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Wealth, Luxury and Poverty in America: How Should Media Cover These Stories?

Pierre Gervois, recording The Face of America interview series in New York City, Sept 2018- Photo by EFDLT Studio

Pierre Gervois, Producer of “The Face of America” interview series. (Photo: EFDLT Studio)

For the past thirteen years, I have worked as a media entrepreneur and producer, serving the luxury industry in Paris, Shanghai and New York City, producing luxury digital publications for the very affluent Chinese global traveler. I have managed international teams of marketers, editors, bloggers, photographers and community managers to build successful communications campaigns in more than twenty countries for a variety of clients, private and governmental organizations, willing to attract High Net Worth Chinese travelers to their country, region or hotel.

I have met outstanding individuals in the luxury goods and luxury travel industry, incredibly skilled artisans who are making beautiful objects with their hands and heart, innovative entrepreneurs who are breaking the rules and reinventing luxury, and countless hotel executives who warmly welcome their guests in the new generation of boutique hotels.

I have learned to understand the new generation of affluent Chinese outbound tourists, what they really wanted (vs what the travel industry assumed they want to do), and how they felt routinely disrespected in Europe or in America, dismissed as second-class travelers by the luxury travel and hospitality industry.

I published several luxury lifestyle and travel magazines in Shanghai and New York City (including the acclaimed STC magazine) and featured more than five hundred luxury lifestyle stories, working with very talented journalists, and in particular Elaine Ke, Managing Editor of the STC magazine.

I have given speeches and lectures about international luxury travel marketing at Universities and at corporate events and always felt grateful for the opportunity to exchange ideas with students and fellow professionals.

It has been a rich professional and personal experience. Thank you to all of the wonderful people I have met over these years, from the clients who trusted me to the great individuals who composed my team, and without whom I would not have achieved such successes.

I have lived in New York City for the past five years, and now consider it my true hometown. NYC is by far my favorite city in the World, for one reason: the entire world meets here, in this city created and run by immigrants, bringing their ideas, cultures, languages and foods in this happy melting pot.

As the Founder and Publisher of Gervois magazine, I have seen wealthy individuals buying very expensive jewelry, watches, apartments, as a result of the marketing campaigns my company has created and it’s a good thing: that means more jobs in the jewelry, watchmaking, retail, and real estate, and potentially more money for philanthropic causes.

I have also seen hard working Americans with not enough money to feed their families, dads and moms without a job having a hard time to come back home and face their children, individuals discriminated for their race, gender or sexual orientation, and courageous immigrants -from China and all over the World- struggling to fully embrace the American dream.

I know we are, as business professionals and entrepreneurs, supposed to remove our emotions out of the equation and always think in terms of return on investment, business credibility, and project an emotionless and politically correct image of ourselves. This is specially true in the luxury industry where talking about social issues, hunger, poverty or racial discrimination is largely taboo.

I cannot change the World alone, and there are in New York City hundreds of very talented and very experienced philanthropists, activists, social entrepreneurs and dedicated elected officials.

As a privileged media entrepreneur fully conscious of my privilege, I decided that the best course of action for me, although modest and certainly limited in scope, was to help to create awareness about issues that really matter to me.

One year ago, our production company launched an indie, experimental YouTube channel Legit News based out of our Brooklyn studio. The first program we created was named The Face of America, an interview series.

Since October 2017, I had the pleasure to interview outstanding individuals from diverse backgrounds, who came to our recording studio to tell their own stories and share with us how they were working to make America a better place, one small step at a time.

We have explored multiple aspects of American society: social discriminations, race relations, LGBTQ issues, 2nd amendment, poverty, religious issues and women’s empowerment.

This interview series has changed me profoundly.

What I never told to the first persons I have interviewed is that I have no formal training in hard news journalism, and no experience in interviewing people. I was really scared when the camera was rolling and I had to conduct the interview. I was also ashamed of my strong foreign accent, and having sometimes to repeat questions as they were formulated in my imperfect English. (Most of my English vocabulary revolves around the luxury world, and I’m poorly linguistically equipped to talk about complex social issues).

