“Xin Nian Kuai Le” to all of our friends this Chinese New Year!

At China Travel Outbound would like to wish all our friends a “Xin Nian Kuai Le” (sing nee-ann koo-why ler), or Happy New Year and “Kung Hei Fat Choi” (kung-he fat choy) for a wealthy year!

spring-391225_960_720The Chinese New Year festival marks the start of the New Year in the Chinese calendar, beginning on the second new moon after the winter solstice and ending on the full moon fifteen days later. It is marked worldwide by spending time with family and friends, extravagant meals, gifts (usually money wrapped in a red envelope called a Hong Bao) and fireworks. The hallmark of this festival is an abundance of red lanterns and extravagant parades.

Those born in the (including 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004 and now 2016) are said to be witty, intelligent and have a magnetic personality… However, monkey folk are also known for their mischievousness, curiosity and naughtiness!

 

Here’s how cities near you are celebrating. 

Brighton

In China Travel Outbound’s home city, the theme of this year’s Chinese New Year celebration in Brighton was “Happier and Healthier— A Better Future for All”. Chinese festival food stalls, lion dance, singing, traditional instruments and dragon dancing through the streets marked the celebration!

Birmingham

Celebrations this year took place in the Arcadian Centre with free entertainment for thousands of visitors being provided by the city, including lion dancing and fireworks!

Glasgow

Glasgow Museum Resource Centre will celebrate Chinese New Year with a riot of games, drumming, dragon building, lantern making and fortune telling sticks, in the midst of warm Scottish hospitality! The UK’s third largest city’s celebrations will be on the 14th of February.

Leeds
Creds: Leeds Chinese Community Association
Creds: Leeds Chinese Community Association

This year Leeds Town Hall is hosting the Chinese New Year Festival all through early February, and is boasting a veritable extravaganza to welcome in “the Year of the Monkey”. The occasion promises to deliver a much wider Chinese experience than at previous events, as in addition to the usual theatre performances of Dancing, Music, Chinese Lion Dance, Chinese Calligraphy, Kung Fu and Tai Chi, there will also be trade stands offering a variety of Chinese Food, Crafts, Beauty and Face Painting.

London

London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are the largest outside Asia. Chinese New Year festivities in Central London take place in Trafalgar Square, Chinatown and Shaftesbury Avenue on the 14 February.

Manchester

Manchester provided thousands of lanterns, a giant golden dragon and a 3D light show for 2016’s Chinese New Year. The events took place across the entire city from the 4th-7th of February and will also include the usual live music, lion dancers and Dragon Parade!

 

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We asked our Director in Beijing, Vivienne Song about how she’ll celelebrating Chinese New Year!

With the Year of the Monkey around the corner, we wanted to find out how the people of Beijing would be gearing up for the festivities! We asked China Travel Outbound’s Vivienne Song, to tell us how she will be celebrating this year.

Hi Vivienne! How are you going to be celebrating Chinese New Year this year?

The 7 day long holiday allows us time to spend with our parents, as both my husband and I are not originally from Beijing and so our parents live in other cities.

How are your friends/ family celebrating?

Similarly to at Thanksgiving, most Chinese will return back to their hometown to celebrate the New Year with family. For married women, you would normally be expected to follow your husband to spend the holiday with his family.

Chinese New Year is really about family gathering, visiting relatives and having dinner together.  Before, there were many traditions, like lighting fireworks and making traditional delicacies, but now due to the air pollution many places are prohibiting fireworks, and more and more families are choosing to go restaurants instead of making dinner at home.

The kids definately have the most fun; they get dressed up in new clothes, and collect Hong Bao (red packets containing money) from relatives. Normally, the relatives who are already married give Hong Bao to the kids.

What sort of gifts are you buying your family this year?

Every year I buy different gifts for my parents and parents-in-law, something like jewellery or a new ipad. This year I bought them an air cleaner for both car and home use, as we had terrible air pollution this winter.

What is your favourite part of New Year’s celebrations in China?

The best thing about this week is doing nothing but being a kid again!

What sort of things go on in Beijing?

There is a temple fair of folk custom, a very old tradition in Beijing, where they sell all kinds of New Year stuff and local delicacies. It’s quite like a Christmas market.

