Hilton-sponsored study examines what Chinese travelers want

The Canopy by Hilton in Chengdu marked the brand's launch in China. Photo credit: Hilton (Canopy by Hilton Chengdu)

Hilton has released results from a study undertaken on its behalf by global information and measurement houses Kantar and Nielsen.The study, examining Chinese consumers’ travel mindset, was conducted as Hilton pushed the growth of its Canopy brand across China and the broader Asia-Pacific region.

As China’s expanding economy shifts from an export- and investment-led model to one of consumption and services, the country’s tourism sector continues to experience a major boom. The number of domestic tourists reached 2.83 billion in first-half 2018, up 11.4 percent year-over-year, while outbound travelers surged 15 percent over the previous year to hit 71.3 million, according to the China Tourism Academy. Chinese travelers show changing preferences, now valuing experiences over visits to landmarks and they are more willing to spend on local dining and cultural activities.

Through a survey of 1,000 Chinese citizens across different age groups and regions who have stayed in an upscale hotel at least once, the Kantar study identified four new key traits that have emerged among today’s Chinese travelers:

  • 83 percent of respondents are “keen to explore” different local cultures;
  • 82 percent enjoy “self-pampering”;
  • 77 percent are “open” to socializing with locals;
  • 77 percent are “self-expressive” by seeking out new experiences.

Travelers also expect hotels to feature a blend of culture, comfort, socialization and personalization, and seek places where unique spaces, special gourmet experiences and customized services come together to define a distinctive lifestyle.

The survey also captured three common mindsets among Chinese travelers:

  • They “work hard and play harder,” with 67 percent of respondents opting to live in the moment and seeking instant gratification to quickly recover from the hectic pace of work. At the same time, 54 percent of respondents seek out hotels that can offer an “invigorating experience”;
  • 69 percent label themselves as the “me generation,” who thrive on being in the limelight, with strong desires to express their identity. Correspondingly, they relish opportunities to be visible, including through socially shareable visuals; 50 percent said they prefer hotel walls to be curated with local items and 48 percent favor unique and stylish design decorations;
  • They are happy with simplicity. 63 percent refer to the importance of thoughtful, personalized perks over opulence, while 50 percent said they care about how hotels attend to their everyday lifestyle needs.

“Bolstered by higher disposable income, wider international exposure and easier accessibility of travel, Chinese consumers are more confident in exploring new destinations and looking to gain new experiences when they travel,” said Gary Steffen, global head, Canopy by Hilton.

Following the opening of a Canopy in Chengdu, the brand has a pipeline of more than 30 hotels scheduled to open globally, including in Paris and London, in the next six years. Upcoming launches in Asia-Pacific include Canopy by Hilton Hangzhou Jinsha Lake, opening in late-2019, and Canopy by Hilton Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang, opening in late-2021.