I want to thank all the persons I have interviewed. They opened their heart, trusted me, and frequently went well beyond the context of a formal ten minutes interview. I felt sometimes I was not supposed to witness the incredibly intimate stories they were sharing with me, drifting away from the main topic of the interview.

I remain a proud media entrepreneur working in the luxury industry.

And I’m even prouder of sharing inspiring stories in The Face of America.

Pierre Gervois

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What American luxury hotels should do in 2018 to stay relevant

Hotel-Ella-Gervois-RatingHow to define the new trends in luxury travel? A new generation of wealthy individuals is evolving the concept of luxury travel. Luxury hotel marketing strategies must stay aligned with their customer base and think “outside the suite.”
Filip Boyen, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, comments: “Luxury travel used to be all about visiting certain destinations, being seen in the right place by the right people, and generally enjoying the high life in a more ostentatious manner, all while getting the exact same experience as everyone else. Luxury hotels reflected this, they were grand and provided people with a platform to enjoy themselves.”

A recent shift away from the hotel stay and towards the actual experience itself has caused luxury hotel marketing strategies to evolve quickly to meet the needs and expectations of their wealthy clientele.
Philippe Brown, founder at bespoke travel planners Brown and Hudson, explains, “With ideas like ‘Luxpedition’ we make challenging grand expeditions to the world’s most remote corners accessible to people who might otherwise be put off by arduous conditions. This has opened up a whole new market of mid-life crisis sufferers who would like to be Bear Grylls but want their comforts and moments of specific luxury.”
How then can the concept of luxury hotel marketing be adjusted accordingly to capture a market that still wants the luxury but also wants the unique experience too? The answer lies in staying true to the key luxury brand values of authenticity and quality, while also adding in the experience element as part of the holistic package.

Pierre Gervois, Founder of Gervois Hotel Rating, the New York based luxury hotel rating system for U.S. hotels added “ The new generation of wealthy travelers and guests are not like their parents, who were attracted by flashy hotels made to display the arrival in a new social status, but now are attentive to sophistication, refinement, and all the discreet details and signs of recognition of the new elite”

Albert Herrera, SVP of Global Product Partnerships at Virtuoso, says, “Authenticity has become a buzzword. It really does reflect the current trend of giving the guest something that is unique to that particular destination. Hotels started down the path of authenticity by offering a greater sense of place, especially with new builds. First it was apparent in the architecture and design, then with the furnishings and styling. From there, the concept has expanded to fully integrate local customs and cuisine, and provide the ability to fully explore or celebrate the culture.”
Herrera comments: “Hotels have done a great job of developing and partnering with their local communities to create experiences that highlight the destination. Whether it’s a morning run with the General Manager, sourcing the fresh catch of the day with the executive chef or even being an English teacher for a day to local schoolchildren, ‘living like a local’ is a trend that will continue.”
Another key feature of luxury hotel marketing is offering the ability to totally switch off from everyday life. Being immersed in a local culture and experiencing that life is one way to do this, but offering an out of this world experience is another.

Brown says: “We are regularly approached by clients who want to join our missions to explore the wreck of the Titanic and others looking to invest in a longer stay at the International Space Station, or to do something shorter with Virgin Galactic or with some of the other more interesting options.” Here the role of luxury hotel marketing is to offer the accommodation that supports the experience, maintaining the luxury while supporting the immersive element.
Personalization adds a great deal to this ethos. Today’s guests want their hotels to respond to them in a personalized and tailored way; they want to be recognized as an individual.

Gervois explains: “One of the issues in luxury hospitality in the last twenty years was the arrogance of staff, and the discriminatory practices on race, nationality, religion or gender identity, that went largely out of scrutiny and were tolerated by luxury hotel groups”.
“These unacceptable practices slowly start to be addressed, but we hear oftenly complaints from travelers who feel discriminated in the luxury hotel segment, and Gervois Hotel Rating fights to improve this issue with the industry.”, Gervois added.
However, this point applies both ways. Luxury hotel marketing should also take into consideration how the personality of the owners, management, and their staff contributes to the overall feel and experience of the hotel. This ties in well with the desire for authenticity and having a real experience.
Boyen explains: “Hotels are becoming more aware that their offerings need to go beyond that of the suites, butler, concierge – the hardware. Hotels just need to be themselves. They need to be mindful of the things that make them interesting to guests – be it their location, history, owner or vision – and not try to conform to fit in with any expectations of what a luxury hotel ‘should’ be.”
Ultimately, the way a wealthy traveller defines their ideal experience remains highly personal. Accordingly, best practice for today’s luxury hotel marketing experts is to leverage market research on their target clientele, as well as individual research on high-spending VIP guests, in order to understand their preferences and create a memorable experience–  both inside and outside the suite.

