Not long ago, it was the Eiffel Tower and the luxury shopping streets of London that fulfilled the fantasies of China’s affluent outbound holidaymakers. But a new, younger generation of Chinese travelers are going further than ever before. It’s not uncommon to find them exploring far-flung scenic spots like the lake-filled volcanic craters in Iceland or braving the desert for Burning Man. While they may be paying more for these excursions, value is no longer defined by cost, but authenticity and adventure.
The habits of these millennial and Gen-Z travelers are highlighted in the seventh edition of the Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM), a report compiled between Hotels.com and market research company Ipsos. Their findings show that when compared with their older counterparts, younger generations express unwavering enthusiasm for exploration: they’re spending more money, traveling more often, and staying longer.
The report surveyed more than 3,000 18-58-year-old Chinese consumers who had traveled abroad in the 12 months preceding June 2018. According to the results, millennials and Generation Z – defined in the report as post-80s and post-90s consumers – are spending “unprecedented amounts” on luxury holidays. This is especially true for post-90s travelers, who increased the amount they spend on a trip by 80 percent this year, devoting 36 percent of their income to travel, with an average of four trips a year.
“Millennials across the globe want to ‘experience it all’ and Chinese millennials are no exception,” the report author writes. “Cutting-edge technology, exotic foods, adventurous activities and accommodation with an authentic local flavor – this is the travel style of the new generation of Chinese travelers. They want to travel further from home and stay away longer to maximize these experiences.”
In fact, Chinese travelers born after 1980 are fueling the overseas travel boom that saw 130 million tourists traveling abroad last year, an 85 percent increase from six years before. They’re also behind the increased spending by Chinese travelers on additional hotel facilities and high-end add-on services, with post-90s travelers spending an average of US$183 in the 12-month period, more than any generation surveyed.
Marketers and travel industry companies have been rushing to cater to this lucrative market, but to prepare for these travelers means keeping their impulsiveness in mind, as the younger generations generally don’t book their trips very far in advance. The report calls them “spontaneous” and “travel savvy,” and more likely to book travel during off-peak seasons, driven by deals and local events that they discover on their digital channels. About 36 percent of millennials and Gen-Z travelers are more likely to book their vacations with less than one month to go, compared to 31 percent of non-millennials.
For more on the new Chinese traveler, see the full report here