In response to President Obama’s announcement regarding Commerce Secretary Gary Locke‘s nomination as U.S. Ambassador to China, Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, issued the following statement:
“The nomination of Gary Locke as the U.S. ambassador to China presents a tremendous opportunity to advance travel-related issues involving a lucrative export market to improve the American economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. As Secretary of Commerce, he has been a strong advocate for improved travel facilitation and his support of the Travel Promotion Act demonstrates his keen understanding of the value of promoting the U.S. to travelers around the world. Among his top priorities must be to improve the visa process for potential Chinese visitors in order to make the U.S. more competitive in the $889 billion international travel market.
In 2009, the average Chinese traveler spent nearly $7,000 on American products and services while visiting our country – 72 percent more than the average spending in the United States by all other overseas travelers. Unfortunately, only less than three percent of the 30 million Chinese nationals who traveled outside of mainland China that year visited the United States.
According to our research, if the United States welcomed the same number of Chinese travelers as Western Europe did in 2009, the U.S. would generate $10 billion in additional traveler spending and support more than 76,000 new American jobs. According to Pierre Gervois, marketing expert on the Chinese outbound tourism issues, “The United States could easily get three to five million Chinese visitors every year with a smoother visa policy”.
A leading obstacle to maximizing Chinese visitors to the United States is that our consular resources in China are not keeping pace with the growth in demand. Wait times for nonimmigrant visa interview appointments in China skyrocketed from less than 30 days to nearly four months in Beijing and Shanghai in 2010.
Further complicating our visa issuance system is the fact that a Chinese national must apply for a new United States visa every year. Other foreign travelers to the United States can receive a 10-year multiple entry visa. “We look forward to working with the new ambassador and the Administration on these issues to maximize travel exports, create more American jobs and increase America’s competitiveness with China.”, Mr Dow added.
Note: Our Editorial team of does not necessarily endorse all ideas expressed in the following article, but whish to publish it because of its quality and its contribution to the debate about appropriate marketing strategies to attract Chinese tourists to the U.S.
One of the most disappointing exhibits at Shanghai’s Expo 2010, which ended October 31, was the U.S. pavilion — a dismal combination of ineptitude and self-loathing political correctness. As an effort to attract Chinese tourists to the U.S. or improve America’s image in China, the pavilion was an epic failure.
It’s not very surprising that Shanghai Expo 2010, which just ended (coincidentally) on Halloween night, never attracted much interest in the U.S. American tourists, already in a penny-pinching mood due to the recession, were reluctant to spring for a transpacific flight ticket and also put off by a certain nervousness about growing Chinese power, which the Expo site itself, purposely dominated by the immense red ziggurat of the China pavilion, only heightened.
Having said that, the Expo as a whole was actually much more interesting and worthwhile than one might have expected. The event’s best national pavilions managed to show off the best aspects of each country with dazzling architecture, lighting, and priceless treasures like the Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen harbor, the centerpiece of Denmark’s pavilion; or “The Dance Hall in Arles,” a Van Gogh which featured prominently in the French pavilion. The favorite pavilion of this writer was Spain’s, a brilliantly conceived audiovisual experience which managed to tell visitors everything important about Spain, past and present, without boring them for even a second. Spain was also represented by three extremely well done and effective city pavilions, for Bilbao, Barcelona, and Madrid. Actually, Spain’s pavilions were so well done, in comparison to the environmentalist hair-shirt-wearing that characterized many other European pavilions, that a visitor might reasonably conclude that the torch of leadership in Western civilization had passed to Spain for the first time in several centuries.
And then there was the U.S. pavilion, voting “present” at history’s biggest-ever opportunity to win over Chinese tourists. According to the organizers, the pavilion, organized around a “rising to the challenge” theme, was intended to “tell the story of the American spirit of perseverance, innovation, and community-building in a multi-dimensional, hi-tech presentation” and “presented the US as a place of opportunity and diversity where people come together to change their communities for the better.” The reality was quite different: a muddled, disappointing fiasco which was hobbled by a combination of self-flagellating political correctness and cluelessness about what would actually interest Chinese visitors, all exacerbated by procrastination and an embarrassing lack of funds.
The disappointments began with the pavilion’s architecture. The aluminum-clad structure was supposedly intended to resemble “eagles’ wings.” After examining it from every conceivable angle, I still fail to see the resemblance. While not exactly ugly, the structure (which one internet wag compared to a “combination air cleaner and Bose sound system”) was stylistically unimaginative and overly cost-conscious — which might be defensible when building an industrial park in Wichita, Kansas, but made no sense at all when constructing an Expo pavilion intended to show off the country to foreigners.
The attractions within, however, were a far more serious letdown. These basically consisted of three films, which the average visitor could reach only after waiting in the hot sun for several hours. It is illuminating to summarize each of these in turn, then compare what the pavilion organizers were trying to convey with what a typical mainland Chinese visitor would actually think.
The first film, “Welcome to America,” showed various Americans trying to say “welcome to the U.S. pavilion” in bad Chinese. Mildly amusing, it did succeed in its goal of eliciting chuckles from Chinese visitors. However, most people in China think of the U.S. as an extremely powerful and advanced country that China will have to struggle for decades to catch up with; although the state media’s reporting on the U.S. is almost exclusively negative, as is the depiction offered by China’s education system, many Chinese, not trusting their own government, suspect that the U.S. is actually a paradise of wealth and freedom relative to their own country. Any local entering the pavilion with this attitude must have been confused, if not stunned, by “Welcome to America,” which depicted Americans as amiable, slightly dimwitted goofballs.
The second film, “The Spirit of America”, was a series of personal testimonials that were intended to “create a living portrait of the US, [and] personify America’s drive and spirit, while speaking to the power of imagination and partnership.” In actuality, it was a disorganized series of touchy-feely, vaguely environmentalist musings by young children and uncomfortable-looking corporate representatives, whose main purpose seemed to be to fill time between the short welcoming speeches by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama which respectively began and ended the film. (…)
The third and final film, “The Garden,” was the biggest letdown of all. Granted, it was at least technically proficient, with oblong screens and a few cute effects like misting the audience when it rained on screen. However, content-wise, it was an unmitigated disaster. The film was intended to convey a message that people can work together to make their cities better, featuring a story of a young girl who succeeds in turning a small vacant lot into a garden park after overcoming many obstacles. The implementation of this concept might have gone over well with an audience of undergraduates at a second-tier journalism school in the U.S., but as the main attraction at the U.S. Expo pavilion, it was so spectacularly inappropriate and downright clueless that this writer literally cringed watching it.
