Millennial travelers are already money-makers for brands around the world. But luxury-oriented Chinese millennials seemingly look to fill up any free time with travel, and there is a substantial market to accommodate them.
Chinese millennial travelers who are very wealthy are best described as super travelers — the average wealthy Chinese millennial has been to 13 countries and traveled abroad 3.3 times for leisure in the past year alone for an average of 25 days.
That’s what Marriott International and the Hurun Research Institute highlight in their report about Chinese millennial luxury travelers, a generation that’s fueling outbound travel growth in China and putting plenty of cash behind that.
Earlier this year Hurun surveyed more than 500 consumers ages 25 to 36 across 12 Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Respondents were part of focus group meetings in those cities, and these travelers said they spent more than $50,000 per household on travel within the past year. They have, on average, a personal wealth of nearly $6 million per household. Some 60% of respondents said they’ll take three to five trips for leisure during the next year.
Like millennials elsewhere in the world, wealthy Chinese millennials have qualms about joining hotel and airline loyalty programs. Although many of them hold membership cards, Chinese millennials don’t feel as incentivized to join or understand how they’re more beneficial than other loyalty programs even outside of travel (see charts below).
They’re getting most of their information about their trips through WeChat and third-party travel apps. They also prefer using online travel agencies to hotel websites or traditional travel agencies, even as the latter continue to be popular for booking outbound travel in China.
These travelers also value exclusivity over personalization. Wealthy Chinese millennials have a penchant for private dinners at hotels, for example, and peg those as one of the top offerings a hotel can deliver. They prefer hotels to have private dining spaces for business and regular dinners, and private dinners are the top reasons they book hotels for special occasions.
Chart 1: The largest percentage of respondents (42 percent) said they usually use third-party sites like online travel agencies to book their travel.
Chart 2: The highest percentage of respondents said they were members of Hilton’s HHonors program, and Hilton also ranked well when respondents were asked for their favorite memberships and whether a loyalty program has a reputation of being good. Respondents said Shangri-La’s Golden Circle and Ritz-Carlton Rewards have the best reputations for excellence while Hilton, Shangri-La and IHG got the most responses for favorite membership.
These travelers are more interested in exclusive membership programs with personalized benefits. The report states these wealthy young Chinese luxury travelers do not have a strong desire to apply for loyalty memberships, “Member benefits don’t appeal to [Chinese millennial luxury travelers], as these programs are viewed as low in value and virtually the same from one rewards program to the next.”
Chart 3: More than half of respondents said they’re members of Air China’s Phoenix Miles program. Airline loyalty programs generally have more awareness among luxury Chinese millennial travelers than hotel loyalty programs, according to the report.
Chart 4: Travel agents are still important for many Chinese millennials who are luxury travelers, and 70 percent of respondents said they care most about personalized service when booking through a travel agent. Still, it’s worth noting things like expertise, itinerary planning and hard-to-get resources are all part of personalization.
Chart 5: Europe and the U.S. will continue to grow more popular as destinations during the next few years for these elite Chinese millennials. Destinations like Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macau will decrease in popularity, in terms of what these travelers prefer. But keep in mind, where travelers say they want to travel and where they end up traveling often isn’t the same.
Chart 6: Besides general leisure travel, international cruising and adventure travel are also enticing to Chinese millennials. The report found that respondents had been on a cruise an average of 2.4 times and only 15 percent said they’ve never cruised before, for example.
Source: Marriott International and Hurun Research Institute
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Photo credit: A group of Chinese travelers taking photos of cherry blossoms in Japan. Toshihiro Gamo / Flickr