What (if anything) makes celebrating ‘the Year of the Monkey’ different than in other years?

Well, there’s really no difference. Only the Year of the Dragon tends to be more of a topic in China, since we always call ourselves ‘the descendants of the Dragon’.

 

Thanks Vivienne!

Xin Nian Kuai Le sing nee-ann koo-why ler (Happy New Year) to all our Chinese friends

China celebrates the start of the "Year of the Monkey" toady!

Love is in the air…

With Valentine’s Day coming up, couples across the world will be celebrating by jetting off to exciting destinations.

But does who chooses the trip make a difference to Chinese outbound tourism?
Well, according to a recent study, gender may have some influence over Chinese travel trends.

The study found that 59 per cent of Chinese travellers in the first half of 2015 were women, with women overtaking men in tourism to cities in Japan and South Korea. These women tended to be between 36 and 45 years old with the individual monthly income of around 10,000-15,000 yuan (£1070-1700).

However, their male counterparts dominated long-haul tourism to cities in the US and Europe, possibly due to an average monthly income of over 15, 000 yuan (£1700). The average age of these visitors was also younger than that of the women, with males between 25-35 being the norm.

As well as Valentine’s Day, which is mainly celebrated in urban areas, the Chinese also look forward to the Spring Festival which is more widely celebrated, making this time of year one of the most popular for international travel. Regardless of gender, a joint report by Fung Business Intelligence Centre (FBIC) and China Luxury Advisers projects that total spending by outbound Chinese tourist-shoppers will jump 23 per cent to surpass $200 billion this year, and more than double within the next five years to $422 billion, so wherever the Chinese are going (and whoever is booking it), now is the time to bring the Chinese tourist onto your marketing radar!

 

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Why China should be on your 2016 priority list.

With the sustainable growth of China’s economy, a gradually relaxing political climate, as well as the substantial increase in its people’s personal income, China’s tourism industry has seen unprecedented development in recent years.

Despite recent concerns over China’s economic situation, this year around 136 million international passenger journeys – the most in the world – are expected to originate in China, with an expected 234 million in 2020.

Brands are advised to revise their international marketing plans for Chinese tourists, who are projected to spend $229 billion (£156.13 billion) on retail overseas this year and $422 billion (£301.36 billion) by 2020.

“The Chinese consumer has emerged as the most powerful and motivated in the world, especially in the luxury sector,” reports Deborah Weinswig, head of the Global Retail and Technology team of Fung Business Intelligence Centre.

The typical Chinese traveller currently spends an average of $1,678 (£1,144) on retail purchases per overseas trip, the highest retail spend of any nationality. In the U.S, the average retail spend per Chinese traveller was around $2,555 (£1,741) for 2014, and in Europe was $2,548 (£1,737); significantly more than was spent in closer destinations within Asia.

Record visitors to Britain!

The number of Chinese visitors to Britain in the first half of 2015 reached a record 90,000, a 28 percent rise on the same period of 2014, figures from Visit Britainreveal.

Tourism officials are expecting the total number of Chinese visitors for this year to exceed 200,000, with that figure set to increase in subsequent years. Now is the time to invest in China!

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Five tips for using PR to build your travel brand in China

With a population of 1.3 billion, and a land mass approximately the size of Europe, marketing your travel brand efficiently in China can be a daunting task. This is where a targeted, well executed PR strategy as part of a wider marketing plan comes to the fore. At China Travel Outbound we would love to help you devise your PR strategy, but to kick things off, we have listed below four practical things you might like to think about, followed by a shameless plug!

1. Regional variations in the Chinese press
In Beijing, state owned media is very powerful, but outside the capital private media companies have an important voice. Make sure your PR strategy stretches across both different ownership models and takes into account the regional variations across Chinese ‘tier one’ cities. As in the west, there are different travel publications with journalists specialising in leisure, business, meetings and incentive travel; you, or your Chinese PR agency, should target relationships with travel journalists accordingly.

2. Think digital media
If you ride the Beijing subway, you will see very few commuters reading traditional print media, but you will see plenty of eyes glued to screens. Importantly this doesn’t just apply to newspapers but to magazines as well. The Chinese are more advanced than the west in their adoption of online media.