This was for a number of reasons. At an event where literally every other country present tried to put its best foot forward, this film presented U.S. cities as decaying and backward, which, besides representing an obsession with the negative, is factually incorrect — American cities certainly have bad neighborhoods, but they are not crime-ridden ghettos as a whole. (…)
The self-deprecating nature of the film was totally unsuited for the audience. Self-criticism, in general, is a Western phenomenon; outside the West, self-congratulation is the norm.(…) Westerners win points with their compatriots by “standing up and taking responsibility” when things go wrong. In Asia, historically, people who “stand up and take responsibility” for disasters have usually been decapitated shortly thereafter. Chinese people already believe that their culture is the greatest on earth and China is the greatest country on earth; hence, a self-critical presentation not only will not impress them, but it also will tend only to confirm their already ample prejudices against you. (…)
History will judge the U.S. Expo pavilion as a huge missed opportunity for two reasons. First, a well done pavilion could have helped to ameliorate our chronic trade deficits with China by attracting a generation of mainland Chinese to America’s world-class tourist attractions. Second, the Expo represented a rare opportunity to present a positive image of the U.S. to millions of Chinese visitors. Regrettably, the actual pavilion completely failed on both counts: the organizers were trying so hard to be friendly and welcoming that they forgot to say anything positive about America, the likely result being that an entire generation of Chinese tourists will book tickets to Spain instead. As a U.S. expatriate in China, it appalls me that 7 million Chinese people visited this slab of epic fail with high hopes and are now equating it with America itself. Trust me: we’re going to regret this one later.
As a growing number of Chinese travel abroad for business and leisure, competition to lure mainland travelers is also heating up. One of the people responsible for steering mainland travelers to the United States, and one of the most experienced aviation professionals working in China today, is Delta Airlines‘ director and chief representative of China and Hong Kong, Sandeep Bahl. Bahl has worked in aviation for more than two decades and has been stationed in either Japan or China since 1997.
From his office in Bejing, Bahl oversees Delta’s marketing flights out of Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong to Tokyo, Seattle, and Detroit.
“China has become a very competitive market, and travelers here have become very savvy,” Bahl said. “When I first came here, to travel outside China was a luxury. In 2003, less than five million outbound trips were made. Today, they take almost 50 million trips per year. Chinese travelers have the will to travel, they like it, and they now also have the means.”
A growing number of trips taken means that Chinese travelers’ tastes are slowly evolving to incorporate more than the most popular destinations, like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, said Bahl.
“A first timer will visit the biggest cities,” he said. “But we’re seeing interest expand beyond those places.” When Delta launched its Beijing-Seattle flight in June, for example, the airline’s representatives started fielding questions about side trips to Mt. Rainier and Reno, Nevada. Other destinations that have seen surprising increasing interest from Chinese travelers, said Bahl, include Yellowstone National Park and Cincinnati (he attributes that one to the Kentucky Derby).
Chinese travelers are quickly becoming better informed and selecting destinations that fit their individual priorities. “It’s not a herd instinct anymore,” Bahl said. “It used to be, if everybody’s going to New York, then tour operators were only going to New York. Now, I’ve noticed that it’s not about what tour operators are selling; it’s the traveler who is more knowledgeable about where they want to go and what they want to do.”
Bahl adds that word of mouth, spread through face-to-face and online interaction, plays a key role in China as in other markets. “That spreads the word without spending trillions on marketing,” he said. “An individual traveler will come back, and his excitement about the trip motivates someone else to go. The resources to spread the word have grown dramatically. You have magazines that weren’t here several years ago, and we use online outlets like Qunar and Travelzoo to advertise and get information [on] who is clicking on what.”
The growth of Chinese outbound travel and movement toward approved destination status for the United States, have led more US travel providers to reach out to the market here, according to Bahl.
“When we met with US hotels recently, they are all geared up to receive more visitors from China. They are getting ready,” he said. “And when Chinese travelers fly to Atlanta or any of our gateways they have a Chinese speaker there when they land. With the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding], one condition was, there will be a group of US operators that will be approved by CNTA [Chinese National Tourism Administration]. Those will be an asset in taking care of Chinese tourists.”
But there is still room for improvement in serving the Chinese traveler. “Ground transport, facilities for certain food habits, etc. – those are lacking, especially in secondary cities,” Bahl added. “When our Chinese friends go to travel, after two days of eating steaks, they want Chinese food. Some areas are well covered, but not others.”
US destinations looking to attract more travelers from the mainland could benefit from more cooperation with each other, Bahl said. “We notice that when we take them to Atlanta and Detroit, they want to go beyond the cities. They want to know all about Georgia, and in Michigan, they want to see the Ford factory and museum and foreclosed houses they can buy. For that you need Michigan state help.”
Destination marketing in the United States, however, is generally set up city by city, with neighbors often viewing each other as the competition. But their resources can be brought together by a third party, said Bahl: “When we launched the Beijing-Seattle flight, we got people in Portland to come and talk to us about an itinerary that covers both Seattle and Portland.”
The World Expo, currently underway in Shanghai, has been an opportunity for Chinese consumers to view various US destinations under one roof. Bahl has visited four times and believes it has been a great marketing opportunity for travel to the participating countries.
“The expo will definitely help outbound tourism. People are learning things that will motivate them to travel to these countries. They get to know a destination, and it generates buzz. It is like a big travel show where Chinese consumers are finding out what those countries have for them.”
Although the development of Chinese outbound tourism is a relatively recent phenomenon, China has quickly become a major tourist-generating market drawing worldwide awareness (Pan, Li, Zhang, & Smith, 2007; Ryan & Gu, 2008). As a major player in the international tourism market, the United States is among the last Western countries obtaining Approved Destination Status (ADS) and joining in the competition for Chinese outbound tourists. In December 2007, the American and Chinese governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that granted the United States the benefits of the ADS (e.g., allowing Chinese travel agents to sell U.S. travel products to group leisure travelers and permitting American destinations to promote themselves in China) (Burnett, Cook, & Li, 2008; Sheatsley, Li, & Harrill, 2009). Six months after the signing of the MOU, the first organized leisure travel groups from China arrived in the United States, immediately sparking great industry and media attention. Much of this attention seemed to come from a lack of understanding of but increasing interest in Chinese outbound travelers and the Chinese market. As their counterparts in many other Western countries, American tourism and hospitality practitioners frequently ask: What kind of services should we deliver to Chinese tourists? This paper attempts to provide some preliminary insight into this question. Understanding customers’ expectations and preferences, and the benefits they seek is critical to marketers. Some have considered it “the starting point for all marketing efforts” (Kaczynski, 2008, p. 254). In the consumer behavior literature, the disconfirmation paradigm holds that customer satisfaction is a function of performance-specific expectation and expectancy disconfirmation (Oliver, 1980). Service marketing researchers also believe that customers’ perception of service quality involves a comparison of service performance against their expectations (Shoemaker et al., 2007). Further, the classic service quality model (Parasuraman et al., 1985) proposes five gaps critical to customers’ perceived service quality, of which Gap 1 (difference between consumer expectations for service/quality and management perceptions of consumer expectations) and Gap 5 (difference between consumer expectations about service/quality and perceptions of actual service/quality) both relate to consumer expectations. Thus, it seems that understanding Chinese tourists’ expectations is crucial for delivering quality services to this market. The purpose of this paper, then, is to qualitatively examine Chinese tourists’ service expectations when traveling overseas.
