The continued, sustained growth in the number of Chinese international travellers presents huge opportunities for the global tourism industry and hoteliers, reveals the latest Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor. Not least for Australia, which has come out on top, for the second year in a row, as the most desired destination for Chinese travellers to visit in the next 12 months.
According to Hotels.com’s latest major annual study, tech-savvy, younger and more affluent Chinese form a substantial part of the 20 per cent growth in outbound mainland Chinese travellers, reaching 107 million in 2014. The report also highlights the need for hoteliers to cater to Chinese travellers’ needs such as Chinese-speaking staff, Chinese-language tourist guides and dedicated websites.
The fourth edition of the Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor provides detailed insights into how outbound travel movements by mainland Chinese are impacting the global travel industry. It combines data from more than 3,000 Chinese international travellers and 1,500 Hotels.com accommodation partners globally with Hotels.com’s own data and other third-party research.
With the Australian dollar falling, increased aviation services and easing of visa requirements between the two nations, latest ABS figures show that Australia received 918,000 Chinese visitors in the 12 months to 31 May 2015, an annual increase of 21.7%.
China remained stable as Australia’s second-highest inbound market after New Zealand and ahead of the UK. An estimated 30 per cent to 40 per cent of Chinese tourists to Australia are repeat visitors.
Chinese travellers were the fifth biggest spenders on Australian hotel accommodation in 2014, shelling out RMB 1,075 per day.
The rise of the Chinese luxury traveller
A feature of this year’s Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor is the growing financial muscle of the top 10 per cent of travellers in terms of their travel spend. On RMB 13,800 (A$2,817) per day including accommodation, they parted with over 4 times more than that of the average traveller, who spent a total of RMB 3,324 (A$678) per day. However, this pales into insignificance in comparison with the top five per cent of spenders, who shelled out six times more than the average (RMB 20,896/ A$4,265), indicating the emergence of a ‘super-luxury’ class of traveller.
In terms of where the wealthy want to go, Australia again tops the wishlist of intended destinations, followed by France and the USA.
Increasing influence of ‘millennials’
The Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor also identifies the growing influence of Gen Y travellers – the so-called tech-savvy ‘millennials’ aged 18 to 35. Fifty-nine per cent of hoteliers surveyed say they’ve experienced an increase in Chinese guests aged 35 or under in the past year and they expect this trend to continue to grow. The growth is especially strong in the Asia Pacific region, where 78 per cent of hoteliers reported an increase.
Tech-savvy with a preference for booking online
Using the internet to research and book overseas trips has become the norm for Chinese travellers, while the use of mobile phones for planning and booking their travel has skyrocketed. In the past 12 months, 80 per cent of Chinese travellers have used an online device including mobiles, desktops and laptops to plan and book travel, compared with only 53 per cent last year. Half of all Chinese international travellers now use apps on their smart phones to plan and book trips, up from just 17 per cent the year prior.
Hotels.com responds to the rise of Chinese international travellers
Recognising the growing importance of the Chinese travel market, Hotels.com launched a Chinese-language website in 2009. A range of bespoke Hotels.com apps for smart phones, tablets and wearable devices is also available in simplified Chinese, while popular Chinese third-party online payment solution Alipay have been introduced as a payment option for Chinese customers.
Commenting on this year’s Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor, Katherine Cole, Regional Director, Australia, New Zealand & Singapore for the Hotels.com brand, says: “Hotels.com’s latest report is a reminder for countries like Australia to pull out all the stops to accommodate Chinese travellers and tailor their services for this market, as the potential is huge.”
“This year’s report reveals several themes emerging, not least the expanding influence of Chinese ‘millennial’ travellers, an increasingly more affluent Chinese traveller, and the explosion in the use of technology, in particular mobile, as part of the accommodation research and booking process. Many hoteliers have already recognised the benefits of free Wi-Fi as well as Chinese-language information and booking websites,” Ms Cole said.
John O’Sullivan, Managing Director of Tourism Australia, said that China was now Australia’s most valuable market, in terms of visitor expenditure, with Chinese visitor spending up 19% in 2014 to $5.7 billion.
“One of the key findings in this report, supported by our own research, is that the Chinese rank Australia at the very top of their global travel wish list.”
“Our China strategy is unashamedly about yield, targeting exactly the young, independent-minded Chinese traveller highlighted by Hotels.com as possessing both the appetite and the means to travel to long haul destinations like our own,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
Last month, Tourism Australia signed major partnership deals in China with Alibaba, China Eastern and Singapore Airlines, aimed at strengthening distribution and its ability to target the Free and Independent Travel (FIT) segment.
Other key findings of the Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor 2015:
- According to the number of rooms booked on the Hotels.com Chinese website in 2014, the top three countries which Chinese travellers visited were the USA, Thailand and Hong Kong.
- The top 10 per cent of Chinese travellers spent an average of 2,723 RMB (A$556) per night on hotels alone.
- According to Hotels.com booking data, Chinese travellers were the fifth biggest spenders on hotel accommodation in Australia in 2014. In New Zealand, Sweden and Argentina, Chinese travellers were the biggest spenders on accommodation.
- In the past 12 months, 80 per cent of Chinese travellers have used an online device including mobiles, desktops and laptops to plan and book travel, compared with only 53 percent last year.
Top 10 countries Chinese travellers say they would like to visit in the next 12 months
Top 10 cities Chinese travellers say they would like to visit in the next 12 months
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