Affluent Chinese a growing factor in upscale hotel market

The Shangri-La in Paris. — AFP pic
The Shangri-La in Paris. — AFP pic

LONDON, Oct 15 — Affluent Chinese travellers have become a driving force in the luxury market this year, with online interest in upscale hotels growing 39 per cent compared to last year from this influential demographic.

According to the World Luxury Index Hotels 2014, the increased interest among Chinese consumers can be attributed in part to the growing number of Western hotel brands opening outposts in “second, third, and fourth-tier” cities across the country. That is, cities outside the most populous centres like Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai.

“This could mean that — after experiencing a particular brand in their home country — Chinese tourists are now seeking out this brand when they travel abroad,” pointed out David Sadigh, founder and CEO of Digital Luxury Group, which prepared the report.

For the report, the number crunchers at the Digital Luxury Group culled through 485 million online searches on 70 brands in 20 markets. Data was compiled from search engines like Google, China's Baidu and Smith Travel Research.

At nine per cent, China is gaining ground on the UK (10 per cent) as the second biggest market seeking out luxury hotels. The US remains the biggest group at 58 per cent, having grown seven per cent over the last year.

Notably, the report also found that online consumer interest in luxury hotels in Germany dropped nine per cent over last year.

Meanwhile, in Asia, Hong Kong-based luxury hotel chain Shangri-La also distanced itself from its competitors, gaining an impressive 20 per cent interest in online searches.

Shangri-La is ranked the most popular brand in China and Singapore and the second-most popular in Taiwan. In France and its home base of Hong Kong, the brand comes in at No 4.

The fastest growing source markets for the brand in online searches include Brazil, at 38 per cent, followed by China (35 per cent) and Taiwan (29 per cent).

Overall, according to the number of searches and hotel bookings at upper scale establishments, analysts seem to suggest that the luxury market is bouncing back to a healthy recovery, as global consumer interest for the luxury hospitality industry is up nearly eight per cent over 2013. — AFP-Relaxnews

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