Four Seasons: “Half Of Our Hotels Opening In 2012 And 2013 Are In China”

Four Seasons Now Has Two Locations In Mainland China

Four Seasons Hangzhou at West Lake

Four Seasons Hangzhou at West Lake

With major global hotel chains like Hilton and Starwood rolling out new programs catering to outbound Chinese tourists, luxury hoteliers both large and small expanding into relatively “blank-slate” second- and third-tier cities, and more brands competing on the experiential level to tap growing domestic tourist demand, clearly China remains one of the most important single markets in the global hotel industry. Despite challenges like often low occupancy rates and market saturation in top-tier cities, hoteliers at the top end of the market still see huge opportunities in the Chinese market, which in inland areas and emerging economic centers like Chongqing, Chengdu and even Kunming, has ample untapped potential.

This week, Ad Age reported on the new priority that the global hotel chain Four Seasons has placed on digital marketing, an area that is becoming critical for luxury brands operating in China. Wrapping up the interview with VP of Marketing, Susan Helstab, Ad Age interestingly delves into the China market:

Ad Age: How important are China and Chinese travelers to Four Seasons?

Ms. Helstab: Half of our hotels opening in 2012 and 2013 are in China. Of the eight in the pipeline, four are in China. And Beijing is under construction for 2014.

We’re building our hotels both for the domestic traveler and the outbound Chinese traveler.

Several months ago we introduced a Chinese amenity program [outside China], similar to one about 20 years ago for the Japanese traveler — with materials in the local language, downloadable Chinese newspapers and Mandarin speakers in the hotel. Several serve congee for breakfast and use the right kind of rice.

Though it’s not surprising that major chains continue to add amenities aimed at Chinese tourists, the speed with which top hoteliers like Four Seasons have adopted a more China-specific focus indicates that they’re taking the long view on Chinese outbound tourism. Considering China is expected to become the world’s largest producer of outbound tourists by 2020, this is probably a smart move.


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