3. Integrate social media
Use Chinese social media (not Facebook or Twitter which are blocked) to provide a regular drip of newsworthy items to keep your brand top of mind. Social media plays a more important role in travel choice than in the west, with travellers very ready to follow recommendation from friends, family bloggers and other online influencers. Bragging rights are also an important dynamic which shouldn’t be ignored – particularly if your product has appeal to high net worth Chinese travellers. Speak to us about which are the right social media for your product.

4. The power of Chinese celebrity
If you have the budget, celebrity endorsement of your product is a great way to instantly get your brand profile. China Travel Outbound has a great network of Chinese movie stars and other celebrities and we would be delighted to talk to you about who might be a good match for your product.

5. The Shameless Plug!
As you might have guessed, we have PR travel specialists in China waiting to help you. Meet Kathy Chen, our Director of PR. Kathy is a former travel journalist, who also has ‘client side’ experience, having joined China Travel Outbound from Tourism Ireland. Kathy therefore has a wealth of knowledge on the Chinese travel PR scene and a smart phone brimming with contact details of Chinese travel journalists.

Kathy Chen, our PR Director - based in our Beijing office
Kathy Chen, our PR Director – based in our Beijing office

For more information of how China Travel Outbound can help you with your Chinese PR strategy (or any other marketing and representation matter), please contact [email protected]

Establishing a sales and marketing presence in China

A quick google search on the Chinese outbound traveller will produce a plethora of reports on the size and nature of this new emerging market.

The reason for this explosion of interest is not surprising. According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, the Chinese are now the world’s biggest spenders on international tourism, splashing out $102 billion in 2012—a 40% increase on the previous year.

Dig a little deeper and you will find some interesting myth busting facts too. Yes, the Chinese are big spenders. According to Visit Britain the Chinese are among the top three spenders when they visit Britain, spending an average of £405 per head. But did you know that Independent travel is more popular than group travel? According to Hotels.com’s second annual Chinese International Travel Monitor survey results suggests that 62% of Chinese travellers prefer to travel independently. This appears to be backed up by hoteliers who reported that 70% of their Chinese guests were not in groups, a 20% increase on the previous year.

So which ever report you read (and I warn you there are quite a few to choose from!) the evidence is clear. The challenge is how do you react to this rapidly emerging market? Perhaps you are wondering why your competitors appear to more effective than you in tapping into this market, there are 5 areas that I suggest you start to think about:

1. Is your website available in the Chinese language? Don’t worry about the difference
between Cantonese and Mandarin, the written form of Cantonese is based on Mandarin, so a Mandarin translation will suffice. It’s in audio where you will need to have a separate translation.

2. How is your website ranked on China’s premier search engine Baidu.com? If your website is only available in English, the answer is probably not very well.

3. What is your social media presence like in China? If you think Facebook and Twitter will do it for you, I am afraid you will need to think again…., these sites are heavily restricted in China.

4. Do you have a PR agency to ensure that the media, and in particular the travel trade media, are promoting your products and services into the Chinese market?

5. Do you have a sales representation team ready to promote you to the travel trade? There are 10 different travel trade shows in China alone. There is a very good chance your competitors are there, and if they’re not, there’s a great chance for you to steal a march on them.

Perhaps you have already thought about all the above (and could add a further five items to this list!) but you don’t know where to start. China Travel Outbound would love to help you.

 

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Tailored Luxury Sales Mission to China

I recently joined one of my clients on a sales mission to China to visit some potential tour operator partners who specialise in tailor-made itineraries for their wealthy Chinese customer base.  My client’s product is aimed at such individuals (though not yet in China) with a taste for accommodation outside the traditional luxury 5* hotel, usually involving a minimum of 3 nights.  The attraction of China is that, according to the Boston Consulting Group,  it had 2.4m millionaires in 2013, a rise of 81% on the previous year, and now places it second in the overall global league table of the mega wealthy.

But the rise of the independent Chinese traveller is still a relatively new phenomenon, so the purpose of the mission was to establish whether the Chinese market has matured to such an extent that there is appeal for such a product, and if so how it will need to be adapted to meet the needs of the Chinese market.

There is a danger in the west that we over generalise about the Chinese market.  China is about the size of Europe; we should regard the Chinese as similarly diverse across their 9.7m square kilometres.  We shouldn’t therefore have been surprised to find that the tour operators we visited represented a diverse customer base, despite the fact that they work with a universally rich customer base.

