The 2017 October Golden Week re-confirmed that Chinese travellers are the hottest property in global travel. A new Chinese Travel Consumer Report, co-authored by Check-in Asia, explains why.

Despite being a relatively new sector in China, a large, diversified and digitalised tourism industry is emerging. And its international impact is growing. Indeed, China is now considered the primary growth engine for tourism boards, airlines, airport operators, hotel groups, OTAs, tourism service providers, restaurateurs, retailers and real estate developers on all continents.

But staying abreast of China’s evolving patterns of outbound and domestic tourism demand is challenging. While market projections suggest sustained growth, closer scrutiny reveals evolution across this shape-shifting tourism market.

Chinese Travellers: “A Formidable Global Force”

“Chinese tourism is transforming, and accurate profiling is becoming tougher,” says Gary Bowerman, Tourism Analyst for Check-in Asia Hotels & Travel. “Distinctions between group tourists and FITs are less relevant than before, because the desire for new experiences transcends those categories. Similarly, segments such as age, income, city of origin and even previous trip choices are rather one-dimensional.”

Although China’s outbound market is still developing, it is already a formidable global force. Travel demand is changing as consumers embrace new technologies and new opportunities – and the impact of their decisions resonates across the industry.

Consequently, Chinese travellers are prized by most destinations on earth, but the competition for engagement is escalating. Diverse travel options and shifting consumer influences add further complexity for tourism providers.

“Greater urban affluence, a proliferation of flights from across China and preferential visa rights are key factors,” says Gary Bowerman. “But Chinese consumers are highly indulged at home and abroad, destination marketing is ubiquitous across all channels, and travel is embedded into perceptions of modern living. Understanding how these factors shape decision-making, particularly for China’s niche travellers, is the golden goal.”

Travel Brands Turn to ‘Big Data’

The challenges are broadening as discerning, tech-savvy urban consumers of all ages select their travel destinations and experiences according to how they fit their own perceptions of a desired lifestyle. Digital is the new travel battleground.

“Monitoring trends in China’s consumer economy is vital,” says Gary Bowerman. “The correlation between e-commerce and online travel planning and booking is becoming more marked, especially as digital payments expand. Travel providers are partnering with big data players to better understand consumption patterns, and tailor their products to meet the changing aspirations of Chinese travellers across the spectrum, from backpacking to super luxury.”

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