Attracting Tourists From Asia

Attracting Tourists From Asia | BCBusiness
The growing Chinese tourist market has huge potential for B.C.—if we take the time to understand its travellers.

By 2020, 100 million Chinese nationals will be travelling the world. We asked the tourism training pros at WorldHost Training Services about how businesses can grab those tourist dollars

Begin with respect
“We can definitely make errors and mistakes if we’re not paying attention to the nuances,” says WorldHost manager Yavhel Velazquez. (WorldHost, a program run by Destination British Columbia, provides customer service training to tourism businesses around the province.) Respect for the cultural differences of the Chinese traveller includes the understanding of certain norms, expectations and behaviours that they travel with. Accommodations, for example, should consider providing a kettle in rooms so Chinese guests can make hot water. “If your guest doesn’t find the expected amenities in the room, they may go to the desk clerk and not be able to communicate their needs. This situation could be very frustrating for the visitor,” says Velazquez.

It starts on the front lines
Top-level tourism executives should understand the Chinese visitor market, but it’s the service providers who ultimately shape the travellers’ experiences. WorldHost workshops focus on the “front-line folks in order to provide skills and knowledge for these workers since they are the ones, frankly, interacting with the guest,”says Ninette Ollgaard, director of visitor services for Destination BC. “They are delivering the service, so you want them to be prepared, comfortable and as knowledgeable as possible.”

Step up your service
Confucianism ethics are strongly upheld within the Chinese culture, and part of that is a very strong work ethic. Chinese travellers expect that the people providing them service will do so with professionalism, excellent product knowledge and friendliness. “Make no mistake: Chinese travellers have money to spend, can afford to travel and have high expectations of service,” says Velazquez.

Ollgaard adds that the Chinese are very strong in social media and word of mouth. “If you ensure the tour group you are hosting has an outstanding experience, you can pretty much guarantee that their experiences will be shared, and friends and family will be encouraged to come to B.C.,” she says.

Use the tour operators
While B.C. tourism sectors strive to be educated about Chinese travellers, don’t assume the reciprocal to be true; these visitors may have extensive knowledge of B.C. or none at all. “The emerging sector is arriving in tours,” says Ollgaard. “If you need to address a problem or a concern, speak with the tour operator, rather than the visitor directly, so you don’t risk offending someone.”

Provide an authentic experience
Be true to our Canadian culture (after all, that’s what people come to experience), but respect the traditions, norms and values of visiting Chinese so their experience is as positive as possible. A great example, says Velazquez, is food culture. “If you host a dinner party in your home, you find out as much as possible in advance about your guests’ needs, such as dietary restrictions. This applies to Chinese visitors, too. You want to give an authentic B.C. experience, but not completely eliminate the diet a Chinese visitor is accustomed to, which could negatively impact their overall experience.”

Find the balance
The Chinese visitor enjoys seeing multiple destinations, as opposed to visiting one place and just staying there, but also travels to relax. “There’s a fine balance between visiting multiple destinations, but not being on such a fast-paced itinerary that the travel experience is overwhelming,” says Velazquez. “Again, it’s about being aware of the needs of this travel group and catering to those needs as much as possible.”