The rise of the Chinese international traveller – it’s now or never for global hotel industry

Hotels.com launches Chinese International Travel Monitor

The number of Chinese travellers making international trips was up by a strong 22 per cent[i] in 2011, compared to 2010, and experts predict China is on track to overtake Germany and the US as the world’s largest outbound tourism market in the next few years[ii].  Launched today, the inaugural Chinese International Travel Monitor[iii] (CITM) from Hotels.com®, one of the world’s leading online hotel booking websites, gives an insight into how the rise of the Chinese traveller is changing the dynamics of the global hotel market.  Johan Svanstrom, Managing Director of Hotels.com Asia Pacific commented: “The Chinese made a staggering 70 million[iv] international trips in 2011 and, while many of these were to Hong Kong and Macau, the number going further afield is growing significantly. Implementing strategies to cater specifically to this burgeoning source market is moving from a nice-to-have to a competitive necessity.”  Surveying more than 5,000 Hotels.com’s hotel partners around the world, the report found the majority of respondents envisage the boom in outbound Chinese travel continuing. One in five (22%) expect to see an increase of as much as 40%. Many national governments are facilitating the boom by relaxing visa requirements. Japan and Spain are examples of popular tourism markets that have already done this and Korea, amongst others, will implement similar changes later this year. Chinese international travellers are known to spend significant amounts on shopping and there is a clear opportunity for the hotel industry to grab a share of that spend for the stay experience itself.  The study found that the profile of Chinese guests is changing as they become increasingly more independent, confident, younger and more familiar with foreign cultures and customs.  Among hoteliers polled, it is clear that many are starting to adapt, offering Mandarin-speaking staff, translated materials, Chinese menus, entertainment options and the China UnionPay card services for payments. Examples from the study found that 41% of hotel respondents are planning to offer Chinese TV channels, while 66% of European hotel respondents are planning to offer Chinese breakfast options.  The Chinese economy continues to grow at a fast rate, contributing to the build-up of a travelling middle class of several hundred million people. With the ongoing economic uncertainty in key markets, catering to Chinese travellers should be high on the list of priorities.  “Hoteliers should form concrete plans in two areas. Firstly, develop marketing strategies to reach the Chinese source market; concentrating on online as the Chinese internet population has now crossed the 500 million[v] mark. Secondly, adapt hotel property services to cater to the expectation and needs of this growing audience.” concluded Svanstrom. For a full copy of the CITM report, please go to: http://press.hotels.com/en-gb/files/2012/07/Hotels.com-Chinese-International-Traveller-MapCITM.pdf  For infographic, please go to: http://press.hotels.com/en-gb/files/2012/07/CITM-infographic1-e1342170071141.jpg
[i] Figures sourced from The Annual Report of China Outbound Tourism Development 2012, released by the National Tourism Administration and China Tourism Academy: http://eng.ctaweb.org/ http://www.chinapost.com.tw/china/china-business/2012/04/16/337958/More-travelers.htm 
[ii] Thraenhart, Jens (2012) Essential China Travel Trends. China Travel Trends Retrieved: 29 May 2012 from http://www.chinatraveltrendsbook.com/downloads/Essential_China_Travel_Trends_Dragon_Edition.pdf 
[iii] About the survey: Research was conducted by Hotels.com amongst 5,000 Hotels.com hotel partners worldwide in April/May 2012. Responses sourced from: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, UK, US. 
[iv] Figures sourced from The Annual Report of China Outbound Tourism Development 2012 
[v] Figures sourced from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC): http://www1.cnnic.cn/en/index/0O/index.htm