Chinese are changing the tourist industry in the west profoundly, says Roy Graff of ChinaContact in IBT. Getting your online presence is one key element: ““The issue is that if you have a global Twitter or Facebook marketing plan, you need a separate plan for their Chinese equivalents.”
Roy Graff, founder and managing director of China Contact, said the growth of the Japanese market may have changed the industry slightly, but it “was just a drop in the ocean compared to what Chinese tourism can impact.”
Japanese travelers, he said, compelled hotels to offer more rooms with twin beds or provide baths instead of showers. But the Chinese have their own unique travel habits.
“There are certain amenities they will expect in their room,” Graff notes, “such as slippers, a kettle to make tea, instant noodles and chopsticks.” They also expect a breakfast menu that has less cheese Danish and more meat and congee.
And these are just the basics. If a hotel really wants to attract Chinese customers, it needs to offer a Chinese-language TV channel and have printed information like maps and brochures in simplified Chinese. If it’s a larger hotel, there should be someone on staff who can speak Mandarin. Going further, Chinese groups should not be allocated rooms on any floor containing the number four because it sounds like the Mandarin word for death. Also, red is lucky, but too much white is frowned upon…
Let’s say your company has a great social media department with thousands of Twitter followers and tens of thousands of Facebook likes. Your global marketing plan may work great for 80 percent of the world, but what about the 20 percent that live in China where Facebook and Twitter are replaced by state-controlled Renren and Sina Weibo?
“When companies talk about global marketing, they cannot say ‘Well it’s China.’ It has to be an integral part,” Graff said. “The issue is that if you have a global Twitter or Facebook marketing plan, you need a separate plan for their Chinese equivalents.”
Offline, forging people-to-people connections in China is key.
“The change in Europe and North America is going to be profound. Chinese are going places many tourists didn’t normally go, so it’s kind of like a blank slate. You can create the story that attracts the Chinese consumer.”
Dealing with Chinese tourists means dealing with China´s internet media. Are you looking for experts on e-commerce at the China Speakers Bureau? Have a look at this list.