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A Bite at the China Cherry

08/24/2012| 9:16:28 AM| 中文

Technology is the key that will allow travel providers to offer the comfort and convenience that Chinese travellers demand, delivering the right products to get their bite at the China cherry.

NB: This is an article by David Brett, President of Amadeus Asia Pacific.

Does it sometimes seem that no matter what city in the world you are in, you can always find a Chinese restaurant? While previously they provided a taste of the orient for the locals, they are fast becoming a haven for hoards of Chinese tourists looking for comfort food, whether they are in Hamburg, Honolulu, Seoul or Sydney. Chinese tourists are exploring all corners of the globe and it’s a group that is flexing its muscles in both spending power and size. Use of the Internet and new technologies in travel is still somewhat limited in China, but a shift is definitely underway.

With more than one billion potential customers ripe for the picking, travel providers are eager to compete for their bite at the China Cherry.

Could one billion Chinese travellers change the global balance?

It has been said that if the Chinese population moved as a group, the earth’s rotational balance would be altered.  While physically this is not possible, economically it’s a different story. China’s population of more than one billion is spending an increasing amount on travel. China is now the world’s second-largest business travel market after the U.S., and is expected to rank number one by 2015. According to Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Chinese travellers spend as much as 8% of their discretionary income each year on a single trip, much more than people from other emerging markets. And the number of Chinese who have ever rented a hotel room is expected to triple in the next decade. For now, the majority of travel is domestic, but that is rapidly changing.

While currently ranking as the world’s third largest travel market, it’s not difficult to imagine China moving up the ranks to take the top position in the coming years. It is critical that travel providers consider how to appeal to these travellers if they want to enjoy their slice of the Chinese travel market.

Comfort and Convenience

Airlines, hotels and tour operators around the world are rushing to provide services and activities to satisfy the demands of the Chinese customer.

Chinese travellers’ value comfort and convenience - comfort in the form of Chinese-language services and Chinese food, and convenience in the form of fast service and flexibility in payment options. The face-to-face travel agency industry continues to flourish within China because it provides the mix of comfort and convenience that travellers demand.  A lack of credit cards has meant that only 14% of Chinese Internet users have visited a travel website, according to PhoCusWright. However, in Chinese terms, 14% still represents more users than other country except the US.

But like all other emerging markets, technology is becoming an essential part of everyday life. Technology will be the key to China’s travel providers’ success in tapping into this booming market.

A recent study by Amadeus, from Chaos to Collaboration, showed that 89% of Chinese consider technology as very or extremely important in their lives today. And online travel companies are seeing rapid growth in China, particularly those that have been created locally with a specific understanding of local market needs.

Like all travelers, Chinese want to reduce the amount of time spent on the process of travelling. From booking to boarding, they want maximum convenience and they see technology as the answer. According to Amadeus’ research, Chinese travellers are twice as likely (62%) as travellers from the US to provide more personal information in return for more streamlined and efficient travel.

Technology will triumph

Amadeus has seen rapid growth in e-commerce technology adoption in China, and now provides the booking engines behind the majority of China’s airline websites. This includes China Southern and Hainan Airlines who recently extended their agreements with Amadeus and will continue to offer their customers low-fare search functionality, best-in-class faring and pricing capabilities for a superior real-time, online shopping and booking experience.

With one billion people eager to broaden their horizons and add new stamps to their passports, China is a major engine of growth for the global travel   industry. Asia has already been identified as the region to watch, and China is a major part of that.

Technology is the key that will allow travel providers to offer the comfort and convenience that Chinese travellers demand, delivering the right products to get their bite at the China cherry.

NB: This is an article by David Brett, President of Amadeus Asia Pacific.

TAGS: Amadeus | GDS
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