Is your hotel positioned right to woo the Chinese traveller in 2014?
Hotels need a strategic roadmap and an innovative plan that goes beyond offering dim sums and congee in the breakfast menu.
Booming economy ? check; Growing middle class ? check; High levels of disposable income ? check; Big spenders abroad ? check. Over the last few years, China has been heralded to an undisputed No. 1 spot as the fastest growing tourism source market in the world. As Chinese travel more and widen their travel compass, the hospitality industry globally has needed to adapt and ensure their operations are China friendly to benefit from this surge in visitation. While some hoteliers have done their bit, most need a strategic roadmap and an innovative plan that goes beyond offering dim sums and congee in the breakfast buffet.
An economic boom coupled with a fast growing middle class and an exponential rise in the number of millionaires, has fuelled the fire amongst the Chinese population to explore the world. International travel volume has grown rapidly over the past two decades and the country’s outbound travel market has overtaken US, Germany and UK to become the fastest growing in the world. And not only has China become the darling of the travel market, the Chinese are spending more per trip. According to World Tourism Organisation, in 2012, 83 million mainland Chinese spent USD 102 billion abroad. What is most fascinating is given the size of China’s population the market size is still modest. So far bulk of the travel has originated from only two of China’s cities – Beijing and Shanghai. One can only imagine the unprecedented growth that can be expected with other major cities joining forces to travel abroad.
Historically, the largest number of trips made by the Chinese has been to mainland and greater Chinese regions. In the last 4 years however significant growth is witnessed to other regions including USA, Russia, Europe, Latin America and Africa. Today most hotels globally would count the Chinese Geographic segmentation as a statistically significant source market.
Whilst a lot of hoteliers have done their bit, others have been slow to recognise just what they need to do to capitalise on the opportunities offered by these new guests. On the other hand, luxury goods players like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany’s have been on top of this game for years. Step into any Tiffany or Louis Vuitton flagship store and you are bound to be welcomed by Mandarin speaking staff or be provided a host who shadows your entire shopping experience.
? ? ? ? ? ? “Hotels need a real change that breaks the cycle founded in stereotypes”?
From a hotel perspective, bombarded with so many alien stimulations, a lot of Chinese travellers yearn for a taste of home while abroad and some brands like Starwood and Accor have responded ? at least regionally. From an assorted tea selection in room to translated menu’s as well as numerous Chinese-speaking staff equipped to handle the spikes of tour-bus traffic, a lot of chains have some form of China ready compliance kit that is implemented. However, it is not enough to package this geographic segment as an Emerging market and view it as a buffer for loss of business from US and Europe. Employing Mandarin-speaking staff to offering seamless shopping holidays to typical Chinese meals is just the beginning. When do the Chinese guests travel? How do they book their holidays? Do they really travel in groups? What is the significance of your hotel name in Chinese? What colours, numbers are lucky? What is more aspirational a cultural discovery a spa treatment or shopping? Does the hotel brand universally accept Union Pay?
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