Category Archives: USA

U.S. Hotels & destinations should now communicate in English with Millennial Chinese Travelers

Chinese Millennial Traveler - Gervois magazineThey speak English now (Just in case you didn’t notice).

They are the millennial Chinese travelers in the United States.

They are the Chinese tourists coming to discover the United States of America and to buy high quality Made in USA products.

They are the Chinese businessmen and businesswomen coming to invest in American companies and create U.S. jobs.

They are the smart Chinese millennial entrepreneurs coming to America to create start ups and contribute to America’s leadership in future technologies.

They are the Chinese guests fed up to be disrespected in luxury hotels when asking if they really can afford to pay for a suite when they ask for one and are offered first the cheapest room available.

They are the Chinese businessmen walking into a bespoke suit company in New York City and asking for a hand made in America suit because they also deserve to wear the finest clothes. (No, they are not only interested in “I Love NY” Made in China T-shirts)

They are the Chinese travelers annoyed to be depicted by U.S. marketing agencies as using only Chinese social media networks such as Weibo and WeChat, when they are actually using Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to stay in touch with their U.S. friends and freely discover the world.

They are the tourists who have spent $40Billion in the U.S. in 2016

They are the LGBTQ+ Chinese travelers wanting to be as respected as any other tourist and find safe places to just be who they are.

They are the Chinese shoppers who find utterly ridiculous when Western luxury brands add a dragon or a Chinese symbol on a watch or a handbag and expect that they’ll specifically want to buy this model.

They are the Chinese tourists who are grateful for the warm welcome they have received by American people when they were doing horseback riding or cowboy shooting. (Yes, they are not only obsessed by shopping in large shopping malls but want to discover the various aspects of America’s culture and heritage).

They are the Chinese travelers who are proud of their Chinese cultural heritage and Chinese language, but who also speak English and prefer to read in English original stories about the United States.

They are the Chinese travelers who are fluent in English and understand exactly what some people say about them when they are traveling overseas.

Actually, they are exactly the same as any other traveler in America.

By Pierre Gervois, Founder of Gervois Hotel Rating, Publisher of Gervois Magazine, Hospitality & tourism keynote speaker and expert about marketing to outbound Chinese tourists.

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From Hipster To Horseback: According to Pierre Gervois, Publisher of Luxury Hotels of America magazine, Chinese Luxury Travelers Demand Authentic Experiences

Pierre Gervois, Publisher Luxury Hotels of America - China Elite Focus

Pierre Gervois, Publisher of Luxury Hotels of America, New York, October 2014

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?Gervois Rating Banner 01

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

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Huson International Media appointed to represent Luxury Hotels of America magazine

LUXURY HOTELS OF AMERICA FINAL LOGOHuson International Media has been appointed by China Elite Focus Magazines LLC as the exclusive advertising sales force in North America for Luxury Hotels of America digital magazine.

Ralph Lockwood, President of Huson International Media, comments, “We are delighted with this new partnership which will allow us to develop the advertising revenues for Luxury Hotels of America. This technology-forward publication leverages the popularity of tablets, smartphones and social media to offer affluent Chinese travelers up to date and comprehensive information about the leading hotels and resorts in the United States. The new generation of international vacationers from China are more independent, and less likely than their predecessors to book packaged tours or use a travel agent, and Luxury Hotels of America is perfectly positioned to reach this audience, as they plan their US vacations. The publication is an ideal addition to our already robust portfolio of international media reaching affluent travelers around the world.”

As Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus Magazines and Publisher of Luxury Hotels of America, says “We have chosenLHA 1 Huson International Media as our exclusive advertising sales force in North America because of their proven track record of a leading media representation company. We have been impressed by their professionalism and understanding of the new generation of  independent and affluent Chinese travelers coming to the United States. Working closely with Huson International Media will allow Luxury Hotels of America to increase its advertising revenues with North American advertisers such as hotels and resorts, luxury brands, airlines, entertainment parks and tourism boards.”

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, with locations in California, New York, the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, Huson International Media has been representing media owners in Consumer, Fashion, Electronics, Computing, Business, and Finance sectors since 1988. With a current partnership line-up of more than 60 media-owners worldwide including divisions of Gruner + Jahr, Reed-Elsevier, Prisma Presse, and News Ltd, Huson International Media is one of the world’s leading media representatives.

Headquartered in Hong Kong, with offices in Shanghai and New York, China Elite Focus Magazines is the leading publishing company specialized in luxury travel magazines for affluent Chinese outbound travelers. With publications such as the Shanghai Travelers’ Club, Niuyue Mag, VIP Golf USA and Luxury Hotels of America, China Elite Focus Magazines provides a high quality content in  international luxury travel and lifestyle to the new generation of sophisticated Chinese travelers.

