With continued strong growth in Chinese tourism–around 62 million outbound travelers hit the road in the first half of the year–cities around the world are seeking to benefit from booming airlift and unparalleled spending levels. Over the remainder of 2015 and into 2016, CLA expects many tourism and brand marketing professionals to take a page from a successful program we helped to develop in Los Angeles.
Long seen as a leader in attracting Chinese tourists, the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board (LATCB) is a pioneer at providing educational opportunities to its member organizations, and is now working to drive activation.
In 2014, LA Tourism blazed a trail by launching a comprehensive China Ready program in collaboration with China Luxury Advisors. The resulting “China Ready Designation” is designed to help Los Angeles hospitality providers better understand cultural preferences and other key drivers of Chinese visitation through a yearlong series of training seminars.
The designation also requires that businesses present Chinese-language information and access to Chinese payment platforms, and offer highly sought-after amenities such as slippers, hot water and Chinese tea in hotel guest rooms, among a wide range of other recommendations.
The focus of the program in 2014 was on educating LATCB members on the Chinese tourism opportunity, as well as providing immersive educational sessions on topics such as better serving the Chinese customer, hiring and retaining Mandarin-speaking staff, attracting Chinese tourists, navigating the digital landscape in China, understanding food and dining options for Chinese tourists, and more in-depth educational components designed to help its members attract, convert and retain Chinese tourists.
In 2015, LA Tourism’s China Ready program shifted into high gear, helping LA Tourism members activate their China Readiness strategies and implement programs to generate return on their investment in this crucial market. Activities have included in-depth webinars on how to create presence on Chinese social media platforms, a job fair to connect with Mandarin-speaking professionals, a China Sales Mission for China Ready members and a China Ready trade show held last Friday, October 30th.
At last week’s China Ready trade show, LA Tourism and China Luxury Advisors brought together more than 70 representatives from Chinese tour operators, more than 15 Chinese media outlets, and most of the LACTB’s China Ready members to increase interaction and understanding between its members and the Chinese travel industry. The trade show allowed LA Tourism China Ready members to showcase destinations, as well as learn about key trends in the Chinese tourism market from some of LA’s top Chinese operators, who shared crucial and timely insights.
Among the topics covered at the trade show included the rapid ascendancy of Free and Independent (FIT) Chinese tourists. Allen Wang of Tours4Fun, a prominent FIT tour platform, commented that “FIT clients are mostly born after 1980. We are constantly looking for products that appeal to this customer group and seek to reach them where they are, specifically on mobile and social media platforms such as Weibo and WeChat, as well as popular travel forums such as Mafengwo.”
LA Tourism recently announced that 24 local businesses have successfully achieved China Ready designation this year, bringing the total number of China Ready hospitality partners to 34. With China the number one overseas visitor market for Los Angeles, China Ready businesses help keep L.A. in a premier position to deliver a high-quality visitor experience and better capture a greater share of the U.S. inbound Chinese visitor market.
“China is one of the most important visitor markets for Los Angeles. Last year, 686,000 visitors arrived from China and we saw an average spending of $1.2 billion,” said Kathy Smits, Vice President of International Tourism, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.
“With more than 770,000 Chinese travelers projected to visit L.A. this year, we are excited that L.A. is now more poised than ever to provide a first-class visitor experience to Chinese visitors as more tourism businesses receive their China Ready designation.”
Contact Renee Hartmann at firstname.lastname@example.org to develop a China Ready program in your city.