Finally, across different countries and cultures, peoples’ behavioral characteristics, values, and expectations can differ substantially. The work of Turner and colleagues (2001) suggested that cultural differences would influence the importance customers assigned to different aspects of services, and then their pre-travel expectations, which would in turn significantly affect their post-trip satisfaction level. For most Western marketers who have limited experiences with Chinese customers, it is important to acknowledge that conventional marketing wisdom, mainly acquired from research and experiences with Western consumers, may not apply to Chinese tourists. This study will focus on Chinese outbound travelers’ expectations on non-Asian travel products, where cultural differences are likely to play a role. Ultimately, the authors expect that findings from the present study may help lay some groundwork for new tourism marketing conceptualizations and a more universal research paradigm (Li & Petrick, 2008).
2. Literature review
Service Expectation: The Conceptual Background
Customer expectations are “pretrial beliefs about a product …that serve as standards or reference points against which product performance is judged” (Zeithaml, Berry, & Parasuraman, 1993, p. 1). Most research on service expectations has entailed examination of either service quality or satisfaction. This comes as no surprise considering the central role expectation plays in conceptualizing satisfaction and service quality (Moutinho, 1987; Oliver, 1980; Parasuraman, Berry, & Zeithaml, 1991; Pizam, Neumann, & Reichel, 1978; Turner, Reisinger, & McQuilken, 2001; Zeithaml et al., 1993).
Customer expectations have been studied in cross-cultural contexts. For instance, in their study on hotel service quality and customer satisfaction in China, Y. Wang and Pearson (2002) assessed service expectation by evaluating the importance of various service items. More recently, Kanousi’s (2005) study showed that culture may impact service recovery expectations, and specifically individualism, masculinity, and long-term orientation (i.e., three of the five Hofstede cultural dimensions) were related to service recovery expectations. Similarly, Kueh and Voon (2007) examined how culture influences the service expectations of Generation Y consumers, and their findings showed that uncertainty avoidance and long-term orientation positively affected service quality expectations, but power distance affected service quality expectations in a negative way.
Taking a qualitative approach, Lidén and Edvardsson (2003) examined customer expectations on service guarantees in public transport. In seven focus group sessions, participants were told how to develop a chart of their expectations on service guarantees. Lidén and Edvardsson (2003) also explored in detail customers’ needs and thoughts as sources of expectation. Their findings emphasized the importance of fairness as part of the guideline of service guarantee design. Next, the authors will turn to a review of Chinese outbound tourism. 2.3. The Development of Chinese Outbound Tourism
The Chinese government, through the establishment of the Approved Destination Status (ADS) system, started allowing the Chinese public to travel overseas for leisure purposes in early 1990s. Nevertheless, some may argue the starting point of Chinese outbound tourism could be tracked back to 1983, when Mainland Chinese citizens were allowed to visit Hong Kong and Macao under special arrangements (Qu & Lam, 1997; Zhang & Heung, 2001). In 1997, through the enactment of the “Provisional Regulation on Self-supported Outbound Travel,” the Chinese government officially revised its tourism policy so that people could travel abroad at their own expense (Arlt, 2006; Guo, Kim, & Timothy, 2007). To date, there were a total of 139 countries and territories with ADS, and 104 of these agreements were already implemented (Qian, 2010). In 2009, Mainland Chinese citizens made approximately 47.66 million trips outside Mainland China (Qian, 2010).
The rapid growth of Chinese outbound tourism has been frequently associated with such descriptors as “stunning” or “astonishing” (Guo et al., 2007; Y. Wang & Sheldon, 1995). Thanks to the country’s fast economic development, rising individual wealth, and the relaxation of much travel restrictions imposed by authorities, the Chinese outbound tourism market grew at an average rate of 21 percent per year from 1997 to 2007 (National Bureau of Statistics of China, 1998; 2004; 2008). Indeed, the unleashed demand for travel abroad is so large that the growth rate of China’s outbound travel surpassed that of the country’s national economy, inbound and domestic tourism, and primarily all other Asian and developed countries (Guo et al., 2007). Also, Chinese outbound tourism has been developing steadily; in 2003, when SARS was sweeping the globe, the total number of Chinese outbound visitors still increased by 21.8% (National Bureau of Statistics of China, 2004). In the year of 2009, despite the global economic slowdown, China outbound tourism maintains a 4-percent growth rate (Qian, 2010).
From destinations’ point of view, China has become an important source market. In Asian countries such as Japan, Singapore, and the Philippines, the Greater China Region (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan) has emerged as their leading source market (Japanese Tourism Marketing Co., 2009; Philippine Department of Tourism, 2009; Singapore Department of Statistics, 2009). In other countries, such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, China is among their fastest-growing source markets and has quickly become one of their top Asian markets (Canadian Tourism Commission, 2008; Office for National Statistics, 2008; Sheatsley et al., 2009).
A recent study estimated that the current Chinese outbound travel market comprises approximately 22 million people who have traveled or plan to travel to destinations outside Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao. Among them, 11.5 million have traveled or plan to travel to destinations outside Asia (Li, Harrill, Uysal, Burnett, & Zhan, 2010). Although the current size of Chinese outbound travel is already quite impressive, from a percentage-of-total population standpoint, Chinese outbound tourism development remains in an early stage but with huge growth potential (Lim & Y. Wang, 2008). Further, despite the current global economic slowdown, China’s economy is by and large in good shape. Chinese outbound travel is hence expected to continue growing steadily (although at a lower rate) and “contribute to the stability of the world’s tourism economy” (Dai, 2008). This will probably make China an even more important target market for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) worldwide.
