The latest Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) reveals just how much technology has become a powerful element in the decision-making mix of this critical sector, following another record year for travel and spending. For the first time, more than half of the Chinese travelers surveyed say they now book their hotel accommodation either via the web or mobile apps, up from 45 percent in 2013. Just under half use online accommodation websites and online reviews sites to research their trips and a third check social media. Eighty-four percent share their photos and experiences on social media during and after an international trip. The provision of free Wi-Fi is chosen as the most important service in a hotel by 59 percent.
Surveying more than 3,000 Chinese international travelers and 3,000 hoteliers around the world, the third annual CITM reveals significant insights into all aspects of the changing behavior of Chinese travelers and how the global hotel industry is adapting to maximize the benefits of this new market. With 97 million Chinese traveling abroad in 20131, up 14 million on 2012, more than half of the hoteliers surveyed say that they have seen an increase in the number of Chinese guests in the previous 12 months while 36 percent believe that the influx of Chinese tourists is one of the factors that will have the most impact on their business in the next 12-24 months.
With Internet penetration in the country climbing to 45.8 percent, China ended the year with 618 million Internet users, 500 million of these choosing to access the web via a mobile device, according to the China Internet Network Information. More than 90 percent of Internet users reportedly have a social media account. Abhiram Chowdhry, Vice President and Managing Director APAC of the Hotels.com brand, said:
“There are many factors driving the desire of the Chinese people to explore the world. The rising affluence of the growing middle class with higher disposable incomes, the upward trend in the numbers of repeat travelers, more relaxed visa conditions and improved local infrastructure are all dovetailing to expedite this growth. However, our report quantifies another factor: the rate at which technology is transforming the landscape of Chinese overseas travel.”
There is also a growing confidence shown by these new travelers, particularly among the young. Two-thirds of the Chinese consumers questioned say that they now prefer to travel independently, up five percentage points on 2013, while more than 60 percent of hoteliers have seen a boost in the number of independent travelers in the last two years. This is the clearest indication yet of the move away from the previous preference for group travel.