Chinese millennials dramatically increase travel spending

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Photo Credit: Torwai Studio/Shutterstock

Chinese residents born after 1990 are fueling a surge in international travel, with a preference for local experiences, independent accommodations and long-haul destinations.

And they're spending substantially more money to fund those trips.

In the seventh edition of Expedia Group's Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor, researchers found Chinese millennials spent 80% more on travel between May 2017 and May 2018 than they had in the prior 12 months.

The report is based on interviews conducted by market research firm Ipsos of more than 3,000 Chinese residents aged 18 to 58 who had traveled overseas in the past 12 months, along with proprietary data from Hotels.com and other research.

In 2017 across all age groups there were 130 million outbound Chinese travelers, 7% more than the prior year and 85% more than in 2011 when the first edition of the report was published.

Unique and local

In addition to a huge jump in spending by travelers born after 1990, that age group also spends a larger portion of their income on travel -- 36% -- compared to 28% for Chinese travelers overall.

And the survey found they are spending that money on "local flavor and colorful experiences." Sixty-nine percent of respondents say "tasting local delicacies" was their favorite activity in the past 12 months, followed by visiting local landmarks (65%) and shopping for authentic local items (43%).

When picking where to stay, researchers say Chinese travelers increasingly prefer properties that represent the local environment, rather than just making their decision based on a hotel's star rating. For the survey period, 55% of travelers had stayed in independent hotels, 49% in international hotel chains and 33% at boutique hotels.

When asked what makes a great travel experience, 56% of travelers say "living in atypical accommodation." Hotel amenities also factor into decision-making. WiFi ranks as the most important amenity at 60%, followed by on-site dining at 50% and room service at 36%.

How and where

For Chinese consumers, their style of travel is also changing.

While Chinese travelers used to overwhelmingly prefer structured group tours, now 65% say they prefer "free and easy" independent travel. The number is even higher for millennials: 71%.

Chinese travelers are also showing a propensity to venture farther from home.

When asked about travel plans for the next 12 months, 60% of respondents say they intend to travel to a country they haven't visited. Grouped regionally, Europe tops the list of desired destinations in the coming year, followed by North America and Oceania, primarily Australia.

Topping the list of things survey respondents would like to see improved is better mobile payment options. Fifty-nine percent would like to be able to pay using a QR scan in WeChat, and 57% want vendors to enable payments via mobile phones.
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Source: PhocusWire

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