Published on : Tuesday, January 10, 2017
“Family is such an important component of Chinese culture and today, young Chinese professionals are taking the lead in travel planning and bookings for their parents and extended family to maintain the limited time they spend together,” said James Huang, Market Development Manager, Wego, North Asia.
Huang says that many adult children have relocated to work in first-tier cities such as Shanghai or Beijing, or have left China completely to establish their careers internationally.
“Traditionally Chinese families consisted of large families with seven or more children who would live and work close to home,” explained Huang. “But in recent times the number of children has shrunk to only one or two, however the importance and value of family remains very strong even though modern life now places distance between them.”
“Add to that the limited annual leave allowance in China of around seven working days, the amount of achievable family time is less than ever,” Huang said. “Adding annual leave to Chinese New Year equates to one of the longest continuous periods of time available to many, and the number one priority is spending that time with family.”
Huang has seen a new trend emerge where young professionals are flying their parents and family to them, or to another destination to spend time together depending on where they’re based.
“On Wego we’re seeing outbound family travel growing in demand for Chinese travellers, and not just at Chinese New Year,” Huang continued. “Many also take advantage of long weekends to increase family time.”
“Young professionals living away from home are willing to spend more money to ensure their ageing parents especially travel in comfort by booking full service flights for them,” Huang added. “They prefer family friendly hotels close to public transport in modern cities such as Tokyo and London. For destinations outside of Asia, they’ll select hotels who cater to Chinese tastes with familiar meals such as congee or hotpot, as elderly family members are less likely to adapt to Western food.”
“Airlines have assisted this growing trend with more direct flights connecting second and third tier Chinese cities to popular destination in Asia. While Asia is attractively convenient in terms of flight duration, in addition the airline’s fight for market sure usually equate to extremely affordable airfares. For instance, Hainan Airlines launched a new direct flight from Changsha to Sydney in July last year with a promotional airfare less than US$100.”
Following the Sydney service, Hainan Airlines also connected with Melbourne and Auckland.
“The airline also just announced its application to open routes this year from Chongqing to Los Angeles and New York, continuing its strategy of flying from China’s second tier cities to major international destinations,” said Huang. “Silk Air too is connecting second and third tier cities in China (currently eight) with Singapore, and has just launched a direct flight from Fuzhou.”
“The interpretation of the Chinese ‘family’ segment needs to be redefined. This evolving family travel trend offers new opportunities for the travel industry to target with more creative offerings beyond families consisting of younger parents and small children,” Huang suggests.
“Designing thoughtful options to suit travelling with elderly family members to attract this growing segment is a winning formula,” Huang said in conclusion. “Hotels can incorporate local menus and larger, more comfortable road transfers, and airlines might consider flexible flight packages designed for three to suit an older family unit that includes options for Premium Economy seats (for older parents) and Economy for an adult offspring.”
“This new trend is likely to continue to grow and not just at Chinese New Year, but throughout the year, especially approaching public holidays,” Huang added.