The Roman Baths appoints China Travel Outbound

We are delighted to announce that The Roman Baths, Bath has appointed us to promote them to the Chinese Market.

Chinese tourists already account for 10% of visits to The Roman Baths, and visits grew by more than 10,000 last year. China Travel Outbound has been tasked with driving further growth in Chinese visitors to The Roman Baths through sales, marketing and PR in China.

The Chinese campaign will include managing the attraction’s online reputation and promoting The Roman Baths to Chinese media, bloggers and Key Opinion Leaders. The Roman Baths will also be marketed to travel agents and media on China Travel Outbound’s trade newsletters via the Chinese social media platform, WeChat.

Helena Beard, Managing Director, China Travel Outbound, said, ‘The Roman Baths is one of the finest historic sites in Northern Europe and we are delighted to be working with them. It is an incredibly exciting time in outbound tourism from China and the Chinese travel trade and media are particularly interested in exploring Britain’s rich cultural heritage.’

Rebecca Clay, Heritage Marketing Manager, The Roman Baths said, ‘We recognise the huge importance and potential of the Chinese market and are really looking forward to working with the team at China Travel Outbound to help us build and manage our profile in China.’

For further information about China Travel Outbound, please visit www.chinatraveloutbound.com

For further information about The Roman Baths, please visit www.romanbaths.co.uk

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The Roman Baths is at the heart of the City of Bath World Heritage Site and consists of the preserved remains of one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world. For more information, please contact Rebecca Clay at [email protected]

How to attract 300 million Chinese millennials

They’ve been called “the most important demographic in the world today”. They make up around 2/3 of Chinese outbound tourists and by 2020, they will number 300 million. This growing force in Chinese outbound tourism is travelling far and spending big – but who are the Chinese millennials and how can you attract them to your destination, hotel or visitor attraction? We look at the characteristics of Chinese millennials, how they plan their travel, and what attracts them.

Who are Chinese millennials?

Chinese millennials are commonly defined as those Chinese born in the 1980s and 1990s, so they range in age from 17 to 37. Thanks to China’s one child policy, they are the beloved focus not just of their parents, but also of two sets of grandparents, whose financial and emotional resources are concentrated on this single child.  By comparison with older generations, Chinese millennials are privileged and indulged. They are also more outward-looking than their parents, and some have studied overseas or at foreign schools in China. Indeed, 74% feel they have more in common with their age group globally than older Chinese.

Money to burn

Some, but not all, Chinese millennials are from wealthy families, and there are two key reasons why they have more ‘money to burn’ than their North American and European counterparts. Firstly, they have no student debt – tuition fees and living expenses are paid for by their families. (Contrast this with the USA where more than 7m student borrowers are already in default). Secondly, many Chinese millennials have no housing costs. Around 90% of Chinese households own their homes, and about 80% do so without mortgages or other loans, partly because Chinese culture takes a dim view of borrowing.

This young, middle-class group are, however, happy to take on non-student debt. Far from saving a portion of their income like their parents, they are China’s first generation whose need for instant gratification is driving them to (short-term) debt. They pay using credit cards and extended credit deals from platforms such as Alibaba and JD.com – and even peer-to-peer loans via WeChat. They are sometimes known as the Moonlight Generation, because their bank accounts are always light at the end of the month. But most know that their parents will bail them out if they need more cash.

Independent travellers seeking authentic and unique experiences

Millennials are in the vanguard of change in the Chinese outbound tourism market. Second generation travellers, they are less interested in the group trip ‘tick box’ tourism of their parents’ generation, and are instead travelling independently and seeking out authentic experiences.

According to a recent Trip Advisor survey, 9 in 10 Chinese millennials had booked their most recent trip in components. More than 3.5 million have used Airbnb outside China. 47% are interested in natural, cultural and historical attractions.

Chinese millennials are more confident about travelling overseas than their parents. They are exploring by train, visiting historic houses, touring the countryside, staying in boutique hotels and buying heritage goods. 100,000 Chinese tourists visited Edinburgh Castle in 2014.

They’re travelling far and wide too; Morocco saw a tripling of Chinese tourists after it removed visa restrictions in 2016. India is rising up the popularity charts, and polar cruises have recently been in vogue.