Studies Related to Chinese Outbound Tourists‟ Expectations
Corresponding to the growth of Chinese outbound tourism, more studies on Chinese tourists’ travel behavior have recently been published. Of particular relevance to the present study is a line of research on key factors affecting Chinese tourists’ travel experiences and service evaluation, which indirectly tackled the issue of service expectations. For instance, Yu and Weiler (2001) analyzed the behavior of Mainland Chinese pleasure travelers to Australia and found that Chinese pleasure travelers preferred package travel because of convenience and reasonable prices. Their findings suggested that the major benefits sought by Chinese visitors in a pleasure trip include scenic beauty, safety, famous attractions, different cultures, and services in hotels and restaurants among others. Yu and Weiler (2001) also reported that Chinese tourists’ satisfaction level varied among gender, educational backgrounds, and their travel party. In a comprehensive review on the development and implications of Mainland Chinese outbound tourism, Guo and colleagues (2007) indicated that Mainland Chinese tourists generally prefer package tours involving multiple destination countries, which seems to deliver better value for money than single-destination package. The authors expressed concern over the lack of well-trained professional tour guides escorting Chinese tourists, which could substantially affect their outbound travel experiences. As for shopping, the authors suggested that Chinese tourists prefer purchasing electronics and famous brand-name items for their extended network of friends, family, even acquaintances. Finally, based on findings from a survey on Chinese outbound tourists’ consumption behaviors (Project Team, 2003), the authors reported that most Chinese tourists were highly satisfied with destination accommodation, locals’ attitudes toward Chinese visitors, and their overall travel experiences abroad. However, they were least impressed by the food served in their destinations.
According to Y. Wang, Vela, and Tyler (2008), the service expectations of Chinese travelers differed based on their travel purposes. The result from a survey using an adapted SERVQUAL questionnaire showed that Chinese tourists expected reliable and enthusiastic services and adequate facilities, similar to what typical hotels in China would offer. Y. Wang et al. (2008) also argued that Chinese tourists’ expectations of service at restaurants were greatly influenced by their past experience in domestic restaurants. Based on a survey of Mainland Chinese tourists to Canada conducted by the CTC, Huang (2008) summarized 55 expectations into 12 factors. His study proposed that there exist three expectation patterns among Mainland Chinese tourists to Canada, related to entertainment, variety seeking, and health/low price.
Some researchers have explored the cultural and socio-economic reasons behind Chinese tourists’ behavior and preferences (Mok & DeFranco, 1999; Yau, 1988). For instance, Mok and DeFranco (1999) proposed a conceptual model of Chinese cultural values and suggested to understand Chinese tourists’ behavior from several key Confucianism values such as respect for authority, interdependence, face, group orientation, harmony, and external attribution. They also noted that the country’s recent socio-economic and political reforms have had profound impacts on Chinese people’s value system and consumption patterns.
In sum, the foregoing review suggests that due to culture and socioeconomic differences, Chinese travelers may have particular travel expectations, preferences, and requirements that are not yet well understood by Western marketers. To the authors’ best knowledge, few studies have systematically investigated the travel expectations of Mainland Chinese outbound tourists. Hence, the present study attempts to shed some light on this.
This study is the second phase of a carefully designed project on Chinese
outbound travel market from a United States perspective. The multi-phase project employed a variety of quantitative and qualitative techniques, and each phase was designed with the aim of “building on, adding to, and refining insights from preceding phases” (Parasuraman et al., 1991, p. 39). As indicated, the current study focused on Chinese outbound tourists’ expectations of long-haul (i.e., outside Asia) travel products. Due to the exploratory nature of the study, the authors took a qualitative approach and conducted multiple focus groups (FG), which is quite common in customer expectation studies (Lidén & Edvardsson, 2003; Parasuraman et al., 1991; K.-C. Wang, Hsieh, & Huan, 2000). Group dynamics is the most distinctive methodological feature of FG, which encourages members to build off each other’s thoughts and ideas (Catterall & Maclaran, 2006). Moreover, FGs may help examine how people regard an experience and why they feel that way (Bernard, 2000), which fits the purpose of this study.
Following Li et al. (2010), the FG sessions were held in 11 cities in China by a professional marketing research company. In addition to the country’s three gateway cities (Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou), the research team selected eight secondary cities (Chongqing, Xi’an, Shenyang, Tianjin, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Wuhan, and Shenzhen) to keep a geographical balance, and also for market targeting and strategic planning purposes. Although there is no universal rule for the number of FGs required for a project, it is believed that 11 sessions are adequate for this study (Calder, 1977).
Before the FGs were launched, a moderator’s guide was developed, containing a series of questions about participants’ previous trips outside Asia, such as their most memorable experiences when traveling outside Asia, decision-making procedures, and what they hope service providers understand about Chinese tourists. After multiple rounds of discussion with project sponsors and the research vendor, the research team decided to examine service expectations by asking about participants’ criteria when selecting accommodations, food, transportation, tour guides and itineraries, and entertainment and activities for their outside-of-Asia trips (e.g., When traveling outside of Asia, what criteria do you use to select your accommodations?). This is partly because the notion of “service expectation” might be too abstract for participants to talk about, and Chinese respondents are generally not so forthcoming in their views (Roy, Walters, & Luk, 2001). Further, asking about criteria instead of expectations might avoid the potential different interpretations of service expectations as “will,” “ideal,” or “should” standards in participants’ mind, as previously indicated. A pilot test showed that the term “criteria” (Biaozhun) was easily understood and well-responded to by participants. Each FG session was videotaped, transcribed in Chinese, and later professionally translated into English. Two of the authors, both proficient in Chinese and English, also proofread the translated transcripts.
Participants generally related to their past outbound travel experiences when answering this question. Some of their comments were essentially critiques and complaints about their previous travel experience, which reflected their expectations indirectly. Many FG participants commented on inadequate facilities and equipment. A very common complaint concerned lack of hot drinking water and Chinese tea. For example, a respondent from Nanjing said, “They do not provide hot water for drinking. Chinese like drinking hot tea.” Because Chinese hotels traditionally provide a large set of “standard amenities” (e.g., toothpaste and toothbrushes, combs, shampoo and lotion, slippers, shoe mitts, even disposable razors and shaving cream), Chinese tourists (particularly those first-time outbound travelers) generally expect foreign hotels to do the same thing. This expectation, if unfulfilled, could create a bit frustration as some Chinese tourists do not pack such items when traveling, and they might not be able to communicate with the hotel requesting these items due to language barrier. For instance, one respondent in Hangzhou said, “They do not offer one-use toiletries such as slippers and toothpaste. If you do not bring your toothbrush, you will not be able to brush your teeth.” “Stuff [toiletries] for taking showers is a basic requirement,” a respondent in Shenyang commented.
Similar to previous studies (Wong and Kwong, 2004; Wong and Lau, 2001), cleanliness/hygiene and safety/security were two important selection criteria. Also, participants like to choose hotels in good locations, such as “close to tourist spots”, “urban surroundings,” although some respondents preferred quiet places. Eight of the 11 FGs like to stay in conveniently located hotels. Further, respondents seriously cared about service quality. For instance, a respondent in Shanghai indicated, “Some hotels close on weekends or close early, which is not „humanistic‟ to tourists.” Another respondent in Beijing said, “The service must be good. For example, when you inquire about something, they should reply…They should clean the guest room more often.”
