Different charms for a cautious bunch

A new study finds Chinese consumers are far more cautious with travel but their wanderlust remains, asserts Sienna Parulis-Cook, spokesperson for Dragon Trail International, a marketing solutions specialist in China.

Dragon Trail’s Chinese Consumer Travel Sentiment Report found uncertainty for outbound leisure and business travel remains high, running counter to our expectations that vaccines would boost travel confidence. Why have Chinese respondents felt this way?
When the survey was taken in 1Q2021, global vaccination campaigns still had a long way to go, and the results of those campaigns were not as obvious as they are now.

China’s own vaccination drive has really only taken off from May 2021. Although vaccines are delivering positive results around the world, for Chinese travellers, it won’t be until travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are lifted that international travel becomes a real possibility once more.

A majority 51 per cent of respondents said they have become more cautious about travel since the pandemic. Will this mentality result in reduced leisure time during business trips?
I would not expect a reduction in ‘bleisure’ unless it is due to in-destination travel restrictions – for example, Chinese business travellers to Singapore in 2020 were required to stick to a pre-approved itinerary and refrain from taking public transportation.

Our survey respondents showed strong interest in visiting attractions such as landmarks and museums on their next outbound trip, indicating that they do not intend to significantly change how they travel due to health concerns.

China is regarded as a gold mine of a source market for many destination marketers. What would such deflated international travel confidence mean for marketers working to rebuild travel interest among Chinese travellers this year?
Strong engagement with overseas travel-related content on Chinese social media platforms, and with tourism boards livestreaming content from abroad suggests that Chinese travellers are still very interested in outbound travel, but simply cannot make plans to do so at this time. Continuing to inspire Chinese travellers and also keep them apprised of strong health protocols and positive news about successful pandemic control measures can help to guide their future travel decisions.

Let’s also talk about Chinese travellers’ preference for destinations that are deemed friendly to Chinese people. Is this something that corporate travel managers dealing with Chinese travellers as well as event organisers/owners targeting Chinese attendees should pay close attention to?
Our survey findings showed that friendliness to Chinese travellers was actually ranked as the most important factor impacting travel destination choice, so this is certainly an area that the travel industry should pay attention to. Destinations that are seen as friendly to China will also be seen as more stable for business relations. Travellers of any nationality want to feel safe and welcomed, so it’s important to be able to address and alleviate any concerns.

What would you recommend destination marketers do to rebuild Chinese travellers’ confidence?
Consumer marketing to maintain and build Chinese travellers’ interest and cultivate a welcoming image is one important side to this, but B2B relations with the Chinese travel industry shouldn’t be neglected. Travel agents can act as trustworthy sources of information, especially for travellers who may be more risk-averse and looking for reliable, professional advice. Our survey showed that for most global destinations, official advice from the government and travel agencies would impact the decision to travel again.

View the report here: shorturl.at/jlDKP

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