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.
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 20141. 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.
Globally, almost two thirds (61 percent) of hoteliers surveyed say they have experienced an increase in Chinese guests at their properties over the past year. The figures are more pronounced at the regional level, with 79 percent of hoteliers in APAC and 65 percent in North America reporting an increase in Chinese guests.
Most say they expect this increase to continue over the coming year – indeed 18 percent of respondents believe the growth could be as high as 50 percent. This growth is also accounting for a larger slice of hotel revenues. Seventy-four percent claim Chinese guests comprise up to 10 percent of their business.
Of the most common requests received from Chinese guests, 75 percent asked for free Wi-Fi, followed by a kettle in the room and translated travel or tourism guides.
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 (USD$2,225) 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 (USD$536) 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/ USD$3,368), indicating the emergence of a ‘super-luxury’ class of traveller.
In terms of where the wealthy want to go, Australia tops the wishlist of intended destinations, followed by France and the USA. The top spenders are much more likely to stay in international chain hotels – 46 percent say the mostly book international chains, while 28 percent choose ”independent hotels with local flavour”.
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.
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: “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.”
Other key findings
- 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 (USD$439) per night on hotels alone.
- According to Hotels.com booking data, 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:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
Top 10 cities Chinese travellers say they would like to visit in the next 12 months:
- Hong Kong
- Jeju, South Korea
About the research
The Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) analyses research taken directly from both Chinese international travellers and hoteliers worldwide, combined with Hotels.com own proprietary data and other research.
The travellers’ survey was commissioned during May 2015 by IPSOS, a world leader in market research, global market information and business analysis, to conduct a research study amongst a sample of 3,000 eligible respondents across mainland China. Minimum thresholds were set on key demographics such as age, gender and region to ensure a representative sample that would allow analysis of sub-groups. The questionnaire covered topics including, but not limited to, travel behaviour, booking methods and accommodation choices.
For the opinion of hoteliers, a global survey of more than 1,500 Hotels.com hotel partners during May 2015. Responses were received from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the UK and the USA.