Finally, the price level and quality grade requirements were the other two problems that many of the respondents brought up. According to Yao (2006), due to the impact of Confucianism in China, Chinese tourists consider frugality a social virtue. Most Chinese tourists are price/value-conscious. Some respondents indicated that 50 to100 U.S. Dollars (USD) a night was acceptable, and said they like to stay at three-star or better hotels. Participants also mentioned that the hotel grading system in foreign countries differed from that in China. A Nanjing participant stated that, “We stayed in a four-star hotel in XXX, but in my mind, its facilities were merely better than a two-star hotel in China.” For some participants, “good value” is a critical requirement. Table 1 reports some of the most common expectations of hotels. The frequencies listed (in terms of the number of individuals and FG sessions that mentioned each issue), although not for statistical purpose, could reflect the relative importance and level of consensus in respondents’ minds.
3.2 Food and Restaurants
Seven FGs expressed willingness to try local or new cuisines, but participants also admitted that they could not do that for too long and too often. Some indicated that the food “must be acceptable to Chinese,” which seems rather ambiguous. Meanwhile, eight FGs believed “Chinese food should be provided” throughout the trip. A respondent in Nanjing even said, “Chinese food should be available every day. For example, if lunch is Western style, dinner should be Chinese. This way, if we don‟t get enough to eat at lunch, we can eat at dinner.” Many participants complained about Western food as being too sweet, unhealthy (few vegetables and fruits, high calories), with too many uncooked or cold dishes (including ice water), and too much fried food. Examples include:
“The food is too sweet with high calorie counts. I once had a chocolate bar, but I ate part of it and threw the rest away because it was so sweet that I could not finish it” (Beijing).
“I don‟t like sweet food, and I think their food is coarse.” (Shanghai)
“I am not accustomed to the food — too much meat and most dishes are raw.”
(Shenzhen) “Too much oily food; more vegetable should be provided.” (Nanjing) One-third of the FGs suggested more food options be offered. The price issue was brought up again. Shenyang and Wuhan participants expected the food to be reasonably priced and with authentic local flavor. Their budget for food was approximately 10 to 30 USD per day.
3.3 Tour Guides/Itineraries
According to Wong and Kwong (2004), “time” was one of the most important criteria when Hong Kong residents choose package tours. Many participants in the present study preferred less-hectic schedules. This also supports the study by Zhu (2005), which found that relaxation was one of the primary motivations of Chinese outbound tourists. Most of the FG comments mirrored the following: “The schedule was so tight that I could not experience the local life.” In addition, participants thought the schedules were not always properly arranged. A respondent in Chongqing said, “I prefer longer stays at fewer locations.” Another respondent in Nanjing said, “The problem is that they spent too little time at attractions, but a lot of time at shopping venues.” Many respondents preferred less (forced) shopping.
Focus group participants also suggested they would like to travel with people sharing similar backgrounds and interests. For example, a respondent in Xi’an suggested that “I think there is a need to further segment the market. Those interested in sightseeing may go to places with beautiful scenery, while art fans may go to places like Spain and enjoy a long stay there. Those who are into shopping may travel together as a group.” The Beijing FG even suggested that tourists be grouped based on their age and/or personalities. Finally, the price issue came up the third time. Respondents in Shanghai and Beijing expected discounts.
One of the reasons people participate in group tours when traveling abroad is they would experience fewer cultural and language barriers. Not surprisingly, many FG respondents had high expectations of their tour guides’ cultural knowledge and language ability. Here are some examples:
“[We] look for Chinese-speaking tour guides; if the locals want to be a tour guide for Chinese tourists, they must learn Chinese.” (Xi’an)
“Being bilingual is very important; Chinese-speaking is a must.” (Hangzhou) “Understand local customs and history.” (Guangzhou) “I hope he/she could be familiar with the city.” (Beijing) Furthermore, the respondents emphasized the importance of professionalism.
Some examples include: “I expect the guide to be more passionate. I followed a tourist group to the
XXX. The guide only gave a brief introduction on the motor coach…He seemed to have finished his job after the brief introduction. And then he sat back with a bad attitude, and charged us by hours.” (Shenzhen)
“I expect the guide to be humorous and smile all the time.”(Shenzhen) “They should not cheat the tourists out of money.” (Hangzhou) Finally, four FGs suggested that the tour guides should have tourists’ interests
at heart. For example, “Go to fun places instead of places where tour guides can make profit.” (Nanjing); “Take tourists to somewhere meaningful, not just for the tips.” (Tianjin).
Most respondents showed interest in local culture and customs such as participating in local events, festivals, and shows. A respondent in Beijing commented, “[I would like to experience] local surroundings. For example, younger tourists who visit England can go to a concert to experience the atmosphere; older tourists may want go to an opera.” Participants in Beijing and Shenzhen said that they prefer to see things not available in China. For instance, some were curious about red-light districts, sex museums, and other adult-entertainment venues, simply because those are prohibited in China. Although half of the FGs would like to experience some local nightlife, respondents in Guangzhou and Nanjing thought that evening should be reserved for resting because daytime activities are exhausting.
As for activities, some FG participants reported interests in shopping. For example, a respondent in Xi’an expected tour operators to have a better understanding of “…Chinese shopping habits: What kind of things should they buy when traveling abroad? What gifts would they buy for seniors and what would they buy for children? So that they could provide suitable products to satisfy Chinese needs for shopping.” Another respondent in Shenzhen preferred to visit “shopping areas with local flavor instead of regular shops. No matter if purchases are made, the experience will be better.” A respondent in Tianjin commented, “The only thing which attracts me is shopping; there are international brands at very good prices.” All participants indicated that they did not want “forced” shopping. In addition, their activities of interest include extreme sports, horse-riding, fruit-picking, gambling, shows, and parties.
In general, participants were impressed by the transportation system in Western countries (particularly Europe). A respondent in Xi’an stated that, “The transportation in foreign countries is very convenient, which impressed me the most. You can buy a one-day pass. With that pass, you may take ship, train, subway or bus within that day.” When taking a motor coach, respondents expected the bus to be safe, clean, spacious, fast, and not too cold (i.e., air-conditioning temperature was not set too low). A respondent in Shenyang thought there were not enough transportation options and the cost was too high. Several participants mentioned car rental, but were not sure about the policy and feasibility (e.g., there was some concern over driving in a foreign country using a license issued in China and confusion about the need for an “international driving license”; plus, under the current ADS scheme with most Western countries, Chinese leisure travelers have to travel in groups, which means a “self-drive tour” is still not an option for Chinese tourists in those countries). A respondent in Wuhan preferred to take taxis, while another respondent in Hangzhou complained that it was hard to take a taxi and the price was too expensive.
