When it comes to luxury travel, Chinese are miles ahead
Wealthier Chinese tourists are willing to spend more during their trips to make sure they have the best time possible.
Bespoke holidays are in vogue, according to China's largest online travel agency Ctrip.com International Ltd. The service model, which they started to provide last year, has grown by a very significant 500 percent this year. The wealthy travelers, aged between 30 and 50, who live in first- and second-tier cities, are increasingly fans of such tailor-made trips.
According to Shi Yuduan, chief marketing officer of Ctrip's tourism business department, the wealthy Chinese group tends to be better educated and is not afraid to venture outside what might be considered "normal" vacations. Traveling for this group is a major way to spend their spare time. And when it comes to price, they care more about experiences and services than the expense.
For the upcoming Spring Festival (Jan 27-Feb 2), many in this wealthy demographic have already started to book such bespoke trips. As Australia has started to provide 10-year visa to Chinese tourists, this popular destination is expected to continue to receive favor from China's luxury travelers. A tailor-made tour package to Australia during the Spring Festival could cost more than 800,000 yuan (5,190) for a family group of at least 10 people.
And it's not just about sightseeing and taking some well-earned time off. Experienced luxury travelers are making these trips for specific purposes. Some have booked special packages to apply for diving licenses in Sabah in Malaysia or the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Some families may book trips to get a complete personal medical checkup in nearby countries such as Japan. Prices can start at 20,000 yuan for each person. The younger luxury travelers who are attracted by British TV series such as Downtown Abbey will book a 10-day luxury trip priced at 200,000 yuan for a group of three to experience the private castles and stately homes in Great Britain.
Not only are the middle-age rich travelers making bigger budgets for their trips, the younger generation born in the 1980s, who are either the heir of family business, or the better known "rich second generation", seem to be more generous when it comes to travel plans, according to the Chinese Luxury Traveler 2016 report jointly released by hotelier Marriott International and the Shanghai-based Hurun Research Institute, which documents the wealthy and surveyed 525 young luxury travelers aged between 18 and 36. It found they spend 200,000 yuan on average annually on travel and tourism. When it comes to their family budget for trips, the total amount comes at 420,000 yuan every year, among which 220,000 yuan are spent on shopping.
The young luxury travelers are quite experienced, traveling to an average 13 countries in the past few years. They spend 25 days on overseas trips every year, 69 percent of which is for leisure travel. Europe, and France in particular, is the most popular destination for the young luxury travelers. Japan has won these travelers' favor when it comes to short-distance trips, alluring people also with its convenient shopping, attractive dining experiences, and a modern, sophisticated culture.
Young luxury travelers are quite generous in terms of hotel room budgets. According to the survey, their average budget is 3,113 yuan per room each night. The Ritz-Carlton has the best reputation as 61 percent of the interviewed young travelers showed preference for their services, followed by Shangri-La and IHG. For young travelers with a household net worth of more than 100 million yuan, personalized service is their first consideration followed by guestroom view.
Zhang Liying, 30, who became a financial analyst in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, rather than taking over her family business in her hometown of Qingdao, Shandong province, is a frequent traveler partly due to her tight working schedule. To strike a life-work balance, she travels around as long as she has the time. To make each trip more pleasant, she always chooses to fly by business class or first class. But above all, the choice of hotel is vital.
"I usually choose to stay at The Ritz Carlton or Mandarin Oriental. They remember the guests' habits, which will make each tourist feel more comfortable. I was once surprised with a beautiful cake in my room when I spent my birthday at one of these hotels," she said.
"I go to Japan regularly because I really love the food there. Europe is also a must-go destination every year. The purses, clothes and watches, which one can buy at more reasonable prices, cannot be missed. Usually I will go with one or two close friends. I have hardly ever been on a group tour. Privacy is too important," she added.