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Event Recap - State of the Nation: China - China's Travelling Millennials

16 November 2017

The topic of ‘travelling millennials’ is hot. Millennials are large cohort of 18-36 year olds who want to undertake independent international travel and they are already heading for Australia in large numbers. But are we ready? How do we connect with them? And, how can we adequately service their needs and give them the best possible experience? 

This was the topic of discussion on 16 November, when ACBC Victoria, in partnership with Asialink Business, held the joint ‘State of the Nation – China: China’s Travelling Millennials’ forum.

Hosted by Eureka Skydeck the event was held on the 89th floor of the Eureka Tower with impressive views of Melbourne and beyond. The forum’s speakers provided insight into the needs of Chinese travellers; discussed tourism facilities and our offering of unique experiences; how the tourism industry needs to upskill and reach out across multiple digital platforms in order to attract and grow visitor numbers; as well as how the tourism industry can collaborate to create holistic experiences that attract Chinese millennials. 

Mr Nick Henderson, Director, China Practice, Asialink Business, began the formal proceedings by presenting an event overview and introducing the panel of speakers. The panel included Ms Nicki Kenyon, General Manager – Consumer Markets, Visit Victoria; Mr Tim Grandfield, Executive Officer, Great Southern Touring Route Australia; and via video link from Shanghai, Mr Saxon Booth, Director of Business Development, Dragon Tail Interactive.

An important point outlined by Nicki was that China’s travelling millennials are travellers and not tourists. In this sense, they want a tailored experience that caters to their interests and curiosities, as opposed to pre-ordained ‘package’ tours which have been the preferred method of holidaying for previous generations of Chinese tourists. It is the individual and unique experiences that the travelling millennials then share online through Weibo and WeChat, which promotes the popularity of personalising one’s own overseas experience and encourages others to do the same.

Tim shifted the focus to highlight the importance of making products and services that are easy for Chinese travellers to consume and share. The most fundamental aspect to this, he said, was the need for accurate and professional translation of signage and other critical information in Australia. Using the example of wineries in Southwestern Victoria, Tim emphasised the impact of having a material such as a digital map of the region’s wineries in both English and Mandarin, and how this and other instances of cultural connectedness directly enhances the experience of Chinese travellers visiting wineries in Victoria.

Saxon continued with an overview of the digital aspects of the China tourism market. Saxon’s main advice was that to fuel word of mouth marketing digital connectivity is key and video is a popular method of communication. We are now seeing greater numbers of Chinese travellers who spend more. Chinese millennials are digital natives (on smartphones especially, with 75.6% of live-streaming users are under 36 years old). Further, approximately 65% of Chinese millennials use smartphones to research and book overseas. 

There is also a difference between the post-1980s and post-1990s Chinese millennial tourists – the key difference being spending habits. The post-1990s group is twice as likely to be overspending compared to their counterparts born in the decade prior. Saxon concluded by highlighting that digital connectivity is the best way to entice Chinese millennial travellers to come to Victoria and spend more.

Following the panel discussion, panellists and attendees engaged in an informative Q&A session. Ms Virginia Birrell, CEO of ACBC Victoria, delivered the closing remarks emphasising the need to continually adjust and improve our offerings to Chinese tourists to suit their demographics and tastes. She also congratulated Tim on his organisation’s training strategies and focus on cultural connectedness; from the simple provisions of Mandarin signage to an understanding of Chinese tastes and preferences. She thanked Saxon for his overview of the digital market and reminded the audience that the Chinese have embraced technology far more than Australians and that we need to promote tourism opportunities and activities across a wide range of platforms to most effectively connect with that audience. Virginia thanked Asialink Business for this, the 3rd State of the Nation: China annual collaborative event, Eureka Skydeck for generously providing the venue and catering for the forum and concluded by thanking guests for their attendance and ongoing support of ACBC and AsiaLink.