Travel Savvy Chinese Consumers will Shape Future of Travel

03:30  12 october  2017
03:30  12 october  2017 Source:   TravelPulse

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  Savvy Chinese Consumers will Shape Future of Travel © Thinkstock

The travel industry around the globe will need to evolve if it’s going to keep up with the Chinese traveler.

Consumers in China are accustomed to using a range of mobile technologies that are only just beginning to take hold in other countries.

They also live in a society that favors on-the-go payment solutions and brand oriented, store-front style online shopping.

China leads the world in e-commerce and is expected to exceed $1.132 trillion in sales this year. That’s nearly half of worldwide e-commerce sales, according to eMarketer and 75% of China’s e-commerce sales will be transacted on mobile devices.

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This fascinating snapshot of the Chinese travel consumer was revealed in a new report from Skyscanner, which details travel tech trends in the country and how they’ll steer the future of the industry around the globe.

“China is an authentically mobile society and in the travel context, companies there have successfully used technology to automate payments and customer service within native mobile applications,” Steven Pang, Skyscanner General Manager, China, states in the report.

China leads the world in applications to support online shopping, including mobile payments like Alipay and WeChat Pay. Consumers in China are accustomed to browsing and purchasing with a few quick taps on their smartphone screens. They’re also engaged in the shopping process as active reviewers and sharers.

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Half of the Chinese digital consumers interviewed for a 2016 McKinsey survey also use social media for product research and to get recommendations. Ultimately, 31% initiated purchases using links promoted on social media platforms.

These are just some of the trends that may influence the future of travel marketing in China and beyond.

The Chinese consumers’ growing preference for mobile as a sole retail channel, in particular, may have a profound impact. About 45% of Chinese consumers shop on their mobile device at least once per week, compared to 11% of people in the rest of the world.

At the same time travel, like technology, is becoming a major part of life in China. The prosperity brought about by China’s rise as a technology economy has helped fuel a new era of wanderlust, with Chinese consumers traveling both at home and abroad and placing great importance on travel as part of a balanced life.

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By 2024, IATA expects China will have overtaken the US as the world’s largest aviation market (defined by traffic to, from and within the country). By 2035, annual passenger numbers in China will reach 1.3 billion.

The report’s big takeaway is that between the country’s rapidly growing number of travelers,  the booming aviation sector and the penchant for technology, there’s a major opportunity for airlines and others in the travel industry. That opportunity requires adapting and embracing the Chinese penchant for technology in order to tap into the massive audience of Chinese travelers.

Specific travel technology opportunities discussed in the report include:

— Some of the features consumers value in brick-and-mortar retail can be adapted to online and mobile shopping, particularly in a travel context. For example, while a brick and mortar travel agency may be able to offer personalized service, new travel technology trends focus on tailored offers.

— Digital platforms can be enriched with a greater variety of content, which might help consumers visualize and anticipate their travel experience, including with multi-media.

— Interactive visual media can go beyond what paper catalogs might offer.

—The digital shop is open 24 hours a day, every day of the week, giving consumers time to ponder a high involvement purchase like travel.

— With social media contacts and consumer reviews, travel companies can offer greater context to the travel planning process.

The bottom line? Travel industry movers and shakers need to be prepared. The Chinese consumer is technologically savvy and ready to travel. Now it’s time for the industry to catch up.

“The burgeoning middle class in China is increasingly looking for new travel experiences abroad and technology plays a key role in providing information that is inspirational, tailored to local needs, and trusted,” said Pang.

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