COTRI, the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, will unveil details of Advantage: Tourism (A:T), a Covid-19 recovery and resilience programme, in a hybrid summit organised by the Global Tourism Forum Institute on November 27.
Wolfgang Arlt, COTRI founder and CEO, will be speaking on A:T at the summit, and COTRI will be conducting a masterclass on how to restart Chinese outbound tourism for the Asian market on December 8.
A:T partners, Arlt said, include Trend Transfer, an experienced incubator for ideas and connections for destinations; Stocastic.World, thought leader in innovation and value production; Landways International, a leading tour operator for Chinese visitors to South-east Europe; Planet Payment, Tencent Cloud Europe and TCI Research.
Arlt, who is programme lead, said A:T aims to address the significant changes in how Chinese travellers will travel, work, eat, sleep and spend their money after the end of the Covid-19 crisis.
A:T, he noted, is based on enhancing customer experience and satisfaction, transforming the focus on generating visitor arrival numbers to concentrate on local value creation and developing sustainable and qualitative KPIs of sentiment and satisfaction.
This is to be achieved by using finely tuned product adaptation based on increased knowledge to create recommendation marketing, spending money on empowerment of local stakeholders instead of huge amounts on unspecific social media marketing.
He continued: “The need to react to the challenges of overtourism, climate change, decreasing margins and decreasing levels of satisfaction of travellers, staff and locals alike, which were growing even before the virus struck, still exists.
“Decades of unreflected growth have shifted away from the priority for local welfare and KPIs addressing sustainability. There is not really a destination where this does not apply. Accordingly, even before the pandemic, many destinations have been approaching COTRI for support in moving upmarket, towards tourism which is less superficial and less discount-price oriented.
“The answer depends obviously on local strengths and the local situation, but generally speaking, there is a need for tailor-made products and services for different segments of the Chinese outbound market.
“Affluent families with children from Beijing have different interests and needs compared to a group of young foodies, who studied abroad from Shanghai, or a retired couple from Guangzhou looking for a spa holiday.
“Themed tours for Chinese with special interests can take visitors to less frequented parts of the destination and low-season times of the year. There is no need to be afraid of niches – with digitalisation, recommendation marketing and well-trained staff now, opportunities can be created as many niches in China still concern millions of potential customers.”
According to Arlt, Chinese outbound tourists travel mostly not just to relax, but to gain experiences, learn new skills from sailing to music or cooking, to meet friendly locals and to enjoy nature and landscapes.
Finding new distribution partners in China, he added, can go beyond tour operators. Twin-city relations can be used for exchanges of school children or urban planners, universities, hiking associations, retailers of outdoor equipment, and VIP clubs of banks are all possible partners if the right itinerary is offered.
He opined: “Volunteer tourism will become more important for young Chinese and also government initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area programme will have positive effects for creating different forms of tourism from China to Asian countries.
Arlt believed that better quality, leading to more satisfied Chinese visitors, will allow for concentration on satisfaction marketing, “saving a lot of the budgets now spent on social media marketing with often dubious results”.