Chinese New Year is coming to Tinseltown, again. But this time in an even bigger way.
The Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau (BHCVB) announced Thursday that the city is going to stage a month-long celebration of Chinese New Year starting Feb 1.
It will be the fourth annual Chinese New Year celebration in Beverly Hills. This year, through a partnership with China International Culture Association, Beverly Hills will feature internationally acclaimed entertainment from Beijing in a special one-night event on Feb 1 at Saban Theatre, which will serve as a kick-off of Happy Chinese New Year – Beijing Culture Month.
The program will feature notable acts from the Beijing Performance & Arts Group, including acrobats from the China National Acrobatic Troupe and a Peking Opera piece performed by renowned artist Chen Junhua.
Musical acts will include a pipa solo by Zhou Hui, an erhu performance by Song Fei, known as China’s “Queen of the Erhu”, and a performance by China’s violin master Lu Siqing, among others.
Che Zhaohe, culture consul of China’s Consulate General in Los Angeles, announced that a photography exhibition entitled Charming Beijing, Passionate Winter Olympics will be on display at the same time at the Saban Theatre, featuring 60 images captured in Beijing by world-renowned photographers, including American photographer Joe McNally.
Che also said that China’s intangible cultural heritage will be represented by Tu’er Ye figures, Zhang clay sculptures, Yu family kites, cloth paste paintings and ancient Chinese toys such as the Mao Hou, a tiny monkey shaped toy made with plants and cicada shells.
“It is an honor to have such remarkable talent travel all the way from Beijing to share their inspiring performances and art as we celebrate Chinese New Year 2015 and the Year of the Sheep,” said Julie Wagner, CEO of BHCVB.
As the new visa policy applies, Wagner expects to host more tourists from China during this Chinese New Year holiday. She said participating hotels in Beverly Hills will offer special packages to Chinese guests throughout the month of February. The packages will welcome guests with popular Chinese amenities such as in-room hot water kettles with Chinese tea, Chinese newspapers, slippers and Chinese breakfasts.
In addition, most Beverly Hills hotels and stores will have Mandarin-speaking staff on-site and the visitors’ center will provide walking maps and directories in Chinese. The city’s website has a Chinese version and most stores accept Union Pay.
“We want Chinese tourists and local Chinese residents to feel at home during this family-oriented and most important holiday of the year,” said Wagner. “This is just one of the ways to show our appreciation to the Chinese people who bring business to Beverly Hills. We also want to take this opportunity to enhance our friendship with China as always.”
“The new visa policy will help to promote cultural exchange,” she said.
A greeting in Chinese is important, so hotels should have fluent Mandarin speakers on staff. Teapots and comfy slippers are essential room amenities, while a traditional breakfast of congee, a rice-based porridge, and a boiled egg would be a nice touch.
Cultural sensitivity also demands that white flowers be removed from lobbies, since they can symbolize death to the Chinese.
These are among the cultural tips tourism officials have for hoteliers competing for Houston’s fastest-growing, biggest-spending group of international visitors – critical advice for fostering a segment worth millions of dollars to the Houston economy every year.
“If you do things right for Chinese guests, they will show loyalty,” said Michael Udayan, general manager of the Crowne Plaza Suites, one of the local leaders in adding the touches Chinese travelers expect, from Chinese-language newspapers and television broadcasts to free shuttles to and from nearby Chinatown.
Spurred by new nonstop service between Beijing and Bush Intercontinental Airport, Chinese travelers have emerged as the eighth-largest group of international visitors to Texas and Houston. Five years ago, they weren’t in the top 20.
An estimated 63,000 travelers from China visited Texas last year, and they added $175 million to the Texas economy, including $75 million in Houston. With Air China beginning four-day-a-week nonstop flights last summer, those numbers are said to be increasing.
And while Latin Americans still top the list of international travelers locally, Chinese visitors to Houston are said to outspend Mexican visitors by more than 2-to-1.
Tourism officials are encouraging hotel operators to find new ways to extend hospitality to the world’s most populous country.
“Ni hao, one of the friendliest phrases around, is one you might find extremely useful in the future,” Jorge Franz of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau told hotel owners during a recent meeting, referring to the traditional Mandarin greeting.
The bureau is working with Air China to develop special tours aimed at Chinese travelers, with visits to local ranches, places like the Johnson Space Center and perhaps even a Rockets basketball game.
“We are putting the word out to sell Houston as a tourist destination,” said Franz.
Several recent visitors from China, those who came for business or leisure and made shopping expeditions to the Galleria or took in sites like Space Center Houston, had some surprising reactions to the Bayou City.
Zhu Lili, 31, a Beijing journalist who visited last month for the first time for work, even gave Houston a thumbs-up for its fresh air and good transportation.
“It is absolutely a city for travel,” she said.
