– Implementing solutions to control mass tourism, a challenge for European cities

Worldwide tourism exponential growth (+276% international travellers in 30 years) leads European cities to face an increasing number of visitors and crowded spots, thus disturbing the tourism model and its public perception. During last European Cities Marketing meeting in Gijón this month, European cities discussed how to regulate visitors’ flows without destroying what made a city attractive at first: its uniqueness!

Keynote speaker, Stephen Hodes, co-founder and partner at LAgroup, particularly captured the audience attention regarding development of worldwide tourism and set the context. From 1980 to 2010, the number of international travellers worldwide has grown from 250 to 940 million and by 2030 this figure will double. While managing the growth of crowded touristic cities, several possible solutions were suggested throughout the day: quotas, creation of new attractions to spatial dispersal, temporal dispersal, limitation in hotel growth, pricing and ticketing of former free attractions… In order to face this challenge, Amsterdam came up with its new campaign to give tourists reasons to go out of the city, highlighting 16 characters to improve the product. And to market Amsterdam abroad, a layer of 6 themes was introduced.

Positive perception of cities is what brings results, Gijón Ambassadors programme showcased by Carolina García, Convention Bureau Coordinator at Gijón Visitors & Convention Bureau, is a good example. The “Inhabitants as ambassadors” programme consists in celebrities born in Gijón singing praises of their hometown. Several surveys show that the credibility and welcoming nature of Gijón citizens is what people appreciated the most during their stay. ECM members experienced this convivial nature during their stay in Gijón thanks to Gijón Visitors & Convention Bureau’s hospitality.

Five member cities: Aarhus, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bruges and Dubrovnik outlined their different experiences in terms of managing visitors flows in conjunction with their sizes, their environments, etc during the afternoon dedicated to best practices sessions.

Speaking about the meeting theme, Ignasi de Delàs, European Cities Meeting President, said: “Exchanges between members are at the heart of European Cities Marketing and this meeting was no exception with presentations and case studies on how cities handle visitors’ flows. It’s obvious that cities need tools to regulate tourism impact and avoid coexistence problems”

The next ECM meeting will take place in Turin, June 3-6, 2015 and the theme will be “Creating the city – how events and infrastructure projects can change the image”.
Source: European Cities Marketing

Chinese spent $106B on global luxury products in 2014

Chinese bought 46% of the world’s luxury products in 2014 – 76% of which was purchased overseas, a recent Chinese luxury report reveals.1
In dollar amounts, that was US$106 billion spent by Chinese luxury consumers.1

Simply put, the global luxury industry is becoming more Chinese. After all, Chinese luxury consumption is influencing this industry like no other nationality has before.2

Borderless travel & Chinese luxury boom

China’s population is becoming increasingly urbanised2, and its large and fast burgeoning middle class means more Chinese are able to splurge and travel.2

Over 100 million Chinese travelled abroad in 2014.10 By 2020, 200 million Chinese tourists are expected to travel overseas.11”
Also, as they travel more, Chinese have quickly realised the price benefits of buying luxury goods abroad, which resonate well with the typical Chinese value-for-money culture. This further perpetuates their desire to spend, and spend abroad.

However, it would be foolish to assume that Chinese buyers are all the same. As diverse as China’s many dialects and provinces are, so too, are the profiles of its consumers.

As the rising sophistication of Chinese consumers2 become more prominently recognised, it’s important to also note the diversity that exists within this group. These buyers range from middle-aged businessmen to young female shoppers to nouveau riche. For example, it’s been said that China’s nouveau riche tend to be more eager and willing to flaunt their newfound wealth.3

The end result of all this surging wanderlust, though, is the thriving economic impact that Chinese luxury consumers now have – whether in Asia, Europe or the US.3

Chinese effect on luxury brands

Given this boom, luxury retail markets worldwide have been scrambling to attract Chinese money, and we don’t blame them. Chinese travellers remain the undisputed fastest-growing luxury buyers in the world, and more enticingly, they allocate 71% their budget on shopping when travelling overseas.5

2015, however, will see luxury brands evolve. The role of e-commerce, for example, will play a more dominant role.

