8) Who is the Chinese visitor? continued www.visitbritain.com/ukindustry VB Key Market Segments For the foreseeable future, only a small fraction of China’s 1.3 billion population will be in a position to experience the luxury of foreign travel. Compared to the general population, the people who travel abroad for long-haul holidays generally have a higher education status and are more affluent, with a highly paid job. This hypothesis was found to be true in VisitBritain’s Online Best Prospects research (2005), whereby those either planning / very likely to visit Britain were more likely than non-Best Prospects to earn more and be working full-time. They were likely to be educated to a degree or post-graduate degree level. The current generation of young travellers in China are keen to enjoy the fruits of their labour and therefore they choose to travel in order to increase their knowledge. The majority of outbound international travellers in China are from Shanghai, Beijing and the Guangdong province. Guangdong comprises of Guangzhou as the lead city and Shenzhen with its high GDP and propensity to travel. The ADS tourist ADS opens the gate for Chinese tourists to visit Britain in groups of 5 or more on a pre-determined and fully escorted itinerary. Previously, the Chinese could only visit Britain as students or business travellers. Initially this segment will be very broad: those aged 7 to 70, mostly first time visitors, families with young kids, DINKS & SINKS and retired people. ADS UK-only travellers would be on a really rushed sightseeing package tour of one week to include London, Oxford or Cambridge, Stratford, Manchester or Liverpool, the Lake District, Edinburgh, York etc. If the group go to (or return from) mainland Europe they will have a 3-day London centric tour including a one-day trip to Oxford and Stratford or Cambridge. They are passionate shoppers for brands. Business and official visits Travel in small groups (5-9 people) and usually extend a couple of days sightseeing after business. This segment comprises those aged between late 20s to late 50s. A company or organisation usually covers the cost. 3-4 star or even 5 star hotels for senior people are used. Education related travel Usually covers summer/winter camp. Students will be aged 15-22 taking 2 or 3 weeks at a language school. There will be a touring/sightseeing programme tagged at the end. The itinerary covers London, part of England and Scotland and of course Oxford and Cambridge are ‘must sees’. This group also includes some VFR travel; Those aged 16–60, who are friends and relatives visiting students at school and families attending graduation ceremonies. The majority of this group will be first timers so sightseeing will play an important part. With 32,000 Chinese students studying in the UK at any one time, it will not be a surprise to see the VFR market grow steadily. Independent travellers Generally people aged 30-45 who have studied or worked in the UK. They probably hold key positions in their companies or unit and take independent holidays with friends, colleagues or families. They are adventurous and explore a country as well as see famous sites. They are keen to experience city life, drinks and food, shopping, museums and pubs, etc. They would travel independently using rail passes and other good value cards such as the Great British Heritage Pass. London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Glasgow will be the main destinations. They are likely to stay in budget hotels or B&Bs. They tend to book a long haul holiday well in advance and take such a trip once a year or every other year. A Chinese typology – “Strategic Enrichment” VisitBritain’s qualitative brand development research (Project Lion 2002) also identified this kind of “Strategic Enrichment” as a particularly Chinese typology of international traveller. In this developing economy, there is a keen desire for self-improvement, which motivates some to travel to places such as Britain. In VisitBritain’s Online Best Prospects Research (2005), 67% of Best Prospects agreed strongly with the statement: “I am willing to cut back on other things to travel internationally”, indication perhaps of travel as a necessity in order to enrich life – an absolute must-do. Project Lion found that these holidaymakers to Britain are particularly interested to learn more about universities and financial centres such as the City of London, which might provide some means for progression. However, such travellers do not want to step very far beyond their ‘comfort zone’. There is a sense that they might be fairly mercenary in their approach, looking to get the most out of their trip, with a view to incorporating it into their lives back at home. In contrast to many non-Westerners, they are less prone to wanting to look below the surface of Britain, to its hidden depths. “Like Hong Kong, it’s a capital of dynamism.” “Add an introduction about universities there. I want to know about their education.” More recent qualitative research in China (September 2005), suggests that an element of “status anxiety” and peer group conformity will continue to influence and spread the travel bug that is sweeping China. Overseas travel has become a badge of sophistication. “You feel out of the loop if you haven’t been to places they’ve been”. “The further away, the higher the cost, the prouder you feel”. “I’d like to show off to my friends that I’ve been to Britain, even if I was hungry later!” 1st Timers & Repeat Visitors In 2004 (IPS), 47% of Chinese visitors had visited the UK previously (in the last 10 years).
9) Understanding Chinese Culture Practicalities / Language & Information Issues Chinese (Mandarin or Putonghua) speaking guide is a must. Chinese characters on the main tourist attractions and streets will make Chinese tourists feel more comfortable. Chinese translation on tourist literature is a must for suppliers serious about investing in this market. Literature should be produced in ‘simplified Chinese’ characters, which is used in mainland China (different for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore where ‘traditional Chinese’ is used). You are better to have something produced in English rather than in the incorrect Chinese written form. Having a Chinese website will benefit the potential customer. Learn a few Chinese greetings. This would impress your Chinese clients: Hello - Ni Hao / Thank You - Xie Xie / Bye - Zai Jian. Numbers have a significant meaning in the Chinese culture. For example the number four (4) should always be avoided as it means death in the Chinese language and in contrast eight (8) is a good number as it means fortune. Provide information on the process of a ‘tax refund’ as the Chinese enjoy shopping and will view the tax return policy as a discount and incentive to shop. For package groups, the details of all the expenses should be clear and advised upfront. They do not appreciate extra costs being incurred later on. For Chinese business travellers, it is common to add-on leisure time for touring after a day or several days of business. It is better to plan the schedule and route in advance and rent a car or a small coach if necessary for transportation. Tourists joining package tours prefer an all-inclusive service, including visa application, accommodation and air tickets, etc. Interaction Tips Frontline staff will require comprehensive training in order to provide a better service to the Chinese tourist in such things as providing guidance on what to do, where to eat and where to go. “Face” is an important part of Chinese culture. Therefore, do not embarrass Chinese clients even in a joking manner in public. Do not imitate the Chinese language in a joking manner. This will deeply offend your clients. Kissing and hugging are not a common form of greeting with the Chinese. Many of them would feel embarrassed, especially between strangers and members of the opposite sex. Politics is a relatively sensitive topic amongst the Chinese; therefore it should be avoided at all cost. Accommodation / Food & Drink The Chinese prefer to stay in mid-range hotels. The distinction between twin and double bed rooms is not clearly understood, however most would prefer to stay in rooms with separate beds. Generally customers on package tours will share rooms with the same sex, but you should ensure this is confirmed with them beforehand. Chinese tourists are used to eating Chinese style lunch & dinner. Chinese people are very particular about their food. Most would prefer a hot meal for breakfast. At least one Chinese meal every two days would be required. If accommodation providers do not have a Chinese restaurant or menu of their own, they should provide a list of suitable Chinese restaurants within easy access from the hotel. Supplying Chinese television programmes and Chinese newspapers plus green tea, toiletries and slippers in the bedroom will put you at a competitor advantage. Feeling ‘welcome’ is important to Chinese tourists, so a friendly attitude and a warm welcome is important. Bed and Breakfast accommodation may come as a shock for most first time Chinese travellers, as B&B’s do not exist in China. Most Chinese tourists will not be afraid to voice their complaints to their Chinese tour guides if service levels and accommodation expectations are not met or they do not perceive ‘value for money.’ CHINA