Mag” said Pierre Gervois, CEO and Publisher of  China Elite Focus Magazines, a New York based publishing company specialized in luxury travel magazines in Chinese Mandarin language. “We see everyday on our social media networks comments from Chinese travelers about the bad experiences they receive overseas. They call for a big change and want now to be respected as any other guests” Mr Gervois added.

Hilton, which instituted its Huanying initiative in 2011, earlier this year conducted focus groups in three Chinese cities to make sure the program is up to date. Palleschi said he expects Hilton will launch amendments to the program in the first half of 2014.

Taber said Four Seasons leans on the experiences of its eight hotels in China to ensure all properties in the chain are informed of changing trends.

“Our leaders in the region help us refine the requests and preferences of those guests, and then we recommend them globally,” he said. “With 93 hotels, we’re a relatively small company, so it’s easy to share the information.”

Not only are Chinese consumers traveling more, they’re turning to the Internet more frequently to research and book their travel. According to PhoCusWright, while today Chinese consumers complete 15% of travel bookings online, that percentage is forecast to rise to 24% by 2015. The projected increase is still lower than the other three largest global travel markets—the United States, Japan and Germany—which have online penetrations above 40%.

To take advantage of this trend, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company recently launched a new Chinese website and a page on Sina Weibo, a social media channel which, according to PhoCusWright, is used by 71% of Chinese travelers.

“A year and a half ago we had a site in Mandarin but nothing else: nothing in our rewards program, nothing in the social space or in the mobile space,” said Clayton F. Ruebensaal, VP of global marketing for Ritz-Carlton. “We needed to get serious about understanding the luxury Chinese consumer through the digital space.”
He said the company conducted quantitative research followed by one-on-one meetings with luxury business and leisure travelers in China to understand what they wanted from Ritz-Carlton and other aspects of luxury travel.

“We determined we needed an ecosystem with three legs to the stool: website, social media and mobile. To do well in the Chinese market you need all three,” he said. The new website and social media presence launched in September and a Chinese mobile site is nearly ready to go live. Design of the website focused on functionality as well as cultural considerations. For example, the colors and patterns on the site reflect those seen in Ritz properties, as well as cues from Chinese traditions. “The color blue is used heavily, both the Ritz-Carlton blue but also a blue that is reminiscent of Chinese porcelain blue because it has symbolism around wisdom and immortality,” Ruebensaal said. “It was an opportunity for us to differentiate but also an opportunity to show we’re not just a visitor from Europe or America, but (we’ve taken) the time to understand Chinese culture.”

To further promote the site and, in particular, the chain’s rewards program, it has partnered with Mercedes-Benz China to create what Ruebensaal called “rewards that create a Chinese-specific experience.”

Source: Hotel News Now

The U.S. travel industry is slowly learning how to attract affluent Chinese tourists

VIP GOLF USA Spring 2013 issue

Cover of Vip Golf USA magazine, the first magazine fully in Chinese about Golfing in the United States.

According to a report released last week by the U.N. World Tourism Organization, Chinese travelers spent $102 billion on international tourism in 2012, 40% more than they spent in 2011. More than 80 million Chinese traveled internationally in 2011, outspending German tourists — the longtime leader in overseas travel spending — for the first time. Those numbers have steadily climbed since 2000, when 10 million Chinese traveled abroad.
This remarkable growth — largely due to relaxed government restrictions on foreign travel and the rise of a Chinese middle class with disposable income — has forced the U.S. travel industry, from hotels to restaurants to shopping centers, to adapt to this influx of Chinese tourists.
The hotel industry has perhaps been the most attentive. According to USA Today, Marriott has stationed 20 sales representatives in China and teaches employees in the U.S. to speak basic Mandarin phrases like hello and thank you. The Marriott Marquis in New York City has even replaced room numbers on the 44th floor with names because the number four is considered bad luck in many Asian cultures.
Hilton sends its reps to China regularly to meet with corporate travel planners and, according to the report, started a Chinese-guest program, staffed with native Chinese speakers. The company features Chinese meals and displays oranges and tangerines (often considered good luck) in 63 of its hotels.

