Redefining Chinese tourism: A new era of exploration
From digital engagement to depth-driven experiences: Unraveling the future of Chinese travel
The Chinese travel industry, a giant in the global tourism sector, is undergoing a transformative phase. As the world emerges from the shadows of the pandemic, industry leaders at ITB China, the nation’s premier travel trade show, shed light on the evolving landscape of Chinese tourism.
The digital shift
In an industry where precision and innovation are key, digital platforms are becoming indispensable tools for engagement. Trip.com, a household name in the travel sector, is leading the charge with initiatives like “Boss live-streaming.” This trend sees their top executives, including CEOs and senior leaders, hosting live sessions to showcase travel destinations, unveil exclusive deals, and engage directly with their audience. It’s a testament to the evolving dynamics of customer interaction in the digital age. Meanwhile, China Comfort Travel Group (CCT) is diversifying its digital presence by tapping into platforms like TikTok and Little Red Book, highlighting the industry’s move towards a multi-platform engagement strategy.
Blending online and offline worlds
UTour, another major player in tourism, is pioneering a hybrid model, merging the digital with the physical. While they’ve been active on platforms like WeChat and Micro-blog, they’ve also reopened about 30 outlets in Beijing. This blend of online engagement with offline touch points offers customers a holistic travel experience.
The evolving traveler: Seeking depth over breadth
2023 has witnessed a paradigm shift in traveler preferences. The era of superficial, checklist tourism is waning. Today’s Chinese traveler is looking for depth. Trip.com notes a surge in demand for niche destinations, with travelers preferring less-trodden paths over crowded tourist hubs. CCT echoes this sentiment, highlighting a shift from larger tour groups to smaller, more intimate ones. The modern traveler is no longer content with just scratching the surface; they are seeking immersive, in-depth experiences.
The rise of long-duration trips
UTour points to another intriguing trend: the resurgence of long-duration trips. Their data suggests a pent-up wanderlust among Chinese travelers, with 10-day outbound trips seeing a surge in bookings. This enthusiasm is further evidenced by the rapid selling out of their 121-day “U-Tour Travel Around the World” cruise.
Spending patterns: quality over quantity
Comparing the spending habits of 2023 to pre-pandemic levels in 2019 reveals interesting insights. While travel demand and duration have seen an increase, there’s a clear emphasis on quality. Both Trip.com and UTour note an increase in average spending, driven by travelers’ heightened expectations and demands for premium experiences.
Peering into the crystal ball: future trends
So, what’s on the horizon for Chinese tourism? Trip.com believes that travel themes integrating cultural and sports elements will dominate. They predict a rise in destinations that offer rich cultural experiences, from marathons to music festivals. UTour, on the other hand, foresees a rise in customised travel and season-based travel products. The success of winter tourism products post Beijing Winter Olympics is a testament to this trend.
Photo: © Hiurich Granja – Unsplash
Meet the experts shaping the future of Chinese travel
ITB China, a cornerstone event for the global travel industry, has always been a platform for insights, innovations, and interactions. This year, the spotlight shines on three distinguished panelists, each a titan in their respective domains.
Zhang Xu, holding the esteemed position of Vice President and GM of Government Cooperation at Trip.com Group, brings to the table a wealth of experience from one of China’s leading online travel agencies. His insights, drawn from Trip.com’s vast customer base and innovative strategies, look into the evolving preferences of Chinese travelers.
Zhang Lei, the Senior Vice President of Utour Group Co.,Ltd, represents a brand that has seamlessly blended the online and offline worlds of travel. With Utour’s pioneering approach and expansive reach, Zhang Lei’s perspectives offer a holistic view of the current travel landscape.
Lastly, Shang Zhengzheng, the Director of Outbound Department at China Comfort Travel (CCT) Group provides a unique lens into outbound tourism from China. With CCT’s diverse travel offerings and keen market understanding, Shang’s contributions shed light on the global aspirations of Chinese tourists.
Together, these experts decode the intricacies of the Chinese travel market, offering invaluable insights for global destinations and travel suppliers. Their combined expertise, backed by data-driven insights, chart the course for aligning with the dynamic trends of the Chinese travel sector.