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Chinese Travellers Become World’s Biggest Spenders; Independent Travel on Increase

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China has overtaken Germany and the USA as the world’s biggest spenders on travel.

The second annual Chinese International Travel Monitor released by Hotels.com reveals significant insights into the changing behaviours of Chinese travellers and how the global hotel industry is adapting.

Surveying more than 3,000 Chinese international travelers and more than 1,500 hoteliers around the world, the Hotels.com report found 75% of hoteliers globally say Chinese travellers now account for up to 5% of their business and 45% say they have experienced an increase in Chinese guests over last year, with the greatest increases coming in APAC (61%). Hoteliers see China as a positive growth market over the next three years with one in 10 expecting to see an increase of more than 50% and almost half (47%) anticipating an 11-50% rise.

According to the Hotels.com report the majority of overseas Chinese travel (96%) has been for leisure purposes, while just over half (52%) have also visited other countries for business or education.

In a growing trend, nearly two thirds (62%) of Chinese travellers say they prefer to travel independently and not as part of a group. This development has been confirmed by the hoteliers surveyed, who say 70% of Chinese guests now travel independently, compared with a much more even split in 2012.

United Nations World Travel Organisation reflected that Chinese travellers spending US$102 billion on international travel in 2012, an increase of over 40% on 2011.

Johan Svanstrom, Managing Director of Hotels.com Asia Pacific, said, “The 2013 Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) shows the move to independent travel identified in the CITM last year is now preferred by the majority of Chinese travellers. While in-roads have been made in this area, governments will have to take this into account when organising their visa application infrastructure and processes.”

In addition, the CITM highlights areas for continued improvement for accommodation providers. The ability to accept Chinese payment methods is seen as the single most important offering from hotels and over a quarter (26%) of Chinese travellers feel this is a key area for improvement.

Three quarters (75%) of Chinese travellers say hoteliers need to improve the provision of translated items, such as welcome literature, websites, TV programmes and newspapers, while almost half (42%) say that they would like more Mandarin speaking staff in hotels.

Highlighting a disconnect between the desires of Chinese travellers and provisions made by hoteliers, a quarter (25%) of hoteliers say they offer cultural awareness training to staff but only one in ten (11%) offer welcome materials in Mandarin. Additionally, globally, just over half (56%) of hotels have invested less than $10,000 in developing programmes and products specifically catering to Chinese guests over the past 12 months.

When it comes to researching and booking travel, personal recommendation plays an increasingly vital role, with almost a third (30%) of Chinese travellers saying they rely on advice from family and friends, followed by online travel booking and review sites.

More than a quarter of Chinese travellers (27%) use social media to help them make decisions on holiday destinations, with this figure rising to 33% among younger travellers under 35.

“These insights highlight the need for hoteliers to adapt their marketing strategies, with a particular focus on online and social media channels, to attract Chinese travellers. While the CITM shows hoteliers are making positive steps towards catering to an increasingly mobile and savvy Chinese travel market, it also shows the need for the global hotel industry to adapt facilities and services to more extensively cater to the world’s largest market of travellers,” added Svanstrom. “In addition, programmes being implemented by many governments and tourism authorities to attract and facilitate for Chinese travellers are a positive step in the right direction, but the pace of growth in the volume of Chinese travellers appears to be outstripping the pace of change in the hotel industry.”

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