Hotels.com Puts the Focus on Chinese Travelers in New Travel Monitor
Hotels.com, the online hotel booking website, is putting more focus on the surge in Chinese travelers making international trips, which it says was up 22 percent in 2011 compared to 2010. On July 13 it introduced its Chinese International Travel Monitor, which aims to provide data into how the rise of the Chinese traveler is changing the dynamics of the global hotel market. Hotels.com’s monitor comes amid a flurry of surveys and studies on the emerging Chinese traveler, as well as strong focus on the market by major hotel companies like Hilton, Marriott and Starwood, among others.
“The Chinese made a staggering 70 million international trips in 2011 and, while many of these were to Hong Kong and Macau, the number going further afield is growing significantly,” said Johan Svanstrom, managing Director of Hotels.com Asia Pacific. “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 most respondents see the boom in outbound Chinese travel continuing. One in five (22 percent) expect to see an increase of as much as 40 percent. 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, among others, will implement similar changes later this year. The U.S., however, still has not eased visa requirements for Chinese travelers.
The Hotels.com study also 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 for the survey, 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 percent of hotel respondents are planning to offer Chinese TV channels, while 66 percent of European hotel respondents are planning to offer Chinese breakfast options.
“Hoteliers should form concrete plans in two areas,” said Svanstrom. “Firstly, develop marketing strategies to reach the Chinese source market, concentrating on online as the Chinese Internet population has now crossed the 500 million mark. Secondly, adapt hotel property services to cater to the expectation and needs of this growing audience.”
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