Driven largely by the rise in Chinese tourists, the number of luxury hotels in the United States will grow to 1067 luxury hotels by the end of 2019, according to the GlobalData’s new report, “Destination Market Insights U.S.” This figure is expected to increase to 1,123 by 2022, at a compound annual growth rate of 1.7 percent.
Given the volume of Chinese tourists that will be coming to the United States, and the fact that they typically spend twice as much as US tourists when traveling abroad, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, hoteliers will want to make sure that they are able to successfully market to, and serve, this segment of customers. Here is what you need to know:
Millennials and Women are Fueling the Growth
Today, the China Tourism Academy reports that the majority of Chinese tourists now travel without an organized tour. In addition to traveling independently, 59% of outbound Chinese travelers are women. According to a Ctrip spokesperson, these travelers are heavily influenced by social media and pop culture when deciding where they want to travel. Luxury brands may consider investing in working with Chinese influencers, who can spread the word of your luxury brand throughout China via social media or traditional media.
Discovery Starts in China
Since Chinese travelers will plan their trips from China, luxury hotel brands need to make sure they are well-represented online. Travelers will visit websites, blogs, WeChat and Weibo so US brands need to have a presence and also be searchable on Baudu, the Chinese search engine. Your content must be translated and localized in Mandarin but you also need to make sure that your site is available from within mainland China and you are represented on the most important Chinese sites.
In addition, while we talk about the Rise of Google a lot with our customers, the fact is that Google means nothing to the Chinese. To get noticed by Chinese travelers on search engines, you will need a Mandarin website, hosted on a Chinese server for speed and accessibility, and a focus on Baidu, the dominant search engine in China, which currently has over 70 percent of all domestic search queries. It’s going to feel like starting over, but if you want to participate in this growing market, you need to be visible.
Chinese Tourists are Brand Conscious
If you already have a well-known brand in China, you should be happy that you’re not building a brand from scratch. Chinese travelers are incredibly brand aware and seek out brands that they have heard of. If you don’t have a well-known brand in China already, you should invest in brand building overseas. To surprise and delight brand-conscious Chinese guests, luxury hotels should know the most popular brands in China and look to incorporate them in the hotel. BVLGARI shampoo, for example, will delight Chinese guests and Dior sheets will impress them every time.
Seasonality is Important
Chinese travelers typically travel over Chinese New Year (January 25, 2020) and the Golden Week Holiday, beginning October 2nd. Hotels should plan campaigns around these holidays and understand the traditions and food, like a whole fish, that the Chinese will want to celebrate with, even if they are abroad. Hotels can also participate in the growing experiences market by planning Chinese celebrations in the restaurants, incorporating traditional food, decor and gifts.
Hire Native Mandarin Speakers
There is no better way to welcome Chinese guests than with someone that speaks the language and can help translate, when needed. While many guests may speak some English, having a Mandarin speaker will show your commitment to service and will be appreciated by the guests.
In addition, ensure that luxury Chinese travelers know they will be taken care of at your hotel by responding to Chinese travelers on Chinese sites in Mandarin. The response should be professional and written by a native Mandarin speaker who understands the luxury market. Since review responses are read closely by travelers, you want to make sure you do more than just ‘check the box’ on review response.
As you go into 2020 budget planning, are you thinking through your strategy to attract Chinese guests? If not, it’s time to start planning. It’s a big, lucrative market and you should fight for your fair share.