Five Things to know about the Chinese Market for your Small- to Medium-sized tourism business
For the last two years, Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) has been leading the parade celebrating the emerging markets for tourism businesses. Of these new markets, the spotlight is brightly shining on the Chinese traveller.
At numerous conferences and AGMs, a speaker will tell us what we need to do to prepare: including cooking Congee, preparing special teas, creating a Chinese website and being active on the Chinese social network, Weibo. They tell us that without creating a suitable environment for Chinese tourists to book and experience New Zealand, we'll miss out on the 'golden goose of tourism'.
Last week, I attended Tourism New Zealand's all day workshop on the Chinese and Halal market along with two others from the Tomahawk Team.
Our mission was to get the facts about current arrivals, get a better understanding of TNZ's plans and outlook for the tourism industry, and most importantly, ask the straight-shooter questions regarding the reality of this market for the small to medium sized tourism operator.
Here are the top five things we believe you need to know about the Chinese Market:
1. The Numbers
Currently the average stay for the Chinese visitor is three days. These visits are usually shopping focussed bus tours which are combined with a trip to Australia. TNZ's goal is to increase the average length of stay to 8 days in the next 3 years.
Currently there are only 500 top end free and independent Chinese visitors to New Zealand per year.
2. The Agents
The New Zealand and Chinese governments have created what is called the 'Approved Destination Status' (ADS) which is a code of conduct. Any inbound agent that would like to work with the Chinese visitor must apply and be approved. Currently, there are 27 ADS inbound agents - the list is available on http://www.tourismnewzealand.com.
One of your best chances to gain business from the Chinese market is to work with one of these accredited agents.
3. The Potential
I don't think anyone can doubt the future potential of the Chinese market. The size and the great wealth found in this market means that in time the New Zealand tourism industry in general will benefit greatly from the Chinese visitor.
4. The Preparation
The Chinese market has unique needs, so preparation is necessary. Having the appropriate food, especially breakfast is important. We all like to have something familiar for breakfast - after all! Learning correct greetings and etiquette of gift giving, the concept of Guan Xi, having slippers in the room, providing Union Pay credit card facilities and other services are necessary in time.
5. The Last Point
In my opinion, it will be 3-5 years before the FIT Chinese market begins to make a difference that will be felt by most owner operated tourism operators in New Zealand. In the meantime, keep reading and learning so you can be ready when the time comes to host the Chinese traveller.
For today, concentrate on giving the best customer experience possible to your current market, keep the testimonials flowing and enjoy sharing your unique tourism experience with each and every customer.