The numbers we've heard have been staggering: Some 100 million Chinese will be traveling abroad in five years, Marriott President and Chief Operating Officer Arne Sorenson said at ALIS in January. Other projections have been even greater and were talked about three and four years ago. And last week, Chinese tour operators confirmed bookings to the U.S. were up 16 to 20 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to a report from the NTA.
The future is now, and U.S. hotels need to be ready, especially those in gateway cities like New York and San Francisco. You only get one chance to make a good first impression.
Starwood and Hilton both recently launched programs specifically designed to greet those Chinese travelers. The Starwood Personalized Travel program launched last month at 19 properties in gateway cities around the world includes an in-hotel Chinese specialist; comforts of home available in room or on request, like tea kettles, slippers, instant noodles and more; translated collateral; and familiar foods like congee, noodles and rice.
This week in San Francisco and at 51 Hilton-branded hotels and resorts worldwide, Hilton officially rolled out its Huanying welcome program for Chinese travelers. Meaning welcome, Huanying will focus on three guest touch points: arrival, guestroom and breakfast experience. Read more about the new program in today's story from Contributing Editor Paris Wolfe.
As occupancy growth begins to slow here, hotels now need to be more prepared than ever to welcome new travelers. With more than 1.3 billion people, and an emerging middle class, the majority of those visitors will be coming from China. Last year, 802,000 Chinese visited the U.S., and according to the Department of Commerce, those visitors spent on average more than $6,000.