Change is happening at lighting speed in China and this includes the transformation of Chinese travelers. Just as Chinese luxury consumers are becoming ever more sophisticated in their fashion taste, Chinese travelers have grown more sophisticated.
With growth estimated at 18 percent, compared to 5 percent for the rest of the world, Chinese tourists are important to anyone in the travel business, Wolfgang Georg Arlt, director of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute told hoteliers at the ITB Berlin conference.
Today, prestige, education and curiosity are driving millions of people from China to see the world, especially among young affluent Chinese.
Many of them are curious about the destinations and want to learn more about the places they are traveling to. Instead of a 10-city whirlwind bus tour, many of today’s sophisticated Chinese travelers prefer “to go deeper – maybe going to just three or four destinations in 10 days and they will post pictures to show their friends,” said Yufei Gu, manager of hotel procurement at Caissa Touristic.
“It’s a trend in the younger generation,” she said. “They will spend more money on accommodation in places they are really interested in. They are looking for feature hotels, for example an ice hotel in Sweden, or a manor hotel in the UK, this is important for self-organized travelers.”
“Travel for the Chinese is an important part of their education and learning what they are doing, but they are still learning what it is like to be an international tourist,” Arlt said.
“‘The Chinese tourist doesn’t exist,” he said. “There are people, who travel as part of a package tour, but there are lots of self-organized travelers, who are more affluent and looking for intensive, short experiences, and then there are also business people and expats as well as students coming from other European countries.”
At minimum, hotels should offer amenities favored by the Chinese such as Chinese language services and traditional Chinese breakfast, but customized services or specialized tours that are more exclusive and with unique itineraries are attracting the Chinese tourist 2.0.
“There are seven large holiday periods in China and that is a huge movement of people compared with what we are used to in Europe. You need to know how to cater to people. You need to know who they are,” noted Darren Gearing, regional vice president for Europe for Shangri-La & Resorts.
Moreover, Arlt indicated that a hotel should become “the destination” and “be a place you can tell stories about.”
image credit: chinese tourists