Getting out of the blind alley

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS

Dear Reader,

we have been sending out information about the ADVANTAGE: TOURISM programme by email to a couple of NTOs, which started with the slightly provocative sentence: “The engagement of xxDestination with the Chinese outbound tourism source market before the pandemic has been mostly a failure, moving down a blind alley.”

Last week we received a polite but obviously irked answer from a European NTO’s China office, saying:

“Good day, thank you for your communication. We have duly noted that, in COTRI´s assessment, Visit xxDestination´s engagement in the Chinese outbound tourism source market has been “mostly a failure, and moving down a blind alley”. We couldn´t disagree more with this statement.

Chinese Outbound Tourism to xxDestination has grown steadily over the past 10 years in all major indicators: number of guests, overnight stays, and receipts generated by tourism activities in the economy, naturally up until the end of 2019.

We have already aligned our marketing strategy with our partners for the pre and post-pandemic times and we are not contemplating your proposal which we would like to thank you for once again.

Cordially and with our best regards”

This was my answer to the colleague in Shanghai:

“Dear xyz, thank you very much for your answer. Why are we saying that for most destinations the engagement with the Chinese outbound market has been a failure?

Most destinations increased their arrivals and overnight numbers and the total amount of revenue during the 2010s decade. However, in most cases, the market share of the total Chinese outbound market decreased. More importantly, the concentration on quantitative KPIs did not give enough importance to the problems of low yield and low levels of satisfaction for the visitors and the hosts, or to the fact that traditional source markets were pushed aside.

As most Chinese overnights happened with a strong concentration on the main destinations, the main sights, and the main season, Chinese visitors were often seen as a reason for overtourism, which gave them a bad reputation in many places.

The famous 4P of Marketing include also Price, Place and Product, but most destinations focussed only on the fourth “P” – Promotion, concentrating their funds and efforts on social media marketing instead of product adaptation and recommendation marketing, resulting in low quality perception by the Chinese visitors, and accordingly resulting in Chinese tour operators concentrating on the first “P” – Price.

We are helping destinations to get out of this trap by supporting the acquisition of Chinese visitors for all parts of a country and all seasons of the year based on customized and adapted products for the different sections of the Chinese source market, with satisfied visitors taking over the recommendation marketing for free.

Running very fast in the wrong direction does not help to get closer to the goal. If the goal is a sustainable development of the Chinese outbound market which makes guests, hosts, companies the environment and the government tax office happy, a new approach to Meaningful Tourism is needed. All the money saved on ineffective Social Media marketing and the higher yields achieved by the service providers are more than enough to finance the change to a “better new normal” for Chinese outbound tourism.

Growing quantitatively was easy in the 2010s, it will not be so easy anymore in the post-pandemic era. Sustainable qualitative growth is what will be needed in the 2020s – COTRI and the ADVANTAGE: TOURISM team is happy to help.”

Dear reader, if you find yourself in the position to wonder what is the right direction towards to run now, this invitation is, of course, extended also to you.

You do not have to take my word for granted, but even Petra Hedorfer, longstanding CEO of the German National Tourism Board answered to a text of your humble editor on LinkedIn recently: “Yes indeed, Wolfgang, tailor-made offers, specific targeting and reshaped offers for the new mindset including community management are essential!”

For more about tailor-made offers for the No. 1 (China) as well as on the No. 2 tourism source market in the world, the Muslim travel market, please join our Webinar on Thursday, June 3rd. It is organized by COTRI together with the WTFI and CrescentRating, featuring the CEOs of all three organizations.

Our webinar will take place online on 3rd June at 8 am GMT, 12 noon Dubai or 4 pm Singapore, depending on your time zone. The registration is required to attend the webinar, you can fill the form at the following link

As always, best wishes from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the whole COTRI WEEKLY team.

COTRI Intelligence

COTRI Intelligence is the indispensable source of weekly consulting, analysis, data and news for everybody seriously interested in the post-pandemic Chinese outbound tourism market and changing Chinese consumer preferences.  COTRI Intelligence is published by COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute and edited by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS. Regional partners and Content partners [...]

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