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As the number of outbound Chinese travelers continues to rise, their trips are getting shorter.
According to a newly published study on Chinese travel trends by IPK International, the average length of international trips by Chinese travelers nearly halved between 2007 and 2014 even as total travelers rapidly increased. Although Chinese tourists spent an average of 10 nights abroad in 2007, that number dropped to 5.5 in 2014. This decrease was powered by short international trips lasting three nights or less, which grew by a staggering 444 percent in that time period, while the number of longer trips declined.
These statistics mean that Chinese travelers are “cash-rich,” yet “time-poor” on their trips—which illustrates how luxury brands must aggressively compete to become worthy of travelers' limited time. The good news is that 80 percent of international Chinese trips are currently for leisure, and shopping remains a favorite activity.
There are several key ways brands can reach short-term travelers. First, creating a quality experience is key—the report found that Chinese travelers are increasingly shelling out for first-class hotels, with 55 percent opting for luxury lodging and fewer spending on budget accommodations. This means that experiential luxury is becoming a growing priority, and it’s not just hotels, but boutiques that need to respond to this trend.
For luxury brands, a significant presence in top Chinese travel destinations is crucial, and this means they need to look to Asia. Shorter flights make the region a popular destination for Chinese tourists with limited travel time—according to IPK's study, Asia accounts for 68 percent of all trips by Chinese travelers. This was followed by Europe at 18 percent, Australia/Oceania at 9 percent, and the rest of the world at 5 percent. Brands should also make sure they have a presence in top Asian cruise stops—over the past seven years, cruise participation among Chinese travelers has increased by over 1,300 percent, and these sea-bound tourists are doing serious shopping when they disembark at ports along the way.
With such short travel times, Chinese tourists often conduct significant research prior to their trips—including what products they’ll be buying. To reach these travelers, brands need to have a strong digital presence that makes it easy for them to research store locations and product information before they leave. This includes not only information on the brand’s official website, but a comprehensive WeChat account that offers product descriptions, a global store locator, and customer service live-chat that can address requests regarding any region in the world.