As 2023 is ending, we recognise this year as the first rebound-year after the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding trends and how consumers acted throughout this year is a telling sign for the future, showing us where priorities lie in a time of market recovery. As global travel rebounds in the post-pandemic era, Chinese tourists are making a return to the international stage. Their economic significance and evolving travel habits make them a coveted market for businesses worldwide. However, the expectations and desires of a Chinese traveller have changed significantly over three years.
The Desire to Return
Since the borders opened earlier in the year, Chinese tourists have been returning to international travel. New Zealand is already seeing an increase in the return of Chinese tourists, however, reaching pre-pandemic levels is going to take dedication and time. In July 2019, 11% of all international travellers were from China, whereas in July 2023 this number was only 8%. Australia is also experiencing similar results, where in July 2023 they had 79,040 short-term visitors from China compared to their July 2019 numbers of 150,390 Chinese visitors. These statistics highlight how the road to recovery is long, however, numbers have improved since the reopening of borders. Businesses need to adjust to the influx of tourists and make sure they can offer top services to the visitors to regain numbers and promote return visitors.
In this article, we will highlight the top travel trends for Chinese tourists in 2023, and we will provide crucial tips for businesses preparing to welcome Chinese tourists once again. From adapting to new travel preferences to harnessing digital marketing strategies, we’ll explore how your business can successfully cater to this influential demographic’s new preferences. If you’re eager to tap into this thriving market, read on to discover strategies to position your business for success.
- Experiences Over Expenses.
In a post-COVID-19 world, Chinese tourists are increasingly prioritising experiences over shopping when visiting new countries. 62% of Chinese Gen Z travellers reported their motivations for travel revolved around trying new activities and cuisines. Another study reinforced this, where they highlighted “foodie” experiences, sightseeing, history, and culture were all highly ranked among survey takers. This shift toward experiences in 2023 reflects a desire to make the most of previously limited travel opportunities, valuing memorable moments and unique experiences that enrich their lives and foster a deeper understanding of diverse cultures.
Moving into 2024, businesses should aim at marketing their goods or services as an experience with a unique quality such as the location, ingredients, or significance to your country. This will appeal to the Chinese tourist’s desire to be immersed, to experience new things, and to feel connected in the country they are visiting.
Image Source: Gulu, Little Red Book.
Chinese KOL Influencer Gulu taking part in AJ Hackett’s Sky Jump in Auckland, New Zealand.
- Easy to Find Information.
As 2023 saw the reopening of borders, Chinese tourists were seen to be looking for clear information readily available. When travelling abroad, language barriers can be a significant challenge, and having details available in Chinese helps bridge that gap.
Chinese tourists in 2023 have reported the desire for clear, safe, and easy-to-navigate information regarding shopping, payments, and directions. Information allows them to navigate unfamiliar destinations, understand local customs, make informed choices about dining and accommodations, and explore the rich history and culture of the places they visit.
Businesses should utilise resources, both online and offline, to ensure Chinese consumers can overcome the language barrier. Offering information in both English and Mandarin, having an employee that can speak both languages, as well as providing online information will be beneficial to ensuring Chinese tourists have the best experience.
- Digital Payments.
Offering digital payment options was of utmost importance when catering to Chinese tourists in 2023. China is at the forefront of digital payment technology, with platforms such as Alipay and WeChat Pay dominating the market. Chinese tourists are accustomed to the convenience and efficiency of mobile payments in their daily lives and expect the same ease of transactions when travelling abroad. Furthermore, it fosters a positive impression of the destination as one that is progressive, accommodating, and in tune with the needs of modern travellers.
By providing digital payment solutions, businesses and destinations not only streamline the payment process but also create value for Chinese visitors through a more inclusive and comfortable environment.This not only simplifies their travel experience but also encourages spending, boosts sales, and enhances the overall tourism industry’s competitiveness.
Image Source: Pexels.com, Jack Sparrow, Paying_with_a_Smartphone
- Official WeChat Account and Mini Program.
2023 studies showed that Chinese tourists rely heavily on social media and online platforms for research, planning, and choosing destinations for travel. Being able to access information online has already been highlighted as a key to engaging Chinese tourists, however using WeChat in your brand strategy upgrades this to a new level.
As of May 2023, there were over 928 million monthly active users of WeChat mini programs, highlighting the significant impact this can have on your brand. WeChat official accounts and mini-programs not only show that your brand is reliable, open, and informative, but it shows that you understand Chinese consumers and are willing to adapt to their preferences post-COVID-19.
- Use of Social Media.
In 2023, Chinese tourists insisted they use social media for the planning and preparation of a trip. UGC (User-Generated Content) and collaboration with KOLs (key opinion leaders), KOCs (key opinion consumers), or other content creators can be immensely valuable for a brand seeking to attract Chinese tourists. A study showed that nearly 70% of interviewees agreed that travel posts on social media by influencers inspired them to travel. In 2023, collaborating with Chinese content creators on platforms such as Douyin and XiaoHongShu enabled a brand to tap into its extensive user base.
Businesses should be excited about the prospects of connecting with KOL’s or KOC’s, where engaging with content creators allows a huge opportunity for their brand to be recognised within the Chinese social media space.
To find out more about getting connected with Chinese influencers, get in contact with UMS today!
Image source: Pexels.com, Tim Gouw, People_Taking_Pictures_during_Daytime
In conclusion, COVID-19 has altered the desires, planning process, and expectations of Chinese tourists. Understanding the top trends of 2023 is essential for brands to know how to engage this huge market in the future. Contrary to expectations, this year has proven that safety, information, and accessibility are at the forefront of the Chinese tourist’s mind, and brands need to be able to adapt to these trends.
To find out more about using Chinese social media to engage prospective tourists, check out our China social media platforms guide:
Cover image source: Pexels.com