"Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself."
I just realized this is exactly the same quote I used for my first presentation about Chinese outbound travel market to be delivered at dotcomhotel conference in Prague a few years ago.
Today we completed the third workshop, which was the last part of the roadshow "(Mis) Understanding Chinese guests. Are we really ready?", organized by Confucius Institute in Ljubljana. We visited three beautiful Slovenian destinations: Bled, Portoroz and Maribor, where we met close to 100 travel industry professionals and students of Tourism and Management faculties.
There is no doubt, that most of our participants see the potential of this biggest outbound travel market, which generated last year more than 138 million international trips. At the same time, everybody agreed, that it's really difficult to find reliable data about the Chinese tourism and reasonable advice, what steps should be taken to enter this booming market. While summarizing the event with the other speakers, we all agreed, that it's almost impossible to explain the power of WeChat to somebody, who never actually used this platform and never experienced the communication issues with Chinese business partners, who definitely prefer to speak through WeChat rather than answering e-mails. Adding to it the phenomenon of mobile payments, which were so well adopted in China and hardly exist on this side of the Great Wall, it all sounds like a fantasy story and we could see it on many faces of our students.
The list of this kind of examples could be really long, but that's not the point of this article. China is so different in all aspects: culture, history, food, technology, business approach, that it would be really a miracle if all the steps taken towards this market were right. We should learn from others' mistakes, ( vide Marriott, which listed on their Chinese website Tibet and HongKong as countries) and avoid them on our way. In my opinion, the critical point is actually the extensive knowledge about China, as the resources invested in the proper market research, can save a lot of time, stress and money later on.
Is it a must to work with Chinese tourists? Definitely not. But even to answer this basic question it would be worth to understand, what it takes, but also what it brings to work with them, so again, the knowledge is the key.
The participation in the workshops, such as the ones organized by Confucius Institute Ljubljana is a good opportunity to learn about the potential, but a big part of our "students" want to make the next step and extend their knowledge completing the "Chinese Tourist Welcome" course, which will be organized in August. A positive result of the final exam gives the right to use a "Quality Host/ Quality Organisation label, recognized by Chinese authorities.