Xu Yan, also 31, enjoyed her vacation here but was surprised not to see “cowboys on the streets.”
Another visitor compared Houston to “the blue sky” and described Houstonians as “very friendly, warm.”
Across the U.S., travel from China was projected to triple during the six-year period from 2012 to 2018.
Houston is expected to benefit for several specific reasons.
The arrival in 2002 of Chinese basketball star Yao Ming as a Houston Rocket piqued much of China’s interest in the Bayou City. Now business opportunities, from oil and gas to real estate, attract Chinese money as well. The launch of nonstop flights has made the city even more accessible, Franz said.
Plus, he added, a local Chinese population of 150,000 and the largest Chinatown in the U.S. may be a draw for families to visit.
Local business leaders say the impact of the new Air China service cannot be overstated. The route was profitable from its first week, and the airline has filled 80 percent of seats since its launch.
“Texas is a well known destination for the most affluent Chinese tourists”, said Elaine Ke, Senior Travel Editor of Luxury Hotels of America, a Chinese Mandarin travel magazine about the United States. “We have published many articles about Texas luxury hotels and other topics such as tailor made boots, and the boot store has seen a surge in Chinese visitors following our article!” She added.
Once the flight goes daily in March, a total of 111,690 seats could be filled, in both directions, annually. Based on the first six months of data, 80 percent of the inbound travelers stay in Houston, a high number for Bush Intercontinental, suggesting Houston is joining the ranks of traditional tourist destinations Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Las Vegas.
Bush Intercontinental, which last year set a record for number of international passengers, is expected to surpass that total this year.
Stephanie Haynes, president of the Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Houston, said the nonstop Air China flight has encouraged more hotels to cater to Chinese tourists.
“The Chinese represent a different culture than the European travelers we are used to,” Haynes said.
Chinese visitors to Texas, many of whom do not speak English, tend to travel in groups and stay an average of 35 nights and visit multiple cities. They have high standards for their accommodations, Franz said, and are interested in politics and government. For VIP clients, he said, making an introduction to a local politician would be appreciated.
He also said that since Chinese would consider tipping rude, hotels should consider adding a service charge to bills.
At the Westin Galleria Hotel, front-line employees last year began undergoing training in Chinese customs, said John Oakley, director of sales and marketing.
Oakley said a study of city tax records show Chinese visitors spend more than any other group of international visitors.
“There have been more Chinese travelers recently than in the last four or five years,” added Matthew Vesely, director of sales and marketing for the St. Regis Houston, a Starwood hotel in the River Oaks area.
Among its cultural initiatives, Vesely said, St. Regis has a policy to remove all white flowers whenever Chinese travelers are visiting.
Udayan, whose Crowne Plaza Suites is near Chinatown, said he also has seen an influx of Chinese guests since early 2012.
“Because we get so many Chinese travelers here now, our experience is geared toward making them feel very comfortable,” Udayan said. “We did not realize how big it was going to be.”
Sun Meng Han, 43, a human relations manager from Taiwan, visited Houston in July for nine days for her children to attend a NASA space camp. They hope to return.
“We enjoyed the food, shopping and friendliness of people from Houston,” said Sun. “We are definitely coming back soon because we didn’t get to see Jeremy Lin in action this time.”
Source: Erin Mulvaney, Houston Chronicle.
From Hipster To Horseback: According to Pierre Gervois, Publisher of Luxury Hotels of America magazine, Chinese Luxury Travelers Demand Authentic Experiences
As China’s outbound tourist market rapidly expands, high-end hotels and retailers across the world are vying for the business of this important group. In the United States, one company on the front lines of this trend is China Elite Focus, a New York-headquartered, Chinese-language publisher that has been producing luxury travel magazines for Chinese readers since 2008. With content focused on destinations, hotels, cuisine, retail, and philanthropy, the magazines were created to meet demand by moneyed Chinese travelers for content on authentic, upscale experiences.
In order to learn more about how China’s luxury outbound travel market has evolved over the past six years, we talked to China Elite Focus CEO and Publisher Pierre Gervois about the changes he’s seen in Chinese travelers’ taste. Read below to hear his thoughts on Chinese travelers’ interest in getting a taste of American culture, the decline of the Chinese “100 percent shopping trip,” and how this fall’s Golden Week fared for U.S. luxury businesses.
What inspired you to start China Elite Focus?
In 2008, after having served as the president of a consulting company specialized in foreign investments in China, I decided to start a new publishing company and to publish high quality luxury travel magazines in Chinese Mandarin. A lot of my Chinese friends complained to me that they could not find any publication in Chinese language with curated and sophisticated content for their outbound travels. So our mission, from the beginning, was to bring to them beautifully written travel stories about the world’s most spectacular and exclusive experiences. I’m very proud of the job we have done with our team of very talented travel editors, lead by our Senior Travel Editor, Elaine Ke. Today we publish there magazines: the Shanghai Travelers’ Club, Luxury Hotels of America, and American Philanthropy.
