A decade ago, the profile of the new Chinese market was one that comprised mostly low-cost group tours that made shopping stops an integral part of the tour. No more. The sixth annual China International Travel Monitor (CITM) put out by Hotels.com tells the reader that the soon-to-be largest outbound travel market in the world is mostly FIT. Also, an increasingly large part of the FIT market is interested in adventure and eco-tours.
(This year’s CITM bases its findings using a slightly different take on demographics. When analyzing the response of those surveyed for the report, travelers were divided into four age categories—those born after 1960, 1970, 1980 and 1990 in order to provide further insights into choices and preferences of different generations. Those born after 1980 and 1990 rea also referred to as millennials. This group, also known in China as the “new generation” as distinct from the “post generation” born prior to the 1980s, is increasingly driving consumption and spending patterns of Chinese travelers.)
Methods of Travel and the FIT Factor: Along with their growing preference for long-haul destinations, Chinese traveler are choosing independent travel and more adventure rather than group travel.
It is post 60s travelers where the trend is particularly strong, with those choosing backpacking more than tripling in the next 12 months. Independent travel is particularly popular with millennials, with 64 percent of post 90s travelers and 62 percent of post 80s choosing this option.
Where They Stay: Chinese travelers prefer to stay in hotels, with 79 per cent choosing hotels over other accommodations types. Quality is important is important and the majority will stay in a three-star hotel or above. There is a shift in this trend, however, particular with younger travelers. Young millennials are showing an increasing interest in alternative accommodation types such as vacation rentals, apartments or hostels, with 29 post 90s saying they used these in the past year.
What Facilities/Amenities They Want in a Hotel:
Where Hotels Need to Improve: The CITM reports that there ae three key areas in which hotels could improve their services: Chinese-friendly payment facilities, language services and local transport arrangements, with the biggest challenge being a lack of Mandarin-speaking staff. Following is a table indicating how important specified facilities and services are to the Chinese traveler.
Modes of Contact and Types of Digital Equipment They Use—the Smartphone Rules:
Popular Destinations: Chinese travelers are spreading their wings and going further afield. This was a very strong trend in the 2017 CITM. While the Asia-Pacific area is still the most popular destination (82 percent of travel), long-haul trips to Europe and the USA have significantly increased in popularity. The number of people visiting these destinations have increased by 25 percent and 11 percent, respectively, compared to the previous year. The two destinations were particularly popular with post 80s travelers, with 42 percent visiting Europe and 29 percent visiting the USA.
Most Welcoming Destinations for Chinese Travelers
The Trend into Next Year: The trend for long-haul destinations will continue in the next year. When planning for the next 12 months, all age groups prefer long-haul destinations, with Europe at the top of the list, followed by the USA and Canada. With great proficiency in English, traveler are also favoring English-speaking countries, so Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, the UK, Canada and the USA are all on the list.
Country to Visit for the First Time in the next 12 months
And, finally …
The Top Cities to Visit in the Next Year
A NOTE ON METHODOLOGY: Hotels.com engaged the market research firm Ipsos to conduct interviews during May 2017 with 3,000 Chinese residents, aged 18-54, who had traveled overseas in the past 12 months. A computer-assisted web interviewing technology was used for the interviews and the representative sample consisted of men and women from a number of different-tiered cities.
Chinese cities are classified into different tiers based on their population, economic size and political ranking. Tier 1 includes cities such as Beijing and Shanghai; Tier 2 provincial capitals as Chengdu; Tier 3 medium sized cities such as Zhuhai; and Tier 4 smaller sized cities. The travelers were asked about their spending patterns, travel preferences, booking methods, accommodation choices and future plans, along with many other aspects of their travel.
(If you would like a PDF copy of the 2017 China International Travel Monitor, send us a request via e-mail: [email protected])