Chinese travelers are now the top international tourism spenders, shelling out a record $102 billion in 2012 on global tourism according to a new report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Boosted by a rising currency, Chinese travelers spent 40 percent more than they did in 2011, surpassing both Germany and the United States.
The UNWTO says the volume of international trips by Chinese travelers grew from 10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012, making it the world's fastest-growing market. The accelerated growth is due to rapid urbanization, rising disposable incomes and the relaxation of government restrictions on foreign travel.
It's estimated 100 million Chinese will travel abroad by 2015, mostly mainland China's wealthy and rising middle classes, in search of iconic destinations they can cross off their bucket lists.
Large hotels have been quick to focus on these travelers at the ground level, hiring Mandarin speakers and adding tea kettles and slippers to guest rooms, but they are missing a critical component of the battle online.
Hotels should focus on attracting Chinese travelers online with translated websites, internationally accepted payment platforms, and culturally appropriate marketing content.
Is your hotel website optimized for engaging Chinese travelers? Here are the top four things you should look for:1) Language translation
Chinese travelers seek out support in their native language. If they cannot find your hotel in search results or read the articles on your website, they have little incentive to book with you.
Translating every piece of content on your site into multiple languages is very time consuming and expensive, so consider localization instead. Localized sites recognize the user's country from their IP address, and use Google Translate to translate the content on your site into hundreds of languages.
Need help? buuteeq simplifies this for you by including localization for all our sites, as well as additional language translation services as needed.Attract global travelers with your hotel content translated into their native languages.
2) Show off your location
The Center for Hospitality Research found Chinese travelers look for bustling, urban accommodations and buffet-style dining options.
Many Chinese tourists also plan their travel specifically with shopping in mind, as taxes on luxury goods boost price tags by 30% to 50% in China. Showcase your property's location by including links to nearby attractions, recommended dining and shopping, and directions to top spots by bus, train, and foot.
Need help? buuteeq hotels feature a detailed and interactive map of the hotel location and where it lies in relation to any points of interest, such as local area attractions and landmarks, restaurants, transportation and more.Display your hotel's location in relation to local attractions
.3) International payments
Research conducted by L2 on the top 17 hotel brands found that none of the major brands currently accept the two most popular Chinese payment solutions, fapiao and Alipay, and Marriott is the only brand to accept local UnionPay credit cards. Consider contacting your CRS provider to see what options are available for processing international payments.4) Explore social media
Have all those in place? Take it a step further by engaging on Chinese social media platforms like Sina Weibo and Youku. Sina Weibo, a microblogging website similar to Twitter, is one of the most popular sites in China, in use by over 30% of Internet users.
Sina Weibo also has a hotel booking application, Hotel Assistant, to drive direct bookings. Or try Youku, a video sharing site similar to YouTube, since watching videos is the number one online activity for the more than 500 million Chinese on the Internet.
With the number of Chinese travelers expected to steadily rise 17% annually, the Chinese will continue to have huge impacts on the global travel and tourism industry. The opportunity for your hotel to attract Chinese travelers can depend on how you interact with them online.Jen is the Community Engagement Manager at buuteeq, the digital marketing system for hotels. She manages buuteeq's social media channels, community development, content marketing, and occasionally writes for the company blog. You can connect with her on Twitter @buuteeq.