Get ready hoteliers! Now more than ever, hotels will need to adjust their business model based on the influx of business coming in from Chinese travelers. In order to prepare for this excellent source of additional revenue, I’ll give you some ideas of how your hotel can welcome Chinese travelers and all their precious revenue dollars…or should I say their precious revenue yuan.
Show me the money! …and other numbers
According to the World Tourism Organization, the number of international travelers coming from China will increase from 10 million in 2000 to more than 100 million by 2020.
Reports are showing a positive trend in the number of Chinese visitors coming to the states and Chinese tourists are now the world’s largest spenders. This April, CNN shared a United Nations World Tourism Organization report, stating that Chinese travelers spent $102 billion in 2012, an average of $1,230 per trip! More recently, the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries reported that Chinese tourists spend an average of $2,900 per trip when visiting California, which has become one of the fastest growing locations for Chinese tourism.
So why the United States? What attracts the Chinese traveler?
In the last 10 years, the earning power has increased for Chinese citizens and various policy changes have gone into effect, making it easier for the Chinese to travel to the U.S. and even obtain visas.
So other than increased travel budgets and the ability to travel easily, what are they interested in when they actually visit the U.S.?
Luxury Goods! According to Wolfgang Georg Arlt, director of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, “Luxury goods are 20% to 30% cheaper in other global cities. If you plan to spend $10,000 on shopping and only spend $1,000 on airfare, it’s much cheaper for Chinese tourists to fly abroad to shop.”
How do I market to the Chinese tourist?
There are a LOT of tactics you can put into action as a hotel to make sure you are reaching the Chinese traveler effectively and ultimately get them to book with you. Below is a list of recommendations:
- Optimize Your OTA Listings: Is your hotel listed on Ctrip, one of the largest Chinese OTAs on the web? If not, make sure you add or update your listing right away. Plus, you can work with your OTA market manager and come up with a solution to market to these travelers through an advertisement campaign that will make sense for your hotel. When optimizing your listing, make sure you expand upon amenities available at your hotel and note any local shopping centers or attractions that would attract Chinese travelers. Hotels marketing to Chinese travelers should also verify that their hotel is listed and optimized on eLong (part of Expedia) which is the second most popular Chinese OTA.
- Go Social: Consider testing and advertising on Weibo, a Chinese micro-blogging service that looks similar to Facebook and Twitter. This set of slides will teach you how to setup an account on Weibo and you can see how brands, like Pizza Hut, use it effectively here. Below is an example of China Daily’s (Chinese newspaper) Weibo account:
- Make Them Comfortable: Promote various on-property amenities that will welcome Chinese tourists, such as Mandarin-speaking staff members, in-room tea kettles and slippers, and that you accept international payments. Another big amenity is Wi-Fi. Chinese travelers, like all modern travelers, use their mobile phones regularly, so providing access to the Internet is a must!
- Extended Stay & Advanced Purchased Packages: Chinese travelers tend to book longer stays, well in advance. Do you have some sort of extended stay package or an advance purchase offer that rewards visitors for booking ahead of time and actualizing their stay?
- Shopping Packages: Since many Chinese tourists may be coming to the U.S. to indulge in a shopping vacation, why not provide them a package that encourages them to visit the luxury mall near your hotel?
- Create a Mandarin Version of your Website: One thing I’ve heard from various hotels, especially those without Mandarin-speaking staff, is that Chinese speaking travelers do not communicate with the hotel, primarily due to the language barrier. Why not make your guests feel more comfortable by directing them to a custom version of your website that provides answers to any questions they have during their stay with you, or even before booking? Not only will this encourage communication between you and your Chinese guests, but it will put you on the market as a hotel that welcomes the Chinese traveler!
So, what are you waiting for? Take a look at your revenue over the last two years – have you noticed an increase in revenue from China? Do you tend to see many Chinese guests come through your hotel? Is your competition already marketing to the Chinese travel market? These are all questions that your management team should sit down and discuss, and then proceed in developing a marketing plan to target this growing traveler segment!