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China Connect: Bringing Chinese Guests to Hawthorn Suites Abuja

Chinese travelers have established themselves as a mighty force in the past couple of decades. In the span of mere ten years, the number of outbound tourists almost tripled and stood at 155 million by the end of 2019, making the country the biggest outbound travel market in the world. Not only are they numerous, Chinese tourists are also the biggest spenders globally and thus are desired customers in many parts of the planet. No wonder properties, travel agents and other international travel industry players have since entered a never-ending race with the sole aim of luring oriental guests into their embrace.

Despite their desire to explore even the furthest dots on the map, Chinese wanderlust seekers, as well as their business travel counterparts, are yet to fully discover the diverse continent of Africa, which has traditionally been given less attention by almost all international markets. Determined to bring Africa closer to the Chinese travelers, we have set out on the path to advise local properties on the factors - both operational and strategical - that could determine the average Chinese traveler’s decision-making process when looking for accommodation on the continent. Thus, was born China Connect – our newest program designed to help hotels adapt their facilities and services to the oriental guests’ needs and desires, with us acting as a link between the Chinese demand and African supply sides of the market, connecting the potential guests with the lodging options they would enjoy.

During our first-ever China Connect project we have had a pleasure to work with Hawthorn Suites Abuja, a Wyndham Hotels property located in the business district of the Nigerian young capital. Featuring 117 suites and over 600 square fit of meeting space, the property caters mostly to business and corporate travelers coming to Abuja for official negotiations, international and local MICE events, and NGO-related business. Taking into consideration these factors, as well as the general market conditions and the warm political climate between China and Nigeria, we have created a hand-crafted, customized guide for the property that would allow it to increase the inflow of Chinese tourists, once the global pandemic emergency subsides.

The guide consists of four main sections, including the overview of market conditions and competitor analysis, property analysis and suggestions on facilities and services mix, marketing strategy and distribution platform analysis, and property scoring board, which summarizes the report and presents the final “Chinese-friendly” score for the hotel to better understand where it stands in terms of its attractiveness for the eastern guests.

One of the major parts of the report was dedicated to exposing Chinese travel habits and behaviors in a clear, logical manner. Cultural characteristics may often be too subtle for the hotel to be able to pick them up, especially if the travel volume from a specific country has traditionally been quite low, yet they have an enormous effect on guests’ experience and property perception. Given that Chinese clientele – both business and leisure-bound – is impacted heavily by the word-of-mouth and peer appreciation effects, cultural and behavioral know-how becomes essential for the operators wishing to make their hotels attractive to these guests.

Apart from a handful of customized analysis and expert suggestions, China Connect is also about actually connecting the properties with Chinese travelers. By leveraging on over 10 years of experience in the market and our extensive network of hospitality and travel-related entities and professionals, we are now working on getting the property represented on all the relevant online and traditional platforms, increasing its brand awareness and pooling resources to attract Chinese business travelers to Hawthorn Suites Abuja.

We hope that more hotels in Africa and elsewhere will follow suit and increase their chances of being noticed by the constantly growing diverse Chinese market. In general, the continent holds great potential due to its rapidly growing economy, developing infrastructure and the increasing amount of business and political ties with the rest of the world. All these factors should be leveraged by the hotels and exploited positively not only to attract more Chinese travelers to their specific sites but also to engage a wider public and expose a multitude of opportunities Africa has to offer.

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