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Rich Chinese youth get 'picky' on travel

News, 02 June 2016

BEIJING: Affluent Chinese millennials travelling abroad are becoming increasingly "picky" and expect a combination of personalisation and digital service from the hospitality brands they encounter, according to a new report.

The Chinese Luxury Traveler 2016 study by the Hurun Report was based on a survey of 525 young luxury travellers, defined as those who spend over RMB200,000 ($30,400) annually on travel and tourism.

"Travellers want butler-level service, but facilitated by a digital experience," said Peggy Fang Roe, chief sales and marketing officer for Asia Pacific at hotel chain Marriott International, which sponsored the report.

"I often use the word 'picky', but one could also say 'spoiled'," added Rupert Hoogewerf, publisher of the Hurun Report.

So, where 41% of general travellers cite room cleanliness as their top concern when choosing a hotel, 42% of young luxury travellers with a household net worth over RMB 100m regard a personalised service as their most important consideration, down to a selection of pillows.

And interactive guest services on smart devices are far more popular than traditional guest services; these travellers also expect this smart technology to record and manage their personal preferences.

But the report found that affluent Chinese millennials were not particularly interested in hotel loyalty programs, which – if they were aware of them at all – they regarded as offering few unique or high-value benefits.

Fang Roe pinpointed this as "a key focus area" and highlighted the evolution of the Marriott Rewards program to include culinary demonstrations, concerts and catwalks and NBA Global Games in China.

"We are also piloting a new hospitality program called Li Yu which is tailored specifically for our Chinese guests, with Mandarin-speaking personalised assistance and service across our hotels to make them feel at home, wherever they go," she added.

In many ways, the affluent Chinese millennial is simply a supercharged version of millennials everywhere. At the recent Guardian Changing Media Summit in London, David Beebe, VP/global creative & content marketing at Marriott International, outlined how all Marriott's marketing is getting more personal as it uses the data it is gathering to create connections and build loyalty across all its brands.

Data sourced from Hurun Report; additional content by Warc staff