There were 98 million of Chinese tourists to travel the world in 2013 and they spent nearly $ 129 billion. These are still growing in number according to CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, a brokerage and investment group. Indeed the number of Chinese tourists traveling abroad is expected to reach 200 million by 2020 and their spending will triple. It is therefore in the interest of tourism professionals from around the world to learn about the expectations of Chinese tourists and to adapt to it.
Disappointing offers in China from traditional travel agencies
National agencies disappoint Chinese tourists with the lack of innovation in their offer. They do not trust local agencies either because they failed to understand the tourist’s demand of high-end travels.
Information on the Internet
To overcome the badly positioned offers of physical agencies, Chinese tourists are therefore seeking what will better suit their needs and expectations. The Chinese internet is more than happy to provide them help in their research. And it is Baidu, the most used search engine in China, which is the first step towards the sources of information on tourism. Booking sites online, social networks and forums are the three main platforms where Chinese will find information prior to their trip.
The influence of social networks
In China 90% of the 618 million Internet users in the country have an account on the social networks. They are seen as a source of quality information by the Chinese. Indeed, the speed of these platforms and their users make them less easily controlled by the authorities than other traditional media.
So it is on this same source of information that Chinese rely on when it comes to learn about the destinations that they want for their next trip. The microblogging platform Weibo leads Chinese social networks with 50 million daily active users. Many blogs are dedicated to tourism and travel stories. And some accounts may be very influential on their followers, they are called opinion leaders. A positive comment from one of these leaders can clearly enhance the image or reputation of a tourism player.
On this account you can notice the 1,3million of followers! These leaders on the social networks are called KOL, (Key Opinion Leaders) and they can have a great influence whenever they are put to good use.
Onsite content first!
Chinese tourists love surfing on fast and esthetically appealing sites. We must therefore ensure that the website serving as a showcase targeting Chinese customers fulfill both missions for a tourism actor. Important information should be visible at first glance. Photos and videos should be attractive and of good quality.
According to iResearch a consulting firm specialized in China, the revenue generated by online tourism last year reached 2.85 trillion yuan. That is to say 7.7% of total tourism spending, a percentage expected to rise to 13.2% by 2016.
The main Online travel agencies are Ctrip, Qunar and Elong with the first having the market monopoly according to the latest data available (2014 Q2 Ctrip 54% market shares)
These online booking platforms are putting together everything a Chinese tourist wants on an online tourism website: low prices, reviews from previous customers, information and quality photos.
The cliché image about Chinese tourists held by most Westerners is a group coming out of a bus in a few selected places to take pictures and get back on the bus right after the visit. This trend is however reversing, and most of the Chinese tourists now prefer taking time to discover a country by themselves.
This brings us to the new types of travelers. According to the brokerage firm CLSA, among the 98 million Chinese who traveled abroad in 2013, 56.21% were under 35 years. 59% of this percentage were married and had young children. More and more Chinese are going on family trips and therefore need places entitled to receive young children during their travels. Other travelers under 35 years travel as a couple or with friends.
We also note the present “backpacking” trend is popular among young Chinese tourists. That is because they like to see the world in a more personal and authentic way just accompanied by their backpacks.
Chinese over 35 years old rather travel as a couple or within group organized travels because they are less experienced and less adventurous than the younger generation.
Travel for the face
In China, traveling is seen as really positive it helps you to get out of his comfort zone and lessons can be drawn from them. Traveling abroad is a proof of a certain level of success for Chinese. Some tourists also see it as a kind of gift they would do to themselves, as a reward for their hard work.
If the stereotype of Chinese tourists traveling only in organized group tends to disappear, the Chinese tourists doing shopping in Europe is still very real. A lot of Chinese tourists still enjoy their stay abroad to purchase luxury goods. This type of product is indeed generally less taxed and victim of counterfeiting than in China. So the Chinese have more confidence in the quality of the product if it is purchased abroad. Since they are more and more looking for new experiences, this translates into a growing part of their budget dedicated to culture related items such as local food or local souvenirs. Shopping is no longer limited to luxury
Chinese tourists are not all equal when traveling abroad. The youngest will be fairly self-sufficient through their ability to speak English and their knowledge of the technology. But the older groups of Chinese tourists demand more specific services such as interpreters and brochures in Chinese. Appropriate services in accommodation are also greatly appreciated as special menus, television channels in Mandarin or kettle.
World Tourism professionals expect increased Chinese attendance at tourist sites and hotels. Understanding the criteria cited above gives you the first insights you need in order to design a successful marketing strategy to attract Chinese tourists.
Remember : Chinese tourists love discovering new countries and cultures without being much disoriented in the services that are provided to them. As such Tourism stakeholders will have to give more attention to the Chinese language both in the brochures and the personnel involved. In order to meet the high expectations of their future main customers.
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