New Chinese tourists open new markets for industry

rthur de Haast

Arthur de Haast

One of the Global Tourism Economy Forum sessions held yesterday focused on the topic, “Embracing the Multi-faceted Chinese Travelers.” A group panel comprised of figures from the international tourism panorama highlighted, among other aspects, the need for European countries to “adapt” and/or “adjust” to the needs of the Chinese traveler. They contended that European tourism operators should oppose and abandon the “stereotypical” behaviors that dominate their interactions with Chinese tourists.
The keynote speaker, Arthur de Haast, chairman of the Capital Markets Board and Hotels & Hospitality Group of Jones Lang LaSalle said that China has recently been perceived as one of the “big players” in the hotel and tourism related industry.
In his presentation, Haast relayed precisely the acquisitions and injections of Chinese capital in many worldwide companies and explained how these investments have resulted in the existing interest in Chinese consumers. Top international competitors in the market have already made adjustments to accommodate these clients, for example “loyalty” and “memberships” benefits specifically for Chinese tourists.
“This investment [in multinational companies] is driven by the interest for Chinese consumers,” Arthur de Haast said.
Founder and CEO of Maison de la Chine, Patricia Tartour, underscored the importance of the idea that the industry needs to abandon frequent stereotypes about Chinese consumers, saying that the new Chinese traveler expects more than leisure. They often travel not just for leisure or work, but a combination of mutual interests.
In Tartour’s opinion, the Chinese traveler “looks for fashion, for education and etiquette and for world knowledge that assumes the position of a new status symbol.”
Henri Giscard d’Estaing, president of Club Med, goes even further on the topic adding that that the profile of the Chinese traveler has changed totally in the last 15 years, remarking on two important drivers for this change: introduction of the individual visas for Chinese citizens in 2003 and the change on the Chinese labor law in 2008 that established a mandatory four weeks of annual holidays. In his opinion, the measure brought a “sociological change” that is followed today by the trend for family travel with educational purposes.
“Chinese now travel in family groups and travel for the education of the kids,” Giscard d’Estaing mentioned.
The opinion of this dramatic change, which is shared by all speakers, was also noted by EuroPass CEO, Guillaume de Roquefeuil who noted the fact as a challenge for the industry.
“They speak English. They don’t travel in tour groups anymore. They are more informed and autonomous and they do not use the services of the travel agencies anymore,” he said. He added that, “they want to do many things and they want to share those [with their family and friends] on social networks,” noting the importance of the social media and the online platforms for the purposes of promotion of services.
For the vice president of the International Affairs Office and the president and CEO of Ethihad Airways, Vijay Poonoosamy, the secret to attracting these consumers is innovation. The top executive remarked that “in order to innovate we need to know people.” He agreed on the need to abandon the stereotypes and to focus specifically on the needs of these consumers.
“If you are in this industry to make money and you ignore the Chinese market you better change your industry field,” Poonoosamy said, naming a few aspects in which Etihad Airways made efforts to “adjust” to the market, for example, adding more Chinese crew members, more Chinese films and entertainment on board and betting on Chinese Social Media platforms like WeChat, Weibo and others.

Categories Headlines Macau