Understanding the Behaviours of Chinese Tourists When They Travel

<p>Chinese tourists in France</p>

According to an article by the Diplomat, recent predictions have suggested that by 2022, China will see its middle class swell to around 630 million people.

Chinese tourists were the biggest spenders in 2016, splurging a whopping $274 billion on their travels, especially in popular destinations outside of Asia such as the UK, France, Italy, and Germany.

They make up the largest share of all international tourists, and on average spend more money than tourists from any other country.

So what does it all mean for Europe, and France in particular? In this article, Hi-Com shares insights on how your business can tap into the latest Chinese tourism boom.

1. Understand the habits of Chinese tourists

Chinese tourists are very easily influenced by the opinions of others. When traveling, they refer to their own “review and advice tools”, the king of which is Dazhong Dianping. Featuring similar functions to Yelp, it lists local retailers, restaurants, bars, cinemas etc. in China and abroad and it is the go-to tool for Chinese tourists. For example if a restaurant has a seemingly never-ending list of raving reviews on Dianping, the Chinese will flock there in their droves without any hesitation.

On the flipside of course, a couple of bad reviews will put off many potential Chinese customers who will opt to dine somewhere with a higher rating. In China it is not uncommon to see two restaurants side-by-side serving the same type of cuisine, where one is completely empty and the other has crowds of hungry diners queuing outside for up to 1 hour to be served. This is the Dianping effect in full play.

We will show you a step-by-step guide for this incredibly influential and powerful app and how it works in the next article. We will also fill you in on how you can get your business listed on Dianping so that you don’t miss out, and also how you can post your first reviews on Dianping and other Chinese social media platforms.

2. Know the key dates of the Chinese Holiday Calendar.

In this case – ignorance certainly isn’t bliss! Holidays are a very important part of life in any society, and in China it’s no different. One very important thing to be aware of is that the Chinese holiday calendar has almost nothing in common with the European and American calendars.

As a non-Christian country, there are no Christmas holidays, Easter breaks, or those countless ‘ponts de mai’ the French are famous for. Instead, the main two holidays are ‘Golden week’, which follows China’s National day at the beginning of October, and the week during the Chinese New Year which falls between mid-January and mid-March. This break is based on the Lunar calendar, which is why the dates will be different each year. For many Chinese people, the two periods mentioned above are the only opportunities they will have to take a holiday during the whole year. As a result, tourist spots inside China are completely overrun with visitors at these times, and more and more Chinese tourists are therefore looking beyond their borders for new and less crowded experiences.

3. Localize your business to make Chinese tourists feel like home

Making customers comfortable is one of the ultimate goals of any business. However here, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Chinese customers need to be served by one of their own (even though this could go a long way in some sectors).

Nevertheless it is certainly worth considering how you can ‘localize’ and adapt your services to suit your new target customers. Your localization strategy may consist of translating your menu and door signs, adding a few cultural-friendly dishes to your menu, providing photo opportunities (for restaurants), installing Chinese TV channels, providing advice, warning signs, and other information written in Chinese, access to hot drinking water and familiar breakfast options, and providing your staff with cultural training (especially for hotels).

Paying attention to the details above and many others (such as being listed on Dianping of course), will greatly increase the chances of satisfying your Chinese customers, and is sure to do wonders for your popularity in the Chinese online world.

When users make a payment with either Alipay or WeChat Pay abroad, the customer always pays in Chinese Yuan (RMB), while the stores receive the payment in their local currency. This means that it is not necessary for non-Chinese businesses to deal with foreign exchange, as the revenue is sent to the business’s usual bank account.

4. Install WeChat Pay and Alipay

Recently, WeChat Pay, the online payment giant from China created by Tencent in 2011, started introducing its instant payment service in France through cooperation with French bank BNP Paribas, making it available to French retailers, to compete with its Chinese rival Alipay from the Alibaba Group, which already has a decent presence in France, meaning that French retailers are now able to target over 938 million monthly active WeChat users. And we’re not just talking large department stores here. Any shop, restaurant or bar can install WeChat’s QR code payment system, a favourite among Chinese shoppers, which, believe us, if you haven’t used yet is one of the most convenient things that has ever happened to humanity! By simply scanning your business’s QR code, your customers can pay in an instant using their mobile phones, and in their own currency. You then receive the payment to your business account in your own currency!

Having a “WeChat Pay/Alipay” door sign will undoubtedly improve your chances of attracting Chinese tourists passing by and elevate you from your neighbours who are either still sceptic or simply oblivious to the WeChat/Alipay revolution.

Hungry for more? Visit Hi-Com's website for 6 more tips to help your business tap into the booming Chinese tourism industry.