By 2020, the World Tourism Organization estimates the number of Chinese outbound travelers will reach 250 million. When I attended DMAI’s Annual Convention from August 1—3, China was the centerpiece of the conversation among the destination marketing leaders gathered in Minneapolis. “When we look at China, there’s a huge opportunity for all of us,” Elliott Ferguson, President and CEO, Destination DC, said as he moderated a panel on the future of travel.
The opportunity isn’t just for cities, though. For business events organizers in the US, the growth in Chinese outbound travel represents a potential impact on attendance numbers. These travelers won’t just be booking trips for leisure and sightseeing; many of them will be searching for continuing education, too. According to data from the US Department of Commerce, 14 percent of Chinese visitors to the US included “convention/conference/trade show” as one of the reasons for their trips in 2013; by 2014, that number increased to 24 percent.
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So how can your organization put your meeting or conference on the map for a Chinese audience? By understanding the Chinese norms surrounding one of the most importance pieces of the conference experience: travel. Brand USA offers an excellent place to start your research: the Chinese market toolkit, loaded with helpful insights into the typical Chinese global traveler. For example, consider your host destination selection process. It may not be surprising to know that Hawaii and California are the two top US states Chinese travelers are interested in visiting, but did you know that Mississippi and Pennsylvania are both in the top 10, too? Or think about when your organization unveils its education program; is it early enough to align with the travel booking process of prospective Chinese attendees? On the airlift side, the toolkit also offers a complete look at the US destinations with direct flights to/from China.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Chinese Toolkit From Brand USA
At the DMAI Annual Convention, Chris Thompson, President and CEO, Brand USA, highlighted some additional numbers that show why everyone in the travel, tourism and convention industries should be investing in a promotional campaign geared toward the Chinese audience. “Chinese incomes are growing at a 10 percent rate,” Thompson said. “And they spend 19 percent of their disposable income on travel.”
As your organization aims to inspire prospective Chinese attendees to allocate some of their budgets toward the expenses to get to your next meeting, you’ll want to know more than how and when this segment arranges travel. Be sure to send “10 Essential Lessons You Should Know Before Hosting APAC Attendees” to everyone on your team to help them understand how to make this audience feel welcome when they arrive on-site.