3.6 What service providers should know about Chinese tourists
Close to the end of each FG session, the moderator(s) asked the participants what service providers should understand about Chinese tourists. Most respondents suggested that Western service providers know more about the Chinese lifestyle and particularly the country’s food culture. This is presumably because they were not quite impressed by the accommodations and food (most of the comments focused on these two areas). For example, a respondent in Tianjin went back to the hot-water issue and commented, “Make sure hot drinking water is available. Some hotels offer coffee machines where we can boil water; but others do not. Not having hot drinking water will make us uncomfortable, especially when we are not used to the local food or climate.”
Chinese tourists’ consumption habits and their travel motivations are two other things Western marketers must understand. For instance, a respondent in Nanjing said, “Chinese always haggle, which does not seem to be common in Western countries.” A respondent in Shanghai thought that “They lack a real understanding of the younger generation of Chinese tourists…For example, they think Chinese are either poor or poorly mannered.” Finally, some participants also mentioned that they expect more respect from their Western hosts and service providers, and there should be no racial discrimination against Chinese.
In this article, the authors examined the travel expectations of long-haul Chinese outbound tourists with emphasis on the following five areas: accommodations, food and restaurants, tour guides and itineraries, entertainment and activities, and transportation. Findings from 11 FGs showed that food and accommodations are two major concerns of Chinese tourists when traveling abroad. Moreover, researchers learned that Chinese outbound travelers highly value cleanliness and safety. Participants of this study were very sensitive to the “price-value relationship” (i.e., the price they pay vs. the value they receive). Quite often they relied on tour guides when traveling abroad, and they expect tour guides to be bilingual, friendly, professional, and knowledgeable about local culture and history. According to these FGs, Chinese tourists want to experience foreign environments but prefer a balance between activities and rest. They are wary of being taken advantage of and desire genuine respect and hospitality from staff.
Theoretically, findings of this study not only support previous research on performance-specific expectation and expectancy disconfirmation, but also contribute to current conceptualization of customer expectations in different cultural contexts. Prior expectations models (Oliver, 1980; Robledo, 2001; Zeithaml et al., 1993) were generally structured in Western societies. Although those models have identified various sources of expectations (e.g., word-of-mouth, customers’ past experience), comparatively less attention has been devoted to the role of culture in building expectations. Findings of this study imply that culture is a critical factor in shaping tourists’ travel expectations. When people consume services and goods in a foreign environment, their behavior is even more obviously affected by their own culture and value system. Cultural norms and values may influence two of the three components of Oliver’s (1980) expectation model—context and the individual customer’s characteristics. Further, nearly all components of Zeithami et al.’s (1993) and
Robledo’s (2001) models of customer’s expectations are subject to cultural influences. Indeed, this study shows that beyond specific expectations of individual service components, Chinese tourists expect Western service providers to first have a better understanding of Chinese culture, lifestyle, and diets. This research offered evidence for expanding theoretical approaches to tourist satisfaction and expectations of service quality to include culturally embedded norms and values. For example, Confucian values related to workplace dedication may result in Chinese visitors’ relatively high expectations for service performance as related to food and beverages and accommodations. Notably, this seems to contradict some researchers’ suggestion that Chinese consumers, because of their belief in Karma and harmony, tend to “have low expectations toward the purchased products” and avoid showing their dissatisfaction (Reisinger, 2009, p. 340). Chinese preferences for convenience in hotel location and transportation access may be related to cultural preferences for utility and function, particularly when faced with new environments and situations common among first-time travelers. Moreover, history and tradition are important to Chinese travelers, making context and interpretation important to tour itinerary selection and scheduling. Further, most Chinese tourists still highly appreciate traditional collectivism values such as family duty and caring for the children. Thus, when they travel overseas, purchasing gifts for seniors, children, and friends is almost an obligation.
Certainly, the major contribution of this study is its practical findings. As indicated, complaints related to food and drinking water, as well as the discrepancy between Chinese tourists’ expectations and actual hotel facilities/services were voiced in primarily every FG session. Thus, it seems understanding and implementing specific dietary and accommodation preferences of this emerging market should be considered crucial as competition among destinations for the Chinese tourist increases. Western travel and hospitality practitioners need to adjust their services and amenities to satisfy and attract this market. There are several subtle changes that may have a substantial impact. For instance, Chinese tourists greatly appreciate employees who express a high level of professionalism, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude. Hotels that want to attract Chinese tourists need to train employees to provide this style of service. In addition, having readily available bilingual staff and employees who are sensitive to East/West cultural differences will greatly enhance these travelers’ experience. Further, Western hotels interested in hosting Chinese tourists should be prepared to provide toiletries as well as a method of making hot water for tea in the guest room.
Perhaps the most challenging amenity that Chinese tourists crave is food that suits the Chinese palate and diet. This study found that Chinese tourists want to taste local cuisine but also want to find familiar foods. A Chinese diet includes a wide variety of vegetables, little or no milk, and more salty rather than sweet foods. Western restaurants offering local dishes that fit this description may have a better chance of winning Chinese tourists.
Finally, for multinational corporations, a new challenge in today’s environment would be how to facilitate the internal knowledge transfer among different properties. For instance, an international hotel chain may own a property in Shanghai which has years of experiences serving domestic Chinese tourists, and a hotel in New York which just recently started hosting Chinese outbound tourists. Presumably, the chain would enjoy substantial competitive advantage if it can ensure such cultural understanding be shared effectively between the two properties.
4.1 Limitations and Future Research
The FG approach used in this study could be vulnerable to criticism. Although marketing researchers have repeatedly defended the scientific value of FG and FG results (Calder, 1977; Catterall & Maclaran, 2006; Cowley, 2000), problems associated with group interviews, such as “group-thinking” should be acknowledged as they could affect and skew the research results (Catterall & Maclaran, 2006). Further, although it has been suggested that sample generazability is a non-issue for FGs taking an exploratory approach (Calder, 1977), the authors noted that participants of this study were relatively young—lack of familiarity with FGs and marketing research in general might have contributed to the low participation rate of seniors. Thus, ideas generated from this study were somewhat dominated by those of the younger generation of Chinese tourists. Further, it has been noted that Chinese participants tend to use non-verbal communication in interviews and surveys (Roy et al., 2001). Obviously, information delivered that way could not be effectively reported in the current paper. Finally, all FG sessions were conducted in Chinese, so cultural connotations lost in translation were almost unavoidable. Overall, the qualitative nature of this study makes the results “more in the form of preliminary conclusions than empirically verified inferences” (Parasuraman et al., 1991, p. 39). Fortunately, some of these problems will be addressed in the final phase of the project, a large-scale quantitative survey based on one-on-one interviews.
