COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute. Le COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute est le premier institut de recherche indépendant dans le monde pour l’information, la formation, l’évaluation de la qualité, la recherche et le conseil ayant trait au marché chinois émetteur du tourisme.

Depuis 2004 COTRI a soutenu des acteurs régionaux, nationaux et internationaux du tourisme privé et public et des détaillants locaux partout dans le monde.

Le siège social du COTRI est situé à Heide / Allemagne, avec des bureaux chinois à Beijing, Shanghai et Guangzhou et un réseau mondial de « exclusive country partners » COTRI couvrant plus de 35 pays à travers le monde.

HoteliTour a obtenu le certificat “Chine Outbound Tourism Expert Qualité” délivré par l’Institut allemand COTRI pour l’organisation de la formation sur le tourisme émetteur chinois. HoteliTour est le représentant exclusif du COTRI pour la France, Maroc et Tunisie et est membre du COTRI China Outbound Tourism Expert Panel (COTEP) composé de professionnels tout autour du monde (chercheurs, universitaires, personnalités de l’industrie du tourisme et etourisme en Chine).

GBtimes

HoteliTour interview : Europe’s travel industry should become more Chinese-friendly

ZHANNA KOIVIOLA
Friday, May 23, 2014 – 14:04

As the world leader in the number of outbound tourists and the amount of overseas spending, China expects the European tourism market to become more Chinese-friendly in order to keep up with the needs of Chinese tourists who are willing to explore the world and are ready to pay for their globetrotting.

From hotels, restaurants and shopping malls hiring Chinese speaking personnel to national governments streamlining visa application procedures, everyone wants the hordes ofChinese travelers to spend money in their destination.

With no sign of slowing down, the huge potential of the affluent Chinese source market is already being felt in France and Italy, the top European destinations for Chinese tourists. But are those countries doing enough to cater to the growing Chinese market?

To answer this question and to find out more about the current situation, gbtimes talked to two experts in the field of Chinese tourism to Europe – Alice Rossetto from Italy’s Rossetto Solutions Co. and Claude Bénard from France’sHoteliTour, both partners of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI).

Destination: Europe

Some 1.4 million Chinese tourists head to France each year while Italy receives some 1.2 million and is preparing for a tourist boom ahead of theMilan Expo 2015. But what is the driving force behind these dizzying statistics?

Claude Bénard believes that the growth in Chinese tourism to France can be partially explained by the generally strong bilateral relationship that the two countries have enjoyed for decades, with 2014 marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and China.

“For more than 10 years, there has been the bilateral ADS [approved destination status] tourism agreement with China, which also contributes to tourism cross-promotion and marketing. And of course, let’s not forget about all the French tourist assets,” says Bénard.

Analyzing the attractiveness of Italy as a travel destination, Alice Rossetto highlights its cultural features. “I do believe that there are a lot of aspects that make Italy such a good destination for the Chinese, and many of those have to do with the Italian lifestyle. Our passion for life and beautiful things can be found in a lot of Chinese people as well.”

“The rich historical heritage is another thing, and Italian natural resources can be appreciated by people who come from huge metropolises like Shanghai or Beijing. I also think that the Chinese and Italians see family values in a similar way,” Rossetto explains.

The Chinese are also big spenders, and love luxury shopping – a mission that can be easily accomplished in Paris or Milan. According to theGlobal Blue data, for the sixth consecutive year, Chinese shoppers, who account for 62% of all luxury purchases in Europe, are the biggest spending nationality, spending on average 815 euros per transaction.

Targeting the Chinese market

Although it’s hard to put the huge and diverse Chinese market in a nutshell, “the majority of Chinese people traveling to Italy are between 25 and 44 years old, and they stay in the country for five to ten days. It’s very common that their itinerary does not only include one destination, but up to four,” says Rossetto.

Both experts talk about a strongly growing trend in Chinese tourism – as Chinese tourists get richer, they start to shun group tours in favor of traveling on their own, in small groups – as couples or among friends – and look for more quality.

With that in mind, the issue of providing demanding Chinese tourists with high-standard services and products is becoming top priority for travel and tourism companies who would like to capture their share of this booming market.

French expert Claude Bénard puts its plainly by that “currently, the French market is not able to serve Chinese customers at the level they expect, except for some fine destinations that keep track of the market, like the French Riviera and a few other regions.”

From the lack of information (brochures, maps, signs, etc.) in Chinese to the wrong attitude, the reason is simple – many French companies, big or small, don’t know the Chinese market well enough and are not aware of the needs of Chinese tourists, Bénard says. In the case of Italy, Rossetto has also noticed that “a lot of tour operators are not used to welcoming people that come from non-western countries.”

“It’s a complex and very special market, with a lot of competition. You need to be professional, to learn about it and be trained. If we don’t do it, we’ll lose the market share,” Bénard explains, adding that special attention should be paid on marketing, both online and offline. It’s important to keep in mind that the marketing strategies used to target the Chinese market are not the same ones used for the American or other markets.

Meeting the demands

The first step into the direction of meeting the demands of Chinese tourists is to try to understand why they are so demanding, says Rossetto. “I believe that if you know more about the country and its people, then it’s much easier to treat that ‘demand’ simply as an adaptation to what your customers like and are used to.”

The Italian expert gives a practical and very down-to-earth example – the hotel breakfast. “For many Chinese, breakfast is one of the main meals during the day. So why not try to understand what your Chinese customers like to have for breakfast in advance, even in the case of smaller hotels that cannot afford an entire breakfast tailored to Chinese consumers. By preparing some food that they like, you can get a happy customer.”

This year, the French authorities have gone a long way to meet Chinese tourists’ demand for security. During the summer, Chinese police officers will be working in the streets of Paris to ensure that the guests coming from China feel protected.

The move, however, is quite controversial, Bénard says, due to the fact that introducing Chinese police officers in Paris has a lot to do with numerous reports of Chinese tourists being targeted by muggers that are causing a “bad buzz” in French and international media.

Although both France and Italy may feel they are lagging in terms of ‘demand vs. supply’ balance, it’s never too late to improve the quality of services, Rossetto believes.

“My suggestion is to take the Expo as the next opportunity or a timeframe by when to be ready with certain extra services for the Chinese, certain websites and information in the Chinese language, or a Chinese corner,” says the Italian expert.

“Why not try to go to China once or twice before 2015 to get a better idea of your customers? I think we are getting ready, but we still have a lot to do, especially in terms of networking, and learning to work together, not alone.”

“It’s a long process to win this market,” says Bénard. But with the Chinese outbound tourists to double to 200 million annually by 2020, the game is worth the candle.