Also, luxury travelers are “keen to explore” different local cultures; they enjoy “self pampering”; and they are “open” to socializing with locals. Following are more details on the two developments.
Research Unveils Chinese Travelers’ Changing Lifestyles. A survey by Kantar and Nielsen of 1,000 Chinese citizens across different age groups and regions who have stayed in an upscale hotel at least once, the Kantar study identified four new key traits that have emerged among today’s Chinese travelers:
—83 percent of respondents are “keen to explore” different local cultures
—82 percent enjoy “self-pampering”
—77 percent are “open” to socializing with locals
—77 percent are “self-expressive” by seeking out new experiences.
These traits, said the study, demonstrate an appetite to dive deep into local culture and pay a premium for rewarding experiences. Travelers also expect hotels to feature a blend of culture, comfort, socialization and personalization. Additionally, they seek places where unique spaces, special gourmet experiences and customized services come together to define a distinctive lifestyle. The survey also captured three common mindsets among Chinese travelers:
—They “work hard and play harder,” with 67 percent of respondents opting to live in the moment and seeking instant gratification to quickly recover from the hectic pace of work. At the same time, 54 percent of respondents seek out hotels that can offer an “invigorating experience.”
—Sixty-nine percent label themselves as the “me generation” who thrive on being in the limelight, with a strong desire to express their identities. Correspondingly, they relish opportunities to be visible, including through socially shareable visuals; 50 percent said they prefer hotel walls to be curated with local items and 48 percent favor unique and stylish design decorations.
—They are happy with moments of simple bliss. Sixty-three percent refer to the importance of thoughtful, personalized perks over opulence, while 50 percent said they care about how hotels attend to their everyday lifestyle needs.
In sum: “Bolstered by higher disposable income, wider international exposure and easier accessibility of travel, Chinese consumers are more confident in exploring new destinations and looking to gain new experiences when they travel.
The emergence of custom-made luxury tours. Chinese tourists have been dropping group tours at a rapid pace, reports Jing Travel, (https://jingtravel.com/), which covers the luxury travel market in China, and, as a result “custom-tour operators are reaping the benefits of this booming tourism industry segment.”
In a recent article, Jing describes, point-by-point how customized luxury tour products have emerged as a hot item for customers who want them and the tour operators who are creating them:
—First, the first waves of Chinese travelers who’ve tried the group tours and now have experience in traveling abroad are seeking new, unique experiences.
—Most of these travelers have the adventurous nature and significant disposable income needed to partake in these high-end tours. Even so, there is one traveler demographic within this industry that is still under-served by China’s booming online travel agencies: high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs).
—As Chinese tourists have increased the frequency of their travels abroad, abroad, a growing demographic of high-end tourists have taken to joining smaller customized tours hoping to avoid the crowds of other Chinese tourists making international trips over the holidays.
—According to Chinese research company Hurun Report, about 3.9 million families in China have assets worth more than and 1.6 million households have more than $1.5 million and many of them are looking to spend their money on experiential travel abroad.
—The transaction value of China’s customized travel market totaled $1 billion in 2017, according to a recently published report from Chinese research firm iResearch, which said that it expects this industry segment to grow as more travelers become aware of the option. The report notes that the customized travel industry is in the early stages and online sales for such tours remain low, leaving significant room for growth.
—While the market segment has been around in China since 2000, only 7.9 percent of customized tour revenue came from online bookings in 2017.
—The low online travel agency penetration rate may be due to the age of the average customized-tour traveler. The high-end travel market is powered by tourists between 35 and 50 years old. However, 58 percent of Chinese tourists over the age of 46 are the ones choosing long-distance destinations, according to another 2017 report from the high-end travel agency HHTravel. (The report notes that younger luxury travelers, most of whom are likely to book independent travel online, take fewer long-haul trips due to limited holidays and paid time off.)
—China’s largest online travel agency, Ctrip.com International, noted that its customized travel offerings have seen triple-digit annual growth since they were introduced in 2016. The platform now hosts more than 1,500 suppliers and over 6,000 trip designers. The company recently upgraded its customized travel platform to offer tours geared toward high-end luxury travelers with packages that include small group tours to over 80 countries and regions.
—The company noted that the average custom tour costs over $1,489 for domestic travel, $2,978 for short-haul international, and $4,466 for long-haul destinations.
Concluded Jing: Building a reputation among wealthy Chinese travelers will be a focus for the country’s online travel agencies as they jostle for market share in this growing segment. Companies that offer the highest standards for personalized service will end up atop the industry.