ITB Berlin, the biggest tourism fair in the world, is also the host of the biggest tourism convention globally. On March 9th, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt, director of COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, chaired a panel discussion on “The New Chinese Tourist” which was visited by more than 100 participants.
The keynote speech of the panel, delivered by Jens Thraenhart, the president of Dragon Trail (Beijing), emphasised the segmentation which is visible in today’s Chinese outbound travelers. Not only is it necessary to distinguish between the cheap-and-awful mass tourism tours and the offers for affluent travelers. Even within the affluent travelers segment, nouveaux riches and understaters, achievers and dreamers have developed as separate parts of the market. Flashing the newly achieved wealth or relishing understatement, concentrating on the career or entering fairy tales in daily life – the wishes of the rich customers have to be fulfilled if international destinations and companies want a piece of the cake of the growing Chinese outbound tourism source market.
The following panel discussion provided additional insights from Raymond Chen Mingqiong, General Manager for Central Europe of Hainan Airlines, Declan Hurley, VP Marketing Ritz Carlton Hotel Company and Angelos Vlachos, former China Director (Beijing) & Tourism Policy Advisor of the Greek National Tourist Organization (GNTO). All participants agreed that the sophistication and the diversity of demands of the affluent guests from China will further grow in the coming years, providing opportunities for companies and destinations which do their homework for the Chinese market.
Lesser-known destinations like Oslo/Norway or Banff/Canada can turn into hot places for Chinese visitors if the tools of social media marketing and adequate product adaptation are used in the right way. But it became also clear that complacency will lead to disappointment.