Meanwhile, Starwood, which owns Sheraton, Westin and W hotels, has revised its amenities and services as well, according to USA Today: “In-room tea kettles, slippers, translated restaurant menus and welcome brochures, on-site translation services and comfort food such as congee (rice porridge) and noodles” can now be found at many of Starwood’s properties.
Luxury Hotels of America Summer 2013Even the publishing industry has now several specialized magazines made for very affluent Chinese travelers coming to the United States: Luxury Hotels of America, VIP Golf USA, Niuyue Mag –  fully in Chinese Mandarin language – offer the latest news about historical hotels in Texas, golf courses in Arizona, or sophisticated boutique hotels in New York City. “The new generation of Chinese tourists coming to the U.S. is craving for high quality information about historical and boutique hotels in America, and want to try other kind of hotels that standardized hotel chains”, said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus, the publishing company of Luxury Hotels of America.
States around the country have also been experimenting with ways to draw more Chinese tourists. According to BBC News, the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism holds a workshop advising businesses on how to cater to Chinese tourists, and California has started a program called China Ready, which includes a learning kit that helps the state’s businesses serve those travelers and understand their culture.
So what are Chinese travelers looking for when they leave their homeland? Mainly, luxury goods. Many tourists leave China to shop, spending an average of $1,230 per trip, and some estimates show they spend about $3,200 per trip when visiting New York City. Items such as clothes and accessories (many of which were made in China) are often at the top of their list.

While the increase in discretionary income among China’s middle class is part of the tourism spike in the U.S., the Chinese government’s decision in 2007 to make the U.S. an “approved destination” has also helped. The designation lets American businesses advertise and market to audiences in China.
As U.S. businesses adapt, they have been forced to confront the reality that America is no longer the inevitable No. 1 destination for Chinese tourists. Because of prior approval by the Chinese government, many European countries have been marketing to Chinese tourists for longer. University of South Carolina professor Robert Li told USA Today that travelers from Shanghai now prefer to travel to France rather than the U.S.
But the number of travelers visiting the U.S. from China is still projected to grow dramatically over the next few years. The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that from 2010 to 2016, the number of Chinese tourists visiting the U.S. will grow by 232%.

Source : Time, article by J. Sanburn

Attracting Chinese shoppers to New York City’s luxury flagship stores

At the 5th avenue Cartier Flagship store, a Chinese customer in Gucci flip flops, Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt and a Niuyue Mag Cap on his head is buying three gold “Tank” watches incrusted with diamonds “One for me, one for my wife, and one for my daughter, who is studying in Chicago”, he says with a big smile. “I’m also platinum member of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club”, he added ,“that gives me a VIP welcome in most of luxury stores here”.
Cultural training is imperative for New York-based luxury flagship store employees to build trust among affluent Chinese tourists and creating a custom experience for this group of travelers will help marketers gain brand loyalists, experts say.
Many luxury brands are focusing marketing efforts to Chinese consumers back at home, but with a rising wave of Chinese tourists coming to New York, it is important that brands cater to this group. Luxury marketers need to be more proactive to reach Chinese travelers by training employees and partnering with high-end travel services.
“New York flagships should be more aggressive in inviting and giving a fabulous experience to Chinese tourists,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, New York. “The city seems to be behind in attracting and nurturing Chinese consumers.
“New York has been slow to appeal to Chinese tourists, even though there is such as large Chinese population in the city,” he said.
“Retailers need to create personal, emotional connections with these consumers by nurturing them and caring for them, which will create a lasting impression.”
In the capital cities of European countries, luxury flagship stores get 50 percent of their value from Chinese tourists, per Mr. Pedraza.
Europeans have been smart in the way they care for Chinese tourists, who tend to buy in volume on shopping trips.
Meanwhile, the United States has not been as open to tourists in its efforts and may have suffered, given the economic times.

Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre GervoisAccording to Pierre Gervois, author of “How U.S. Retail, Travel and Hospitality Industries Can Attract Affluent Chinese Tourists”, “The U.S. travel and tourism industry has understood the financial power of the new generation of affluent Chinese inbound tourists, and how it can give a boost to the country’s economy, but needs to improve the way Chinese visitors are welcomed and understand better the intercultural issues of marketing”
In the past, European tourists were key for New York-based retailers, but tourism from Europe is on the decline. Travelers from China are now the largest group of tourists in New York, and Indian tourists are another group to look out for in the next decade.
To get Chinese consumers into New York flagship stores, luxury brands should partner with high-end hotels, tour operators and restaurants to keep the brand top-of-mind, according to Mr. Pedraza.
But the marketing strategy for luxury retailers also starts in China, when affluent Chinese travelers are planning their NYC shopping trip, and use Chinese social media networks such as Niuyue Mag, with 200,000 registered members, giving shopping tips and specific insights to Chinese shoppers.
Also airports, limos and hotel concierges play a major role in influencing affluent Chinese tourists since these are all stops on the journey to New York.

“There is no question that luxury brands should be using print and their Web sites to attract tourists to their New York stores by showing the experience that they can expect,” Mr. Pedraza said.
“The travel industry is also a huge opportunity,” he said. “Luxury brands have to romance travel agents to get on the map within the travel industry.”
“Brands need to do a better job at creating these partnerships with travel-oriented brands.”
Once in-store, affluent Chinese tourists will need to be made comfortable. To do so, New York flagship stores should start by training their staff on the Chinese culture and traditions.
Stores should have, at minimum, Mandarin-speaking employees and may also want to train in other dialects from Asia.
“Employees should be well-educated in relationship building, not just to process tourist transactions, but to develop longtime relationships with the brand,” Mr. Pedraza said.
“There are luxury brand stores in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, so these tourist transactions are not a one-shot deal,” he said. “They can also be relationship building.”
Luxury retailers should be aware of the Chinese holiday calendar to understand buying habits during certain holidays and target Chinese consumers for in-store gift buying, per Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners, Boston.
The holiday calendar may also hint at the time when Chinese tourists are more likely to travel.
Training sales associates on cultural greetings can quickly build trust with incoming tourists and encourage foot traffic.
Stores should also offer in-store shipping options so that Chinese consumers can ship items home. This will eliminate the need to pay sales tax and leave the customer more room in their luggage, per Mr. Morris.
“Not only is the size of the luxury market in China significant, but it continues to grow with a burgeoning middle class aspiring to own luxury brands to demonstrate their wealth,” Mr. Morris said.
“New York is a unique, international city where tourists can readily find bilingual associates,” he said. “By focusing on hiring multilingual staff, a retailer has the opportunity to offer exceptional customer service and make the customer comfortable shopping in the store.”
Source: Luxury Daily

