The Chinese government estimates that approximately 700 million trips will be taken abroad by nationals until 2022.
Any attractive destination, location or venue in the world that chooses to turn away from these large numbers will lose out on this ongoing global tourism boom. Combine that with purchasing power and the shopping enthusiasm the Chinese tourists bring, means the tourism industry knows it has an exciting and growing audience on its hands.
Take for example, Japan. It’s a very popular destination for Chinese tourists owing to its close proximity to the nation. 25% of Japan’s tourists are now from China, but their combined purchasing power accounts for almost half of all tourist spending. This spending example is repeated in almost every top tourist destination around the world.
With this all in mind, we wanted to highlight some of the more interesting, even quirky, points of difference every tourism business needs to know about the new Chinese travellers in 2018 and beyond.
5 Changes To Consider
1. Language Barriers Are Falling Down
English may be the lingua franca in the world but it still leaves a lot to be desired for the Chinese tourist. Translation tools on WeChat, Google Translate and Duolingo have all helped improve their experiences whilst travelling, but these apps can leave them wanting for the context and historical meaning behind words. This is starting to power the rest of the world to start to learn Mandarin.
With over 100 million non Chinese people (and counting) around the world studying Mandarin, this is a rate which could soon displace Spanish as the most learned second language within ten years. Alongside improvements in technology, the gap between us is closing all the time.
2. Adapting To The Chinese Digital Eco System
China has proven the naysayers wrong and developed an entire digital economy on its own in about 8 years. Its residents have no need for Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, or Uber. They have their own versions of social media apps, ride hailing services and even retail websites.
This makes it much harder for outside businesses to ask Chinese tourists to like them on Facebook and follow them on Snapchat. Instead its better for businesses to get with the times and create accounts or sites on Weibo, WeChat and Baidu to reach out to a thirsty for knowledge market.
3. QR Codes and Cashless Payments
Chinese consumers are much more advanced with payment tech than the West. Almost all payments within Chinese big cities occur through QR code scans on mobile payment apps like Alipay and WeChat Pay or through UnionPay, which is a People’s Republic of China service that rivals VISA and MasterCard.
Chinese tourists set aside around 60% of their budget for shopping while they travel and since 35% have been scammed according to the government, they trust only the patented and approved apps.
4. The Unlucky Number Four
While western superstition dictates that the number 13 is unlucky, in China misfortune lies with the number 4. The character of 4 in China is similar to that of “death”. It’s why the breakout smartphone brand OnePlus, skipped the number 4 and went straight to OnePlus 5 after their 3rd variant.
Similarly, Chinese tourists would be uncomfortable if they were given a room on the 4th or 24th floor of a hotel. Conversely, the numbers 8 and 9 are considered very lucky in Chinese culture. China even bid on the 2008 Olympics and not the 2004 games, partially due to the unlucky connection with the number 4.
5. Respect for Elders
Chinese culture still holds age and authority in high regard compared to the modern cultures of the west. During travel, the patriarch or the elder of the family is usually in charge and focuses on adhering to tradition and to strict morals during the journey. For example, acknowledging this in catering to Chinese travelers, perhaps by offering a deal that can be given to families travelling with their elder or a discount is given to the elder on meals will make them choose that restaurant over another.
Overall, there are bound to be culture clashes here and there when Chinese tourists travel to a western country, however, since they have been exposed to a lot of technology and modern conveniences, they are no longer the outsiders they once were.
Learning to navigate certain aspects of Chinese culture and adopting them into your business practices and marketing, all help shape a warm and friendly picture to the Chinese traveller.
Of course, keeping your own culture in poll position is also vital towards maintaining that core attractive element that almost all tourists want to see and experience.
East West is Scotland's first dedicated Chinese marketing agency.