China’s Jetsetting ‘Rich Kids’ Crave Adventure Travel

Hurun 2016

The top international travel destinations for wealthy Chinese millennials. (Hurun Report)

With a focus on young luxury travelers from the “post-80s” generation and later, this year’s luxury travel survey by Hurun finds that China’s young rich travelers are more likely than ever to head off the beaten path in search of unique and adventurous travel experiences.

The firm’s “Chinese Luxury Traveler 2016” report released this week looked at the shifting preferences of wealthy Chinese millennials, or those aged 18 to 36. Surveying 525 respondents in this age range with an average personal wealth of RMB38,770,000 (US$5.8 million), the study finds that they’re expected to seek an increasingly diverse range of travel experiences in the coming years.

Their top reason for traveling in the past year was “leisure,” (82 percent) followed by “exploring the world” (40 percent). International trips are predicted to rise by 25 percent over the next three years, while “adventure,” “polar expedition,” and “road trip” travel will increase by 52 percent, 38 percent, and 75 percent, respectively during this time, says the report. 

Nonetheless, members of this group are still highly interested in splashing out on shopping-filled luxury leisure trips to Paris and Tokyo as they head abroad every three to four months. Spending about RMB420,000 (US$65,000) a year on travel, Chinese millennial luxury travelers budget around RMB220,000 (US$34,000) on travel shopping. France was the most popular international destination for survey respondents with 40 percent listing it, followed by Japan, a massively popular destination with Chinese tourists over the past year and listed by 39 percent.

A total of 61 percent of respondents had been to Europe in the past year and 65 percent plan to visit within the next three years. Japan was their most-visited location during Chinese New Year this year, and survey respondents also listed it as their most “memorable” destination of 2015.

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Young, wealthy Chinese travelers’ reasons for going abroad. (Hurun Report)

Their favorite domestic travel destinations are also among the most far-flung, with Hainan topping the list at 49 percent, followed by Yunnan (43 percent) and Tibet (41 percent).

“Despite the economy slowing, the impact on outbound travel from high-net-worth individuals seems to have steadily grown,” says Hurun Report Chairman and Chief Researcher Rupert Hoogewerf. “The young luxury travelers [have] developed significant spending firepower, minted on the back of the recent boom in Chinese entrepreneurship, together with a growing class of second-generation ‘rich kids’.”

These “rich kids” also have high standards when it comes to hotel choice, according to the report. A total of 42 percent of respondents say personalized service is the biggest area of consideration when choosing a hotel, while 41 percent listed room cleanliness. Survey respondents also prefer hotel brands featuring “art and design that make the travel experience feel unique and fun,” while demanding high-tech digital equipment including WiFi (73 percent) and smart TVs (55 percent). Tailored service such as butlers and a selection of pillows is also appreciated.

Young Chinese travelers are also more likely to use digital platforms for their trip research, including official WeChat accounts (48 percent), and word-of-mouth through WeChat friends (47 percent), as well as Chinese travel booking sites—the three most popular are Ctrip, Qunar, and Tuniu (42 percent).

For those that opt to go with a travel agency when booking a trip, they still demand an individualistic touch. A total of 70 percent of respondents listed “personalized service” as their number one criteria for choosing a travel agency, followed by expertise (57 percent) and itinerary planning (54 percent).

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