In the past, high-end brands have been averse to hopping onto the e-commerce bandwagon, which they perceived would tarnish their image and eliminate the inimitable in-store experience that comes with luxury shopping.

Now, however, luxury brands are increasingly embracing digital marketing strategies in lieu of the uprising digital and social media revolution – especially in China, where there are 632 million internet users and 519.7 million smartphone users.6

91% of Chinese go online everyday7, of which 81% access the internet via mobile.6 Additionally, 65% of China’s HNWIs (high-net-worth individuals) favour online social media as their preferred source of information.8
Yet navigating China’s social media landscape is complex, and quality social media marketing is key to the success of high-end brands transitioning to their digital storefronts without losing its exclusivity appeal and brand loyalty.

Luxury real estate online

Fortuitously, luxury real estate has been one sector that has been successful taken online – much like a duck takes to water.

Overseas property remains the top investment choice for China’s ultra-rich, and the first place to search for such a purchase is online.

We’ve seen visits on go from 1.5 million to 2.5 million monthly visits, and news of wealthy Chinese investors buying overseas properties without ever even viewing the property are making agents and developers salivate from all corners of the world.
In the past year alone, we’ve heard of wealthy Chinese investors buying million-dollar homes sight unseen and Chinese luxury property transactions completed entirely via social media. These stories have become the stuff of legends amongst property agents and brokers.

Somewhat unique to Chinese buyers is their marked penchant for generational driven investment:

97% of affluent Chinese are more inclined to buy a lifestyle property12, while 93% of Chinese HNWIs are more likely to purchase legacy homes for their children, usually worth between US$1 million to US$3 million.12
Truly, the impact of Chinese buyers on global luxury markets is impossible to ignore, and property agents and brokers would do well to tap into the market online if they want to remain relevant and on top of the game. – Sabre signs technology agreement with HNA Hotels & Resorts – Sabre signs technology agreement with HNA Hotels & Resorts
Sabre Corporation , a global technology provider to the travel and tourism industry, has signed a comprehensive technology agreement with China-based HNA Hotels & Resorts. Sabre Hospitality will serve as HNA’s primary technology provider for its critical operations and marketing systems, including the Sabre SynXis central reservations system and Sabre Guest Connect Booking Engine.

HNA also will leverage Sabre’s full complement of distribution channels. HNA officials selected Sabre Hospitality Solutions because of its broad portfolio of seamlessly integrated software, which solved HNA’s primary challenge of having multiple, unrelated systems across their properties. “Sabre has solid, proven technology and a rich history of delivering innovative solutions to the travel industry,” said John Kidd, president of HNA Hospitality Group. “Sabre was the best choice because of its best-in-class solutions that are aligned to our growth strategy.”

With two properties already outside of China, HNA will continue its international expansion. Sabre plans to play a pivotal role with HNA to help them achieve their growth goals. “Our unrivaled portfolio of integrated solutions will provide HNA with the tools they need to increase revenue, improve operational efficiency and enhance the end-to-end guest experience,” said Alex Alt, president and general manager of Sabre Hospitality Solutions. “The unique combination of Sabre’s global reach to travelers combined with unparalleled marketing expertise will enhance and strengthen HNA’s continued expansion efforts.”


Tourism ties between Greece and China to be strengthened

Greece and China will launch a task force to strengthen the tourism ties between the two countries; it was decided on 17 February in Athens during a meeting between Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and the new Chinese Ambassador to Athens Zou Xiaoli.

During the meeting, it was agreed to organize a Greek-Chinese Syposium on tourism issues in Athens this year with representatives of the tourism sector from both countries.

The visa requirements of Chinese citizens wanting to travel to Greece were discussed. The Greek tourism minister referred to actions launched by Greece to simplify the entry procedures for citizens from third countries.

In regards to the language barrier, Mrs. Kefalogianni informed that spcial signs in the Chinese language were planned to be installed in specific tourism sites in Greece. The certification of tour guides for Chinese tourists was also discussed.