When it comes to obtaining advice related to travel, mainland Chinese still prefer to seek first-hand information from someone they know over other third party sources. In a recent GfK study carried out among Chinese travelers, more than half of the respondents (52%) said they rely on their personal contacts such as friends, family and colleagues to get travel related information—the highest of all touch points—online and offline. Meta search websites and online travel agent websites jointly trailed behind in close second positions at 51%.
GfK conducted the Consumer Travel Tracker study in China in February 2015 to provide the tourism industry with a broader understanding on China travelers’ booking behavior for outbound leisure holiday. The survey was conducted among 1000 respondents who have made a travel booking in the last 3 three months.
“Even with the proliferation and growing consumer dependency on the internet for all kinds of information, the local norm of seeking information via word of mouth still prevails here,” highlighted Lawrence Liew, North Asia Director for Travel & Hospitality at GfK. “However, the growing influence of the internet cannot be avoided, as the other top sources of travel information are still online touch points.”
When it comes to making the actual booking, online supersedes offline as the preferred channel, occupying 63% share of the market. Amongst the online booking channels, Online Travel Agents (OTA) websites are most popular, used by 46% of all travelers. However, different trends have surfaced for making bookings for various regional destinations. For instance, traditional travel agencies still retain their competitive edge when it comes to Asian countries, while online channels are more commonly used for Europe and Oceania destinations.
According to GfK findings, Asia is the most travelled region for Chinese travelers in the short term, with 78% of respondents confirming their travel plans to countries in this region. Top three destinations are Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong (14% each), with Japan (11%) and Singapore (8%) trailing behind. One in ten (10%) have booked holidays in Europe, and 6%, to North America.
Meanwhile, the most commonly purchased travel items online are packaged trips, followed by air tickets and accommodations, as indicated by 86%, 55% and 49% respectively. Over half (52%) of travelers also said they will buy insurance for their holiday. Survey results revealed that the total spending for each traveler per trip averages around 15,000 RMB; which accounts for about half the average monthly household income in the country.
“The world’s most populous country has also become the largest source market for tourist arrivals to worldwide destinations; in particular Asia,” said Liew. “It is therefore imperative for travel suppliers and intermediaries alike to understand what make the Chinese traveler tick, including their shopping and booking behaviors and preferences, in order to tap into this large and growing market effectively,“ he concluded.