Why hotels need direct access to China’s booming travel market

  Posted in Online Travel Agents

By Glenn Andrews, VP Sales – Asia, SiteMinder

You’ve heard about this at an industry event or read about it on all the travel news sites. You’ve probably even had a chat about it with a colleague during your coffee break: Yes, China’s outbound travel market is booming.

After dominating industry headlines this year-to-date, it’s barely hard-hitting news. The real question, however, is: Do you truly understand what this growth means for your hotel and how can you capitalise on the shift?

Crunching the numbers – the cold hard facts

In 2012, more than 83 million Chinese travellers went abroad – a number expected to climb to 200 million by 2020, according to Reuters. BBC revealed that Chinese travellers spent a record $102 billion in international tourism in 2012, up 40% from 2011 – that’s more than the total for Americans or Germans.

Just one year later, over the first three quarters of 2013, China’s expenditure increased by 28%. And just to add to these extortionate figures, sales in China’s online travel market hit $10 billion in 2014’s second quarter – a 17.1% year-on-year increase.

China’s purchasing power is undeniably influential and, for today’s hotels, there is simply no other travel market quite as attractive, or is booming as rapidly. As Travel Weekly states: “compared with Europe and the U.S., China’s travel market is significantly bigger, younger, more optimistic, and a whole lot hungrier to travel”.

Shape up your technologies or fall behind

Chinese consumers’ reliance on online media and websites makes them the ideal target for international travel organisations with a robust web presence. Ninety percent of China’s travellers are under the age of 45; they’re web and mobile app savvy, heavily reliant on social media for travel decisions, and demand that travel sites provide a wealth of information – a fact you really want to own. Not only is it important to optimise your website, make it mobile-friendly and easy-to-use, you also want to have the capability to add booking and distribution technologies that can help you reach the most important and most profitable markets.

SiteMinder, for example, recently announced an integration partnership with Ctrip, China’s leading online travel service provider. This type of technology solution means your hotel can directly connect with China’s travellers. Additionally, if you’re serious about capitalising on this growing market, it is important to know where Chinese tourists spend their time online and where you can reach them.

While mainstream travel platforms such as TripAdvisor, with its review function, are still important go-to spots for those planning and researching trips, Chinese travellers often look elsewhere. Local social media networks you should include in your China-focused marketing strategy include Sina Weibo, WeChat, and video site Youku. Never forget: you want to be where your prospects are.

A love for luxury

While it’s important to be seen where your potential guests are looking, it is even more important that you cater to their needs and desires. Chinese tourists love to splurge on their holidays even more than the rest of the world. Hotels.com’s Chinese International Travel Monitor report in July revealed that the average Chinese overseas traveller spent a startling US$1,086 per day while on vacation, excluding accommodation costs.

There are 600 billionaires in China and 2.8 million millionaires, measured by US dollars, and what this affluent traveller group looks for will probably come as no surprise: Luxury. Exactly. Once again, highlighting the increasing demand and importance for high-end facilities as well as amenities and luxurious rooms with elegant, technology-enhanced features.

So, how serious are you about tapping into this rapidly-expanding market? Have you promoted your property where Chinese travellers can find it?

Perhaps more so than with any other target market, hotels need to ensure that what they’re offering is exactly what Chinese travellers – all 1.3 billion of those potential guests – are looking for.

If your guests are happy to spend that little extra – and the statistics show that they are – then so should you.

Connect to the Chinese travel market with SiteMinder’s Channel Manager. Take a tour of our platform to see how.

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