September 12, 2015
The word is out: Chinese tourists are coming for you! Over the last decade, outbound trips from China have increased substantially. In 2014, Chinese tourists made over 67.5 million trips abroad. We should expect these trends to only increase as China’s wealthy have by now already developed a strong need to explore new places to sightsee and park their cash. Here are three trends for you to be aware of to stay ahead of the “China Tourism Wave.”
- CHINESE TRAVEL TO CITIES
According to a report by Oxford Economic and International Hotels Group, 85% of Chinese travelers prefer traveling to big cities.
2. CHINESE TRAVELERS MOVE TOWARDS INDIVIDUAL TRAVEL
No matter where you are from, you’ve probably at one time or another encountered a large Chinese tour group: lots of Chinese in a pack taking pictures, walking around confused, with a tour guide carrying a little flag on top of a long, skinny pole.
But Chinese travelers are starting to change, move away from the pack mentality and more towards traveling with their immediate family or by themselves.
Why is this happening? In part, it is because with new wealth and education, Chinese are able to navigate trips by themselves. They no longer have to depend as much on travel agencies or group travel packages.
What’s more, Chinese travelers are often economic travelers in the sense that they really know what they want to BUY before leaving home and know where they can buy it. Chinese are largely going abroad in search of luxury goods that they cannot get at home, like jewelry, antiques, or designer clothes, or perhaps going to buy discounted tech products that are way more expensive at home. They follow big brands like Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors, and they tend to go to the biggest, best places that they can buy them.
3. DOMESTIC SERVICE PROVIDERS DOMINATE
Chinese service providers are responding to and cashing in on these trends. In terms of travel booking, travelers are now mostly going to online travel booking sites. The two that dominate the China market are Qunar.com and Ctrip.com. It is clear that more Chinese travelers are using these platforms to increase the bookings.
Domestic hospitality and airline companies are also investing significantly in building full-service platforms in foreign countries frequented by Chinese travelers. In the aviation industry, many Chinese domestic airlines like Air China and China Eastern has already started operating directed flights from multiple cities in China to a variety of cities in North America like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, and Houston.
One big company to watch out for in this space is Hainan Airlines (HNA Group). HNA is a monster in the airline and hospitality industry, and they are becoming one of the biggest players in terms of providing “go-abroad” services for the Chinese traveler. They have already begun operating direct flights to Seattle, and earlier this year started a direct flight to San Jose. On the hospitality side, the company is looking to make acquisitions and joint-ventures with foreign hospitality management companies. In June, HNA acquired 15% of North America’s Red Lion Hotels Corporation, and seem poised for more.
If you’re looking to attract more Chinese tourism dollars to your business or community, it would be smart to look at partnering with some of these domestic service providers.