Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 26 2013

Where Planners and Hoteliers Should Focus Their Attention

By David McMillin

It’s no secret that China’s economy is booming, but a new report from Hotels.com highlights just how much money Chinese travelers have to spend outside the country. Last year, Chinese travelers spent $102 billion on international travel, which makes them the biggest spending audience in the entire world.

As hoteliers look to steadily increase their occupancy rates and meeting planners look to set new records for registration, it’s clear that appealing to Chinese guests and attendees is a crucial piece of success for the entire industry. The report surveyed more than 3,000 Chinese international travelers, and more than half of the respondents had traveled overseas for business or education.

SEE ALSO: Kristin Mirabal’s Tips to Attract Global Attendees

Despite the big chunk of business that these travelers represent, it seems that the rest of the world has some catching up to do in order to make these travelers feel welcome. Seventy-five percent of respondents indicated that they are less than satisfied with hoteliers’ translated items such as welcome packets, websites and newspapers. Forty-two percent said that they would like to see more Mandarin-speaking hotel staff members, too.

The research also surveyed more than 1,500 hotels to gauge their strategies for success with this growing audience segment. Just 25 percent of hoteliers say they offer cultural awareness training to their staff members. Many respondents indicated that their budgets for developing products for Chinese guests is quite low: 56 percent have invested less than $10,000 in Chinese-specific programs.

SEE ALSO: Why Your International Attendees Aren’t Happy

Catering to Chinese Travelers

For hoteliers and planners alike, all this data underscores the importance of devising a plan for connecting with Chinese travelers and building relationships that make them feel at home while they’re away from home. Some forward-thinking members of the meetings industry have already been taking proactive steps toward doing just that. For example, Fairmont launched a program that includes authentic Chinese dishes and serving customs in their restaurants, and Starwood recently unveiled a new Starwood Preferred Guest mobile application in Chinese. On the association side, The Optical Society actually dropped the “of America” from its official name to position the organization as a global brand that welcomes members and attendees from all corners of the world.

Has your meeting or your property seen an uptick in attendees or guests from China? How has your organization worked to meet their needs? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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