How is the content of your magazines tailored to a Chinese audience?
All the content of our publications is written at our Shanghai office by Chinese editors. We do not translate from English an existing article; we produce our own original content. We are in constant exchange with our readers through Weibo, and we know what kind of themes or destinations they want to read stories about. For example, we have noted a strong interest for travel to the United States over the past year, and we have increased the stories about luxury travel experiences in the United States.
We’ve been reading a lot about how wealthy Chinese travelers are becoming more interested in “experiential” travel rather than just basic shopping and sightseeing. Have you noticed this trend growing among your readers?
That is true. The time of the “100 percent shopping trips” is done. The new generation of affluent Chinese outbound travelers is now very mature, extremely well-informed, and wants to discover new experiences, off the beaten tracks. We have published stories about horseback riding experiences in the Nevada desert in Luxury Hotels of America which had great success with our readers. Chinese shoppers tend now to plan much more carefully and in a very sophisticated way their shopping plan abroad. They are looking for more limited-edition items of lesser-known brands they have discovered on social media networks, rather that already well-known global brands, who have saturated the market with products over-marketed to Chinese customers.
One of your magazines focuses exclusively on luxury hotels in the United States. Which U.S. hotels are the most popular with Chinese travelers at the moment?
Luxury Hotels of America features in particular historical hotels, or hotels with a connection to the American culture. The kind of U.S. hotels that Chinese travelers like are boutique hotels, lodges, and ranches with a connection to nature and wildlife. We have seen a significant shift from standardized, large-size hotel chains to much smaller hotels offering a personalized experience. In New York City, we have seen that hotels in Brooklyn, built in former factories, in “hip” neighborhoods were a great success with Chinese travelers, as well as properties in the American West, offering a genuine local experience.
How was this season’s Golden Week for luxury hoteliers and retailers in the United States?
We have recently discussed with several well-known retailers in the United States, and they have been surprised by the evolution of the shopping behavior of Chinese customers and their use of social media to compare brands and know exactly where to buy. It was not uncommon for them to see Chinese customers with their iPads and mobile phones texting to their friends about brands and retailers. The digital integration of the shopping experience is now extremely important and mobile payments such as the Apple Pay will definitely be very popular with Chinese shoppers in the United States. Since the beginning, we have integrated our content with social media, and we are very pleased with this trend.
What are some ways in which U.S. luxury businesses are doing a good job of reaching and serving Chinese tourists? What are some ways in which they can improve?
U.S. luxury brands and luxury hotels can do much better! They are doing all right, and have a big margin to improve their relations with Chinese travelers on the three following points:
-No more stereotypes about Chinese tourists. A lot of U.S. hospitality, tourism, and retail companies still create marketing campaigns with the stereotype in mind of group tourists traveling in coaches, staying in cheap hotels, with entirely pre-arranged shopping programs. Most Chinese travelers do not want to travel this way anymore and choose themselves their hotels and their shopping experiences, without the help of travel agencies.
-Chinese travelers to the United States are looking for a genuine American experience. Some U.S. hotel chains have developed programs specifically for Chinese travelers with rooms decorated in a Chinese style, offer Chinese food only, and entertainment programs linked with Chinese culture. This is exactly the opposite of what Chinese tourists really want. They write to our editors and complain with us that they want to find a real American experience in hotels, not a “fake” Chinese experience! They have traveled for thousands of miles to have a taste of American culture and civilization.
-A more sophisticated and thoughtful marketing strategy with Chinese customers. U.S. luxury brands must understand that, in order to sell to Chinese tourists in the United States, they must start to promote and do branding in China, with specialized digital media targeting Chinese travelers planning their trip to the United States. It’s too late and very little effective to promote their brands in printed magazines or tourist guides distributed in airports or hotel lobbies, because the purchase decisions have already been made several weeks ago, in China. Digital native advertisement (sponsored content) is also very effective to create brand awareness. Chinese customers are early adopters of the newest technologies, and old-school marketing does not work and looks “uncool” to them. Social media integration and sponsored content are the two pillars of a successful campaign with Chinese tourists coming to the United States.
Source: Jing Daily
American Philanthropy, new magazine for wealthy Chinese interested to donate to U.S. Philanthropies and Charities
China Elite Focus Magazines LLC, the leading publisher in luxury travel and lifestyle magazines for affluent Chinese travelers, announces the official launch of its latest publication “American Philanthropy”.
“We know that a significant part of our readers of both publications, Shanghai Travelers’ Club and Luxury hotels of America are Chinese businessmen who are currently involved with philanthropies in China and that they are also interested to continue their involvement with charities and philanthropies in the United States,” said the CEO and publisher, Pierre Gervois. “That’s why we felt the need to launch a new publication, focused entirely on philanthropic issues along with curated lifestyle content about the United States.”
