By Glenn Andrews, Managing Director – Asia, SiteMinder
The Chinese economy is now the largest in the world, having eclipsed the United States last year. It means more Chinese citizens have an income that is high enough that they can travel abroad, and they’re doing so in rapidly increasing numbers.
What is truly exciting about this observation, is the room to grow.
According to the Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) 2015 report, Chinese outbound traveller numbers increased by 20% over the previous year.
This increase in numbers has been driven by millennials, aged 18-35, with 59% of hoteliers surveyed claiming an increase in the numbers of Chinese guests aged 35 or younger in the past year.
Looking specifically at Asia Pacific, the number leaps to almost four out of five hoteliers (78%) welcoming more young Chinese guests over the past year, compared with the year before.
For the Chinese millennials, the reasons for travel are, overwhelmingly, related to leisure (91%), and business (43%), but many Chinese also take the opportunity to visit friends and relatives (17%), go on a cruise (15%), or seek overseas education (7%), beauty treatment (6%), or medicine (5%).
While overseas, a Chinese millennial’s favourite activities are sightseeing, dining, shopping, and visiting resorts and beaches. There is also growth in eco-tours, with roughly 20% of young Chinese rating it as a favourite activity while abroad.
What does this mean for hoteliers?
It is clear that the Chinese millennial community is a key opportunity for tourism across the globe, but especially so in the Asia Pacific region. At the same time, for hoteliers to take advantage of this opportunity in full, it requires an understanding of the people and the way they like to travel.
Young Chinese people are very tech savvy. The CITM report found that 30% of millennials use social media in making travel decisions, which is only just behind word of mouth and review sites, at 44%.
There is less of a reliance on travel agents and packages, and 80% of Chinese travellers overall used a mobile, desktop, or laptop computer to plan and book their travel – a big jump from 53% in the previous year.
Ensuring your hotel is connecting to local online travel agents, for example Ctrip, will play a big role in distributing your available rooms online via a channel manager such as SiteMinder’s, to attract the Chinese traveller.
It’s also important that your hotel is fully mobile-ready, with mobile websites and/or apps that are easy to navigate regardless of the device – remember that many Chinese are using lower-cost and less powerful smart phones when compared to their overseas counterparts.
Like most young people around the world, Chinese millennials are also happy to travel cheaply. The study found that 15% of travellers between the ages of 18 and 25 booked into hostels and backpacker venues, for example. On average Chinese millennials would spend $US503 per day on accommodation, food, entertainment and so on, which is $US33 less than the overall average Chinese expenditure of $US536.
Hotels that are budget conscious are therefore in the best position to capitalise on the growth in Chinese millennial travel. However, hoteliers should also be aware that around 66% of these travellers appreciate hotels and accommodations that offer a tailored experience, and this means Chinese-language booking websites, and Chinese-language information and signage within the hotel.
This culturally-tailored experience isn’t absolutely necessary for the majority of Chinese millennial customers, and only 20% suggest it is mandatory before they book with a hotel, but with competition for these customers expected to heat up across the globe, it is likely that many hotels, both independent and franchise, will take care to offer Chinese-language communications to their customers, so it can be expected to become a competitive requirement for any hotel that wants to capitalise on the movement of these millennials.
Finally, with millennials being so connected to the Internet, WiFi is an increasingly important service for hotels to offer, so they can keep in touch and communicate back home.
Those in tourism are also starting to see value in accepting payment from Chinese-based platforms, such as Alipay.
As with any customer, the Chinese millennial will appreciate a personalised level of service and would prefer to stay in accommodation that is tailored to their preferences.
With the expected explosion of young Chinese tourists around the world, this is going to be a key customer base for all hotels in the future.
You can connect to Chinese travelers through SiteMinder’s Channel Manager. Take a tour to see how.