Pi Attitude Zone: Flexibility

The Chinese Are Coming, (But Not For Breakfast)

Since time immemorial, China has been called Zhongguo, a name which translates as the “Middle Kingdom”, or perhaps the “Central Nation”. The point is, the Chinese have long seen themselves as being at the center of their world, and other nations as being peripheral to that world.

As a result, China has always tended to look inwards, not outwards.  Through imperial times and during the Cultural Revolution, very few Chinese travelled abroad – if they ever intended to return, that is.  Such attitudes are changing, with the recent growth of the economy and the emergence of a newly affluent middle class, keen to display their purchasing power, (which is a particularly Chinese socio-cultural characteristic).  Each year over 40 million Chinese make trips outside their country.  The trend continues.

Chinese visits to Britain in particular have been rising sharply.  In the foreseeable future, the UK’s Chinese tourists will outnumber the camera-toting multitude of Japanese. 

What do Chinese trippers find when they visit favored destinations like London?  And what are they looking for, anyway? 

London itself is judged to be “cool”, but London hotels have been a cause for hesitation.  Local hotel group marketers have taken notice, and made some changes to ensure that they are China-friendly.  Lesson One:  do not try to get visitors from China interested in going down to the communal dining room for a ‘full English breakfast’ of fried eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, baked beans and tomatoes.  What they actually want is a kettle in their room so they can boil up water for the dried noodles and ‘congee’ (rice porridge) that they brought with them just in case.  Now that’s breakfast!

They do want the hotel reception area to look as posh and ‘British’ as possible, (cameras at the ready, everyone).  But back in the room they seem more interested in comfort, security and reassurance than in foreign luxury or glamour.  Hotels get big points for laying on the services of a Chinese translator.  (Biggest FAQ:  “Where can I buy handbags?”).

But the indispensable sign of a good welcome?  Complimentary fluffy bedroom slippers.  “Slippers are the fundamental thing”, says Mr. Wu of the China Business Network.  That, it seems, is what puts Chinese visitors in their comfort zone.

Zone: Flexibility Country: Asia / Pacific Product – Travel