As the Chinese outbound tourism market matures, it is becoming increasingly fragmented. There is no one kind of Chinese tourist, if indeed there ever was. Moving forward, travel agencies and destinations that can reach a specific type of Chinese traveler and customize their offerings to suit will find much greater success than those who try to be everything to everyone. USA Farseeing is a growing company doing just that.
USA Farseeing have created a unique leadership-focused travel experience specifically designed for Chinese business executives and their families. It currently provides at least 12 fully-booked overseas trips per year, and business is growing.
Spotting the Opportunity
“The idea for the business came about 15 years ago when my co-founder was working with executives in a university in China,” explained Zhang Tian, co-founder and Head of US Operations at Farseeing. “He discovered that, as Chinese corporations are expanding abroad and becomingly increasingly international, many Chinese executives not only want to improve their leadership skills through EMBA courses, they are also seeking opportunities to gain exposure to overseas companies and Western business thought leaders”.
To address this need, a growing number of Western business schools have established joint EMBA programs with Chinese schools. On top of that, some schools have created China executive leadership programs, which are essentially short one- or two-week travel study programs for EMBA students. These programs can be found at many schools all over the world from Copenhagen Business School to the University of Illinois. Programs typically include lectures, seminars, visits to local companies, financial institutions, and government agencies, and cultural, networking and social activities.
Filling a Gap
Unfortunately, the majority of these programs were open only to EMBA students and, of course, none of them were family-friendly, meaning that the executive would have to leave his or her family behind in China for the duration of the program. The founders of Farseeing saw this as an opportunity.
According to ForwardKeys, a travel analytics company which analyzes 16 million booking transactions a day, family travel is one of the fastest-growing segments in China’s outbound travel market. As disposable income continues to increase for many Chinese families, they are spending more time and money on travel each year. A recent report on Chinese travelers from management consultants Oliver Wyman found that the number of respondents travelling with children increased 12 percent from 2016 to 2017.
While family travel is oftentimes for leisure, in many cases there is an educational element involved. Over the past few years, there has also been an increase in Chinese families sending their children abroad for educational summer camps. Chinese families are notorious for filling up their children’s school vacations with additional classes that will ostensibly help them get ahead. Summer camps abroad offer Chinese students an academic education combined with a cultural education, and are a great opportunity for parents and students to test the water before sending the child abroad for university.
Because the children participating in these summer programs are typically middle school age and too young to travel alone, frequently one or both of the parents will accompany the student abroad and, after dropping the child off at the program will continue traveling or visiting family nearby before picking up the child and flying back together.
Combining Trends to Target a Specific Customer
The founders of USA Farseeing saw these three trends – executive leadership programs, family travel and children’s summer camps, and thought, why not combine all three and create a travel experience which addresses the needs of all the members of the family?
Today, the company specializes in educational leadership training trips for China’s high-level executives and their families. They combine travel around the US with visits to Fortune 500 companies and lectures from leading business professors at top US universities. While some lectures and activities are designed for the whole family to participate in, there are also portions of the trip where the executives’ spouses and children will break off and go site-seeing or shopping, and in some of the programs, the children will participate in a summer camp for the duration of the trip.
Having served thousands of executives and their families, USA Farseeing has found great success from addressing the pain points of one particular consumer. “Only executives, high-level managers, and entrepreneurs can apply to our programs,” shared Zhang Tian. “So far, we don’t have any major competitors, only some small competitors. We’ve established a good reputation through our customer service and the quality of our programs.”
While they’re somewhat unique in offering executive-oriented family travel, a growing number of companies are likewise finding their own niches in the Chinese travel market. YOLO, Set With Love, and Luxtrip are among the many companies who, similar to USA Farseeing, have a narrow product offering, a specific target audience and emphasize quality over quantity.