Unlocking China's luxury travel sector
Destinations such as Australia, UK and America need to understand how to service the premium traveller, if they want luxury travel business from any of China's one million millionaires.
That was the claim by David Thomas, a consultant for Think Global Consulting, who was speaking at the Luxperience Thought Leaders forum in Sydney Town Hall.
"We simply don't understand how to service the premium traveller," said Thomas, who believes elite Chinese travellers need to experience better human 'software' when they visit the West.
China Luxury Travel Network's founder, Lin Xu, who was also addressing the 240 luxury traveller buyers and sellers at the forum, said it was "not just about language".
"The Chinese traveller wants to be handled by people who understand their culture, not just language," he said
Xu said that there were in reality about 2.7 million US dollar millionaires in China as many exist under the radar.
And it is a group that averages about three foreign trips a year, creating a booming luxury travel demand of up to nine million trips per year.
Millionaires, the rising middle class and brand-conscious aspirational travellers from the mainland account for about 25% of all international luxury brand consumption.
Xu told the audience the total spend was about US$102 billion in 2012 with online spend alone worth around US$57 billion.
China's travel search is increasingly online, with Weibo and Wechat social media referral sites now driving massive amounts of travel related business.
The Luxperience Thought Leaders panel of six speakers agreed that the West needs to better understand the decision-making process among China's travellers, including the role of women and extended families.
Newly rich male executives may earn it, but their wives and girl friends often spend it.
Research has to be online, in Chinese and easy to use on mobile devices too.
Clement Wong, the founder of BeMyGuest.travel told the audience that Chinese and Asian luxury travellers spend so much time in traffic jams that travel companies now must have websites that look good and function well on tablets and smart phones from the back of a car.
Only then will they get their share of China's outbound travel market, that Xu said amounted to 83 million international trips each year.
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