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Chinese investors turn to US commercial realty

Chinese businessman - China Elite FocusChinese investors, the second-biggest overseas buyers of US residential real estate, are building up portfolios of US commercial property as they look for new avenues of diversification. Chinese entities announced more than $5.89 billion in projects in January-October, nearly six times the $996 million for all of 2011 and 2012 combined, data from New York-based consultancy Rhodium Group show.
“There is a lot of upside,” said Thilo Hanemann, Rhodium’s research director. “We are at the beginning of a structural increase of Chinese investment in US commercial real estate.”
Greenland Holding Group Co completed a deal that will give the Shanghai-based developer a 70 per cent stake in Forest City Enterprises Inc’s Atlantic Yards, a 22-acre commercial and residential project in Brooklyn, New York. The deal, which is expected to require $4.8 billion worth of investment over eight years, is the largest property transaction by a Chinese company in the US.
China’s push into US property is underpinned by declining investment returns at home, a growing desire by wealthy individuals and developers to diversify their holdings overseas, and property companies looking to capitalize on offshore migration.
“Some investors want to diversify their assets, and some are looking for different growth opportunities,” said Julien Zhang, international director in Beijing for property consultancy Jones Lang Lasalle, which is advising three Chinese conglomerates on property deals. “Others want to learn how to enter mature and developed markets.”
A rebound in US real estate pricing, tight inventory in major cities, and continued low interest rates also are attracting Chinese buyers, said Gary Locke, the US ambassador to China. Locke was speaking at a forum in Beijing sponsored by the US Embassy to promote Chinese investment in US property. Chinese investment in the US has surged to $18.5 billion over the last two years, more than the combined total of the previous 11 years, Locke said.

“Chinese investors are now looking to purchase entire luxury shopping malls in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York City”, said Pierre Gervois, Publisher of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine. “As the new generation of affluent Chinese consumers prefer to buy luxury goods overseas, Chinese investors know that it’s now better to invest in luxury retail in the U.S. rather than in China, where foreign brands have opened too many deserted outlets” Gervois added.
Chinese nationals bought more than $8.1 billion worth of real estate in the year ended March 31, representing 12 per cent of the estimated $68.2 billion of domestic property purchased by overseas nationals and second only to Canadians, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors.
“Real estate is finally becoming a global industry and you will see capital flows on a cross-border basis, just like every other investment class,” said Rob Speyer, co-chief executive of Tishman Speyer Properties LP, which partnered in February with China Vanke Co Ltd to build a $620 million apartment project in San Francisco.
Speyer, whose company is also developing commercial, residential and retail projects in the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Chengdu and Tianjin, said he courted Vanke’s Chairman Wang Shi for more than two years, and inked their deal only 45 days after first introducing the project to him.
Not everyone is convinced that Chinese investment in the US property market will continue uninterrupted. Other options for expansion include Europe, Australia and Singapore, which account for about two-thirds of offshore Chinese real estate investment, according to Jones Lang Lasalle.
Zhang Xin, chief executive of Soho China Ltd, who paid $700 million through her family trust to buy a stake in the General Motors Building in Manhattan, said that while the US regulatory and legal environment remained attractive, valuations were getting expensive. “I would not feel as comfortable today putting in money as I did a few years ago,” Zhang said.

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Wealthy Chinese tourists cancelled leisure trips to the U.S. due to shutdown

