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The Chinese Traveler | Riding the Surge — Part 1

Posted on Mar 28, 2019 7:09:00 AM

The global travel industry has seen steady growth for many years, but a recent trend has hospitality players tackling a huge surge of tourists from one particular region: China. As the world’s largest group of outbound travelers, Chinese tourists play by a very different set of rules, and travel veterans must learn to adapt if they are to make the most of this prodigious travel boom.


With an enormous population of 1.4 billion people — occupying 18.54% of the world’s total population — China is one of the fastest-growing economies on the planet. It comes as no surprise that in 2016, tourists from China became the largest group of outbound travelers on the globe — breaching the 100 million mark.

Current data from the Chinese National Tourism Administration indicates that by 2020, the world’s largest pack of outbound explorers will expand to 200 million — but the torrential number of travelers coming from China is not the only figure members of the hospitality industry are interested in.

Equally as impressive, is Chinese traveler spending. In 2017 alone, USD $115.3 billion was spent during their travels, a sum that increased to account for 21% of global travel spending the following year.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Chinese travelers spend more than tourists from any other country, on average spending twice as much on overseas trips than their American counterparts.

Undoubtedly, the market holds a niche for Chinese travelers venturing abroad, and competitive hotels are closely keeping an eye on this astronomical surge. How can hoteliers capitalize on this tourism boom?

When asked about the Chinese market in a recent panel at Skift Tech Forum, Lee McCabe, Vice President of Alibaba, North America said,

“Everything I know I can leave at the airport when I go to China. Everything is different, the way you build a website is different, the way you merchandize, the payments are different, the lot.”


The imperative for hotels then, is to build something new in comparison to porting strategies traditionally successful for Western markets. As McCabe emphasized:

“You have to start thinking again, thinking of the Chinese consumer, the Chinese business dynamics and build something for them… China’s not the short game, you have to go there with a long-term plan. You have to go there and think local.”

In this three-part series, we’ll take a look into what makes hospitality players successful when it comes to accommodating the Chinese traveler.

In Part II, we investigate the proliferation of mobile technology and how it plays a vital role in the dominance and success of Chinese communication platforms and influencer marketing strategies.

Part III gives insight into in-stay technologies capturing Chinese travelers through the provision of personalized experiences.

References - Part 1

Topics: Travel experience

About Blog Author

As an avid traveler with a background in law and photojournalism, Jeff previously worked as the Junior Copywriter for Tink Labs, where he contributed insights and writing on hospitality technology and travel trends.