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The likes and dislikes of Chinese international travelers are in transformation mode as they increasingly travel and discover the world outside their home country. They are traveling more independently, booking online or via mobile apps, and giving big hotel chains a chance.

Chinese international travelers still prefer to stay at independent hotels that boast a local flavor, but the percentage who prefer this option is falling while global hotel chains are gaining ground.

That’s one of the many findings in the Chinese International Travel Monitor 2014┬áreport, which surveyed Chinese international travelers and hoteliers.

Some 43% of these Chinese international travelers indicated they prefer independent hotels, and that was a nine percentage point drop since 2013.

At the same, time, the percentage of Chinese international travelers who prefer big, global hotel brands climbed 12 percentage points to 39%.

So big chains are still Chinese international travelers’ second choice behind independent hotels, but not by much, and things seem to be trending toward the global chains.

There’s also news in the report that would be of interest to hotels that don’t specifically cater to Chinese tourists.

“Similar to last year, on the whole, Chinese travelers are still fairly tolerant when it comes to hotels that might not cater specifically for Chinese needs with nearly two-thirds saying they would consider them if necessary (63% versus 64% in 2013,” according to the report.

And younger travelers (ages 23-39) are even more open (71%) than Chinese travelers as a whole (63%) to consider properties that don’t cater to Chinese travelers, the report found.

Still, hotels having Mandarin-speaking staff is a high priority as 50% of Chinese travelers in the survey selected this service as important for their stay.

For the consumer portion of the report, commissioned market research firm TNS Global, which conducted online research in April and May 2014 and sampled 3,000 Chinese consumers who had paid for a hotel for at least one international trip in the past five years.

In other notable findings, the study, its third in the series, found:

  • Two thirds of Chinese consumers in the 2014 survey indicated they prefer to travel independently, and that’s up 5 percentage points over 2013. Group travel, the traditional way Chinese traveled abroad, is losing its grip.
  • More than half of Chinese travelers in the 2014 survey indicated they book their hotel stays online or via mobile apps, and that’s up from 45% a year earlier.
  • Free Wi-Fi and Chinese payment methods (both preferred by 59% of Chinese travelers surveyed) headed their list of the most important individual product or service.
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Tags: chains, china outbound, wi-fi

Photo credit: Many hotel chains are taking steps to cater to Chinese travelers, and big chains are increasingly being considered by Chinese international travelers. Pictured, Tiffany Li, a guest relations agent at the Montage Beverly Hills in Beverly Hills, Calif., displays a traditional Chinese breakfast in one of the suites. Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times/MCT

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