 Chinese tourists in the United States

For many in the tourism industry, the U.S. government’s partial shutdown could not come at a worse time. The week the United States closed its national parks, monuments and museums coincides with Golden Week, designated by the Chinese government as a time for its citizens to travel.
The United States was named the top “dream destination” for Chinese travelers, which make up the fastest-growing tourism market into the United States. But the dream vacation for many Chinese tourists has turned into a nightmare, according to Haybina Hao, director of international development for the National Tour Association, whose tour operators and other members focus on travel into and within North America.
“Many Chinese visitors have saved for years to take the trip of a lifetime to our country. They wanted to see Yellowstone, the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon,” Hao said. “But they’re seeing none of it. They are extremely frustrated and confused by U.S. politics.”
While Chinese travelers are losing a golden opportunity, U.S. tour operators are losing money. “I had a group of 25 Chinese visitors who planned to visit Yellowstone this week, but they cannot get in,” said Sonny Sang of California-based ACC America China Connection, a member of NTA’s China Inbound Program. “I re-routed them to another destination, but I’ll lose $10,000 on this group. And I have another group of 22 arriving on Sunday to see Yellowstone. The financial consequences are unbearable for me as a small tour operator.”
More and more Chinese have been arriving since 2008, when China began to allow leisure travelers to visit the United States in group tours. Since then, China has become the fastest-growing source of visitors for U.S. hotels, restaurants and attractions. Last year Chinese visitation here increased 41 percent, and spending by Chinese travelers rose 19 percent, following 47 percent increases in both 2010 and 2011.
Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus Magazines, LLC and Publisher of luxury travel magazines in Chinese language such as the Shanghai Travelers’ Club, Luxury Hotels of America or Niuyue Mag, said “ We have reports of  very affluent Chinese tourists who have cancelled at the last minute their luxury shopping trip to the U.S. because of the shutdown. Knowing that they would have spent millions of dollars in shopping in the U.S., it’a direct and measurable loss for the U.S. economy”
Now they just need a place to spend it. “The tour operators I talked to are really scrambling to find alternative activities, including a tour operator who has more than 20 groups in the U.S. this week.” Hao said. “Compared to other countries that utilize creative ways to lure Chinese tourists, the U.S. shutdown will shatter the confidence of international travel companies.”
Many U.S. tour operators have become creative in salvaging their groups’ experiences, including Neil Amrine, owner of Guide Service of Washington (DC). “The biggest disappointment is the Smithsonian being closed, but we’re coming up with other solutions,” said Amrine, who revised the itinerary for a group of Chinese travelers this week, adding for-profit attractions and employing little-known pathways to view popular monuments. “They weren’t thrilled at first, but I think they’ll leave happy.”
The challenge for tour operators—and for the entire U.S. tourism industry—is to work with city and regional tourism organizations to develop alternatives to national parks and monuments that will satisfy travelers. Most are finding a wealth of options across the country, from California to Washington, D.C. At the same time, they’re keeping an eye on continuing closures and tourism roadblocks caused by the shutdown.
“We’re fielding calls nonstop and posing alternatives that are working,” Amrine said. “We’ve had only one group cancel, so we’ve been lucky… so far.”
As Gervois concluded” The purchasing power of Chinese inbound tourists in the United States is now so important for the country’s economy than it’s more than ever necessary to reach a bipartisan consensus to protect the travel and tourism industries’ interests”
Source: Global Travel Industry News

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“The new generation of affluent Chinese tourists in the U.S.”: Exclusive interview with Pierre Gervois

Pierre Gervois exclusive interviewWe had the pleasure to have an interview with Mr Pierre Gervois, CEO of the publishing company China Elite Focus and Publisher of the Chinese luxury travel magazines “Luxury Hotels of America” and “Niuyue Mag”. Mr Gervois, the leading marketing expert for U.S. hotels and CVB’s has answered to our questions about the art of promoting the United States as a tourist destination in China.

How do Chinese tourists choose their leisure destinations?

PG: They massively (more than 80%) search and find their leisure destinations through the Internet and more precisely, independent travel and tour- ism related websites, social media networks, and blogs. China’s most popular online travel agencies and booking engines, such as the very well made ctrip.com, are used for the technical part of the airline ticket purchasing and hotel booking, but beyond that, the choice of destination and hotel is made on influential, independent, travel and tourism websites and blogs. Word-of-mouth has an incredible influence in the choice of a leisure destination, a hotel brand, or the planning of a shopping experience. As most of the young generation of Chinese travellers are first-time travellers (and probably the first persons in their family to experience an overseas leisure trip since their parents and grandparents have probably not ever had this chance), they have no personal or familial emotional connection with foreign destinations, hotel brands, or cultural or entertainment activities. They need to learn from what other people say and write to forge their opinions before they gradually acquire the personal experience of a world traveller.
Why choose to go first to New York or Los Angeles? Why choose shopping sessions at Saks Fifth Avenue or at South Coast Plaza? Why choose to spend a day at Universal Studios Hollywood? The answers to these questions can be found on an incredibly active network of hundreds of independent travel blogs, mostly hosted on China’s most popular social media networks such as Weibo (a very successful mix of Twitter and Facebook) or blogging platforms such as Dian Dian and Douban (very similar to tumblr.com). Endorsement by one or several of these independent travel blogs is worth more than the thousands spent on advertising banners in big, official, online travel agencies. In a digital media environment saturated by direct advertisement—specifically in travel and tourism—genuine and independent endorsement by key opinion leaders is critical.

Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre GervoisHow can U.S. industries work with the network of Chinese outbound travel agencies?

PG: One of the biggest issues that U.S. hotels and destination management companies have to deal with is the relative weakness of the network of official, state-owned, Chinese outbound travel agencies in terms of their ability to advise their clients in choosing a specific leisure destination. One of the main reasons is the lack of training and expertise of Chinese travel agents who have very little experience in international travel themselves, and therefore, the lack of confidence of the new generation of Chinese travellers in the ability of their local travel agents to advise them in choosing a destination or a specific kind of hotel overseas. Things are slowly changing as the National Tour Association (NTA) has developed programs to invite Chinese travel agents to participate in familiarization tours to the U.S., but these initiatives remain isolated and can influence only a fraction of all Chinese travel agents. It’s important to consider that the highly professional net- work of U.S. inbound travel agencies have very few counterparts in China with the same levels of professionalism and expertise.

