First of all, let me thank all of you who participated and provided feedback yesterday in the BUZZ Digital Travel Expo and followed my presentation. Your humble editor will be live online again on Thursday (July 2) from 09:30 – 10:30 h (NY time) / 15:30 – 16:30 h (Berlin time) / 21:30 – 22:15 h (Beijing time), providing some practical tips to attract Chinese visitors for destinations on and off the Beaten Track. The BUZZ Expo is going on until Friday, July 3. Please visit the virtual booth of COTRI and use the opportunity to make appointments for 1-to-1 talks.
If you followed the presentation yesterday, you will already know that COTRI is publishing a new eBook called Welcoming the New Chinese Outbound Tourists. Guest Relationships with Chinese visitors in the 2020s.
The book aims to move towards a new paradigm for Chinese outbound tourism in the 2020s which is helping global tourism and hospitality service providers to be more successful in the relation with Chinese visitors/ guests/ passengers/ customers. The shift from the previous, pre-CoViD-19 model is the widening of the Key Performance Indicators from arrival numbers and ROI to include satisfaction of guests, staff and locals for a sustainable and profitable business with the Chinese international tourism source market, for which satisfaction communicated by WOM² (Word of Mouth and Word of Mouse) is much more efficient and less expensive than marketing. Increased satisfaction will also increase the productivity of staff and eliminate a source of possible tensions with the local population and administration.
The need for a paradigm shift has been seen long before CoViD-19 crippled the global tourism industry in 2020. The very success of international tourism, with five times the number of trips in 2019 compared to the year 1980, has made a mockery of the idea of and has run a juggernaut over local nature, local culture, diversity and serendipity, impacting satisfaction levels of all stakeholders involved.
The very success of international tourism also lead to a lack of innovation in many fields. The infamous hotel registration form, filled out by hand standing in front of a counter still exists long after technology provided solutions for a more guest-friendly procedure. CoViD-19 is providing a necessary push towards digitalisation and the use of AI. Providing sterilised pens to fill out the paper form and sterilising remote controls instead of BYOD technology, which allows hotel guests to use their own smartphone are too small steps.
Chinese outbound tourists have often been named as culprits for overtourism and a lack of interest in the destination on the one hand, and as “walking wallets” providing needed increases in arrivals and spending numbers on the other hand. Chinese travellers have more often than not felt that abroad their needs and demands were not sufficiently taken care of, whereas many staff members of hotels and tourism service providers as well as many locals ranked Chinese tourists among the least desirable.
Already in 2019, about two thirds of Chinese travellers did not fit anymore into the caricature of large loud groups spilling out of coach buses for short bouts of frantic picture taking while trampling the lawn, not speaking a word of a foreign language, buying mainstream luxury brands and insisting on Chinese food only. Individual travellers and travellers in small groups with common interests are making up a bigger part of the market with each year of growing experience and “live like a local” or at least “learn something about local culture” has moved up to the top of the list of demands. Language barriers are lowered by more language skills as well as translation apps. After CoViD-19, the desire to travel in a more meaningful way has grown even more.
Yes, until a cure and a vaccination for CoViD-19 is found, sanitation and hygiene will require more attention and transparent communication to regain the trust of Chinese guests. However, the CoViD-19 virus and its effect of compelling everybody in the industry to rethink, tourism provides an opportunity to change the way Chinese outbound tourism – and maybe other tourism as well – is organised in a win-win-win-win way for guests, hosts, companies, and the planet.
As always, all good wishes from Prof. Dr. Arlt and the COTRI WEEKLY TEAM