New York City luxury retailers are welcoming Chinese tourists

Over five days in January, a group of visitors to New York was treated to a private concert with the pianist Lang Lang at the Montblanc store, cocktails and a fashion show attended by the designers Oscar de la Renta and Diane Von Furstenberg, and a tour of Estée Lauder’s original office.
They were not celebrities. They were not government officials. They were Chinese tourists with a lot of money.
Though luxury brands started opening stores in Beijing and Shanghai years ago, Chinese shoppers still spend more on luxury products abroad than they do at home, according to the consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. Price is the major reason: Because of China’s taxes, luxury products are about a third cheaper in the United States and elsewhere.
European luxury stores have been catering to Chinese tourists for years. Now high-end retailers in the United States are pulling out their Mandarin phrase books and trying to convince Chinese visitors that Americans can do luxury, too.
“What started as a trickle has now become a flow,” said the vice president of the antiques store Macklowe Gallery, Ben Macklowe, who recently sold a Tiffany lamp that cost in the low six figures to a Shanghai visitor. “There’s been prosperity across so much of Asia that you’re starting to see it much more in the profile of the tourist on Madison Avenue.”
A record number of Chinese visited the United States last year — nearly 1.1 million — and the country accounts for one of the top-growing tourist groups here, according to the Commerce Department. The number of visitors is expected to almost double by 2014, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Chinese visitors spend about $6,000 each on every visit here, versus the $4,000 that visitors from other countries spend on average, the association says, and their top activity is shopping.
Although some tourists spend money on Disney trinkets and at the outlet malls they have traditionally frequented, luxury brand purchases are surging in part because American stores carry a broader range of products than their counterparts in China, said Julia Zhu, consulting director for Frost & Sullivan.
Tiffany, which made almost a quarter of its United States revenue last year from foreign tourists, has added Mandarin-speaking sales staff to its major stores, as has Burberry, where more than half of sales at its flagship stores are to tourists. Representatives from Tourneau’s Manhattan office recently accompanied New York City officials on a visit to China to encourage more tourism in the city.
The very popular Chinese social media network “Niuyue Mag” (纽约志), used by the young and affluent Chinese tourists preparing their trip to New York City had also a role in promoting the Big Apple as a major luxury shopping destination. According to Sandra Ming, analyst at China Elite Focus, “the impact of Niuyue Mag has been tremendous as it’s for now the only one media available in China exclusively about the planning of a shopping trip in New York City”
At its United States stores, Montblanc sells Year of the Dragon pens and has staff members who speak Mandarin and Cantonese. It is also printing Chinese-language brochures about its products and selling wallets sized for Chinese currency.
Despite having more than 100 stores in China, Montblanc is going after Chinese shoppers on vacation abroad. “Yes, we are in the major cities, but when you travel, you’re in the mood to enjoy and experience the moment,” said Jan-Patrick Schmitz, chief executive of Montblanc North America. “We certainly will do more and more marketing toward them.”
Retailers in the United States lag behind other countries. Part of that is because of visa issues; it is easier for Chinese residents to get visas to Europe. High-end American retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s are urging the government to speed up the process here. President Obama said in January that he planned to increase visa-processing capacity from emerging markets like China and Brazil by 40 percent this year.
The American stores also have to overcome an idea that luxury can come only from the old world.
“The European brands, they see prestige, history, heritage,” said Sunny Wong, group managing director of Trinity, a company that owns and operates high-end European retail brands in China. American brands, by contrast, are seen as “contemporary, lifestyle” rather than pure luxury, he said. American retailers are racing to prove Mr. Wong wrong.

China inbound travel to the U.S. continues to rise

Chinese travelers are visiting the United States in increasingly large numbers -and will continue to do so- according to two recent NTA reports.
The majority of Chinese tour operators confirmed that bookings to the United States increased, by an average of 16 to 20 percent, in the second quarter of 2011, as reported in the China Travel Trade Barometer. None of the surveyed operators reported a decline. The Barometer, produced quarterly by NTA, in partnership with Travel Market Insights and Ivy Alliance, captures input from top Chinese travel firms that promote and sell travel to the United States.

This increase is in line with an NTA report of its China Inbound Program. Based on a survey of U.S. tour operators registered with the program, which serves Chinese leisure group travelers visiting the United States, the number of tourists during the first quarter of 2011 was 99,752. Prior to the 2010 opening of the NTA Visit USA Center in Shanghai, a baseline of 46,709 leisure group travelers visited the United States during the second quarter of 2010. The baseline was established to monitor the progress of the NTA Visit USA Center and inbound travel from China to the United States.

“The increase of travelers served by tour operators in the NTA China Inbound Program essentially doubled,” said Lisa Simon, NTA president. “And those visitors represent nearly $600 million in travel and spending on U.S. lodging, food, entertainment and shopping.”

The Department of Commerce estimates that every Chinese visitor spends an average of more than $6,000, including airfare with U.S. carriers. In 2010, 802,000 Chinese travelers visited the United States, which includes all travelers from China, not just those calculated by the NTA China Inbound Program.

According to China Elite Focus, a marketing and research agency based in Shanghai, “only 5% of U.S. hotels and 3% of US retailers have a Chinese version of their website. There is a huge, untapped potential, to convince more affluent Chinese tourists to discover the US for leisure trips”

And continued growth is on the horizon, according to the China Travel Trade Barometer. Nearly all Chinese tour operators surveyed (92 percent) project an increase in 2011 third-quarter bookings from China to the United States. And for the fourth quarter of 2011, 77 percent of operators project bookings to be higher, with only 8 percent anticipating a drop from the same period in 2010.