This study focuses primarily on “what” Chinese tourists’ expectations are. Admittedly, the “why” and “how” questions remain unanswered. That is, the study did not provide a theoretical explanation on how Chinese tourists’ expectations are formed. Although providing such an explanation is beyond the scope of this study, the authors believe more research is necessary to explore the underlying cultural reasons and socioeconomic factors affecting Chinese tourists’ preferences.
This research contributes to the small number of culturally specific studies on service expectation, including Turner (2001), Y. Wang and Peterson (2002), Kanousi (2005), and Kueh and Voon (2007). Given the continued growth of international tourism and global integration, this topic area should provide fertile ground for tourism researchers interested in intercultural and intracultural studies as applied to satisfaction and service quality. For instance, the present study focuses on Mainland Chinese outbound tourists’ expectations. A natural next step of the present study is to systematically compare the service expectations of Chinese outbound tourists and those of their Western counterparts and identify the underlying cultural reasons accounting for such differences. One related factor that may affect such comparison is Chinese outbound tourists currently represent the elite group of the Chinese society. Although their salary level may be lower than average Western tourists, their social class and domestic travel experiences may lead to unusually high service
expectations. To make the comparison meaningful, researchers might need to decide if Chinese outbound tourists should be compared to “average” Western tourists, or elite/luxury tourists only. Moreover, readers may have noted some studies on travel behavior of outbound tourists from the Greater China Region (e.g., Hong Kong and Taiwan). Thus, an interesting research topic would be to explore whether there exist systematic differences between consumers from those developed areas and their Mainland counterparts in terms of the five aspects examined in this paper. More broadly, it would be interesting to compare the expectations of Chinese outbound travel tourists with those of tourists from other Asian markets sharing similar cultural background.
Future research may help refine and define domains of Chinese tourist expectations that may account for a significant amount of variation in satisfaction and service quality evaluations. As such, this qualitative study may form the basis for subsequent quantitative research. Future research may also investigate what hotels and restaurants might receive in return for accommodating visitors with such high service quality expectations. For example, Chinese travelers’ brand loyalty may be an interesting extension of the research presented here. It should also be of interest to researchers how managers can resolve dissatisfaction with or even disputes over service quality related to Chinese outbound tourists.
As one of the reviewers of this paper points out, when studying Chinese outbound tourists’ behavior, it is important to keep China’s current tourism policy and development condition in mind. For example, current ADS agreements generally mandate Chinese travelers to visit foreign destinations in the package tour mode (with the exception of a small number of destinations where “Individual Visit Scheme” (IVS) are allowed). The choices of destinations, itineraries, accommodations, and so on are hence by and large dictated by product availability, which is ultimately determined by Chinese and destination governments’ policy and tour operators’ business interest. This seems to imply that at current stage, Western service providers need to understand the Chinese travel market in both B2C (Business-to-Culture) and B2B (Business-to-Business) contexts. In the next phase of this project, the research team planned to interview multiple Chinese outbound tour operators and government officials to provide new insights to the focal question.
Chinese outbound tourists’ travel behavior is subject to unique external factors such as ADS arrangements and internal factors such as their relative inexperience with overseas travel but high social status. Findings from this study suggest that while as a phenomenon Chinese outbound tourism is still in its infancy, Chinese outbound tourists are quickly growing into a larger and more sophisticated group of consumers. When traveling overseas, they expect quality services, respect, and better cultural understanding of their wants and needs. Satisfying and meeting these expectations will require a combination of insight into culturally specific behaviors and understanding of broader cultural beliefs. Thus, successful Western marketers should be well-prepared to accommodate the basic needs of the Chinese tourists visiting a destination for the first time, as well as adding social and psychological familiarity and comfort to products and services offered. A better understanding of culturally embedded norms and values as applied to satisfaction and service quality should result in a rewarding experience for visitors and effective branding and marketing for destinations and businesses.
Recruiting a Sales and Marketing Manager for the Chinese inbound market may be a tricky task for U.S. hotels, CVB’s and destination management companies. Luring Chinese consumers is never easy, but naive missteps can be avoided.
In July 2009, an average of one article per day about the surge of Chinese inbound tourists in the United States was posted on Twitter. By November 2009, there were three articles per day, and in March 2010, more than ten new articles per day were posted about this subject. Every day, all over the country, major hotel chains, luxury boutique hotels, holiday resorts and budget hotels suddenly realize that luring a few of the 50 million Chinese outbound tourist should be a crucial part of their financial salvation in recession and post-recession times. Taking into consideration that the United States is the number one “dream destination” according to the 2007 Travel Industry Association Research Report on China1, and the fact that only 400,000 Chinese tourists actually visited the U.S. in 2009, it’s easy to imagine the impact for the entire hospitality and tourism industry once the flux of Chinese tourist will have reached its natural level — anticipated to be a minimum of one million visitors per year.
Thanks to the realistic approach of the U.S. General Consulates in China, and particularly in Shanghai, the issuance of tourist visas has been recently simplified and accelerated for Chinese tourists travelling in groups and individually. For each hotel and resort of the United States, and particularly in the four states of California, Nevada, New York and Florida, the bottom line challenge is how to convince Chinese travelers to choose their hotel over another.
Just counting on the presence into Chinese hotel booking engines is like finding a particular grain of sand in the bottom of the Chinese Sea. The probability that a Chinese tourist — or a Chinese travel agent– specifically picks your hotel when preparing his travel online is close to zero. The fact is that these outbound travel booking engines are just bourgeoning in China and won’t have the necessary maturity, reputation and exposure to be meaningful for another two to three years. They can’t yet be considered an efficient marketing tool.
In most cases, the most proactive and efficient solution is to recruit a dedicated sales and marketing manager in charge of this promising, largely untapped and fast-growing Chinese market. This manager can be located at the hotel (for small / medium size hotels), or, for major hotel chains or big resorts, being an expatriate (or a local employee) located in China in a representative office. The job description requirements generally follows this pattern:
-Implementing marketing strategies in China to lure the new generation of affluent Chinese outbound tourists preparing a holiday trip to the U.S.
