During late 2011 and early 2012, a number of brands and venues have introduced offers designed specifically for the Chinese tourist. We have, for example, seen luxury magazine Pomp producing a Mandarin section with the aim of encouraging Chinese travellers to visit London. Meanwhile, Amsterdam’s Schiphol and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airports have launched smartphone apps which provide Mandarin versions of signs and baggage information; passengers simply hold their handsets in front of the text to see an instant translation.
Elsewhere, a number of hotels have been showcasing new offers intended to maximise their appeal for Chinese visitors. Among them, Hilton with its “Huanying” scheme and Starwood through its “Personalised Travel” initiative – both of which include the provision of Mandarin-speaking staff, tailored menu options and the ability to request a range of Chinese home comforts via room service.
Such developments are, of course, hardly surprising when one looks at the very healthy projections for China’s GDP growth over the coming years. And it’s clear too that Chinese consumers are feeling much more optimistic than their counterparts in other parts of the world; when we asked in late 2011 about their feelings towards the national economy, nearly 50% in China said they thought it would improve in the next twelve months – a figure which compares to just 20% in the UK who said the same (Source: nVision Global Research, 2011). Similarly, the numbers who expected their personal financial situation to improve in the coming year were more than twice as high in China.
Almost inevitably, then, we can expect 2012 to herald a further wave of commercial offerings focused firmly on the East – and for this to be the decade when the impact of a growing global middle class is manifested in ever more sectors.