We are expecting by 2020 more than 200 million Chinese travelers per year, that is almost double the current number 0f travelers. The Chinese tourism industry is certainly not in recession but a huge area for growth and opportunity.
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Plenty of companies could take advantage of this new trend and benefit from Chinese travellers. A lot of opportunities arise; from the destination chosen, to hotel booking, sightseeing trips and of course the purchasing of souvenirs. Chinese people are more open to this than ever before. They spent in 2016 more than $116 billion (source) abroad whilst holidaying.
A brand new experience with shopping
According to a study from TNS, the popular travel routes from China are currently being reconfigured. In 2016 and for the first time ever, most Chinese travelers are not going to Hong-Kong exclusively, but they also travelling to South Korea, destined to become one of the most popular destinations in the next few years due to its close proximity to China and well established infrastructure. Australia is also a popular destination for Chinese travelers as well as New-Zealand and the United States.
Purchasing power makes the difference
This new trend can be explained by a recent increase of Chinese purchasing power. They have greater wealth and with the emergence of a sizeable middle class in China, people now have more possibilities to invest in leisure and entertainment. This is mostly a trend affecting the youth, (the post 80s generation) a sector savy marketers are now focusing on. They are curious and want to explore and adventure in foreign countries and embrace foreign culture in a way the Chinese never have before. The depreciation of the yuan additionally has made travel even more affordable.
More opportunities to take
These travellers represent real opportunities in the tourism industry for brands and companies. Airline companies and hotels have a chance to increase their market share by understanding Chinese customer needs. According to one study for the majority of Chinese, shopping is a key part of their travel experience. They don’t only buy products related to their trip but want interesting shopping experience abroad with exposure to brands in a different way than how they are presented in China, brands and tourism companies thus have a huge opportunity to capitalize upon. The main point is to target and be present at the the key moments of their trips, and adapt to their cultural specific needs.
For most Chinese travelers, scheduling time for purchases is a significant part of the travel process. It helps to inspire other Chinese travelers about the destination. Going abroad is also the opportunity to buy genuine, high quality products, like in South Korea with electronic devices, or the United States with up market products (fashion, etc…). The key is to identify the purpose of their travel and understand their motivations. This would help to link them to the appropriate platform, the Chinese are looking for travel inspiration via their purchasing decisions.
Tourism industry is taking off
The tourism industry is developing and growing significantly, it is evolving fast and companies must adapt and understand Chinese needs in terms of travel. The phenomenal growth of digital tools has helped to increase Chinese expectations, with the use of social media and online platforms. Thanks to the biggest digital companies in the market, the tourism industry is truly taking off. Weibo has for instance implemented an online travel portal for Chinese travelers to help them plan their trip abroad. This platform is linking the users to roughly 400,000 companies in the tourism industry, with a possibility for them to target specific Chinese travellers whom have requested to recieve daily updates for popular destinations. The online experience is getting richer and richer, with the development of online payment on WeChat and AliPay that enables travelers to more easily pay for their trip.
When it comes to travel, Chinese people are studying the destination, but this is not the only thing they look for. As we said, Chinese consider shopping to be a significant part of their travel experience. As a consequence, they look for potential brands and products they could get during their trip. For instance, more than 70% of Chinese tourists have already checked the price of products they would be interested in, and 72% of them have already checked the advertisements and offers they are intrigued by. Indonesia Bali is a good destination in 2016, because it combines its wonderful landscape with a host of new malls and leisure facilities for the Chinese visitor.
A real shopping experience
Most of the time, Chinese tourists want to buy products that wouldn’t disrupt their trip. They would prefer to purchase more convenient products to assist them and be used during their travels, and cause them less stress as well. Consequently, shopping is also a part of the process to reduce uncertainty and relieve them of extra stress. Chinese travelers are exposed to advertising campaigns from brands, who are using online tools and intuitive suggestions during their online searches, according to their previously visited destinations. The travelers can also be reached by phone thanks to SMS notification, informing them of an exclusive spot to do some shopping, or indicating the way to the closest shopping mall. Everything is made in order to encourage them to buy more. Anticipating behaviour is the key to target the Chinese traveler and adapt to their needs. In this way, brands should target key moments during travel to advertise their products: mainly on transportation (train stations, metro, airport, etc…) this leads to more shopping opportunities that fit with the traveler’s itinerary.
It is a way to impress their social circle
Besides this shopping experience, Chinese travelers feel other needs when they go to foreign countries. Posting and keeping in touch with their social network during their trip is also part of the process for the Chinese. They turn to social networks, where they post on average 3 times a day, photos, videos (sights) and text commentary among other content. However, the more exotic the destination the stronger the feeling to impress is (especially for destinations like Europe or United States, where we usually record 6 posts per day). This side of travel is very important for the Chinese and affects the choice of the destination afterwards. It is part and parcel of the inspirational aspect of travel for Chinese. The results indicate that the use of social networks have a deep effect on inspiring Chinese travelers, and two travelers out of three are said to have been influenced by the experiences had by their social circle abroad. Brands can rely on the Chinese sharing experience (travels, shopping and activities) and build meaningful strategies around it. There is not only the possibility of consumer purchasing, but also a way of sharing something valuable which enables the travel to gain a higher social status and inspire future purchases and trips.
The Chinese travelers are different from other travelers, and these differences can create opportunities according to the places visited. Brands still have to adapt to close the gap between the travelers expectations and what is on offer by providing appealing reasons to travel overseas that tap into the Chinese psyche and mindset.