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Pierre Gervois will speak at the UNFOLD BRICS luxury hospitality event in Dubai on March 20th, 2018

Conjoining the world of Art with Architecture and Culture, UNFOLD Art XChange entices the world’s premier private bankers, financial institutions, government authorities, public art agencies, spatial designers, real estate and hospitality professionals with insights, opportunities and new partnerships as well as attracts corporate collectors, Pierre Gervois - UNFOLD BRICS - Dubai March 20, 2018private and public institutions worldwide through a series of Art Talks that will run from the 19th to 22nd of March to coincide with Dubai Art Week.

Pierre Gervois, Founder and President of Gervois Hotel Rating, the disruptive hotel rating system that makes Forbes stars and AAA diamonds look old fashioned and tacky, will deliver a speech about the importance of re-assessing the standards of hotel rating, in particular for the new generation of sophisticated travelers who are not impressed anymore by the mere lobby’s size or a 24h room service, but rather by elegance in decoration, truly warm service, and sustainability.

Currently rating 120 U.S. properties, highly curated and selected for the quality of their interior decoration and service, Gervois Hotel Rating is the new player in the hotel rating system field that has gone unchallenged for the past 50 years.

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GERVOIS magazine now distributed to wealthy Chinese travelers members of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club

Wealthy Chinese travelers place the United States as their #1 travel & real estate investment destination.

GERVOIS magazine, a New York City based magazine, has been selected to be the new preferred global travel publication of the prestigious Shanghai Travelers’ Club, and is now distributed to its members.

Shanghai Travelers' Club - Gervois partnership announcement March 1st, 2018

GERVOIS magazine is proud to follow the steps of the iconic STC magazine, the Club’s own iconic travel magazine that has been published from 2008 to 2017.

Founded in Shanghai in 2008, the Shanghai Travelers’ Club is China’s most exclusive international luxury travel club for discerning Chinese global entrepreneurs and executives seeking experiential & authentic travel discoveries.

Its 12,000+ members have an average annual income of US$580K, travel overseas on average four times per year, and spend on average US$63,500 per year during their travels. 23% of them have invested in real estate internationally. Excluding their real estate investment abroad, they collectively spend & invest more than US$700M per year in travel related expenses.

As the vast majority of Chinese high net worth individuals who travel frequently overseas is now speaking Engligh fluently, the Shanghai Travelers’ Club members felt the need to partner with an English language luxury travel magazine.

The club has selected GERVOIS magazine for its acclaimed editorial content, featuring exceptional hotels, men’s fashion styling ideas, art investment, real estate investment, and their iconic travel photoshoots made by the New York based famous travel photographer EFDLT studio, Director of Photography.

Starting with the Spring 2018 issue, released on March 16th, GERVOIS magazine will proudly partner for the years to come with the Shanghai Travelers’ Club and invite its Chinese members to travel and discover the United States and the World in style.

More informations about GERVOIS magazine:
http://www.gervoisrating.com/shanghai-travelers-club/

More informations about EFDLT studio, Director of Photography:

http://www.efdltstudio.com/

https://www.instagram.com/efdltstudio/

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The Broadmoor hotel (CO), still rated #1 U.S. hotel by the just released influential Gervois Hotel Ratings 2018

Guest at the Plaza Hotel, NYC - Gervois Rating 2018 - EFDLT StudioThe Gervois rating system is a hotel rating system created in 2016 by Pierre Gervois, the Founder of the prestigious Shanghai Travelers’ Club and frequent traveler in the United States. As Pierre has a following of wealthy Chinese travelers who trust him to choose their luxury holidays in the United States, no doubt the release of the 2018 Gervois Hotel Rating has more impact than the Forbes ratings for the Chinese Elite.

