“我們歡迎您” - Welcome Chinese Tourists

The September 1-7 issue of The Economist reported that China has become the No. 3 country by overseas-tourism spending. Between October 2011 and July 2012, the U.S. had processed one million tourist visa applications from China, a big increase of 43% for the same period a year earlier. Chinese tourists are coming to our way.

  • In the first half of 2012, 38 million Chinese took international trips.
  • In 2011, they spent $73 billion while traveling overseas.
  • On average, Chinese tourists spend $6,000 per trip (per person too?) in the U.S.
  • More Chinese are seeking “deeper” experience in a destination over the “surface-and-group” tourist activities.

Many service providers have probably experienced the changing demographics of their guests. I have seen company’s effort of welcoming Chinese tourists. For example, some hotels in gateway cities have Chinese TV channels and have included Chinese breakfast items in the menu. Some hotel chains have translated every restaurant menu into Chinese, but I argue that we have not done enough.

Let’s say if we translate “Buffalo Wings” into “水牛城雞翅” (“city name of Buffalo + chicken wings”), can we expect the Chinese tourists will know by the name that it is a famous dish originated from Buffalo, New York? More so, can we expect them to know by the name that it is a cooking method, meaning that the chicken wings are deep-fried un-breaded and usually coated in spicy sauce? Probably not, unless they have known the American culture very well even before they pay a visit. Accordingly, it would be better if the hotel or restaurant can provide more descriptions in Chinese as well as good pictures of the food. In addition, it can also be very helpful if the menu includes recommendations from other Chinese tourists or from an experienced hotelier who knows the Chinese culture.

Seeing that more Chinese want to gain deeper experience in a tourist destination, it is also important for hotels to provide a guidebook written in Chinese, with the activities appealing to Chinese tourists. Of course, it will be a great idea to hire some Chinese-speaking employees, but they must be able to think from a tourist’s perspectives and make good recommendations. If it is impossible to hire good Chinese-speaking staff, a small booklet that helps Chinese guests navigate the property and local attractions will be sufficient.

Certainly, there are many more areas that need attention. I also believe that many guest-service issues can better be address on a case-by-case basis. So, please feel free to contact me with any specific questions regarding how to better serve Chinese tourists or a consulting opportunity in that regard.

If you travel overseas before, have any service provider done anything nice to you so that you feel welcomed even in a foreign country? If you are working in a service organization, what approaches has your company taken to welcome Chinese tourists? Are they sufficient? What else can be done?

Relevant discussions:

References:
The Economist. (2012, September 1 - September 7; no author). Have yuan, will travel. p. 48.
The picture was downloaded from JingDaily.com

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