2018: The wealthy Chinese millennial is reshaping the
global luxury travel industry
“ILTM China is invaluable to understand the latest trends from influential buyers across China including from the important 2nd and 3rd tier cities”
ILTM China, Shanghai: 31 October – 2 November 2018
In response to overwhelming demand, ILTM held its first-ever ILTM China in Shanghai from 31 October to 2 November 2018. The takeaway from this inaugural event was clear: wealthy Chinese millennial travellers are a unique and powerful market force, and the demographic is projected to reshape the global luxury travel industry in the years to come.
Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman and Chief Researcher of the renowned Hurun Report Inc., kicked off ILTM China’s Opening Forum in the Portman Ritz-Carlton’s Shanghai Theatre with a discussion of prevailing trends and penetrating insights into China’s luxury travel market. Hoogewerf’s extensive research revealed that high-end Chinese travellers most enjoyed travelling in Europe and the Americas in the past year, with Africa on the rise to third place.
Meanwhile, destinations like Australia, Thailand and New Zealand dominated their preferred destinations for the Chinese New Year holiday in 2019. A surprising 29% of those surveyed, however, still prefer staying at home, although this also could refer to a home away from home as nearly half of those surveyed reporting owning second homes.
As for new trends on the horizon, Hoogewerf pointed to parent-child travel being the next hot theme.
The ILTM Opening Forum’s second speaker, Chloé Reuter, publisher of The Luxury Conversation focused on the rise in Chinese millennial travel. This demographic, she observed, is reaching childbearing age, and family travel is of paramount importance to them. 75% of affluent Chinese family travellers, for instance, choose a hotel based on its Kids’ Club. Reuter was also quick to point out the growing importance of the Chinese social media and chat platform WeChat to the wealthy Chinese millennial traveller. According to her findings, a significant 95% demand that overseas hotels use a WeChat mini-programme as a touchpoint. Social responsibility is also growing in importance with this demographic, with 70% noting that a hotel’s commitment to sustainability is very important to them.
Hoogewerf and Reuter were then joined by Sophia Ong, Tencent’s General Manager of Strategic Partnership & Key Accounts, and Tony Zhao, Director of Product at Zhixing Lux, for a panel discussion. The four industry insiders continued with a compelling and informative conversation on the most effect methods for reaching the affluent Chinese millennial customer. Sophia Ong argued that the power of social media platforms cannot be underestimated in the China market, that they serve both as customer touchpoints for suppliers and information forums for consumers. Tony Zhao also noted the growing demand for bespoke adventure-oriented travel packages.
ILTM continued until 2 November, facilitating over 10,000 mutually matched one-to-one business appointments between 215 luxury travel experiences from more than 44 countries and over 200 high-end Chinese travel agents from 18 cities in China, each specializing in creating and planning luxury travel for their high net worth clients.
Andy Ventris, Event Manager for the ILTM Portfolio said, “We are thrilled that the launch of ILTM China has been such a success. This week has further highlighted the importance of the high net worth Chinese traveller and has provided deeper insight, conversation and relationships for each of our partners. We look forward to working with our clients to keep ILTM China growing in the future.”
Kerry Bergin, Director of Leisure Sales for Baccarat Hotels said, “ILTM China has been wonderful. The buyers we’ve met knew our brand and understood our offering. We’re very excited about the results of the show, and it’s one of the best ILTMs I’ve ever attended. After this experience, I really appreciate the value of a stand alone show for the China market.”
Dina Musina, Sales Manager of Metropol Hotel, Moscow, commented: “The first ILTM China has been incredible. I was so happy with everything, and the Chengdu buyers were especially interesting to us as a growing market of very high FIT customers. All of the buyers were high-end with a great level of English. It was so valuable to be here in person and our China-friendly offerings really resonated with the buyers. ILTM China brought us a broader selection of Chinese buyers than we’ve met before, and we’re really strengthening and building business relationships.”
Becky Cao, Vice President, Global Sales Greater China for Marriott International summarised the event’s performance for the company: “The high-quality Luxury buyers we met at ILTM China are the exact market for the Marriott’s eight dynamic and distinctive luxury hotel brands. ILTM China is a great platform to elevate our offers to Chinese consumers with great products and experiences. We’ve already committed to ILTM China 2019.”
Domenico Colella, Multi Property General Manager for Marriott International in Italy, said: “From the impeccable organization to the events, I am truly impressed with the first ILTM China. I’ve been to ILTM in Cannes, and now I have to say ILTM China is newest must-attend show in the ILTM Portfolio. In the world of business and loyalty, ITLM China is the place to be for relationship building in the hospitality industry.”
Ian Lin, Global Director of Sales Greater China for Minor Hotels commented, “The China market moves so fast that a show like ILTM China is invaluable to give us knowledge of the latest trends and habits from buyers in China, especially from the 2nd and 3rd tier cities that we don’t know so well. So for us it’s great to have a dedicated China show.”
Pieter van der Schee, Global Director of Sales & Marketing for Abercrombie and Kent, “It’s been perfect for us to have a dedicated show for the China market because the focus has given us a great opportunity to understand the different types of operators here and to start to build relationships with them.”
Ms. Hui Ting Li of Caldana Travel in Chengdu spoke of her experience as a buyer saying: “ ILTM always introduces new travel experiences for us to bring to our end-clients. As a buyer, some events I go to can feel repetitive, but with ILTM I always find new and exciting offerings for my clientele. I will definitely be booking a lot of new business with exhibitors I’ve met at ILTM China and I’m looking forward to long-term partnerships from new relationships made here”
Tony Zhao of Zhixing Tours added: “It’s been great to have the focus of the exhibitors on the Chinese market. We learned a lot at ILTM China and appreciated the focus of the show which is helping us to develop more opportunities to cooperate. We’re especially interested in booking foodie tours now and the opportunities to get our clients to the Michelin Star restaurants that they’re eager to experience around the world.”