If you are a travel brand, whether you manage a tour company, a hotel chain or a tourist attraction, then the Chinese market deserves your special attention. Although visitors from all nations are valuable customers, Chinese travellers are especially important because they make up the largest market segment in the world.
2018: The Year of EC-TY (EU-China tourism)
According to a report conducted by the World Tourism Organisation, Chinese travellers embarked on over 145 million international adventures last year (2017) and spent a whopping $261 billion dollars – phenomenal figures which constitute 21% of global tourism expenditure and make Chinese travellers the lead global outbound travel market. These already impressive figures are expected to increase again with a projected 6.3% annual growth, taking this figure to over 154 million travellers.
In January of this year, the EU and China joined forces to encourage Chinese tourists to visit Europe. Several leading bodies across the tourism industry have been collaborating with a view to increase the annual levels of Chinese visitors to Europe by 10%, a figure which would inject approximately €1 billion per year into the tourism industry. To capitalise on this boom, you need to make your business “China ready”.
Globetrotters with a Unique Style
Chinese travellers are particularly affluent, and their financial outlay covers mid- to high-priced accommodation, must-see attractions and uniquely generous spending on the high street and in shopping centres. When it comes to international travel, financial analysis indicates that they follow the “go big or go home” mantra. Research by The World Tourism Organisation shows that in each destination that they visit, the Chinese spend double the amount of money that the majority of international visitors do. As a result, the impact of even a single Chinese tour group can be huge.
Chinese tourists may not be penny-pinchers, but they are savvy customers seeking value for money.
While many Western tourists search for ways to minimise costs by selecting Airbnb rentals over luxury accommodation, Chinese visitors (especially middle aged travellers who did not receive enough or even any English education when young) tend to prefer the full-service benefits of well-apportioned hotels. Similarly, many Westerners set out to explore destinations unchaperoned whereas most Chinese travellers prefer the security and ease of a guided tour experience.
Getting a Slice of the Chinese Tourism Pie
With the summer travel season fast-approaching, it is high time to roll out the welcome mat to Chinese visitors with these key steps.
Translate Your Content into Chinese
Although many younger Chinese visitors eagerly study English and other European languages, many others will be more comfortable reading promotional material in their native Mandarin (if they are from mainland China and Taiwan) or Cantonese (for residents of Hong Kong and Macau). To facilitate more bookings, have your website, brochures and key signage translated into Chinese. Don’t rely on Google translate to do this for you. Consult with professional translators and transcreators to ensure nothing is lost in translation and no offense is inadvertently given.
Have a Chinese Online Presence
The majority of Chinese travellers plan their vacations months in advance, and although some use travel agents, many like to conduct their own online research into holiday service providers. On the mainland, a censored version of Google is the third-ranked search engine after Baidu and Soso.com. Homegrown Weibo and WeChat are key social media platforms for mainland Chinese users since the Communist Party imposed bans on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Pinterest.
Learn a Little Mandarin
You may not feel the need to sign-up for language immersion courses, but a little effort goes a long way in demonstrating that you value your Chinese customers. A simple “ni hao” greeting will be sure to impress. If your Chinese guests have a memorable, positive experience with you then they are more likely to consider a return visit or recommend you to their friends and family back in China.
Work with a Chinese Influencer
Influencer marketing was a huge trend in 2017, and it’s set to continue in 2018. Many young people trust the words and recommendations of their peers and influencers more than traditional marketing. Getting the endorsement of a wanghong (internet celebrity) is an invaluable way to convert their social media fans into your customers. There has been a proliferation of agencies which help brands establish those connections.
We wish you much success in attracting and nurturing your Chinese visitors, or should we say, 生意兴隆 (shēng yì xīng lóng) “May you be endowed with a thriving business and prosperous trade”.