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The Edge-eneration: Chinese millennials pushing the boundaries and the button on edgy international travel

Seventh annual Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor confirms post-90s Chinese millennials are spending unprecedented amounts on exploring the globe – a whopping 80% increase on last year.

HONG KONG – Recent research from Hotels.com has revealed that Chinese travelers spent 40% more in the past 12 months, compared to the previous year, with the majority (60%) planning to spend even more the next year.

The research, part of the Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) highlighted that Chinese millennials born after 1990, especially, are pushing the boundaries of international travel, increasing their travel expenditure in the past year by a staggering 80 per cent to fund social media-influenced trips full of edgy experiences, high tech accommodation, exotic delicacies and taboo ticket-items.

This is likely due to many of them entering the workforce on completing their studies or moving up the pay scale after being in the workforce for several years. These travelers have used their increased income to travel further from home and stay away for longer. This year travelers extended their trips by an average of one to two extra days compared with the previous year.

Star-struck by global pop-culture, film and television (62%) are now the main sources of inspiration for Chinese millennial travelers, playing a key role in attracting them away from Asian destinations, and to more far flung parts of the world for their thrills and frills.

Travel brag moments and selfies were a huge part of the Chinese millennial travel experience in 2017, with 63 per cent using the reverse camera angle to boost those likes and build their social brand. When asked why hi-tech was attractive when traveling, 15 per cent of Chinese millennials said they valued things that would make their social presence better.

Nelson Allen, General Manager, Asia Pacific of the Hotels.com brand, comments: “While millennials were at the helm of social media influence and trends, the report found no generation was free from social networking’s undeniable draw.

“52 per cent of Chinese travelers overall were wooed by the power of the news feed, and a third of the older generation reported their travel decisions and behavior were influenced by their digitally-connected children”.

Party first, plan second for spirit-seeking millennials

Keen to let their hair down and inhibitions go, over a third of Chinese travelers were drawn towards the indulgent atmosphere of party playgrounds like Macau, Bangkok, Amsterdam and Las Vegas. Meanwhile spontaneous travel-savvy millennials hunting international festivals are leading a new wave of off-peak travel, with a shorter planning period than in the past. Flower crowns and glitter at the ready!

It’s all scares and spooks for Chinese millennial travelers these days, with almost half saying they’d like to check out the Door to Hell in Turkmenistan and more than a third wanted to explore the catacombs of Paris. #creepy!

Although excited about all things ghoulish, Chinese millennial travel anxieties are taking form in ancient superstitions, surprisingly more so than their elders. 40 per cent of millennials don’t want a mirror opposite the bed, compared with 35 per cent for the generation of their parents. They also wouldn’t like to stay at the end of a corridor (41% vs. 35%) and are more reluctant to stay on a 4th or 7th floor (20% vs. 12%).

All the love for local

Whether it is food or outdoor activities, Chinese travelers want to push the boundaries and are keen to get down with authentic experiences. While half still opt for fine dining, the majority (70%) also want to try local specialties that can only be found in that location. Their spending habits also include scouring the streets for authentic local items (43%) over shopping for luxury items (38%).

But the desire for quirky and extreme does not end with food. For some millennials, testing the limit means trying activities that provide an adrenalin rush or are adventurous. Some of the most popular activities were whitewater rafting (56%), an escape room (45%), paintball (39%) and sliding down a live volcano in Nicaragua (30%).

Ever-edgier trips weren’t complete without unique accommodation. Staying in atypical accommodation was important to over half of travelers, who opted for out-of-the-box and independent hotels with local flavor (55%) over star ratings. Another 33 per cent booked boutique hotels, 23 per cent eco-friendly hotels and 21 per cent hotels with cutting edge technology.

Chinese millennials aren’t looking to dillydally with digital either. Connectivity and efficiency is key for these on-the-go kids, with co-working spaces (39%), voice-activated technology (38%), virtual reality booking (38%), robotic customer service (32%), mobile phone operated room access (31%) and social media live lounges (26%), all desired additions to their accommodation.

Hedonists give tips to hoteliers

While steadily collecting passport stamps from all across the world, Chinese travelers still highly favor Asia as their travel destination, which took out six of the top 10 destinations visited by Chinese travelers in the past 12 months.

But that doesn’t mean there’s not areas for improvement! The ability to QR code scan via WeChat and acceptance of mobile phone payment were particular points for development for Chinese travelers. Meanwhile booking and reservation methods were not up-to-scratch for a third of travelers and local transport arrangements along with Mandarin speaking guides and hotel staff were also areas for improvement.

Johan Svanstrom, President of the Hotels.com brand, comments: “Every globe-trotter likes to feel welcome in a new country – it’s no secret we all crave human connection which is especially true when we’re in a new environment. We know from the CITM report Chinese travelers feel comfortable and most welcome in destinations when shop assistants speak Mandarin, Chinese mobile wallet is accepted, and there is signage they can understand.

“Accommodation providers can get excited about the new wave of edgy and energetic Chinese traveler, tapping into this lucrative market by catering to their ever-curious travel desires. It’s all fun and freedom for the future of the Chinese traveler, and Hotels.com can’t wait to come along for the ride!”

Top ten destinations visited by Chinese travelers in the past 12 months:

RANKING IN 2018

DESTINATION

PERCENTAGE OF CHINESE TRAVELERS

RANKING IN 2017

1

Japan

39%

2

2

Hong Kong

37%

1

3

USA

30%

3

4

France

21%

6

5

Australia

20%

8

6

Macau

19%

7

7

Korea

16%

5

8

Thailand

15%

3

9

Singapore

13%

9

10

Germany

11%

10

 

Top ten destinations Chinese travelers are excited to visit for the first time in the next 12 months:

RANKING IN 2018

DESTINATION

INCIDENCE 2018

1

Australia

19%

2

Canada

18%

3

France

14%

3

New Zealand

14%

5

USA

12%

6

Maldives

10%

7

Germany

9%

7

Singapore

9%

7

Japan

9%

10

Korea

8%

 

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Angelos is the news editor for TravelDailyNews Media Network (traveldailynews.gr, traveldailynews.com and traveldailynews.asia). His role includes to monitor the hundrends of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skim the most important according to our strategy. He currently studies Communication, Media & Culture in Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens.

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