Shopping, eating and drinking

While Chinese millennials rarely make a choice of destination based on shopping options, they will still include time for shopping in their itinerary. Luxury and heritage goods are a big draw, with Chinese millennial luxury travellers allocating US$34,000 on holiday shopping. Additionally according to research conducted by MasterCard, about 2/3 of Chinese millennials favour Western brands over Asian ones. Therefore, shopping is highly appealing for Chinese millennials visiting Europe.

What do millennials choose to eat when travelling? On the one hand, young Chinese tourists like to try the local cuisines of their chosen destination – being more curious and open-minded than their elders. This is mixed with familiar foods with a traditional Chinese hot pot being highly regarded. However, unlike older Chinese tourists, a buzzing social life means Chinese millennials rarely spend more than one hour dining.

Experiential and luxury travel

Chinese investment of US$40million has been earmarked to build a luxury base camp on Mount Everest, aiming to capture a millennial market which increasingly prizes experiences. Unique or truly unusual experiences are attractive for their scarcity – and even more compelling if they provide great content for WeChat or Weibo. Experiences ranging from underwater hotel rooms and restaurants in the Maldives to short breaks to Iceland have proven popular recently.

And for Chinese millennials, experiential travel does not have to be cheap. WildChina ran a ‘luxury hike’ up Mount Kilimanjaro in 2015. There were 10 customers, 72 porters and 7 chefs.

Trends in Chinese millennial travel

Research for Melia hotels in 2016 found that hotel choice is very important for this segment, with millennials looking for room condition, service, location, high-tech facilities, and design and style in that order when deciding where to stay. Unsurprisingly, speedy Wifi is vital; this group spends 27 hours/week online on average.

Top destinations in 2016 included Seoul, Bangkok, Tokyo, Paris and the Maldives, with London and the UK sprinting up the popularity charts thanks to the favourable exchange rate in the second half of last year. In more familiar destinations, Chinese millennials are discovering new regions and cities driven by a search for novelty, authentic experiences and a desire for compelling content for WeChat and Weibo.

Recent years have even seen the emergence of ‘lung cleansing trips’ as millennials sought fresh air destinations from exotic Thai islands to chilly Iceland to escape China’s noxious smog levels.

The future of Chinese millennial travel

Over half of Chinese millennials plan to holiday for longer periods and spend more money on travel in the future. A recent study by the Singapore Tourist Board estimates that Chinese millennials will soon spend upwards of US$14,000 on travel annually. Luxury millennial tourists already average around US$65,000 on travel annually.

Millennials want their families to share in their international travel experiences too. ‘Family reunion’ and multi-generational trips are on the rise as children want to spend quality time with their families on overseas holidays. Unsurprisingly, these large family groups form very attractive prospects for destinations, hotels and visitor attractions.

Are you ready to attract 300 million Chinese millennials to your destination, visitor attraction or hotel? In next week’s blog, we will discuss some of the best ways to market to them.

 

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CTO’s crazy CNY

The final week of the Year of the Monkey. A crazy week that was…

… nerve wracking

when we got a call from Radio 4 on Wednesday asking for comment for the 6 o’clock news on Chinese arrivals to the UK over this Chinese New Year. With 30 minutes to gather estimated arrival stats and a view on the market. Tick.

Listen to the Radio 4 news item here.

… manic

when China Central Television rang (at around the same time) to ask if we had any good stories about Brighton to encourage them to forego two other (marginally more famous!) university towns to film their annual news slot about Chinese travellers over Chinese New Year here. With an audience of 1.2 billion viewers across Asia, that sort of opportunity doesn’t come along every day!

IMG_1573

… exciting

when we heard our pitch about Chinoiserie at the Royal Pavilion and eating habits in Brighton’s seafood restaurants had won. Followed by more mania arranging two interviews and a two day filming schedule for the next morning. Which, thanks to our amazing clients at VisitBrighton, we did.

… hilarious

watching the traditional Lion Dance switch to ‘Gangnam Style’ at Brighton’s CNY celebrations at the Clarendon Centre at the weekend.

Ready for a laugh?

… proud

as we celebrated winning a fantastic new client, The Roman Baths, Bath. That’s our second prestigious heritage attraction alongside the wonderful Royal Museums Greenwich and we couldn’t be happier.