We visited eight tour operators over 3 days and we were universally welcomed with hospitality (and a glass of hotel water) by senior members of staff – usually 2 or 3 in number.  Of the 25 people we met, approximately half had good English. With the others, we were helped by the translation services of our Account Director who accompanied us on all our visits.

  • Of the 8 tour operators visited, only 2 felt that their customer base was so wedded to the top Western hotel brands, that there was no immediate opportunity for my client’s product.
  • All were fairly universal in their view that it is necessary to deploy Chinese support staff on the ground.
  • Similarly, deploying Chinese sales staff at reservation centres is also key.
  • Interestingly, most believed their sales team could cope with an English booking system, though a couple of demonstrations of the speed of access from a European hosted website illustrated that hosting your booking system in China is more critical. We had more success with a more basic, less dynamic website, but you may wish to consider including Chinese website-hosting in your budget if you are planning on entering the Chinese market.
  • Despite all the tour operators offering tailor made itineraries for their clients, some wanted my client, who only sells accommodation, to build product around the accommodation.

So, was the mission a success?   Undoubtedly yes! My client left China confident that there is demand for his product, but also clear that launching in China will require a commitment that goes well beyond paying my company a fee for a sales mission.  He recognises that he has just taken the first step and that ‘potential’ will not turn into ‘contracts’ without follow-up and important decisions on deployment of resource both at destination and in China.

China Travel Outbound can organise a similar tailored sales mission for you from £2,500.  We will create an itinerary for you over 3 days, making appointments with tour operators tailored to your product.  In addition, we’ll take care of the small detail that will help to make your sales mission a success, such as providing an introduction to your company in Chinese, and printing your business cards in Chinese, complete with your new Chinese name!  During your sales mission, you will be accompanied to all your meetings by one of our team from our Beijing office, who will also act as your guide and host during your trip.  Beijing isn’t the easiest city to navigate around, so we will arrange a private car to pick you up from your hotel each morning and drive you to all your meetings.  We will even pick you up and drop you off at the airport at the beginning and end of your trip.

For more information, please contact Helena Beard.

The Chinese outbound traveller

A quick google search on the Chinese outbound traveller will produce a plethora of reports on the size and nature of this new emerging market.

The reason for this explosion of interest is not surprising.  According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, the Chinese are now the world’s biggest spenders on international tourism,   splashing out $102 billion in 2012—a 40% increase on the previous year.

Dig a little deeper and you will find some interesting myth busting facts too.  Yes, the Chinese are big spenders.  According to Visit Britain the Chinese are among the top three spenders when they visit Britain, spending an average of £405 per head.  But did you know that Independent travel is more popular than group travel? According to Hotels.com’s second annual Chinese International Travel Monitor survey results suggests that 62% of Chinese travellers prefer to travel independently.  This appears to be backed up by hoteliers who reported that 70% of their Chinese guests were not in groups, a 20% increase on the previous year.

So which ever report you read (and  I warn you there are quite a few to choose from!)  the evidence is clear.  The challenge is how do you react to this rapidly emerging market?  Perhaps you are wondering why your competitors appear to more effective than you in tapping into this market, there are 5 areas that I suggest you start to think about:

1. Is your website available in the Chinese language?  Don’t worry about the difference
between Cantonese and Mandarin, the two different dialects share the same written form.

2. How is your website ranked on China’s premier search engine Baidu.com?  If your website is only available in English, the answer is probably not very well.

3. What is your social media presence like in China?  If you think Facebook and Twitter will do it for you, I am afraid you will need to think again…., these sites are heavily restricted in China.  The closest equivalents are called Renren and Weibo.

4. Do you have a PR agency to ensure that the media, and in particular the travel trade media, are promoting your products and services into the Chinese market?

5. Do you have a sales representation team ready to promote you to the travel trade?  There are 10 different travel trade shows in China alone.  There is a very good chance your competitors are there, and if they’re not, there’s a great chance for you to steal a march on them.

Perhaps you have already thought about all the above (and could add a further five items to this list!)  but you don’t know where to start.  China Travel Outbound would love to help you.

For more information or a quote, please contact Helena Beard at [email protected]

 

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