“Over the years, I have been disappointed by the numerous existing hotel rating systems” said Pierre Gervois. “Too often, there is a tendency to give too generous ratings to hotels members of luxury hotels chains, and to underrate independent boutique hotels”, he added.

Based on these facts, Pierre Gervois has created an entirely new hotel rating system, purely based on the sole merits of each property, considered alone, regardless of its association to a hotel chain, an affiliation program, other rating systems, or online reviews. Every hotel is rated professionally and independently, without any preconception about the property.

With 117 rated properties (33 new properties have joined in 2018 the prestigious ranks of the Gervois rated properties), this year’s ratings put a focus on the traveler’s experience rather than on old fashioned luxury.

The Broadmoor (Colorado Springs) is still #1 hotel, with 93pts, in recognition of the exceptional quality of service and dining, both unmatched at this level in any other property.

Four hotels make a remarked entry in the 2018 Gervois ratings with above 90pts ratings: The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia (91pts), the Langham Boston (90pts), The Blackstone Chicago (90pts) and the Montana Paws-Up Ranch (90pts).Gervois Hotel Rating 2018 website screenshot

Independent properties with an incredible charm and authenticity make also the cut for the 2018 ratings. Amongst our favorites are Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse (89pts), The High Lonesome Ranch (88pts), El Cosmico (87pts), Pioneertown Motel (86pts), and Casa Hudson (84pts).

As the Gervois Hotel Ratings are famous for their blunt and brutally honest ratings, some hotels get searing and hilarious reviews in 2018, in particular for uninspired decoration and failed interior design.

But on a more serious side, some high end hotels are reminded that disrespectful or discriminatory behavior with guests -Chinese or not- is unacceptable and must be quickly corrected through appropriate staff training.

For hoteliers, receiving the reviews like “The service is cold and sometimes condescending with guests who do not look affluent enough to the taste of the hotel’s employees” or “The training of the front desk staff should be seriously improved as the customer service sometimes reaches unacceptably low levels” must definitely trigger additional staff training sessions…

“Gervois Hotel Rating is on the discerning, multicultural and sophisticated traveler’s side, not on the hotel booking business’ side” concluded Mr Gervois.

The Gervois Hotel Rating rate hotels according to five essential criteria: Location, Building, Atmosphere, Dining and Service, each rated on a 20 points scale. The addition of the points give the final rating, on a 100 points scale.

The 2018 Gervois Hotel Ratings are available on www.gervoisrating.com

Also available on
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GervoisRating
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gervoisrating/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GervoisHotelRating/

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50% of wealthy Chinese are ready to leave the country and consider the U.S. as #1 place to invest

Chinese boatAccording to a recent survey, Chinese high net worth individuals (HNWIs) – defined as people with US$1.5 million or more in investible assets – more than 50 percent are either planning to, or are considering, emigrating from China.
According to Bain Consulting and China Merchants Bank, there are around 1.6 million Chinese with investible assets of $1.5 million or more, up from 180,000 in 2006. (Note: Ask anyone who’s familiar with China and they’ll likely tell you the real figure is far higher than that.)

For Chinese people looking to leave China, the U.S. and Canada are the most popular destinations, followed by the U.K. and Australia.
Cities on the west coast of the U.S. are the preferred emigration destinations for the Chinese. These cities are of course closest to China, increasingly served with regular direct flights and have substantial existing Chinese communities.
If half of U.S. millionaires were looking at leaving the country, clearly we’d want to know why. Education and environment are the primary factors motivating rich Chinese people to leave China.

Chinese political and military elites have long spurned local higher education, instead sending their offspring to study at prestigious western universities for a better education than what’s available at home. The daughter of Chinese President Xi Jinping, for example, studied at Harvard University in the U.S. For reference, in the Times Higher Education 2017 World University Rankings, the first Chinese university is ranked 29th.
Clean air and water, safe food and an open-minded education are attractive to anyone – and especially wealthy Chinese.
In addition, some 84 percent of participants cited the depreciation of the Chinese yuan as a key concern and driver for looking to move and buy real estate abroad.
But there are other reasons that push the wealthy to look overseas. The reality is in China, if you cross the authorities, everything can get pretty bad for you, and quickly. You’ll notice that the top 10 cities listed in the table above are all found in countries with open and transparent rule of law – which is lacking in China.
An overseas exit plan provides an insurance policy, should a swift departure ever need to be made.

