Travel professionals in the United States wanting to grow their group business only need to look east to China. The number of households in China’s middle class is growing. In turn, more people can afford international travel. Chinese citizens have more disposable income, fewer visa restrictions and better flight connections than ever before. Over the past decade, China has outpaced other countries in becoming the most powerful outbound market. In the last year alone, 130 million Chinese travelers spent $115 billion traveling abroad.
Here are tips for travel planners to grow their business by reaching this expanding market.
The internet plays an important role in promoting to Chinese tourists. To be successful, U.S. travel planners need to address the language barrier between their business and Chinese consumers. The first investment to consider is in translating your current website to Mandarin. UpWork and Travel World China are two companies that can help with website translation to make your business easy to find and easily understood.
Beyond your business website, you need to connect with Chinese travelers through social media and advertising. There are an estimated 650 million social media users in China. It is critical for a travel planner wanting to serve this market to have a presence in Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo and WeChat. Like Facebook and Twitter, these platforms allow users to share stories, live stream and message friends and followers. Another opportunity to promote your business to Chinese travelers is by becoming affiliated with cTrip, the online travel site that reaches 400,000 visitors a day.
Travel professionals need to understand what appeals to the market. Group travel accounts for 70 percent of traveling for Chinese people. Tourists who have time constraints on their holidays, want to see as much as they can see as efficiently as possible. Traveling with groups allows for economies in food, transportation and accommodations availing funds for spending on shopping. Travelers making their first trip abroad are interested in visiting well-known places and sites. The large number of Chinese travelers has impacted over-tourism of popular destinations. Tour planners can help reduce the effect by creating itineraries to include alternative paths that offer more authentic travel experiences or encouraging off-season tours.
Another important characteristic of Chinese tourists that group planners should consider when marketing is that 56 percent of travelers are women. Females born between 1970 –1980 comprise the largest portion of the group. Girlfriend getaways and connecting with nature are popular travel trends. But don’t forget the importance of Wi-Fi connectivity! Travelers need to have internet access to document their vacation experience in real time.
With a little planning and investment, group travel planners can make the most of the rise of the Chinese travel market.