Luxury hotels in the U.S., which, like many businesses in the country, have been traditionally American and Western culture-centric, are increasingly adding amenities and services geared toward the rising tide of Chinese travelers.
New Commerce Department numbers predict the U.S. will boost its foreign visitor count by 3.5% this year, to 72.2 million, and will attract 83.8 million visitors in 2018. The growth will largely be led by a doubling in Chinese visitors, the Commerce Department forecast.
Forward-thinking travel companies are adopting programs to tap into the growth.
The Hyatt Regency Chicago, for example, has adopted the “Nin Hao,” or Good Day, program for Chinese visitors.
The program offers a welcoming kit for guests that includes a bathrobe and slippers, a tea kettle and tea cups, a welcome letter and compendium pages in Chinese, Chinese-language tourist maps and information brochures and a Chinese TV channel. The hotel also has a Mandarin-speaking employee, translation technology and a 24-hour hotline with a Mandarin speaking translator.
To ensure the success of this program, Hyatt Regency Chicago was paired with a “sister hotel” the Hyatt Regency Hagnzhour, that helped with the implementation of the program and remains as a source for assistance and guidance.
Hyatt is far from alone in looking for ways to accommodate this segment. Travel companies around the world have for years been studying ways to attract and grow loyalty among potential Chinese travelers.
Preferred Hotels Group CEO Lindsey Ueberroth told me recently that one of the top priorities for her companies is to become China experts.
Ueberroth says the company has launched a “China ready” program to grow brand recognition in the country and “be considered by the Chinese travelers as a group of hotels that really understands their needs when they are traveling."
“There are a lot of very wealthy Chinese travelers,” Ueberroth said.
According to the Commerce Department, domestic hotel companies might want to keep their eyes on a few other cultures as well. New estimates indicate visitors from Colombia, India, Taiwan and Brazil will jump at least 50% during the next four years.