… nostalgic

as we graduated from the Entrepreneurial Spark Business Accelerator, now we’re ready to go it alone. What a wonderful experience that has been and we will miss all the fantastic entrepreneurs we have met along that journey. If you are interested in starting your own business, I can’t recommend it enough.

The Year of the Rooster has 13 lunar months. Unlucky for some. But I have a feeling it’s going to be a blast.

Happy New Year everyone! I’m off to IKEA for a rest…

 

Is Chinese New Year 2017 Set to Be the Biggest Ever?

Chinese New Year marks a time for celebration. And also, the time for travelling. To celebrate the holiday, the people of China are given a week off for the Chinese Lunar New Year Golden Week. This year, it runs from 27 January to 2 February. In the UK, our clients are preparing themselves for an influx of very welcome Chinese visitors all important to fill  beds at this off-peak time of year. But how big can we expect Chinese New Year to be this year?

To get an idea, we’ve looked at Chinese visitor numbers of previous years, the changing travel and economic landscape of the UK in recent times, and forecasts for 2017. But let’s start with past years.

2015-2016

2015 was a big year for Chinese visitors to the UK; According to VisitBritain, 270,000 people were welcomed, up by 46% from 2014. Collectively, they spent £586 million that year here in the UK, claiming a spot in the UK’s top 10 inbound markets for spending. It’s no surprise then that, according to travel intelligence company ForwardKeys, the UK ranked 4th place in the list of European destinations for Chinese travellers.

Fast forward to 2016 and Chinese visitors to the UK during Chinese New Year were up again. Not all that surprising since the estimated total number of 2016 Chinese New Year journeys reached a whopping 2.91 billion. Yet 2016 was also characterised by widespread fear of terrorism for much of Europe, resulting in a Europe-wide fall of 7.4% in visitor numbers. Perhaps fuelled by safety concerns around France and Germany, London was up by 7.8% and Manchester by 27%.

Britain’s Travel and Economic Landscape

Why do we think 2017 could be the UK’s biggest ever Chinese New Year? First, if you cut back to this time last year, Brexit seemed highly unlikely. From January to June 2016, the British Pound to Chinese Yuan averaged between 9.3 and 9.4. Now? The Pound to Yuan average is around 8.5. The combination of a weak pound and a large Chinese luxury market surely means that UK shopping has never been more desirable. At least Beiwei 55, a tour operator specialising in the Chinese market to the UK, thinks so. It says the UK is becoming an increasingly affordable destination for Chinese visitors which may be why last year’s summer season saw a 40% increase in Chinese tourist numbers. Cheaper luxury products and the time to buy them are a winning combination, making Golden Week the perfect time for the Chinese to visit the UK.

Not only that but access to Britain has never been easier. Over the past year, the number of direct flights between the two countries has increased. Summer 2017 will see Hainan Airlines service new direct routes to London from Shenzhen, Chengdu, Xi’an, Qingdao and Changsha. This is in addition to their previously launched direct flight from Beijing to Manchester. Ease of travel combined with a cheap holiday destination should encourage Chinese tourists to travel to the UK and send those visitor numbers soaring. Hopefully 2017 will reflect this and be the biggest year for Chinese New Year in the UK yet.

Chinese New Year 2017

Recent studies are showing signs of this already. EChinanews forecasts that the number of total journeys (including domestic) predicted to be made for 2017’s Chinese New Year is 3 billion, a 0.9 billion rise from 2016.

ForwardKeys study also shows positive UK inbound statistics for Chinese New Year 2017. Compared to the same time last year, bookings to Europe are ahead by 68.5% with the UK actually up by 88%. A phenomenal figure! The UK now ranks in 2nd place for Chinese visitors to Europe; a nice 2-place climb from 2015. This week, VisitBritain announced that the number of Chinese visitors in January is up a whopping 80% compared to last January, with bookings focused around the Chinese New Year at the end of the month. As Jo Leslie, VisitBritain, was quoted in the Evening Standard this week, ‘Chinese tourists in London spend twice as long as they do in mainland Europe, spend twice as much money and the numbers are growing at twice the rate.’ London is putting on a huge spectacle with parades, markets and entertainment to celebrate Chinese culture, maintaining its position as one of the most exciting places to celebrate Chinese New Year outside Asia.