-Developing relations with Chinese outbound travel agencies, mostly located in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou
-Building the hotel’s brand image in China
-Doing Public Relations with Chinese journalists writing in Chinese
outbound travel magazines
-And, last but not least, understanding the behavior and expectations of
Chinese travelers to the U.S. when they select a hotel
Which profile fits the best with these arduous tasks? Here are the profiles Human Resources departments think are the best and actually recruit on a preferential basis, according to our experience and examples taken in many hotels, CVB’s and Destination Management Companies within the U.S.:
-A candidate who has learned Chinese language at university
-An American Born Chinese (ABC) person
-A Chinese citizen (in many cases a former Chinese intern)
-Generally junior people
This kind of profile springs from two basic myths: that having a Chinese background is an advantage, and that youth is an asset. Having Chinese origins and/or speaking Chinese language are neither advantages nor disadvantages for this kind of position. They are just irrelevant criteria. We have often seen hotels that have recruited a “Chinese Market Sales Manager” on the sole criteria that the candidate was a Chinese citizen, despite having no previous experiences in travel, tourism, or marketing. China Elite Focus has seen also some candidates with no Chinese or Asian origins even specifiy on their resume the fact that their spouse is Chinese, or that they “like Chinese food” hoping that it will positively influence the recruiter! It is striking to see how many recruiters in the hospitality industry still commit
these kind of naïve mistakes today.
According to China Elite Focus‘ five years expertise in assisting various hotels, golf resorts and incoming travel agencies to recruit Chinese Market Managers, good recruiting criteria should be based on the following three golden rules.
Rule #1 : Recruit a candidate at least 30 years old
First of all, this position is not for junior, inexperienced people. Negotiation with Chinese outbound travel agencies to sell the hotel and convincing a Chinese Editor-in-Chief to publish a story about a resort in a travel magazines require experience and judgment that comes with field experience. Moreover, Chinese people prefer to discuss business with senior western people rather than freshmen. Shanghai is full of these young expatriates, who are cut into pieces during negotiations with Chinese senior business people. The process may be effective field training for the young recruits, but a disaster for their employers.
Rule #2: Recruit a candidate with a previous field experience in China, even if he/she has never worked before in travel or tourism industry
Having field experience in China is essential. The ideal candidate should have a minimum of three to five years proven track record of field experience in China. That experience should include demonstrated negotiation abilities with Chinese businesspeople and Chinese officials, preferably in the industries of Hospitality, Travel, Consumer Goods, Retail, Wine & Spirits, Entertainment, Luxury goods, or Media.
Rule #3: Take in consideration exclusively the professional business background of the candidate in China, not his ethnicity, nationality, or fluency in Chinese
The nationality, ethnic profile or fluency in Chinese language, so often mistakenly valued by recruiters, are not relevant criteria in any way. Candidates from any nationality or any ethnic profile, Asian or not, can master and understand the marketing strategies which actually work in China. We have witnessed examples of highly talented people from all over the world, some speaking Chinese, some not at all, who had obtained awesome results in China because of their personal talent.
The counter-argument we often hear is “Speaking Chinese is absolutely necessary to undertake marketing operations in China.” The fact is that having studied ancient Chinese poems of the Song Dynasty, though remarkably interesting for the pleasure of the mind, does not translate into marketing and sales abilities in the fast-changing China of the 21st century. For a sales and marketing executive in charge of the Chinese market, working in team with a Chinese translator and interpreter is the best solution, and gives the best operational results. That is what really matters.
A note to attendees: This Think Tank is meant to be totally interactive, so expect a lot of exchange and sharing of ideas, knowledge, hints and concepts about this intriguing market. But also bear in mind if you don’t want to disclose some aspect of your work so far in this area you shouldn’t feel compelled to do so. These are extraordinary times and the sharing of information might be just what’s needed to help create a successful marketing strategy that works for everyone.
ALL EVENTS AT THE CROWNE PLAZA LAX, LOS ANGELES, CA
FEBRUARY 12TH (THURSDAY)
THINK TANK OPENING – Location: Colombard & Moselle Room
Dennis Marzella and Joseph Jaquay, Co-Chairs THE CHINESE CONSUMER – WHAT THEY WANT AND HOW TO REACH THEM
Barbara Bryant, Regional Director NA, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)
DATA ON THE CHINESE INBOUND MARKET Ron Erdmann, Deputy Director, Office of Travel & Tourism Industries, U.S. Department of Commerce Heather Hardwick, Vice President, Menlo Consulting
THE CHINESE MARKET: DEVELOPMENT Frank Haas, Interim Assistant Dean, University of Hawaii School of Travel Industry Management, previously VP of Marketing of the Hawaii Tourist Board. Lessons learned from the Japanese market and what other group research and their trade delegations have learned about the Chinese inbound market.
DESTINATION MARKETER PERSPECTIVE: HOW WE ARE DEVELOPING THE CHINESE MARKET – MODERATED BY DENNIS MARZELLA, CEO, MARZELLA ASSOCIATES, INC. Rafael Villanueva, Director of International Sales & Marketing, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
Lorraine Hunt-Bono, Commissioner, Nevada Commission on Tourism Frank Haas, Interim Assistant Dean, University of Hawaii School of Travel Industry Management and former VP of Marketing, Hawaii Tourist Board
DINNER – SALON A Dinner Speaker: Joel Chusid, General Manager, NA, Hainan Airlines Corporation Joel Chusid shares his experience launching China’s 4th largest airline into the North American market. He also worked with China Eastern Airlines where he learned about cultural differences and the Chinese way of doing business. Prior to developing his expertise with the Chinese markets and business he was a VP of Marketing and Sales at American Airlines where he was one of the original staff members in the start up of American Eagle, AA’s commuter airline. He is a well known aviation expert and is also the author of a monthly column, “Tailpieces”, available at ATME.org
FEBRUARY 13TH (FRIDAY)
Location: COLOMBARD & MOSELLE (Think Tank in same room)
WHAT THE CHINESE MARKET WANTS: HOTELS, TOUR OPERATORS, FINANCIAL SERVICES, ETC. Nick Qin, President, China Professional Tours, Inc. Joseph JaQuay, Vice President, Diner’s Club/Discover
Patrick Swen, Sales Director, Lassen Tour and Travel, Inc, member of JTB Americas Group Moderator: Dennis Marzella, CEO, Marzella Associates
COFFEE BREAK (in same room)
THE LUXURY CHINESE MARKET – HOW TO REACH THE NEW MILLIONAIRES AND UPSCALE CHINESE TRAVELERS
Pierre Gervois, Managing Partner, China Elite Focus Limited, a publication and marketing firm that specializes in the affluent Chinese traveler.
ON MARKETING TO THE CHINESE Advertising and PR Pierre Gervois, Managing Partner, China Elite Focus LTD
LUNCH – LUNCH SPEAKER – Lisa Simon, President, NTA Find out how the forward thinking National Tour Association took the lead on developing the inbound Chinese market and what they have learned that will help you market your product or destination to the Chinese market.
THINK TANK WRAP UP SESSION (in same room as lunch)
NETWORKING SESSION Stay to Continue Discussions with Peers, Potential Partners and Alliances