Understanding the Outbound Chinese Market

Atypical accommodation, local cuisine and advanced technology. Research by Hotels.com reveals what Chinese outbound travelers really want.  

According to the UNWTO, Chinese tourists spent $258 billion on international tourism in 2017, almost one-fifth of the world’s total tourism spend.

Numbers and expenditure are rising

In 2017, 130 million Chinese residents traveled overseas, an increase of 7% since 2016 and a whopping 85% since 2011.
According to the survey, travel expenditure increased 40% over last year across all age groups, with 60% saying they plan to spend even more over the next 12 months.

Those born after 1990 increased their travel expenditure by a staggering 80%. They also spend more of their income on travel than any other age group (36%).

When it comes to daily spending, post-1980’s millennials take the lead at $346 (¥2,204) versus $320 (¥2,038) by Chinese travelers overall.

Statistics on what Chinese tourists want

According to the UNWTO, Chinese tourists spent $258 billion on international tourism in 2017, almost one-fifth of the world’s total tourism spend.

Branching out of accommodation choices

Chinese travelers are opening up to a broader choice of accommodation.

While international hotel chains still play a major role at 49%, over the past 12 months, 55% stayed at independent hotels with local flavour, 33% at boutique hotels and 23% at eco-friendly hotels.

When asked what makes a great travel experience, 56% of participants said ‘living in a typical accommodation’ such as a tree house, warehouse or glamping.

The amount of money spent on accommodation is rising. Travelers spent $30 (¥191) more each day on accommodation than in the previous year. At the same time, value for money is a key factor, with 24% describing it as strong consideration when booking a place to stay.

The CITM report credits post-90s millennials with fueling much of this growth, as “they want a broad range of in-house hotel services and are willing to pay for them”. The spending of this age bracket on accommodation facilities and services was the highest at $183, compared with an average $161 overall.

Having an on-site restaurant was important to half of the travelers. When it comes to amenities, the highest amount was spent on on-site dining (52%), followed by on-site shops (26%) and room service (20%).

Statistics on how much Chinese tourists spend

Key trends:

  • Location motivators

When deciding where to travel, the number one considerations listed were safety and local cuisine (61%).

Next was historical and heritage sites (57%), followed closely by shopping (56%). Climate and weather still rank high, alongside reputation, value for money and quality of accommodation.

  • Technology at the forefront

Wi-Fi and internet connectivity are cited as key considerations by 60%, but gone are the days when this alone is enough.

Statistics on what Chinese tourists spend money onFor this tech savvy generation, cutting-edge technology is a big draw, with 64% of millennials and 58% of overall travelers saying they would book a hotel based on its advanced technology.

The top technology with appeal was quality co-working spaces (39%), followed by virtual reality, which would allow them to view the hotel rooms ‘in person’, and voice activation (both 38%). Robotic customer service and mobile phone room access closely followed at just over 30%.

Technology that makes you feel good about life is at the forefront – after all, isn’t that what holidays are for?!

  • Local flavour

Again, millennials are driving this trend by seeking adventure, novelty and local flavour wherever they go. They are also influencing their parents to do the same.

Tasting local delicacies was a favourite pastime for 69%, followed by visiting local landmarks (65%). Over 60% say they would like to attend a local festival.

Approx. 96% of Chinese travelers are interested in shopping as an activity, but the balance has changed. Around 43% nominated shopping for local, authentic items as their favourite pastime, versus only 35% for luxury items.

Statistics on types of hotels Chinese tourists stay at

Room for improvement:

The changing needs of Chinese travelers are not always reflected in the services provided by hotels. Here are a few suggestions to make your business stand out:

  • Speak my language

Consider having Mandarin-speaking guides and hotel staff. If not possible, provide signage in Mandarin or set up a Mandarin version of the hotel’s website where guests can access the information they need.

  • Payment facilities

More can be done to provide access to familiar Chinese payment methods such as UnionPay and Alipay.  Chinese travelers would also appreciate payment via mobile phone or QR scan.

  • Focus on what matters most

Almost half of the travelers thought facilities such as bathrooms and Wi-Fi needed improvement. Good Wi-Fi may be costly, and difficult to obtain in some areas, but it’s an investment worth making.

Hygiene and the quality of customer service were the top two reasons Chinese travelers left comments on social media about accommodation and restaurants.

With 60% of Chinese travelers posting three to five times a day, make sure those comments are showcasing your business at its best.


Source reference: This information is taken from Hotels.com’s 7th annual Chinese International Travel Monitor report (CITM), which takes a comprehensive look at the impact on global travel by Mainland Chinese travelers. Conducted in May 2018 by Ipsos, it interviewed 3,047 Chinese residents aged 18-58 who had traveled overseas over the previous 12 months.

Hospitality Insider Issue 4