As the world gradually reopens, Chinese tourists are eager to embark on new adventures. Recently, Chinese consumers, motivated by pent-up demand and limited international flight travel, flocked to domestic tourism destinations, reaching 119% of its 2019 levels during the May Day holiday.
As China’s economy rebounds slowly from the pandemic, previously intrepid travellers are now more hesitant to plan far-flung vacations. Factors such as logistical issues, bureaucratic hurdles, sluggish processing of tourism visas, and the slow resumption of flights further dissuade long-haul reservations.
With international flights projected to recover steadily in 2023 and 2024, now is the perfect time for businesses to capitalise on the revitalised Chinese tourism market. To seize this opportunity, it is crucial to grasp the preferences and expectations of Chinese tourists and stay informed about the evolving travel landscape.
To help businesses effectively prepare for the influx of Chinese tourists, this article will introduce three types of modern Chinese tourists, take a closer look at their unique traits, and provide tips on how your business can cater to their needs like a pro. These insights and strategies are based on the recently published China Tourism Report: How to Win with Chinese Tourists 2023.
1. The Zen Chaser
Many young Chinese individuals experience pressure from various aspects of life, including education, work, and personal matters. As a coping mechanism, some find solace in visiting temples and burning incense to alleviate stress and seek spiritual refuge.
Trip.com (a private international online travel agency headquartered in Singapore) reports that around 50% of temple visitors in January and February were born after 1990. Millennials and Gen Z, facing record unemployment levels, are grappling with a challenging economic recovery from zero-Covid and slowdowns in various sectors. These factors have limited opportunities for fresh graduates, leading many to place greater faith in deities rather than their degrees.
How can businesses win with the zen chaser?
The zen chaser seeks destinations offering a serene atmosphere and authentic spiritual experiences. Businesses can emphasise the genuine aspects of their destinations or services, such as the history, cultural significance, and unique rituals associated with local temples or spiritual sites.
For instance, the Yongfu Temple in Hangzhou opened a coffee shop that ingeniously blends Western coffee culture with traditional temple ambiance. This innovative concept frequently went viral on Chinese social media.
The coffee shop serves drinks that are thought to bestow various spiritual benefits upon their consumers, for example, an Americano that supposedly “dispels the drinker’s troubles.” The coffee shop even offers a “Go with the Flow” option, where customers receive a drink without specifying their order, embracing the concept of “Buddhist fate.”
The coffee shop’s success lies in its ability to provide a unique and immersive experience that truly resonates with the growing spiritual trend. By thoughtfully integrating traditional elements with modern offerings, the establishment has captured the attention of Zen Chasers and expanded the appeal of spiritual tourism.
2. The bootcamp-style tourist
Following a busy day at work or school, many Chinese eagerly embark on journeys spanning hundreds of kilometres to explore various cities and a multitude of attractions within a 30-hour window. This time-efficient approach to travelling not only suits budget-conscious adventurers but also enables them to visit several destinations within a limited timeframe.
According to Qunar (a Chinese online travel agency), university students are the most active group on their platform. Qunar’s statistics show that since March, there has been a significant increase in weekend ticket bookings for attractions among university students. Compared to air travel, students prefer train journeys, and overnight trains departing on Friday evenings are particularly popular as they save a night’s hotel expense.
How can businesses win with the bootcamp-style tourist?
A significant driving force behind the popularity of bootcamp-style travelling is the abundance of video content on Chinese social media platforms demonstrating how it can be achieved. Numerous short videos on Xiaohongshu and Douyin (Chinese TikTok) provide detailed guides on how to embark on such expeditions. Viral videos with titles such as “How to Explore Beijing in 24 Hours” or “Experience the Entirety of Chengdu Within a Weekend” has captured the attention of viewers.
To win with these tourists, businesses can collaborate with popular Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and influencers who can similarly showcase their offerings. By partnering with influential content creators, companies can promote their brand and demonstrate how travellers can fully experience their products or services within a short timeframe. This strategy not only amplifies the business’s visibility but also caters to the growing demand for time-efficient and immersive travel experiences.
3. The international jetsetter
With the recent reopening of China’s outbound tourism industry, an increasing number of Chinese citizens are venturing overseas once again. The recent Dragon Boat Festival holiday in China demonstrated a significant revival in outbound travel, with border crossings reaching 65% of its 2019 level, according to the National Immigration Administration. Although the festival is a brief national holiday, the surge in cross-border travel highlights the growing demand for international travel among Chinese tourists.
Ctrip (another Chinese travel agency) reported that the average cost for outbound travel decreased during the holiday, with one-way air tickets being 6% lower than during the May Day holiday and bookings surging up to 12 times the levels that were seen a year ago.
Ctrip revealed that the most popular destinations during the Dragon Boat Festival included Hong Kong, Bangkok, Macau, Tokyo and Singapore, with travellers spending an average of $415 per hotel booking. This resurgence in outbound travel showcases the potential for businesses in the travel and tourism industry to capitalise on the pent-up demand for international experiences among Chinese tourists.
How can businesses win with the international jetsetter?
To succeed in capturing the attention of international jetsetters, businesses can harness the power of livestreaming as a marketing tool. By showcasing a range of attractions, local experiences, and cultural highlights in real-time, businesses can pique the interest of potential tourists and entice them to explore the featured destinations.
A prime example of harnessing the power of livestreaming is the 2023 collaboration between Trip.com, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, The United States Travel and Tourism Administration, and the California Travel and Tourism Commission. This partnership drew in over 1 billion views, showcasing the immense potential of livestreams as a marketing tool.
The collaboration also highlights the benefits of working closely with tourism authorities and commissions. By pooling resources and expertise, businesses and tourism organisations can create engaging and informative content tailored to the International Jetsetter demographic.
By leveraging strategies like limited-time offers or livestream-exclusive discounts and packages, businesses can successfully incentivise viewers to book their travel experiences and cater to the ever-growing market of international jetsetters.
The resurgence of Chinese tourists in 2023 and 2024 offers a golden opportunity for businesses to capitalise on the revitalised travel industry. Learning about the 3 profiles of modern Chinese tourists in 2023 is just the beginning. By understanding their diverse preferences and adapting your offerings, you can ensure memorable experiences for this lucrative market segment.