How Chinese Travelers Pick A Hotel: Friends’ Opinions Matter, But Services A Must

The Mandarin Oriental in London. (Mandarin Oriental)

The Mandarin Oriental in London. (Mandarin Oriental)

When it comes to the process by which international Chinese travelers decide on a hotel, they may rely on their friends for information, but the location’s overall quality is the deciding factor, according to a new report by Hotels.com.

The website’s Chinese International Travel Monitor 2013 surveyed both Chinese travelers and hoteliers to gain insight into the factors that go into the decision-making process for the world’s largest group of overseas tourists. According to the report, Chinese travelers first receive their information about hotels mainly from friends, which they use 60 percent of the time, and rely on as a top source 15 percent of the time. Travel guides and websites are also important sources of information for finding a hotel.

Among the younger generation, travel agents are on their way out of style, losing out to the convenience of the internet. According to the report, travelers under the age of 35 are much more likely to book hotels directly through the company website than those over 35 (57 percent and 45 percent, respectively) while only 25 percent of those under 35 book through a travel agent, compared to 40 percent for those above the age of 35.

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However, friends’ recommendations aren’t the main deciding factor when it comes to actually choosing which hotel to book. Rather, comfort, star rating, amenities offered, and reputation are among the top reasons for the Chinese traveler’s final choice. Price is only a secondary consideration, as it ranks pretty far down on the list as compared to demand for quality.

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When it comes to the specific amenities hotels can offer, convenient payment options such as UnionPay, Mandarin-speaking staff, and free WiFi are the top services in demand from Chinese visitors. Among these services, hotels worldwide appear to be lacking the most in providing Chinese-speaking staff, and more than a fourth of hotels need to improve on providing payment options.

Screen shot 2013-08-25 at 6.23.31 PMSince a majority of hotels already offer free WiFi, it is now a must-have service for hotels hoping to keep up with their competition. Chinese travelers in particular expect free WiFi as a basic feature. According to a recent article by Lin Xu, marketing manager at Affinity China, “Young independent Chinese travelers have been visiting Hong Kong and Seoul for a while now and have grown accustomed to widely available WiFi. Therefore, young Chinese travelers tend to assume that internet is always within access when they travel overseas.”

Meanwhile, hotels worldwide will only begin to provide translated materials on a broad basis within the next year, which is another helpful fact to know for those hoping to get a leg up on their competitors. See the chart below for the amenities already offered, and those that are being introduced by many in the coming months:

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