In an industry currently counting its losses, insights into how travel businesses might prepare to recapture the all-important China outbound market when restrictions are lifted comes as a welcome change.
Jenny Lo, general manager of CatchOn China, A Finn Partners Company, has insightful advice on how to prepare now and react when the situation eases taken from her white paper, “How to Recapture Chinese Outbound Travellers in a Post-Covid-19 World”, shared exclusively with Travel Weekly Asia.
In it, she recalls how Hong Kong experienced a near instant bounce back once the World Health Organisation (WHO) lifted travel bans post the 2003’s Sars outbreak. She also cites a recent China Tourism Academy survey that stated 70% of practitioners will dive into sales and marketing initiatives as soon as the present situation clears.
“The desire for travel is resilient,” she observes.
Here are some pointers for a plan of action when the time arrives to bounce back.
First and foremost, she advises businesses to stay connected, saying now is the time to leverage the power of technology and its social engagement as daily Internet usage soars. “[Chinese travellers] may not be travelling now, but they will soon – and when they do, brands that remain top of mind stand to gain the most.”
Keep Up with the Times
Reacting fast to the changing situation is also key. Case in point, she mentions Ctrip’s cloud-based virtual tours, which has allowed travellers to virtually roam thousands of attractions around the world, keeping interest in travel high.
Ms. Lo predicts trips offering healthy lifestyle trips, and prioritising family-friendly, cultural, environmentally conscious and voluntourism experiences, will be especially popular, suggesting, “destinations and brands [should] quickly reposition or review their offerings to meet these newfound interests.”
Nurture the Young
Chinese parents are especially willing to invest in travel when they see it as a potentially educational experience for their children. “This offers an excellent opportunity for destinations and travel companies to design and market new experiences targeting young travellers, with guided itineraries packed with fun-filled activities to learn, explore, exercise and socialise through travels,” writes Lo.
While travel between holidays is already popular, upcoming holidays offering extended travel opportunities (restrictions depending) include the five-day Labour Day (1 – 5 May), Dragon Boat Festival (25 – 27 June) and then Golden Week (1 – 8 October).
Looking Onwards to the Next Wave
According to Ms. Lo, optimism rather than pessimism is the mindset to adopt. “The good news for everyone is that travel is cited as one of three things Chinese consumers currently crave the most, after hot pot and milk tea.
“In this age of constant change,” she adds, “it is wise to always be prepared, nimble and willing to adapt.”