According to Pierre Gervois, Founder of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club, an international travel club for Chinese elites, and Publisher of the STC magazine, “Contrary to what Europeans and American analysts think, HNWI Chinese are perfectly aware of China’s economic situation. The myth of a growing and successful China has been carefully entertained by the Chinese government in order to maximize Foreign Direct Investments (FDA’s), but the Chinese elite had never been naive. They know for fifteen year that this growth is not sustainable and it might be time to leave the boat for them and their close family.”

Property prices on the west coast of the U.S. have been boosted, in part, by continued buying by people from China. There have been numerous reports over the years of open houses being completely dominated by Chinese-speaking viewers, and even tour groups focusing on acquiring real estate.
And Chinese students will continue to flock to the U.S., with some 60 percent of all overseas students in the U.S. now hailing from China. Again, Mum and Dad will often buy real estate, along with a degree for junior.
What’s the easiest way for a wealthy Chinese individual to get a green card? Well, as the sister of U.S. President Trump’s son-in-law and special advisor, Jared Kushner, told an audience of Chinese investors in May in Beijing, you just need to invest in a bit of Kushner family real estate development.

The EB-5 visa programme allows for overseas investors to put US$500,000 in projects that create at least 10 jobs (in areas of high unemployment), or a million dollars in other areas, and in return apply for permanent residency in the U.S.
Jared Kushner, prior to his White House role, raised US$50 million from Chinese EB-5 investors for a Trump-branded apartment complex in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Not surprisingly, this has been hugely popular with wealthy Chinese. Around 85 percent of the visas have gone to Chinese, and there is a backlog of more than 20,000 applications.
Although the EB-5 program is likely to be altered or at least reviewed, the U.S. looks set to remain a popular destination for Chinese money for the foreseeable future.

Source: Stansburry Churchouse Research / Business Insider Blog / Tama Churchouse

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The Chinese dream is over for western luxury brands in China: Time for a reality check

Affluent Chinese customer - DunhillChina has recorded the most number of closures of luxury stores between July 2016 and July 2017, the latest report by the investment research and management company Bernstein shows. The report, titled “Store Wars,” based its findings on Bernstein’s tracking of about 7,000 stores referring to 36 luxury brands including big names such as Burberry, Saint Laurent, and Céline. Burberry and Dunhill had the most store closures in China of all the brands during that period.
China has seen 62 net closures of luxury brand stores during the surveyed period, the largest number observed by Bernstein among all significant geographies. The firm viewed the trend as a revision of the over-expansion, in previous years, of luxury brands into the Chinese market.

The rapid development of the country’s luxury industry fueled by affluent Chinese consumers has given luxury brands unrealistic projections of retail sales in the past. This over-estimation, according to Bernstein, has led them to aggressively open retail stores in China that exceeds consumers’ real purchasing power. The same situation occurs in the Middle East region, another area where luxury consumption is rising fast.
Globally, the number of the net store openings by luxury brands has also for the first time run into the negative territory. The report said most brands have more or less closed some of their stores in the department stores, a traditional channel that accounts for about one-third of these brands’ global sales.

Chinese consumers have demonstrated some remarkedly different purchasing behaviours from that of the West. According to Pierre Gervois, a leading expert about wealthy Chinese travelers’ shopping behavior, and founder of the prestigious STC magazine “Western luxury brands have been warned since 2010 that their projections about affluent Chinese consumers were grossly exaggerated.” “Brands refused to acknowledge that their future Chinese customers would buy in overseas stores – and in particular in the United States- rather than in domestic stores, both for tax reasons but also because of the poor customer service in their Chinese stores”, Gervois added.

