5 Types of Chinese Travelers All Tour Operators Should Target

21 Oct 2014     |    Taz Bareham

Because of how much they’re traveling (and spending while they do it), Chinese travelers are one of the hottest topics in travel right now.

How can tour operators attract these highly sought after travelers? First, you need to understand who they are.


1. Younger travelers

Younger Chinese travelers (age 25-44) are a great demographic for tour and activity operators to target.

  • Not only are they more inclined to spend on leisure activities, but they’re very interested in experiencing culture first-hand.
  • They tend to be from affluent families, so they aren’t as limited by budget than other segments.
  • On holiday, they enjoy engaging in adventurous activities, seeking in-depth experiences with the local culture, or an area of special interest.

They have better foreign language skills than their older counterparts, thanks to being more exposed to them while growing up. One of the reasons they travel is to practice their language skills.

As they use the internet extensively, much of their planning is done online, and they’re very active on social media. They either travel independently or join partial tours.

Tour operators should design adventure and culture oriented activities to add to their product catalog.

2. Older travelers

Older Chinese travelers (45 and over) should not be neglected.

  • They love packaged tours because they are less experienced travelers compared to their younger counterparts. This is because foreign travel was severely limited.
  • On holiday, they want to see as many iconic attractions as possible, not spending too much time in one spot.
  • Shopping is an important element. They feel obliged to bring back gifts.

Their language skills are not as good as the younger generation due to lack of exposure. Because of this, they typically opt for packaged tours, planned by travel agents.

When spending, they want the best value for money. However, they are also motivated by prestige, so brand is very important.

Tour operators should design private and group tours that allow them to see a lot of iconic attractions in a day.

3. Independent travelers

Independent travelers are a rapidly growing segment that you absolutely must consider.

  • They tend to be younger, with a large portion having lived, worked and studied abroad.
  • They tend to be more wealthy, being experienced travelers who spend more on it.
  • Absorbing the local culture is a priority, so they tend to move beyond city centres for more interactive and authentic experiences, and stay longer in one destination.

Independent Chinese travelers take control of their itineraries. You definitely won’t find them booking packaged tours, which they see as boring.

They travel to interact with the local culture, seeking new, novel experiences that make them stand out in their social circles.

In terms of planning their trip, they head to the internet, looking for opinions from other travelers. However, travel agents are still used to make the actual booking. It takes a while for them to get visas in order, so they book way in advance.

Tour operators should focus on allowing these travelers to authentically experience the local culture, in areas outside of the city centre. 

4. Group & packaged tour travelers

Chinese travelers that travel in groups and packaged tours are a great demographic to target, because you fill more seats in one go!

  • They tend to be first time or inexperienced travelers, so they prefer the convenience, comfort and safety of traveling in a group.
  • On their travels, they want to travel to as many places and experience as many activities as possible.
  • Most of their trip involves sightseeing and shopping. Their time is heavily scheduled, so a limited time is spent at each location.

In terms of their preferences, they like to have Chinese language and food options, and are not interested in high-end accommodations or transport.

They tend to be heavily influenced by traditional marketing, and book their itineraries through a tour agency.

Tour operators should have Chinese-speaking tour guides, add Chinese food options to their meals, and make sure sightseeing to a bunch of stops is a part of their tour itinerary.

5. Super rich travelers

You can imagine why you would want to cater to Chinese millionaires.

  • Their average age is 36, and they love to travel. In fact, it is one of their most preferred leisure activities, and they travel a more than 2 times per year. They like to plan their own schedule, with around half of them booking online.
  • They value privacy and high quality service. They are interested in adventure tourism and more experiential travel.
  • Exposure to new cultures is the main motivation for travel.

In addition to experiencing new cultures, affluent Chinese travelers visit their children studying abroad, or visit destinations to research schools to send their children to. In this case, tours and activities are done in their extra leisure time.

Tour operators should have a high-end private tour option which focuses on VIP service.

How can tour operators reach these Chinese travelers?

  1. Partner with overseas agents.
  2. Focus on expanding your online distribution channels. More of them are connected to the internet – using it research their options and make bookings.
  3. Allow your tour products to be translated in Chinese. Don’t depend on Google translate! Your booking form should allow this.

If you don’t have a booking form that supports Chinese translation, Rezdy supports the Chinese language (traditional & simplified), so you can start capturing your share of the Chinese traveler market. It will also manage your bookings from overseas agents.