Study: More Chinese Travelers Stay Indie, Increase Spending on Accommodations

SEATTLE—Expedia Group and Ipsos released findings from the Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) survey. The survey reveals hotel booking habits and preferences for the world’s largest travel population, providing enormous potential for U.S. hotels to adapt to the evolving demands of Chinese travelers.

China is the largest outbound travel market in the world, with 130 million outbound trips and a collective spend of more than $258 billion on international travel in 2017 according to UNWTO. Chinese millennials born after 1990 are pushing the boundaries of international travel, increasing their travel expenditure in the past year by a staggering 80% to fund social media-influenced trips full of edgy experiences, high-tech accommodation, exotic delicacies and taboo ticket items.

The U.S. is a top three international destination for these travelers, accounting for their fourth largest market spend and capturing the longest stay per trip at 8.4 days.

Hotel Preferences
Chinese travelers are broadening their accommodation choices, with an impressive 55% staying at independent hotels with local flavor, versus 49% at international chains. Another 33% tried boutique hotels, 23% eco-friendly hotels and 21% chose hotels offering cutting-edge technology such as co-working spaces, voice technology, and virtual reality bookings. They also spent $30 more per day on accommodations than the previous year, and 78% say they are open to booking homestay accommodations in the future.

Hotel amenities also factor into decision making. WiFi ranks as the most important amenity at 60%, on-site dining at 50%, and room service at 36%. Chinese travelers spend the most on on-site dining (52%), on-site shops (26%) and room service (20%).

Hotels and destinations can also look for ways to provide concierge experiences for travelers with the local culture and culinary scenes. Favorite destination activities among Chinese travelers include: Tasting local foods (69%), site seeing (65%), and shopping for authentic local items (43%).

Travel Timing
The study shows that 36% of Chinese visitors are planning a visit to the U.S. in the next year, with 26% planning a first-time visit. Travel windows align with Chinese holidays and common times to be off from work or school, which include:

  • Early February: Chinese New Year
  • July and August: School Summer Holiday
  • Mid-September: Mid-Autumn Festival
  • Early October: Golden Week

The biggest purchase day is Nov. 11, Singles Day, China’s equivalent of Black Friday—a day hotels should offer China-specific deals to attract its travelers.

Being Better Hosts
Those surveyed also provides insights on how travel destinations, hotels and companies can better accommodate them. Payment technology dominates traveler preferences, with 59% wanting to see more QR codes for WeChat payment usage and 57% looking for greater acceptance of China mobile payment platforms overall. Regarding other conveniences, 44% would like to see more public WiFi and restrooms.

The seventh edition of the Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) takes a comprehensive look at the impact on global travel by mainland Chinese travelers. Conducted in May 2018, it interviewed 3,047 China residents age 18-58 who had traveled overseas in the last 12 months.