We discussed the upcoming Chinese holidays — Mid-Autumn Festival and the China National Holiday – with Renee Hartmann from China Luxury Advisors.
Q: When is the next Chinese holiday season?
A: One of China’s busiest holiday seasons is coming up at the end of September/beginning of October. This is one of the longest holiday periods in China, and unlike Chinese New Year, there are no family obligations during this holiday, so most Chinese citizens will be traveling during this period — both in China and increasingly, overseas.
Q: Why are people calling this holiday season the “Super Golden Week”?
A: China’s fall holiday season will raise the stakes for global travel, hospitality and retail sectors due to the unusual confluence of two major holidays. The combination of the Mid-Autumn Lunar Festival holiday (September 30th) and the National Day Holiday from October 1st through October 7th will induce a larger than normal number of Chinese travelers to travel further afield and stay longer than in typical years.
Q: How do you expect this to affect the number of Chinese travelers during the September/October timeframe?
A: Chinese travel agencies are reporting stronger than usual bookings for the so-called “Super Golden Week,” posting price increases of 20 to 30% compared to non-holiday prices, and flights to many international destinations already fully booked. This is on top of impressive increases in Chinese outbound travelers in the first half of 2012. The number of Chinese tourists traveling overseas is already on track to exceed 80 million visitors this year based on the first half of the year alone — a more than 70% increase over the same period one-year ago. It is expected that this number will increase to more than 100 million people by 2015. In 2011, Chinese overseas tourists spent US$72 billion — and this number is expected to reach US$100 billion by at least 2015, if not sooner.
Q: What can retailers and hospitality providers do to better attract Chinese customers during the super Golden Week?
A: Most Chinese travelers have already made their vacation plans for October, so there is little to do to change their itinerary at this point. If you have an active Chinese social media presence, this would be a great time to ramp up activity and highlight localized activities and promotions.
Q: Can retailers and hospitality providers make short-term changes to their sales and promotions tactics to increase business with Chinese customers in advance of the October holiday?
A: Just opening your door to Chinese tourists is not enough to build lasting customer relationships. Chinese customers have unique brand perceptions, travel habits, purchase preferences and service expectations. Companies need to completely rethink their branding, marketing & selling strategies to serve this emerging customer.