Another distinguishing habit that sets Chinese luxury consumers apart from Westerners is their huge interest in buying luxury items online. Over the past year, an increasing number of luxury brands have embraced the e-commerce marketplace and launched stores with the country’s top two players, Alibaba and JD. Moreover, big names like Louis Vuitton and Gucci even opened their own Chinese e-commerce stores to ensure their offerings meet the expectations of Chinese consumers. And then there’s the nature of luxury itself, the meaning of which is different to younger consumers from what it was to their forebears.

Another concern that Western brands cannot officially recognize in China, is that a growing part of affluent millennials Chinese are moving from government-censored social media (We Chat, Weibo…) to Facebook and Twitter throughout an increasing use of VPN’s. That makes much less relevant their communications campaigns on Chinese networks.

Source: JingDaily Blog / Jenny Zhang / Ryan Yu

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Chinese tourists don’t just duty-free shop in the U.S.: They also invest in real estate ($100 billion in 2016)

Wealthy Chinese family searching a home in the U.S. - China Elite FocusThe number of Chinese tourists traveling the globe has increased significantly for the last ten years, making them the largest group of travelers in the world. Now, thanks in part to a recent agreement between the U.S. and China to extend visas for short-term business travelers, tourists and students, the U.S. could see an increase in Chinese travelers in the near future.

This trend is supported by research from the latest Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) from Hotels.com which reveals the U.S. is the second most popular destination for Chinese travelers to visit in the next 12 months (behind France), with popular U.S. landmarks like the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty topping travel wish lists.
The CITM research also identifies that, while cities in Asia Pacific remain the most popular (82 percent of Chinese travelers have visited in the past 12 months), visitors to Europe and America have increased with a year over year growth of 25 percent and 11 percent, respectively. These destinations were particularly popular with millennial travelers, with 42 percent visiting Europe and 29 percent visiting America in the past 12 months.

“The CITM reveals that the United States is one of the top five countries Chinese travelers visit the most,” said Josh Belkin, vice president and GM of the Hotels.com brand. “With tens of thousands of places to stay across the U.S., like distinctive boutiques, spacious vacation rentals and familiar chains, our site and mobile app have the perfect places for Chinese travelers of all ages and lifestyles.”

In 2016, there were 122 million outbound Chinese tourists – four percent more than in 2015 and a massive 74 percent more than in 2011, when the first CITM was published. China is already the largest source of international travelers for many countries – despite the fact only 10 percent of the population had passports in 2016.

“Chinese travelers in the United States tend to be more affluent than those who choose other destinations”, said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus Magazines LLC and Founder of the STC magazine, a luxury travel digital publication in Chinese Mandarin. “Real Estate investment in the United States is now the #1 real reason – and rarely stated in surveys – for affluent and wealthy Chinese outbound travelers, as they have acquired for $100 billion in U.S. Real Estate in 2016”

Source: CITM, hotels.com, STC magazine, Chinese Tourists Blog

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It’s now easier to pay at U.S. Retailers’ stores for Chinese travelers

A Chinese tourist paying with WeChat Pay - China Elite FocusjpgCitcon, the integrated payment and marketing platform, announced a strategic partnership to enable brands in North America to accept WeChat Pay and Alipay.

WeChat Pay and Alipay are the most popular and convenient payment options for Chinese consumers to purchase goods and services. Adding these payment options to retail point of sale allows brands to now tap into an even larger revenue stream from Chinese consumers who are the largest spender, and fastest growing traveler segment to the North America. The platform enables brands to optimize revenue growth without the costs and hassles of establishing a business entity in China.

WeChat Pay is a fully integrated payment solution within WeChat, the world’s most popular mobile social communications service with 936 million active users and Alipay is a super lifestyle app run by Ant Financial Services Group with more than 450 million active users. Together these platforms jointly account for 90% of China’s mobile payment market share. Both super apps allow users to book a trip, hail a taxi, order food, purchase movie tickets, pay for water and electricity bills, manage investments, perform transactions on e-commerce websites and more to create a cashless society.