With so much going on, in the economy, the market and the fantastic celebrations in London and beyond, Britain can be very optimistic that the Chinese New Year and, indeed, the rest of the Year of the Rooster, will be the biggest yet for Chinese visitors.

 

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This article first appeared on the travel news website, Travel GBI.

Helena Beard, managing director of China Travel Outbound, on what the industry can do to capitalise on the increased interest in the UK among the Chinese travel trade.

Few people have had such an influence on UK tourism as President Xi Jinping. Following the Chinese leader’s visit to England in October 2015, there was a flurry of Chinese investment in our football clubs, hotels, housing developments and now, we hear, the humble Buckinghamshire pub where he shared a pint with David Cameron.

Other highlights of 2016 included the launch of the first direct flight from China to Manchester in June, the lifting of flight restrictions between the two countries in October, and the moment when we all sat up and listened; the release of the annual visitor stats. Chinese tourist visits in 2015 were up a massive 46% over the previous year, shooting China into the top 10 of the UK’s most valuable inbound markets.

More than 120 million people travelled overseas from China in 2015, a number forecast to hit 220 million by 2020. That means roughly one in 10 people travelling overseas is Chinese. The market will be worth an eye-watering $255 billion in the next 10 years, twice that of the US.

The UK currently attracts fewer than 300,000 of them. Place these stats against the backdrop of a weak pound, a relatively strong yuan, and a drop in popularity of continental Europe due to security fears, and never before has such an opportunity for UK inbound tourism been quite so obvious.

The lifting of flight restrictions and the ambitions of President Xi for improved connectivity have also led to an increase in services. In just the last two weeks, Hainan Airlines has announced new flight routes to the UK from five of China’s regional cities.

At a grassroots level, our team in Beijing is reporting an increased interest in the UK among Chinese travel trade and media contacts. They want to know more about Britain’s tourism proposition and are particularly interested in unique experiences beyond the established tourism trails.

While the royal palaces may always claim the number one spot on the to-do list, the market is becoming increasingly adventurous and independent and we are asked more and more about experiences and activities; weddings, restaurants, countryside pursuits, golf, and even British beer tasting. It is safe to say that in China right now, the UK is definitely trending.

So what are we as an industry doing to maximise this opportunity?

More than 300 tourism businesses have signed up to the VisitBritain Great China Welcome Charter, a programme developed in recognition of survey results showing that our ‘Chinese welcome’ needed improvement.

VisitBritain has also opened new offices in China and runs successful marketing campaigns to attract the growing affluent middle-classes to visit this distant island. Yes, they are doing a great job. But is it enough to sit back and rely on their efforts?

Let’s look at the US, a country welcoming two million visitors from China and expected to be the number one market within three years. Tourist boards, hotels and attractions in the US are investing in the Chinese market, running targeted campaigns, training their staff and developing their products accordingly.

Our daily conversations with British tourist boards, hotels and attractions tell us that, although some of the more forward-thinking organisations are keen to invest in this market, many others are relying on VisitBritain to do the job for them.

There simply isn’t enough money to go round and prioritisation of source markets is based on historic visitor numbers and, arguably, fairly unreliable research methods. I would argue that if you are going to take a leap, better to look forward, not backwards.

Finally, the inevitable word about visas. As we are not, and never will be, part of the Schengen agreement, the UK is at a disadvantage compared to countries such as France, Germany and Italy, where visiting Chinese tourists can use one visa to travel throughout a number of exciting countries with varied landscapes, culture, cities and, frankly, better weather.

In January, Philip Hammond proudly announced the introduction of a new two-year visa system, and there have been improvements in accessibility and processing. But more needs to be done, including the introduction of the promised 10-year multi-entry visa.

China operates on a system of relationships and networks, collaboration and cooperation, loyalty to friends and partnerships with colleagues. The easier it is for the Chinese to visit and make these affiliations with the UK, the better our export prospects, the more students will come here to study, and the greater the economic benefits to our tourism industry.

We need more action in our post-Brexit world, and we need it fast.

 

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