From a U.S. perspective, what are the differences between Western Europe inbound tourists and Chinese inbound tourists?

PG: There is a world of difference: European inbound travellers have been exposed to U.S. brands for decades, and associate them with values such as freedom, independence, lifestyle, and quality. Most European tourists have in their subconscious minds the stories of their fathers or grand- fathers about the GI’s coming to liberate Europe, bringing with them new products and new values; they may also recall the American movies they watched during their childhoods. When visiting the U.S., they have a deep emotional connection with the country.
For Chinese tourists, this emotional connection is non-existent; fifteen years ago, the concept of a leisure trip to the western world was unthinkable. Moreover, until recently very few American products were available in China, and American movies were not available in Chinese cinemas. The U.S. travel and tourism industry must understand that very specific marketing and promotion campaigns are needed to attract Chinese tourists; these require very different strategies from what has been done in the past with Western European markets. The new generation of Chinese tourists sees the U.S. differently than a British or an Italian tourist would see it, and it must be translated into the marketing campaigns undertaken by hotels, retailers, or entertainment parks targeting Chinese visitors.

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China’s new national tourism strategy set to increase outbound tourism: a chance for the U.S.

Luxury Hotels of America Winter 2013 CoverThe Chinese government has announced a series of initiatives aimed at increasing travel among its citizens. In a recently released document, the government emphasized the importance of travel as an avenue to enhance both the nation’s economy as well as individuals’ quality of life.

“Outlines of the Chinese Citizens’ Travel Initiatives 2013–2020,” released only in Chinese, details plans for improving China’s travel and tourism infrastructure and offering incentives to travel. Among the specific steps the government will take are:

building or expanding airports, highways, hotels and attractions.
increasing the amount of paid leave for workers.
increasing tax deductions for company incentive and conference travel.
allowing schools to expand current travel windows beyond summer and winter breaks.

Through October of last year, the number of Chinese visitors to the United States was up 37 percent from 2011. In light of this surge, the prospect of more Chinese travelers is compelling for tourism professionals.

“This news has extraordinary implications for the North American travel industry,” said Lisa Simon, president of NTA. “China’s U.S. arrivals have increased dramatically since 2008, so the projection of even more visitors confirms what NTA has been saying to its members: Take steps now to capitalize on this wave of tourists.”

The Chinese government is making travel a clear priority, said Haybina Hao, NTA’s director of international development. “Chinese leaders recognize that travel expands the horizons of its citizens, and when people see more of the world, they can return to China inspired and better prepared to be creative entrepreneurs,” Hao said.

Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre Gervois“The NTA has done a remarkable work with Chinese travel agents to help them to better understand the U.S. destinations.” said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus, who publishes magazines in Chinese language for affluent Chinese travelers to the United States such as Luxury Hotels of America or VIP Golf USA.  Pierre Gervois added “Don’t forget that the most affluent segment of Chinese travelers to the U.S. don’t rely on their travel agents to build their leisure trip to the U.S., but more on influential luxury travel publications and recommendations of VIP travel clubs. It’s important for U.S. destinations and hotels to talk directly to their future Chinese guests through these selected channels”

The plan calls for a 10 percent increase in domestic and international travel during 2013. It also emphasizes sustainable tourism.

Hao predicts an upsurge in many types of outbound travelers to the United States. “We’ll see student groups coming not just for summer camps or winter holidays but during the regular school year,” she said. “We’ll also see more travelers coming to attend business conventions and study tours, as well as more families and seniors groups.”

NTA has been heavily involved in the China outbound market since 2008, when the governments of the United States and China signed a memorandum of understanding allowing Chinese leisure travelers to visit the United States in group tours. NTA launched its China Inbound Program that year and has since maintained a list of U.S. tour operators registered to handle inbound Chinese group travelers. And next month, Hao will be in Beijing for the China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market, where NTA is partnering with Brand USA to present the USA Pavilion.

China’s latest plan to further increase travel is a call to action, said Hao. “These initiatives will change China and will reshape our industry if we can grab the opportunity,” she said. “Chinese travel agencies are working now to identify more products and American partners, so this is a perfect time to attend COTTM to present the Chinese trade what the U.S. has to offer.”

This summer, NTA will conduct the second China Market Forum during Contact, the association’s tour operator event, which will be held on Hawai‘i, the Big Island, Aug. 15–17. NTA and Hao also provide customized workshops and strategy sessions for destination marketing organizations and tourism professionals interested in exploring the Chinese market.

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