Chinese travellers welcome their independence while agents play their part

More than one in five travellers from China are confident enough to plan every aspect of their trip themselves, according to a new Sabre report.

The Evolving Chinese Traveller study covers familiar ground in explaining why Chinese travel is growing (higher disposable incomes, better tech and accessibility to information) but also looks at how the Chinese travellers like to plan their trip.

It found that 22% of the 1000+ sample from across China relied solely on themselves to plan their trip, compared with only 6% who relied solely on “external support”.

External support is provided by “travel service providers” which comprises travel agents, airlines and hotels, according to the report’s terminology. Sabre clearly has an interest here, and extrapolates that 22% planning independently means that 78% are using service providers, to a lesser or greater extent.

The situation is more nuanced – 36% say their trip planning is a joint effort between themselves and the service providers; 24% take more control themselves with a bit of help; 12% rely mostly, but not exclusively, on someone else.

Sabre APAC

There has been a lot of talk about the growth of the independent Chinese traveller in terms of the trip itself, moving away from the traditional group tours. But the report shows that there is big proportion of the market who are not only travelling independently but are also planning their trip independently as well.

For those seeking advice from the service providers, the number one reason people go to an agent is to find about the local culture and history of destinations. Airlines are expected to help travellers navigate not only the airport but also the destination.

Hotels are expected to help provide a personalized service, offer on-demand support and advice but also to help Chinese travellers experience local culture. The demand for local culture sits awkwardly with some of the established thinking around hotels needing to offer Chinese travellers a Chinese experience.

The study found that 17% of the sample were travelling specifically to experience local cultures. But the main reasons Chinese travellers take a trip are familiar across all markets – 25% want to relax, 22% want to have a good time.

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