Chinese Tourists are People, Not Just Statistics.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Monday, 30th August 2010
TravConsult debunks the commonly-held perception that Chinese travellers are just numbers to be crunched and chased after.

Chinese travellers are more than mere statistics

Imagine having the world chasing after you, wanting your money. And imagine reading about it in newspapers and magazines and watching news reports about it wherever you travel. Imagine being continually labelled an "emerging market" that will solve the tourism industry's continuing problems.

Welcome to the world of Chinese travellers.

Since first allowing groups of its people to travel abroad to western countries in 1999, China has become the focus of tourist destinations around the world wanting to attract its people. However, according to one tourism consultant, most destinations are focussing on the statistics, numbers and the potential financial gain from this market, but not the actual people, that is, the Chinese tourists.

"Destinations around the world are spending millions of dollars on attracting tourists from China. However, this is only the first stage in the tourism process," said Trevor Lee, Managing Director of TravConsult, which specialises in international customer service and tourism development.

"The second, and arguably more important stage, is looking after them when they reach the destination," added Lee, "but this receives far less investment and attention, yet can ultimately determine the Chinese tourists' satisfaction and experience levels and importantly, their total spend while abroad."

TravConsult's General Manager, Lilly Choi-Lee (pictured left with Trevor Lee), elaborated, "Destinations and tourism businesses alike are concentrating on the potential volume and number of Chinese tourists they could get in the future with statistics forming the body of most reports and media articles on China's outbound travellers. But statistics don't choose hotels or buy souvenirs. People do. This is why Chinese tourists must be understood from a cultural and emotional level in order to give them the tourism experience they are seeking."

Peter Colahan, Chief Executive Officer of Business Tourism Australia, agreed and he should know. With over 20 year's industry experience he is one of Australia's pioneers in the Asian and Japanese tourism markets. He was also the key person responsible for bringing 13,600 Amway China incentive winners to Sydney in 2005.

"When Chinese first started travelling overseas, their primary need was for Mandarin-speaking guides and Chinese food. And we provided this in 2005. But now they have become educated, internet-savvy, sophisticated travellers. They make purchase decisions for travel based on value, trends, fashion and emotion. They are not just numbers. And destinations need to learn about them urgently before their competitors wake up," Colahan noted

Lee said that TravConsult's Chinese Culture and Customer Service Workshops educate participants on the unique cultural needs and customs, service expectations and shopping behaviour of Chinese tourists.

"We continually research the changing needs and expectations of Chinese consumers and travellers in order to ensure that participants receive the most relevant, up-to-date information. This way, we can give a hotel, casino or destination a distinct strategic advantage over competitors by helping them to meet and even exceed the expectations of their valued and much sought after Chinese market; the Chinese people."

Yeoh Siew Hoon, one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, writes a regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry for 4Hoteliers.com.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com .Get your weekly cuppa of news, gossip, humour and opinion at the cafe for travel insiders.

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