“China is changing fast. Mobile payment is the new frontier of commerce and China is leading this trend. By providing an integrated and easy-to-use payment solution, Citcon is creating a future that takes payment and marketing to the next level, empowering global merchants to drive business growth with millions of Chinese consumers.”said Chuck Huang, Founder and CEO of Citcon

As the first payment partner of WeChat Pay and Alipay, in addition to major credit cards such as UnionPay, MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express, Citcon is a one-stop shop for merchants to connect with Chinese consumers and accept payments anywhere. Citcon’s stand-alone mobile point-of-sale (mPOS), easy-to-integrate API and software products empower merchants to optimize growth both online and offline, with an easy and affordable rate compared to credit card processing. In addition to the convenient payment solutions, merchants will also be able to gain in-depth consumer behavior insights, manage business performance, run marketing campaigns, guides users to merchants stores while saving their shopping preferences for future visits and manage lifetime customer loyalty programs.

“Accepting WeChat Pay is a smart move for U.S. Retailers. That will definitely help with the category of budget-conscious Chinese travelers who choose to travel in groups. But they must keep in mind that the most affluent categories prefer to pay with their international credit cards, who show their status when traveling overseas and offer more perks in terms of miles and reward points.” commented Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus Magazines LLC, a media group specialized in luxury travel publications for very affluent Chinese outbound travelers.

Source: Citcon / Chinese Tourists Blog

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Luxury brands might have forgotten that wealthy Chinese customers needed a good in-store service.

Gucci Store - china elite focusKering, the French luxury group, is adapting its sales approach to better cater for increasingly sophisticated Chinese customers, according to group managing director Jean-François Palus.
“We’ve changed the way we conduct our business in China and the way we address Chinese clients when they’re abroad,” said Mr Palus at the Financial Times luxury conference in Lisbon on Tuesday.
“We learnt that a very serious risk is to become complacent, to think that it’s an easy business, an easy customer base, easy to open stores with good products and then people will come in. That was true for a moment but Chinese customers have become sophisticated and highly demanding and we need to adapt.”
Chinese consumers account for more than 30 per cent of global luxury consumption, according to consultant Bain, which is forecast to increase to 35 per cent by 2020.
How much of global luxury consumption Chinese consumers account for, according to Bain, a figured set to rise to 35% by 2020
In the past, luxury houses relied on rapidly opening up stores in China to fuel growth amid rampant Asian demand for their products, but this approach has been undermined by an economic slowdown in China.
In the final quarter of last year, Chinese consumers showed signs of returning, although notably shopping more in mainland China, while tourism in Europe has slowed in part owing to recent terrorist attacks.
In China, Kering is retraining shop assistants and replacing email communication with WeChat, China’s most popular social media platform with more than 800m daily users.
Mr Palus said: “The way the Chinese treat very important clients is different — they have a very candid approach to wealth.”
He pointed to a recent visit to a Gucci store in Beijing where the store manager told him he had hired the daughter of a billionaire to work with clients in the shop “because to talk to wealthy people in China, you need to be wealthy”. He added that bad feng shui in a shop can hurt client traffic.
According to Pierre Gervois, the Founder and Publisher of the STC magazine, a luxury travel publication for High Net Worth Chinese global travelers “HNWI Chinese clearly signaled about  five years ago that they wanted to purchase luxury goods outside China, to enjoy the full experience of the iconic flagship stores in London, Paris or New York”
“This new trend has not been immediately recognized by luxury conglomerates such as LVMH and Kering, that led to an inflation of store openings in China in the years 2010/2015, with little customer traffic, insufficient staff training, and in some cases damaging consequences in terms of brand image.”, Mr Gervois added.
Kering posted a 31.2 per cent rise in revenues to €3.57bn in the first three months of 2017, lifted by a 34 per cent jump in sales from luxury activities.
Among its brands, Gucci led the way, posting record revenue growth of 51.4 per cent for the three months — the latest sign of improvement under creative director Alessandro Michele. Other Kering brands such as Brioni and Bottega Veneta were doing less well than the likes of Saint Laurent.
Mr Palus said: “The market has become more difficult and the pace of growth has slowed down. In this environment you need to take market share from the competition.”
Kering was not looking at acquisitions, added Mr Palus. “We have so much on our plate with helping our existing brands tap their potential . . . we don’t have enough time to think about M&A.”
He said that Kering was also still adapting to digital platforms. “We need to open ourselves to what’s happening in other industries and other countries. Our industry needs to become less product-centric and become more customer-centric.”

Source: The Financial Times.

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