The latest China Travel Trends report examines the trends of Chinese outbound travelers who are opting for more high-end customized travel.
The report is jointly released by Ctrip, the largest online travel agent in Asia, and the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, or COTRI.
High-end customized travel reflects Chinese high-end customers’ pursuit of top-notch quality services and the exclusive use of highly scarce resources. The biggest difference distinguishing high-end customized travel from standard travel is that high-end customized travel only targets seasoned travelers who can afford and appreciate such services, pricing their products extremely high, using very scarce resources and providing a top-grade experience.
As seasoned travelers who regard travel as a major leisure activity, they are actively in search of services, resources and experiences that are high-quality, unique and niche. Flexible with their time and not bound by cost issues, these customers highly value exclusivity and privacy during their travel experiences.
According to the report, women, couples and those in the 31-40 age group were the most likely demographics to book high-end customized travel packages overseas.
The Top 10 Most Popular Destinations
The number of orders on Ctrip’s customized travel platform increased 180% in 2018 when compared to the year before, with the growth rate of orders from second and third-tier cities surpassing first-tier cities. Although Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou are the top three local markets with the highest demand for high-end customized travel, the growth rate of orders from second and third-tier cities such as Xi’an and Tianjin surpassed that of first-tier cities. 2019 can be seen to be as the first year when the concept of high-end customized travel went mainstream. Ctrip’s data shows that the average expenditure per person on a high-end customized travel package is RMB 23,800 (c.a. USD 3,410), while the average per person expenditure for standard packages is only RMB 5,500 (c.a. USD 790).
The top ten Chinese local markets with the highest growth of demand for high-end customized travels are Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Nanjing, Xi’an, and Tianjin. Among them, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou exhibited a three-digit growth rate.
The main target clients for high-end customized travel are China’s high-net-worth-individuals (HNWIs). By 2018, there were 1.67 million HNWIs in China. For them, health is the most frequently mentioned desire, and traveling has become a major leisure activity and a necessity for life.
The demand for unique activities such as helicopter tours, fine dining, attendance of special sporting events such as FIFA World Cup and unique accommodation arrangements such as island resorts reflects an ongoing interest in the higher end, more tailored experiences in the Chinese travel market.
Africa – Giraffe Manor, Luxury Camping in a National Park, hunting lodge in private reserve
Japan – Ancient hot spring hotel
Western Australia – Maitraya luxury private mansions
Dubai – Al Maha, the top luxury desert resort seen in reality shows
Abu Dhabi – Zaya Nurai Island Resort with a private island
Running a Marathon
Watching the NBA finals
Watching the FIFA World Cup with a special pass
Watching F1 in Sochi, Russia
Watching Champions League final
The FIFA World Cup in 2018 also set off huge waves of orders for high-end customized travel. One booking set the record of being the longest customized trip, featuring an immersive trip of 43 days around Russia. Besides covering all the classic tourist routes in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Ctrip’s services also provided the clients with tickets and VIP passes for the FIFA World Cup matches. Other activities in this booking included watching Russian ballet performances, visiting local cafes and niche stores that are perfect for pictures, with visiting the “fairytale town” Suzdal and eating reindeer meat as a particular highlights of the trip.
The All-Time Greatest High-end Customized Travel Bookings
Shanghai. A 10-day leisure trip for nine business travelers’ to Kanto (Japan) with all hotel bookings at Hoshinoya Luxury Hotels and Mandarin Oriental Hotels. Total spending: RMB620,000 (c.a. USD 88,830).
Beijing. A 9-day holiday for a family of 13 during the Chinese New Year period to the COMO Maalifushi resort in the Maldives. Total spending RMB 820,000 (c.a. USD 117,500).
Guangzhou. A 24-day in-depth tour in Africa for 6 people. They traveled to more than 20 places, from Masai Mara, the Waterfall City to Awasa and Kilimanjaro, staying in forest lodges and watching wildlife up close. Total spending RMB 430,000 (c.a. USD 61,600).
Chengdu. A 21-day trip for 18 people to Canada, traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast. They took a boat to Victoria Island and visited the Bethune Memorial National Historic Site, the CN Tower, Casa Roman Castle, the Ontario Parliament Building, and the University of Toronto. Total spending RMB 640,00 (c.a. USD 91,690).
Shenzhen. A 12-day trip for 11 travelers to the east and west coast of the United States. They toured Universal Studios Hollywood with a private guide, experienced the filming process and visited special areas that are only accessible for VIP guests. They traveled up north along the Highway No. 15, through the San Bernardino Forest then to the largest Mohave Desert in North America. They concluded their journey with a helicopter ride to the West Canyon. Total spending RMB 910,000 (c.a. USD 130,372)
Hangzhou. A 12-day trip to Thailand for 7 people. Their itineraries included Phuket Marriott Nai Yang Beach Resort and Spa, elephant-riding into the jungle, rafting, learning Thai cooking, and seeing orchards, monkey caves and flying-foxes in the jungle. In Bangkok, they went to the unique Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and the Maeklong Railway Market to experience the local lifestyle. Total spending RMB 370,000 (c.a. USD 53,000).
Wuhan. A graduation trip for 10 people to Hawaii. They visited the Kualoa Ranch and the ancient Hawaiian fish pond, explored the mysterious coast and enjoyed the private beach at Kualoa. They also took part in activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and paddle surfing. Total spending RMB 630,000 (c.a. USD 90,260).
Xi’an. 15-day trip for 10 people to the South Island of New Zealand. They took a ride on the famous “Alpine Scenic Train” for sightseeing, traveled across the plains and valleys, rode helicopters at the Fox Glacier and did skydiving in Wanaka. Total spending RMB 530,000 (c.a. USD 75, 930).
Chongqing. A 10-day trip to Copenhagen for a group of 9 (4 adults and 5 children). They visited the downtown fish market and tried local seafood such as salmon, squid, shrimp, lobster, crabs, scallops, mussels, oysters, caviar, sea urchins and whale meat – all caught in the North Sea. They spent time at Legoland, visited private farms, and learned about cultivation and crops on an organic farm on the northern side of the Danish island Zealand. They tasted fresh and ripe fruits and vegetables picked up from local farms and learned about the local lifestyle and local people’s value. Total spending RMB 420,000 (c.a. USD 60,170).