Chinese traveler personas

Chinese traveler personas

The characteristics and preferences of Chinese travelers vary across different age groups, backgrounds and income. This year CITM has updated the 5 personas devised last year to help hotels and destinations tailor their marketing and diversity of offerings.  

Ipsos used TFactor analysis to detect patterns in the responses of the travelers about their values. The result: distinct portraits of 5 different types of Chinese traveler, each with their own unique approach to travel.    

By taking into account these different personas, and trends in their behavior and choices, the industry will be well placed to plan for the future.    

The largest segments this year are Detailed Explorers and Cautious Connectors, each accounting for 30 per cent of travelers. These segments have also experienced the largest growth over the past 12 months, reflecting the increased mobility of non-millennials traveling without children or with older children and post 90s millennials who have more freedom to travel and explore.   

This year there has been a shift of post 90s travelers from the Experience Seekers segment to Detailed Explorers, particularly males and post 90s with a higher income.   

Spending has increased the most for Detailed Explorers (a mix of non-millennials and 90s millennials) and Indulgers (skewed towards 80s millennials), up 15 per cent and 16 per cent respectively compared with the previous year. This may reflect the trend for some 90s millennials to travel with their parents, and when they do, to explore more adventurous destinations and travel styles at higher cost. For the post 80s indulgers, luxury and prestige are key factors which means as income rises, so too does travel spend. The majority of travelers in both these groups intend to increase their travel spend in the next 12 months.   

We believe the Detailed Explorers and Indulgers personas have the most potential for growth in travel spending and demand for new services in the next 12 months. Both these groups are keen to explore new destinations and new styles of travel. The shift of 90s millennials into the Detailed Explorers segment means there is a growing pool of younger travelers entering this segment. As their salaries increase, this group will have considerable influence on travel trends. Post 80s millennials, who make up the largest percentage of Indulgers, will continue to wield considerable spending power, particularly those who are choosing travel over traditional life stages.  

Detailed Explorers

Age doesn’t necessarily

define me. As the world continues to evolve, I want to learn and explore. This is the biggest enjoyment of my life, and it defines my traveling.”

Spending in the next 12 months: 64% spend more

Future travel in next 12 months

APAC: 63% - Australia & New Zealand, Thailand

EMEA: 58% - France, Germany, Italy

NORTH AMERICA AND LATAM: 35% - USA and Brazil

Almost one third of Chinese travelers fit into this category. They could be a post 70s non-millennial who has witnessed massive change in China over the past few decades or an energetic post 90s millennial.     

People in this category respond positively to statements like “one should continuously explore new ideas” (innovation), “no matter the life stage one should always live life with youthful energy.” (self-motivated) and “I am able to reach any goal I set myself” (empowerment).     

They consider traveling to be an essential part of life and also a chance to indulge oneself, preferring to travel independently but also in semi-packaged tours. In the future they intend to do more specialized tours such as eco tours, adventure tours, backpacking and luxury tours.     

When choosing a hotel, Detailed Explorers prefer comfort and something that reflects the local culture and ambience. Authenticity is important, whether it is a product or service, and they expect to pay more.     

Spending on travel for this segment increased by 15 per cent in the past 12 months and they allocated 26 per cent of their income to travel. They expect to spend a lot more on travel in the future with travel destinations leaning towards long haul destinations in APAC, EMEA, North America and LATAM.     

When asked where they would travel in five years’ time if their salary doubled, most said they would explore more of South America rather than APAC. If they had children in five years, post 90s would take them to the best parts of APAC and Europe; and if traveling with family and parents, travel would be spread more evenly across regions that address key safety and comfort considerations.    

Indulgers

I believe one way I can

demonstrate my success in life is through traveling – spending my hard earned money and proving to the world I am living a fantastic life.”

Spending in the next 12 months: 60% spend more

Future travel in next 12 months

APAC: 62% - Australia & Singapore

EMEA: 54% - France & Germany

NORTH AMERICA AND LATAM: 33% - USA & Canada

Indulgers accounted for only 9 per cent of Chinese travelers in 2016 and are the smallest segment. They are predominantly post 80s millennials.       

