Considering the growing number of Chinese tourists alone would be enough to convince you that the tourism industry needs to rethink how it caters to demand. The rise of the middle class in China, as in the rest of the world, has put more disposable income in consumers’ pockets. One in 10 international tourists worldwide is now Chinese, and that number will only grow. So if you want your business to appear on their itinerary, travel marketers, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Profile of the Chinese Traveler
- Young and tech-savvy: A survey found that visitors from Asia Pacific were the most tech-savvy, with 80% of them turning to online sources such as travel review, service provider, and official tourism websites. And most travelers from Asia Pacific are actually from China. Also, the typical age of the Chinese tourist is below 45, which makes them more likely to use their smartphone or other handheld devices to research travel information.
- Used to getting around in his or her own language: The Chinese are used to experiencing products and services in their own language in their country, unlike their Indian neighbors who typically have a high tolerance for English. Despite the fact that the Chinese are subscribing to English lessons in huge numbers, it will always be a second language to them, hence lowering the comfort level in that language. Hotels.com recently released its Chinese International Travel Monitor 2014 report based on a study of 3,000 Chinese residents in mainland China who had paid for accommodations on an international trip at least once in the past five years. According to this report, 48% of Chinese tourists believe that translated travel information is very important on an international trip and 33% believe that the hotel website must offer language support for Mandarin.
- Prefers Chinese language websites: When they are looking to plan their trip, the Chinese seek out tools and websites in their own language. That is, the search engine they use would most likely be Baidu. They also ferret out tourism content from travel sites like DaoDao.com, which is TripAdvisor’s Chinese version.
- Yet to be pleased: A study by the Boston Consulting Group found that the Chinese are highly dissatisfied with the current offerings of travel companies. This is good and bad news. If you’re a company just beginning to offer travel products to the Chinese, you can learn from the mistakes of your competitors. But if you’re in the game already, you better figure out ways to retain your clientiele.
- Increasingly traveling independently: Though package tours are very much in vogue, the Chinese tourist is now experimenting with travel on his own. The Hotels.com report states that 70% of their Chinese guests were not in groups. Please note that traveling independently doesn’t mean traveling alone, but without the assistance of a travel agency. There may be different types of independent travelers like families, singles, or couples. These tourists are more likely to seek out online information and products before and even during the trip.
The Chinese tourist is ready and raring to go. How do you woo them and other counterparts from the rest of the world? Our last installment of this trilogy will focus on how translating travel websites can be the easiest marketing tool your company can make use of.