American Philanthropy magazine will feature exclusive articles about America’s most influential philanthropic organizations as well as profiles of American Philanthropists. The first issue introduces organizations such as New York Community Trust, National Philanthropic Trust, Bed Stuy’s Project Re-Generation and Graham Windham to highly affluent Chinese businessmen and donors. A renowned New York philanthropist – Nancy Heiser, also vice president of wealth management at UBS Bank, has the honors of the first cover story.
American Philanthropy magazine specifically caters to the new generation of international Chinese business executives doing business with the United States. This publication is available on all platforms such as iPad, web and on China’s most important social media network, Weibo.
“ Chinese business travelers coming to the United States want to have access to sophisticated information and this is not easily available in any Chinese publication or not available at all – until now,” said Pierre Gervois. “This magazine will give them insights on the crucial role of philanthropy in the United States, as well as its connections with politics and business.”
“American Philanthropy offers excellent advertising opportunities for U.S. companies interested in reaching to highly affluent Chinese businessmen planning or already doing business in the United States,” said Janavi Kothari, Advertising Sales Representative of American Philanthropy. “This publication is so far the most targeted magazine published in the U.S. with an unique readership of prominent business owners and top Chinese international executives.”
It’s no secret that investment by Chinese businesses in New York has helped both Chinese and US businesses flourish. Now China Southern Airlines and “I Love New York” – New York State’s tourism agency – have partnered up to promote global tourism in New York State. And it should be another shot in the arm for New York’s economy.
Around 1.8 million tourists from China visited the US last year. With an average spending of $3,297 per tourist per trip, they contributed $877 million to New York City’s economy alone, according to Attract China, a marketing company that helps businesses in the US establish an online presence to lure visitors from China.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Aug 6 that China Southern Airlines and “I Love New York” were launching a partnership to promote New York State for global tourism and business. The partnership is in support of the Governor’s Global Tourism initiative.
The promotion officially got underway with China Southern Airlines celebrating its inaugural direct flight from Guangzhou to JFK International Airport, the airlines’ first ever direct service to the US’ East Coast.
“Collaborating with Asia’s largest airline will make everything that we have to offer more accessible to China’s bustling market, quite literally providing a gateway to the iconic Empire State,” Cuomo said.
“New York is experiencing record levels of tourism in both New York City and Upstate New York, and our administration will continue to foster this surge so that spending by visitors and investment by businesses can continue to grow local economies,” the governor added.
The partnership includes training key China Southern Airlines sales staff on New York State tourism highlights, enabling tour operators to offer New York State vacation travel options and collaborating on public relations efforts to promote New York.
China Southern Airlines Chairman Si Xianmin said: “We are thrilled to launch our direct route to New York City and partner with the governor in his initiative to promote Chinese tourism in New York, a state not only boasting epic skyscrapers but also one endowed with natural beauty and resources and one that harbors a culturally diverse and friendly people.”
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said: “This new marketing partnership with China Southern Airlines furthers our efforts to promote tourism across the state. There is so much to see and do in New York and we look forward to welcoming visitors from China to experience all of New York State’s rich history and culture.”
“China Southern Airlines and New York State have goal in common, and that is to get more people to come to New York,” said Gavin Landry, New York’s executive director of tourism.
” About 20% of the readers of Niuyue Mag come from Guangzhou”, says Pierre Gervois, CEO & Publisher of Niuyue Mag, a luxury lifestyle magazine about New York City in Chinese language. ” With this partnership, we’ll see more Chinese tourists in NYC. This is an excellent initiative”.
China Southern Airlines, the third-largest air carrier in the world, now has four direct flights a week from Guangzhou to New York. “China itself is a source market for global tourism,” said Landry, noting that it is on the top five list of countries with the most visitors to New York State.
“As the Chinese economy flourishes, there is a growing demand for travel,” said Landry.
Landry said the number of Chinese visitors coming to New York has been growing. “A million Chinese are already living in the New York City area, the Chinese diaspora provides a great opportunity for tourism as well. People have their relatives and family visiting,” said Landry.
Before the announcement of their partnership with China Southern Airlines, NY’s tourist board offered “Becoming China Ready” workshops to service the Chinese tourism market. The workshops in Albany, Utica, and Rochester were well-attended by the private sector, government agencies, and tourism and hospitality organizations learning how to understand and promote themselves to the Chinese market.
Earlier this year, “I Love New York” established offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
“I think more Chinese visitors will be a tremendous help to the economy,” said Charles Mon, vice-president of Sino-American Tours based in Manhattan. “More tourists from China will also benefit the cruise industry.”