Aussie hotels failing Chinese travellers

Couple looking at map.

The annual Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) by has revealed that Chinese travellers are spending a whopping 28 per cent of their income on average on international travel.

They also intend to spend 10 per cent more on travel in the next 12 months, with Australia topping the list as the most desired destination in Asia-Pacific.

And forget indicators of a slowing Chinese economy!

This year’s report found spending on travel increased across all age brackets, with Chinese travellers spending US$3,600 in the last 12 months –  that’s more than a quarter of their income and more than four per cent higher than what they spent last year.

The millennials of the 90s are the biggest spenders, shelling out 35 per cent of their income for travel.

Ninety-three per cent of Aussie hoteliers surveyed in the research said they’d seen a 55 per cent growth in the Chinese traveller market in the past year.

According to the data, Australia was deemed the third most welcoming country to Chinese travellers, up one place from 2016.

But despite this, the report still showed a gap in what Chinese guests actually want, and what they’re getting.

For hoteliers, that means with a little tweaking, there is huge potential for Australian hotels to further tap into this market.

While Australian hotels are focusing their efforts on social media and marketing programs in a bid to attract Chinese travellers, the investment in on-site services for Chinese guests has decreased according to the data, with only five per cent spending more than US$10,000.

The report identified key areas where hotels could improve their services, according to Chinese travellers:

  • Chinese payment facilities at hotels, such as UnionPay, rank second for consumers in importance, yet only 18 per cent of AU hotels currently offer these facilities, and just 15 per cent intend to offer them this in the next 12 months.
  • In-house Mandarin speaking staff was ranked number one by travellers but was low on the list for hoteliers, with only 16 per cent currently offering the service and 11 per cent planning to in the next 12 months.
  • On-site Chinese restaurants were ranked fifth by travellers however only 3 per cent of hoteliers currently offer this service. Only five per cent intend to provide it in the next 12 months.
  • Translated travel guides were ranked number four by travellers but are a low in priority for hoteliers; 14 per cent currently offer this and only 17 per cent plan to in future. Marketing Manager for Australia and New Zealand, David Spasovic said Australia needs to both talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to being an open and inviting destination for Chinese travellers.

“As Australia’s second largest inbound tourist market, there’s no doubt that Chinese travellers offer huge economic benefits to our country,” he said.

“It’s fantastic to see Australia continues to deliver quality and friendly hospitality and is proud to partner with accommodation providers who work hard to ensure Chinese travellers feel welcome in our beautiful country.

“Despite this, Australia has fallen two places since topping the wish list of countries to visit last year.

“The CITM report notes that Chinese travellers have entered a new phase in their evolution and are demanding more of everything – more time travelling, more locations and more diverse experiences.

“With Tourism Australia estimating up to AU$13 billion in total expenditure by Chinese travellers by 2020, it’s vital that hoteliers adapt to these evolving needs and develop tailored hotel services that tap into their enormous spending power.”

The rise of the ‘more generation’

The survey showed all age groups travelling more often and for longer, with the number of trips and number of days per trip increasing in the past year from three to four and from five to seven days, respectively.

Chinese travellers are also visiting multiple cities per trip, with over 80 per cent saying they would not just stay in a single city.

The average amount spent per day also increased – up eight per cent from 2016 – with dining, sightseeing and rest and relaxation activities proving most popular.

Interestingly, shopping took a dive from last year – dropping from 68 per cent in 2016 to 33 per cent in 2017, and indicating that Chinese travellers want more than just some nice shops, and are actively seeking them on holidays.

Independent travel, including backpacking, is well and truly in for this increasingly discerning, experience-hungry group of travellers, with 50 per cent saying they are interested in this type of travel. Only 37 per cent said they will take part in group tours in the future, according to the research.

Spasovic encouraged hoteliers to avoid taking a one-size-fits-all approach to attracting Chinese travellers.

“Perceptions of Chinese travellers as wanting only Chinese breakfasts and Mandarin translations are outdated.  Our research shows that the industry needs to move decisively to develop new products and marketing strategies for the far more sophisticated Chinese traveller of today”.

Top ten destinations Chinese travellers are intending to visit in the next 12 months:

Ranking DestinationPercentage of Chinese travellersRanking in 2016
7New Zealand10%12


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