Indulgers respond positively to statements like: “I value being recognized as someone accomplished with leadership power and influence” (power and influence); “Material things improve my quality of life and make me happiest” (indulgence); “Acknowledgement by others is a true sign of my success” (recognition).       

In the past 12 months this segment spent 27 per cent of their income on travel and their daily travel spend increased by 16 per cent. The majority (60%) expect to spend more on travel in the next 12 months.       

Their preferred way of traveling is theme tours and eco tours but in the future they would like to do more luxury tours. Planned destinations for the next 12 months include APAC (62%), Europe (54%), North America and LATAM (33%).       

They are brand conscious and when choosing hotels prefer to stick to their favourite 5 star brand.       

When asked where they would travel in 5 years’ time if their salary doubled, almost half said they would visit Europe (47%) while 31 per cent would visit North America and LATAM and 22 per cent would visit APAC. If traveling with family and parents, APAC was preferred by 40 per cent and Europe by 37 per cent.     

Cautious Connectors

I am someone who

values strong bonds within family. My purpose of travel evolves around family happiness.”

Spending in the next 12 months: 57% spend more

Future travel in next 12 months

APAC, North America and LATAM

for relaxation and sightseeing

APAC: 62% - Australia, Japan, Maldives

NORTH AMERICA AND LATAM: 34% - USA & Canada

Cautious Connectors make up almost one third of Chinese travelers and are mostly post 60s and 70s non-millennials. They are predominantly from Tier 3 and 4 cities and are very family conscious.        

They respond positively to statements like: “I am conscious of my impact on society and the environment” (responsibility); “Those who are successful have a duty to care for the less well-off” (humanity); and “my family always comes first.” (family-first).        

For this segment, travel is all about spending special time with family. They prefer sightseeing and visiting the countryside or rural locations and they are budget conscious. Their preferred style of travel is tour groups but in the future they will consider switching to semi-packaged tours if there are attractive offers or based on advice from friends and family or colleagues.        

When choosing a hotel, Cautious Connectors prefer value for money, including free breakfasts, and tend to follow recommendations of friends and family. They value good customer service over the design and features of a hotel.        

In the past 12 months they spent 28 per cent of their income on travel and their average daily spend increased by 9 per cent. More than half (57%) intend to spend more in the next 12 months.        

When asked where they would travel in 5 years’ time if their salary doubled, Cautious Connectors said they would indulge themselves more and travel to more expensive destinations in Europe such as Switzerland. If traveling with children and family, they would travel to relaxing destinations in APAC such as the Maldives and Australia.       

Basic Pleasure Seekers

When I think of

traveling I think of all the moments I spend with loved ones and how good it is to be away from work so I can finally enjoy my life.”

Spending in the next 12 months: 60% spend more

Future travel in next 12 months

Across continents but away from tourist

EMEA: 46% - Denmark, Egypt

NORTH AMERICA AND LATAM: 30% - Brazil

APAC: 62% - Australia, Maldives

Basic Pleasure Seekers make up 17 per cent of Chinese travelers and are predominantly post 90s millennials.         

They respond positively to statements like: “Being content with what I have brings genuine happiness” (contentment); “For me, how things look is just as important as what they can do” (aesthetics); “I wish to live life with fewer but more substantive items” (simplicity).         

For this segment, travel is all about family golden moments or joyful moments with friends. Their main activity when traveling is dining and their preferred style of traveling is independent or semi-package tours. When choosing a hotel, Basic Pleasure Seekers prefer value for money. They are good at saving and researching the best deals for accommodation. Hotel star rating is not important whereas local flavour is. Accommodation also needs to be near transport and preferably have Mandarin signage and travel guides.         

Favoured destinations are those away from the main tourist areas. In the next 12 months they intend to visit destinations like Denmark, Egypt or Brazil, probably independently or in semi-packaged tours.         

In the past 12 months they spent 29 per cent of their income on travel and their average daily spend increased by 10 per cent. More than half (60%) intend to spend more on travel in the next 12 months.         

When asked where they would travel in 5 years’ time if their salary doubled, this segment said they would choose more expensive destinations in Europe such as France and Italy. If they had children they would choose Asian destinations including Japan.        

Experience Seekers

My friends love

shopping and dining but I love to do something that allows me to step out of my comfort zone and be away from reality.”

Spending in the next 12 months: 57% spend more

Future travel in next 12 months

Stepping out to see what’s the world outside

APAC: 63% - Australia, Japan, Singapore

EMEA: 62% - Middle East, Africa, Europe (Finland, Netherlands)

NORTH AMERICA AND LATAM: 37% - Canada & Brazil

Experience Seekers make up 14 per cent of Chinese travelers and are predominantly post 80s and 90s millennials from Tier 1 cities.         

People in this category respond positively to statements like “I am a unique individual and make decisions that suit my needs” (individuality); “I have my own way of seeing the world – and feel the need to go my own way.” (independence) and “I am willing to take risks because I believe in myself.” (ambition).         

They consider traveling to be a way of escaping reality and pushing their boundaries, preferring travel experiences such as backpacking, theme tours or eco tours. In the future they intend to do more eco tours and theme tours. They like to travel to unfamiliar places such as the Middle East, Africa and Finland.         

When choosing a hotel, Experience Seekers prefer boutique hotels and alternative accommodation, not for a lower price but for their unique features and services. They research these online rather than seek advice from friends or family.         

Spending on travel for this segment increased by 5 per cent in the past 12 months and they allocated 29 per cent of their income to travel. More than half (61%) intend to spend more on travel in the next 12 months.         

When asked where they would travel in 5 years’ time if their salary doubled, most said they would explore more of Africa and the Middle East. If they had children in 5 years they would choose safer destinations in APAC such as Australia and Japan. If traveling with family they would consider destinations such as Taiwan and Singapore.        

An insight into millennials

Millennials are a diverse generation, covering post 80s and post 90s age groups and spread across the key personas. Overall, millennials are represented more abundantly in Experience Seekers, Indulgers and Basic Pleasure Seekers. However, this year there has been a shift amongst post 90s millennials away from the Experience Seeker to Detailed Explorer segment.    

The shift of post 90s towards Detailed Explorer is particularly apparent for post 90s males. Younger millennial females are more likely than males to be in the Experience Seeker segment and millennials with higher average incomes are also more likely to be Detailed Explorers.    

In terms of spending power, Indulgers spending US$522 (¥3,592) continue to be the highest travel spenders amongst all segments, with a 16 per cent increase from last year. With a medium income level US$13,010 (¥89,570), this segment, comprised of post 80s, are happy to spend on travel.    

Detailed Explorers US$484 (¥3,335) have overtaken Experience Seekers US$473 (¥3,254) as the second highest spending segment, with a big jump of 15 per cent from last year. These segments are similar in terms of mindset, both eager to explore the world and are more insightful.    

Post 80s millennials are also displaying some interesting trends. Since this group, along with post 70s, are more likely to be traveling with children, they show a high preference for visiting APAC. At the same time, a growing number of post 80s millennials are choosing travel over traditional life stages such as starting a family and so are traveling further afield and choosing more intrepid traveling styles. The more diverse the locations, the more adventurous this age group has become.  

Hotel spending:

Millennials are more likely to use hotel entertainment facilities than non-millennials. Hotel entertainment facilities include on-site spas, in-room entertainment, on-site casinos and bars.    

On average, millennials who use entertainment facilities at the hotel spend 56% more on their daily hotel spend than non-millennials who don’t use these facilities.    

Daily local spending:

Millennials are more likely to do cultural / adventurous activities than non-millennials, such as enjoy safaris, cultural events and outdoor activities.

On average, millennials that participate in these activities spend 10% more on daily local expenses than non-millennials who don’t.